You can go home again

I was lucky 🍀💚🍀 enough to spend a decade at a great school with fabulous colleagues, the most supportive families, and children that filled my heart every single day.

I’ve been gone for 17 months but whenever I return to Chicago, a priority for me is reconnecting with the children who made getting up at 5:30 worthwhile. I may no longer remember all of their names, but I remember stories about each one – how hard they worked, how genuinely sweet and caring they were, and sometimes how challenging and challenged they were.

Yesterday (in my first 24 hours back in town) I visited school and was made to feel like a celebrity as a chorus of voices called my name. 💕💓 💕

Children who I knew from kindergarten and first grade are now eighth graders and beyond. I met kindergarteners yesterday that are the baby of a family I’ve known since before they were born. The magic of children never fails to impress and inspire me.

And in a perfect twist of fate, yesterday was the Scholastic Book Fair which is also something I treasure. Buying Matt De La Peña’s book and sharing it with the sweetest children in the world is a new memory for me to treasure.

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Nature does not hurry

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” – Lao Tzu Words from an ancient Chinese writer and philosopher.

These two rocks were found during excavation for the garage we are building. The beauty and uniqueness of each have earned them a place on the shelf where I write. If you look closely at the heart, there are embedded fossils. Can you imagine how long this rock has been developing?

The other is a lovely piece with amethyst quartz. 💜💜 It’s also slightly heart-shaped depending upon the angle.

“Speak” #Metoo

“He stares at me without talking. He is not as tall as my memories, but still as loathsome.” – from “Speak”

The stories that are finally being told, some from several decades ago, are all different and yet somehow the same. A person in power or strength of some kind exerting that dominance over another. The victims are often young, unable to make their voice heard in the moment or maybe for years afterward.

In the past few days, a holier-than-thou Alabama judge and politician has been accused of multiple abuses of power, including by a fourteen year old girl. Am I surprised? No, because it seems to me the ones who put themselves on the moral high ground against women’s rights and gay rights usually have something to hide.

The list of celebrities is long. Again, I think “is this surprising?” Not really, because abuse of power is rampant and the legend of “the casting couch” is based on plenty of actual events.

This week I read “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson. An excellent book that is not only well written, but shares the feelings and physical, emotional, and intellectual response that all of those who are now bravely coming forward have been through.

A Writer’s Life – a Nanowrimo reflection

I’ve immersed myself in writing over the last year, making connections and friends at conferences, retreats, and social media. My craft has improved along the way, as I have written three picture books and a novel. I’ve learned that revision can be painful but the finished product is better for it. I’ve described it as “performing surgery on a loved one.” It’s hard to tear apart a story that was lovingly created but it’s all part of the process. My first picture book has gone through more revisions than I can count and it’s unrecognizable from where it began. As much as I loved it in the beginning, it’s better now for 1000 reasons.

One benefit of being a writer – I consider reading part of my job. I’ve always enjoyed reading, but now its no longer a guilty pleasure as I’ve incorporated it into my daily routine. It’s a part of becoming a better writer. I’ve kept a list this year of all the books I’ve read or listened to. The list is over 40 books and I know my “voice” as a writer has grown after reading some great writing.

This is my first time participating in NaNoWriMo and it’s been interesting to connect with other writers who are in different genres with different styles of writing. I’m on target to reach my word count goal but even if I don’t, the quality is the most important piece and I’m confident I’ll get there.

Life above the clouds

Living at 8200 feet has both challenges and charms. This may be the ultimate test of are you a “glass half full” or “glass half empty” person. It’s a choice we can all make.

When you have a day where it’s cloudy and gray at 5300 feet (I know that sounds like high altitude to my sea level friends) but it’s bluebird sky beautiful and sunny above, you are reminded of how full the glass really is.

It may look like snow in these pictures but it is only the clouds, keeping the sun from shining at lower elevations.

Moon Musings

Tonight’s full moon made its appearance bathed in clouds. Each month, as the full moon rises, I’m drawn to the beauty and light. Far from the city and it’s inherent light pollution, I’m able to appreciate the magic of moonlight and the reflections created.

What songs about the moon inspire you? My two favorites are: Van Morrison’s “Moondance” and King Harvest’s “Dancing in the Moonlight” – if you need me, I’ll be dancing.

Keeping the home fires burning

 

Everyone has heard the phrase “keep the home fires burning.” It was a wildly popular patriotic British song from 1914. Written by an American woman, Lena Guilbert Ford, who was living in London during World War I. The original title, “Till The Boys Come Home.” was changed to “Keep the Home Fires Burning.” She collaborated with Welshman Ivor Novello to create what has been called the greatest patriotic song to come out of England during World War I. Personally, I’m not sure what the competition for this title is, but I’m not sure it’s held up over the years.

This phrase has a different meaning for me as we get most of our heat from a wood burner stove. As the temperatures dropped recently, I’ve taken this phrase to heart as I enjoy the warmth and beauty of a nearby fire. It’s even more beautiful in juxtaposition to the view out my window.

Pine Grosbeak – a reminder to stop for beauty

On a crystal clear morning, with snow in unmelted patches, I saw a pair of Grosbeaks. Hiking with a birder friend who was more concerned with physical exertion than admiring our surroundings, she continued forward as I stopped to capture a few shots.

When we finally stopped for water and a rest, I showed the others my pictures. They couldn’t believe I was the only one who saw the birds. I’ve since learned about these birds, including a new word “frugivore” which means fruit eater. They do, however also eat seeds and feed spiders and insects to their young. Interesting that the adult birds don’t eat those things. It’s like fish sticks, Lucky Charms, and boxed macaroni and cheese – parents feed these to their children but don’t eat them as adults. If you’re still eating these things, that’s fine – I’m not judging.