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This Phoenix Speaks

Seven years in the making, my first published book, This Phoenix Speaks , is now a reality. The tireless and tiring work invested to ma...

finish line

The end of yet another Slice of Life Story Challenge, and I am still alive. It is amazing.

Honestly, I still don't see how I found things to write about. I don't see any real brilliance. And yet, somehow, I am proud of myself for not giving up, and in that, I find a glimmer of brilliance.

It takes energy and strength and a whole lot of light to shine the way I do. When I don't feel like I can go one more moment all alone and imperfect—making so many mistakes with no one to support me—I am met with tender mercies. This month has been filled with many of them. So many I can't even tell you. Others' slices, comments on here, texts from various friends just when I needed to feel seen, being invited when I was lonely or sad. So many more examples even. And it all kept me going.

Writing is oxygen to me, so it is strange to feel strangled by it while also being freed. I will continue striving to find my new voice though because I know that this finish line leads me to my goals. Every writing challenge I meet and complete gets me where I want to be.

That said, I invite all to come back for poetry every single day in April. It should be interesting to see what I can muster.

And one more thing—thank you. Thank you for reading my words and offering so much support this month. I needed every read, every comment, and every share. It kept me going. I owe this success to all of you.

shifting blame

We all do it but most certainly not on purpose—except for major jerks. When situations arise and we can't get things right, it is natural to look for a reason and solve the problem by leaving it where blame lies. However, the way our minds work doesn't always give us the truth. Our self-preservation kicks in, and we are looking everywhere except at ourselves.

Children do an excellent job of shifting blame. They don't want to see how their lack of self-discipline is why things aren't working out for them. They make the problem all about how the parent(s) hasn't gone along with their last-minute demands. This same generalization can be applied to the student-teacher relationship. It just has assignments and participation on the table. And no, I am not freshly traumatized or anything. I do not know what would make you think that. 

Adults do this blame seeking too. Like children, we immaturely fall into the old game of looking everywhere except at ourselves to find who/what could have done/gone differently. It's almost like a disease of the heart if we don't stop though. It can get so out of control that we end up flat out lying to ourselves, and that is a great disservice to everyone around us. A great deal of pain and bad relationships ensue. We have to take responsibility for how we affect others, or we won't ever have better outcomes.

Even still, there is a flip side to this train of thought. Sometimes we take on too much blame. Sometimes we take on blame that is not ours whatsoever. That is shifting blame as well. And none of it is good for us.

I am guilty of both types. I do count one of my finer qualities as working very hard at rooting this out of me though. As soon as I find myself in error, I do all I can to make things right—even if it means I have to swallow my pride and apologize to people who are unforgiving. I just do it anyway. It's on the other person if they don't want to forgive after I've done what I can to make it right.

Shifting blame is a natural response, but it is possible to rise above it. In truth, it is imperative that we do if we are to reach our potential to love ourselves and others more fully.

Keeles in Concert

As I read comments on someone else's slice of life, I was reminded of this song called "Angel Lullaby" and immediately thought of my extraordinarily talented aunt and uncle singing the duet when I was a child. 

I grew up heading to Santa Maria, California near the central coast's Pismo Beach often and a time or two to Springdale, Utah just outside Zion National Park for these family talent shows my mom and her eleven siblings and all their children would put on in my grandparents' community. Everyone would sing or dance or do a comedy act and such. I still remember my Uncle Curt doing his funny stuff. I'll just say "Edelweiss" has always been more special to me when remembering his primitive beatboxing methods coupled with my Uncle Sam's innocent singing and was over the top hilarity. 

When I was around twelve or thirteen years old, I sang "On the Good Ship Lollipop" with two of my closest cousins with makeshift giant lollipop props made from cardboard we cut out into large circles and wooden sticks my grandpa had made. We had matching dresses and ginormous paper bows—quite the musical number.

Rehearsals seemed to be all day. You'd see aunts and uncles singing and playing the piano and children playing and singing and practicing on the stage—and others running around the church where we'd perform later that night.

I remember my mom. Singing. Playing piano. Being a musician. She was so wonderful. She'd laugh so much, and not a foolhardy load of laughter that is empty, but one that signified her joy.

And all of this has made me miss my aunts, uncles, and cousins, my grandparents and my parents, and all the delightful opportunities that were provided to us in such a unique and talented family. My grandparents really set a good example of how a family should work together.

My Aunt Becky and Uncle Sam sang this song in such a way that has impressed upon my soul. I wish there were a YouTube video of them to share, alas this recording will have to do. I hope it brings a smile to your face and some peace to your heart as it does mine.

uncomfortably numb

Transition is like my new home. Never able to really settle in and get comfortable, but I'm always too blessed to feel anything but guilty whenever I complain and call my life crappy.

I still do though. Y'all know this fact all too well. Me and my ragging about not being able to write while I am writing. It's kind of pathetic actually. And I must laugh at myself. It is required.

The thing is I like feeling things. I like being able to laugh at myself, my jokes and others' truly stupid humor. I like being grateful and showing my appreciation. There's something so healing about focusing on what's helping you grow—even if it's some of the stuff that makes you cry or want to kick junk. I don't like being upset though. It wracks my soul to have so much to be genuinely sad and grief-stricken over while still striving to get over it and keep going with joy in my heart. I keep at it because I know it's possible. More than possible even, it is readily available as soon as I get over the hard things.

So while I still feel "unable to write" a lot of the time lately, I am not going to allow myself to get comfortable with this sensation.

a few more days

If I hadn't written every day, I would tell you I didn't know where March went. It has flown by even with the daily task of writing these slices feeling like a big challenge. I mean, there are only four more slices, and then it's over. Crazy stuff.

I am proud of most of the slices I wrote. Because of all of the writers I've been reading, I have felt more inspired than I have in a long time, and that made all the difference. I do wish I hadn't had that day when I forgot to write and had to post-date the thing, so I could mark the events that caused me to run out of time. But overall, I am pleased with my work. But there's more to consider.

After Slice of Life is over, April arrives with National Poetry Month. That has been just as much cause for concern as these slices—if not more. Poetry must be inspired for it to do its work and to be simply decent to read! I do not want any of you faithful readers to want to poke your eyes out!

Since I haven't blogged any real poetry in several months now, I decided to begin jotting down draft work. Every time I get even a pinch of inspiration or sentimentality, etc., I stop and write as much as I can. I don't necessarily have the whole idea down, but fragments are better than nothing, and I can always develop the ideas. Another thing about this is I don't have ANY photos set aside as inspiration, and I typically use photos to support my poetic notions. I just can't seem to allow myself that luxury (I did break out of my photographic famine a few times during this slice fest, so that felt like real progress.). But who knows how it will pan out with poetry I haven't even figured out how to accept and set free for public scrutiny.

So many thoughts. When all is said and done, these things I've discussed are small potatoes. So small. However, they are important to me as I try to develop my talents and live artistically.

Here's to the few days left of this slicing party and moving onto bigger things such as writing poetry and end of the school year stress! Oh yeah!

Seeking to Become - March 2017

 Today, I am thinking about how education opens doors of opportunity but also how it can close others in the process—depending upon our choices.

Throughout my college education (and even still), I checked myself for feeling as if I am too grand or above others. I would pray for humility and understanding. I didn't like what I'd seen so far of people who decided that their faith was nothing the more they learned of secular things. I did not want to become faithless as I sought to better my lot in life.

When I was searching the scriptures for a quality to cultivate, this scripture was the one that stood out most:
"But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God." 
2 Nephi 9:29
These words speak to my soul. It reminded me of when I would pray to be humble in my learning. We are taught to learn all we can, for knowledge and our family are all we take into eternity with us. The clothes we wear and house we live in and car that we drive won't be coming with us—just what we know and our family.

That scripture tells me that there is nothing inherently wrong with being a know-it-all even, so long as you know you don't know it all. Christ's example of learning, teaching, and sharing with others in humility shows us how to go about gaining our knowledge. We must not forget by whom we are able to learn, grow, and enjoy life itself.

I hope you will join me in seeking to become more like Jesus Christ in the aspect of how we use our knowledge for good—for ourselves and in serving God.

pulling all-nighters

Or A Word to the Wise

It doesn't happen all the time, but when it does, I pay. 

You'd think I would figure out how decidedly messed up I get after staying up all night and hence figure out how to intelligently stop the harmful practice. But, no. I am a glutton for self-punishment. One thing I must admit is I know how to have fun. This can be quite an accomplishment. I can't remember the last time I could honestly say I was bored—there are just too many important, entertaining, and valuable things to do 24/7. Maybe I see things like this because I'm from Las Vegas. Who knows.

Reorganizing and deep cleaning projects are a catalyst for lost sleep, as well as work that I truly enjoy and writing and so forth. More of my nocturnal habits include watching movies, reading books that are too good to put down, so they do the opposite of putting me to sleep, and photo editing.

My latest and greatest source of joy and lost sleep is my volleyball hobby. The people there have become such a happy part of my life—and a torture. We stay up way too late! Another funny thing actually is some of my favorites have come up with a nickname for me: Angry Laura. I wonder if they've secretly been following my rants on Twitter.


“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” — C.S. Lewis 
Walking the streets of a small town is like my heart. Little shops here and there that are careworn but well loved. Empty spots where the tenant has vacated or been evicted, but still there is an empty place where they once tended to business. There are cracks along the sidewalks, yet there is a charm in every walk down the lane. Walls have crackled paint but are all the more endearing for their wear.

I love the love I've offered and given in my life. While I have also cried more tears than I wish to admit, I do not regret letting myself care as much as I have and do. But I have one thing that has been pressing upon my mind lately.

A wish.

My wish (and prayer) is that I don't have to have any more bad sad endings. I don't want to have another love adding a notch in my nostalgia belt. I want to love someone who actually loves me back in all reality. Does any of that even make sense? I hope so because I know I am worth all of that. I even know that I actually deserve it.

Someday, it will happen for me because I keep my heart vulnerably open despite the chipped paint and vacancy sign that is collecting dust.

walk like a buddy

All of my trips to the hospital this week have shown me something I need to work on with my daughter who has autism. She needs to learn how to walk like a buddy.

I had been recognizing the issue before now, but since I am spending one-on-one with her and can take some extra time, we are working on this skill this week as we walk through the big hospital to and from her standing appointment for EEG testing.

Some of you might be wondering: What exactly is walking like a buddy? My first thought when I coined the phrase in order to illustrate to her how it's done was: People who overhear me are going to think of the song "Walk Like an Egyptian" and think I'm weird. And then I stopped myself and decided that it was weird just to think that and NO ONE else would associate that song with what I was talking to her about as we journey through the hallways. So there we are. I am so weird. But I digress.

Walking like a buddy is something that we all do. When we are with friends, associates, anyone we are with and heading in the same direction, we walk side-by-side or at least very close to it—not twenty paces behind with the leader of all the duckies turning back and telling you to hurry up. As I considered how to teach her about it, I explained that she needs to walk next to me because I'm her friend, and friends walk next to each other, so they can talk to and see each other.

Yesterday and today, we progressed to showing examples of people buddy-walking as they passed us. There was a large group of people who were not all together but several sections of buddies (2-3 to a team), and after I pointed them all out, she seemed to finally connect what it meant. She went into a mock jog to catch up to me and even be a step ahead, and she stayed that way the rest of the way out of the hospital! It was amazing.

When we walk our course to/from her last appointment, I'm going to see if she needs verbal prompting after making that connection. She most likely will but maybe not pointing out examples now. Let's hope!

And just for laughs, here is "Walk Like an Egyptian" for your listening pleasure:

band life

The bus misser aka our favorite tuba player ever is graduating this year, so we will have different stories to tell for him soon. But like any good relay race, the band baton is getting passed to my mini-me without skipping a beat.

It's exciting to think about the different experiences they will have. I love catching the tuba player encouraging the oboe player turned flute player for marching season. It is fun to see how much they love playing music. I feel happy, our home is happier when they play music, and I can easily imagine my parents listening in and smiling.

So it's been six years of band life thus far, and we've had some overlap with two kids in it. If my youngest gets in next year, we will live the band life for a total of twelve years solid with some overlapping in the middle. This means I'm halfway through my band mom life. I'm not very good at it for being in for so long, but I will say that my separation began when band life began, so I don't have the time I used to. I do what I can though, and I love it!

Halftime shows and football games and concerts four times a year along with festivals and competitions make my world go round. I loved band as a teenager, and it's even more fulfilling to see how music helps my children.

be brave

There are very few people in the world who are brave like this girl. She knows no guile. She gives her all to everyone around her. She faces the unfaceable—and smiles while doing so (sometimes).

My daughter has severe autism and epilepsy. These two factors make our life very different from many other people's. There are things we have to go through that are just extra special in very non-special ways at times. Her EEG testing that is happening this week is one of them. But before I talk about that, I want to tell you another story:

Over Christmas break, we went for a little trip to the hospital for dental work. This girl can't hold still properly for x-rays neither can she hold her mouth open well enough to get her teeth worked on normally, so we just head to the hospital every couple of years for them to take care of her. It's like a day spa for her mouth where they put her to sleep until they finish. Or something like that!

So we arrive at the hospital, get checked in, and I help her get into her hospital gown. Then we wait but not for long. After just a few minutes, the oral surgeon and his understudy (can't remember what they are actually called), along with two observing students from some university in California, all crowd into the tiny room with the large hospital bed that she's on, and we begin talking about what will happen. In the course of this discussion, they each get to know my daughter a little bit because she decides that they all need knuckles and high fives, and the resident (understudy, not sure) got a mini back rub on his shoulder that she could reach. All the while, she's acting like she's at a party as the one guy is putting in an IV, for crying out loud! But that's not the best part.

The best part is when she starts telling her knock-knock jokes. Her two knock-knock jokes. Over and over and over.

They didn't understand her the first time she said it, so I translated for her, and they all gave a courteous laugh. And then . . . she says her joke again . . . and again. She mixes in one other every so often, but she definitely has her favorite. So what happens next is hilarious. These four grown men begin to take turns telling knock-knock jokes because she assigns them turns saying, "You turn" and pointing. She makes certain she gets to tell her joke after each one, but the turn-taking goes viral. One guy turns out to be an avid knock-knock joke teller from his high school days. Another has his phone out doing searches to be able to one-up my daughter and these other guys. And you know, she won the contest. I know this for sure because when we all were laughing when the punchlines came around as we were walking down the hallway to the surgery room, one of them turns to me and says something to this affect, "You know what makes it so funny? She says it like she's telling the joke for the very first time every time. That makes the joke genuinely funny—every time."

Her delivery is on point every single time. And that's true across the board. That girl is so sweet and happy and wanting to help. When she's having a hard time, she's not, but everyone has their moments. But she is quick to recover.

After they wheel her through the surgery doors, I was consulting with the dentist, and some time later, one of the observing students came out to the waiting room to tell me that she was telling her knock-knock jokes until she could no longer speak from the anesthesia putting her to sleep. That girl!

So back to the EEG.

She does not like getting poked and prodded. And really, who does?  It took over an hour to mark her head and glue the electrodes to her scalp. This proved to be a real struggle for her since she had to stay awake for it. I bribed her with the promise of a treat, and then the tech got smart, and she bribed her with a future treat too. And after that, it wasn't totally smooth sailing, but this brave girl found courage, patience, or strength, whatever it was, to work through her autism struggles and make it possible to get the job done without us feeling like she's being tortured.

While she didn't get to telling her jokes, she did find her smile again before we left the hospital.

There are things we don't like going on around us and being thrown at us, but that shouldn't keep us down. I can't always find my smile, but today, she taught me that I need to work harder at that. I need to be brave and smile sooner than later.


Here's her most favorite (most repeated) joke:
Her: Knock-knock.
Anyone who will reply: Who's there?
Her: Boo.
AWWR: Boo who?
Her: Dont' cry. It's just a joke.

thin ice

Coming up with a good title is tough some days. Some people will leave an entire novel untitled for seemingly ever because they just can't decide. But what about when you come up with a riveting title yet have no content to back it up? What then?

Well, then you get this slice of thin ice life. 

I had a bunch of thoughts flitting about when I typed the title in the box, and then I decided that I didn't want to say any of that stuff. I don't want to ramble on and on about how I don't understand my life right now or how I'm one rotten day away from falling through the ice and not making it out again. 

I want to tell you about how I took care of myself today instead of pushing myself too much. I want to explain how I'm banking on how it all will get me over the worst of things, and I'll feel better. I will be able to smile for days on end again. 

Maybe the ice is getting thin because the sun is warming up my world in preparation for spring. One can only hope. 

three things

I attended a women's conference in my community a few weeks ago, and one of the workshops I went to had the best idea ever for journaling. Well, it's the best idea ever if you're having a hard time writing like I have been lately.

The writing prompt is to focus on three positive things that happen each day. I've been working on it for the past couple of weeks, and I have to say I am proud of myself. I had nearly abandoned my journal for a few months with my oppressive grief response to a personal thing that went down this fall—six months ago actually. I can't believe I've become so sorely affected. So anyway! I have been writing every day now, and it's been so good to get back into the swing of things. On really hard days, the three things are one sentence each, but I am still writing. I'm making time to remember the good things.

Today's three things haven't been written yet, but I will as soon as I finish this!

wanted: clarity

Clarity is an interesting aspect of our lives. We long for it—that understanding of all things affecting us—right? But sometimes, when we do receive clarity on some situations, we don't like what we see. We inadvertently create a lack of clarity through rejection.

Sometimes clarity brings to the table a sense of knowing how unclear things are because of other people doing the rejection. In these cases, it is a clear-cut mess with no way around. And the trouble of it all is figuring out how long the pain will last and, most directly and importantly, what is the quickest path to joy. It isn't always easy to see. 

holidays and funerals

I do not recommend allowing grief to get in the way of truly evaluating all that is on the calendar when planning a funeral. It's so important to connect the dots as far as other recurring occasions such as national holidays, etc., or you'll forever be reminded of what you did that holiday that one time when your mom died unexpectedly.

I've worked hard the last few years to learn to enjoy St. Patrick's Day again. I used to really enjoy pinching people, you know. I made a concerted effort this past year by sending my children a very fancy treat package to be delivered on the holiday to add to the excitement—not just wearing green and hoping people can't tell I'm thinking about the day we buried my mother. I have even stopped talking about it so much (and then here I am talking about it!). We aren't even Irish at all—I don't think. However, I grew up celebrating the Irish in this small way, and I believe it is a wonderful American tradition.

I also want you all to know that I don't feel any terrible pangs of sadness either. It's just really, really sad to always be reminded of it. To remember and then choose to let it go.

So anyway. Back to my point. The pro tip I have to offer: Do not plan a funeral on a holiday—no matter how minor it may seem—because you'll forever be reminded of one of the saddest days of your life no matter how much you heal.

insane day

An absolutely frustrating and tired and unhelpful and crazy and busy, busy day. Two teenagers with agendas of their own and the last day of third quarter will explain the upheaval. It astounds me at how oblivious the people we love can be to how they hurt us. I wonder at how many times I put my parents out and made their day difficult just so they could help me keep up with my agenda that I didn't communicate or when I made poor choices to put myself in predicaments that affected them adversely. It's all just so very irritating.

That's what got me to MISS A DAY for the slice of life.

I am backdating this and voicing my irritation, frustration, and disappointment, so I will remember why I dropped the ball. 

civil discourse

A slice of my life involves politics, so I'm going to write just a sliver of it.

I'm astonished by how many people resort to fallacies to push a narrative devoid of evidence. I see people saying that "all people who support Trump are . . . " and "all people who have liberal ideas are _____." Hasn't anyone realized that these absolutes are the type that are only meant to divide and destroy? Has no one ever heard of the straw man, slippery slope (and the list goes on forever)?

There are some political ideologies that are bad. Very bad. Yet some are just not what we prefer or think will help us. It doesn't mean we should justify filthy name-calling or, even worse, fabricate untruths to hurt the people we don't agree with. For instance, if you know me, you know I'm a strong supporter of honest work, clean moral conduct, civil discourse, and lean toward the libertarian right.

Like, can people just stop trying to micro manage life with so much legislation? Government is a beastly mess, and I am for trying all sorts of slashing and burning of how things have been done to find solutions.

All of that said, I am a loather of Nazis, I detest crass public displays, while I support equality as far as it is actually equitable and not actively oppressive of others.

This all might sound vague. And I don't mean to be except I don't want this sliver to get infected with propaganda passed off as evidence and hate speech spewed all over toward me for actually having and keeping an open mind. I know it is a rare thing to find, but I believe that if people will step back and take a look around at who they are objectifying in the name of politics, they will realize that they left civil discourse out in the cold to die.

And I'm tired of it.

writing changes lives

I inspired someone to write a blog. And it has changed her life. See: This Blog Has Changed My Life.

My aspirations in life as a writer and teacher and blogger and poet and future published author just got a shot of adrenaline. Like all of her success adds to my success, making anything she does part of my joy. Seeing all the readers she is beginning to have trickle in and their comments make my day. I just love it.

Most likely, the reason I love it so much is partly due to the fact that Juli and I are related, but another part is that this blog—my blog—has changed my life too. Her sheer delight reminds me of myself nearly six years ago this month when I had my handful of family and friends who would faithfully read my ranting and raving, cheering me on as I found my style and bona fide readership.

There is no telling where this blog will take me. I want it to take me to my goals that I've been striving toward for so long I can nearly touch them. But I just don't know.

What I do know is that I'm thankful that I could inspire someone to write—that somehow what I'm doing looks inspiring. It doesn't feel inspiring some days, but so long as it does the job, I'm not complaining.


When I was young, I remember playing chess and winning. I don't remember learning how to play—just that I was little and won. And then I didn't play chess for a very long time. I don't remember playing at all actually until my oldest son and I began the venture of learning/relearning together. During his first year of high school, he'd go into the library during lunchtime and play chess. He learned so much that way, making him the chess expert at our house. 

As I think about it more, I might have played here and there with a boyfriend of mine, but I honestly don't have any strong memories to verify. 

But I digress. 

The point of this slice is that my oldest boy has now taught my youngest boy to play chess, and then I spent an amazing evening beating the pants off my little guy in preparation for him to be in the Chess Club at his elementary school beginning this week. He is so excited. I even signed up to be on the substitute list of chaperones in case they ever need one. And it was so fun to see how happy it made him to play a smart game, as we decided that chess is.

fourteen years

Dear Mom,

Today marks the fourteenth year I have had to live without you. I am proud to tell you that I have grown up so much and in ways I never imagined were even ways to need to grow up. I think you'd be proud of me too if you were here to see it all. I don't think on it often, but I do wonder a bit about how things would be if you hadn't died yet—how you could make a difference.

I do believe you and Dad watch over me and your grandbabies (as you used to refer to the first two that you did meet). I don't ever feel you actually here, yet somehow there is such a sense of your influence that I can't help but think you are near.

I love you. I miss you. I am finally learning to live without being so sad about your absence. I catch myself being truly thankful you died with your boots on. It gives me comfort knowing you died just after doing what you love—caring for your family and patients.

You teach me every day still. When life is challenging and I don't know what to do, I try to recall what you did and learn from it—whether to follow in your footsteps or do differently—and I love you for all of your example, good and bad. You and Dad truly lived. You made mistakes and you worked miracles, sometimes all in the same day. I'm so grateful for having had such wonderful parents.

There's something that I have been thinking about lately that you told me when I was a teenager. You said to me one time, "Motherless daughters do strange things." I guess I am one of those since you left, and I believe that can explain some of the unexplainable ache for acceptance that I never had before. I'm certain my need for acceptance is not even close to normal people's, but it exists now. I thank you for teaching me how individually exceptional I am that I never really felt any of this pinch until now. You taught me how to shine and laugh and be myself no matter what other people think. Your exuberance lit rooms and hearts—and still does—it is just that far-reaching. I hope to be more like you in this respect. Someday hopefully.

In the end, I am also glad you're with your mother again. I'm sure you've been catching up and have mended any fences within the first day, maybe even the first moment. I am eternally grateful that you and I mended our fences long before you left, so when we meet again it will most assuredly only be to embrace.

You are forever in my heart,

Your favorite (only) daughter

For more of the story: 


It's been almost a year ago since I started playing volleyball again, and I have to say it has changed me so much.

I began contemplating going for probably a year—or longer—before I finally broke down and checked out the scene. I knew I wanted to start. I also knew I hadn't played in like 20 years or longer. That's not the best math, but once I decided to get out there, I also decided that I wasn't going to let my lack of practice and skill keep me from enjoying myself and making friends.

Arriving late in jeans with hair and makeup done, I walked into a room with two full games going, witnessing their sportswear as proof that everyone was there to actually play. I don't know what I was thinking: That people would just pretend? I don't know, but it was an interesting time—interesting enough for me to go back.

Nearly a year later, I've learned how to show up wearing appropriate attire (most of the time), improved my mad volleyball skills, and made some really great friends that life just wouldn't be the same without them in it. I look back on how hard it was to get into the swing of things, and I am thankful my future self persisted in beckoning me toward this adventure.

teacher prep

Being a teacher holds a world of responsibility. Not only do I need to show up, but I must show up prepared. That preparation takes time, effort, and ingenuity. Prep time is precious too. If someone interrupts my rhythm of thought, I can lose my whole idea. Is anyone else like that? It's as if I never even had the brilliant idea if it can fly out of my head that easily!

Even still, preparation isn't just the materials or content you're imparting to young minds either. You have to come prepared to get real. Teaching junior high and high schoolers takes grit and truth, or those kids will eat you alive. Your heart isn't safe either. They can get so funny and interesting that you connect with their writing when they share parts of themselves. You begin to wish every good thing for their futures as if they were part of your family—almost but not quite.

Another way teachers have to be prepared is knowing how to help students if/when they are having a hard time. You have to know what to say, who to ask for support, and, most of all, not make things worse by trying to help.

I'm grateful for having the responsibility of being prepared to teach. The fine young men and women who I have been able to guide thus far have taught me many things and enriched my life immeasurably.

Today, I feel the weight of my responsibility, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

9 things

Lists are a fun thing I rarely do, but I always want to. So when I saw the idea on Simply Learning Together: 8 Things, I knew I needed to seize the day…pretty literally and metaphorically actually. Say that ten times fast. haha! So anyway. Here we go:

Nine favorite things for the ninth day of the Slice of Life Story Challenge.

9 Everyday things I wouldn't want to live without:

1. A camera
2. Dental floss
3. My MacBook Pro
4. Household appliances (Is this cheating? If so, I don't care.)
5. Internet connection
6. Electricity
7. My special blankets and quilts
8. Movies
9. Clean tap water

9 Adventures I want to have before I die:

1. Visit the old country AKA Wales and London, England
2. Tour Europe
3. Take a train trip across the U.S.
4. Publish my writing
5. See the Statue of Liberty for myself
6. Own a small business like an arcade or old-time movie theater
7. Purchase enough land to have a family compound of homes and recreational facilities
8. Own an art gallery that displays my work and upcoming artists'
9. Be loved enough for someone to stay

9 Pastimes I never tire of:

1. Dancing
2. Photography
3. Writing
4. Talking with friends
5. Planning parties
6. Helping others
7. Watching movies
8. Planting trees
9. Volleyball, Softball, Tennis, Skiing, Bowling

9 Treats I could eat every day (if it weren't unhealthy):

1. Ice cream
2. Gelato
3. Cotton candy
4. German chocolate cake
5. Grape soda
6. Good, authentic cannoli
7. Shortbread
8. See's Candies (any and all)
9. Old fashioned wafer cookies

9 People I'd be lost without (although there are many more!):

1. My oldest daughter
2. My oldest son
3. My youngest daughter
4. My baby
5. Melissa
6. Elise
7. The people in my neighborhood who seem to take turns blessing my life
8. My brothers
9. Jesus Christ

9 Places I want to visit (many covered already, but I'll be more specific):

1. Cardiff, Wales
2. The White Cliffs of Dover
3. Cemeteries in London and parts of Wales where ancestors are buried
4. As close to the Statue of Liberty as I can get
5. The Louvre
6. Anne Frank House
7. Carnegie Hall, New York City
8. Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline, Scotland
9. The Library of Congress

9 Words that I believe hold magic:

1. Perfect (the second syllable sounded out properly)
2. Imagination
3. Spectacular
4. Incessant
5. Incandescent
6. Relish
7. Darling
8. Someday
9. Transcontinental

9 Gestures that make me smile:

1. Handwritten notes
2. Packages
3. Cards in the mail
4. Leg hugs from little children
5. Being asked to dance
6. Phone calls on my birthday
7. Holding hands (if I like you)
8. Meals planned and provided by anyone other than me
9. Gratitude

9 Favorite songs as of publication (there are MANY more):

Click here: 9 Favorite Songs

And my badge of honor for being a dedicated slicer:

time to breathe

I wanted to give myself time to reflect today as I worked—to ponder what to write. Don't we get an idea in our mind and just go with it all too often? I was thinking that yesterday and wanted to switch things up a bit for today. It's taken all day for me to realize I want to talk about slowing down.

It's meta that it took slowing down only to talk about that very thing. And so life goes.

Over the years, I've learned the value of slowing down to think, to act, to rest. Impetuosity is only helpful in rare cases. I do have an affinity for spontaneity though. That's the good stuff. And what is so great about spontaneity is that it can apply to slowing down! You can have the best laid plans and chuck them all to slow things way down and simplify.

Taking time to breathe clears my mind and helps me step away from the fire that is my life. I am thankful that I have learned how to do this thing. I don't think I would have been able to cope with the past 5-10 years if I hadn't learned to take a timeout every so often. During the past year or two, I think I've perfected it to an art form almost actually.

It's a beautiful thing, taking care of yourself, so you can keep going. A very beautiful thing.


"Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them out." 
— George Eliot

I read this quote (among several others) on a friend's blog, Ascending Together Daily, and it touched me deeply. It got me reflecting on the past few days and how much I want to feel better. It got me thinking about how many friends and readers have reached out to me because I've made sure to write without hiding the truth. The comfort I am experiencing has been inexpressible. No, I have not been magically cured of my emotional wounds; however, I have to acknowledge how supported and lifted I have been by every person who has lent kind words and happy thoughts.

The encouragement to keep writing has been completely surprising actually. I don't like when I write negative things. I don't like where my mind is that it can honestly feel so terribly sad. I have food, clothes, a home, a very nice car, four amazing children, a fabulous job that I adore, and the list goes on. I feel like I should be able to find joy no matter what.

All of that said, I always anticipate people rejecting my writing that is saturated in sadness. And yet—I receive a windfall of encouragement every single time. It's like I have memory loss in this area or something. I forget how deeply the ranks file for my success.

I have been so comforted. Thank you from the bottom of my ever purple loving heart.


winter's wind

The wind went howling through the trees and the house and her heart. Winter came for a visit as
Spring had been quite impertinent in its early arrival. Forced its way in, really, without warning. And truth be told, Winter enjoys the bite it brings. Frozen tears on melancholy mornings make for such romantic tales that Winter simply thinks too highly of its time on stage.

Yet we must ask ourselves why. Why does Winter hold such a grip on our hearts? Why do we let it take hold? Why do we not stoke the fires hotter and bake more bread daily?

The wind is whistling now. Trying to change its tune, but I won't be fooled. Winter is settling in, and I'll let it.


I'm feeling that loss of words thing that I talked about on Day 1. There have been so many fun things going on, yet I just don't know how to write about any of it and still be true to how my heart is faring. I just don't have enough words right now. I am disappointed in myself for not taking better care. I want to be happy and well for myself and my family. I am surrounded by joy. And yet I can't seem to grasp it at the moment. And I feel even more destitute than ever because of it. I have wishes right on the tip of my tongue, but wishing doesn't matter. I've learned that the hard way a few times. It seems ridiculous to write about things that won't ever happen. I've often said I'm not a writer of fiction. I've also said that I don't believe in crushes. So if it isn't truly reciprocated, shared love, it is fiction. And not worthy of writing about. Kidding yourself is nonsense.

Here I am now. I've found some words. I don't like them though, but I'll leave them just the same, so I can have proof of where my mind wanders when given space.

exercise day

The alarm goes off. My blurry eyes look around the dark room. I wish I could go back to sleep. I don't go back to sleep. Shoes are hiding. Where are my shoes? I wish I could go back to sleep. Somehow I am sitting on the edge of my bed. Do not go back to sleep. I get a text saying it's time to exercise. Getting a quick drink of water, I wish one more time for more sleep as I walk out my front door and down the street to my friend's house to exercise.

And that is how I begin my day most days of the week. The struggle is so real. 


The funny thing about being a writer is that even when you're empty, you still have words floating around telling you that you have no words. You ponder how empty you truly are and where the words all went.

You try to describe the place you are searching for that hoarded the words you want to work with but can't. You climb the mountain of regret and swim across the lake of shining waters (wait—that's from another story). Then you arrive but don't. You see just how empty the house is that you thought was a home. It has bare cupboards and certainly no fire by which to keep warm. Zero flame. And still—no words to be found. 

You search the pages of other people's books to find some words for you to no avail. Nothing will bring your words back to you. Nothing is on the page but hurt. Unless you stop for a moment to see.

Imagination bends to creation, and all of a sudden you have told a story so full of emptiness that it is brimming with possibilities of a sequel and even the chance to be made into a movie. Maybe the screenplay could be written after the next heartbreak rips away the words like a magician and his tablecloth—leaving no words once again—but never truly empty.

grilled cheese

The days just melt into each other sometimes like grilled cheese sandwiches. The gentle hum of routine keeping that griddle hot but not too hot. The butter on life's bread slowly toasting into a golden crisp as the center goes through a chemical change from plain cheese to liquid joy, and it all melts in your mouth from first to last bite. Life is fluid and messy, yet it can be deliciously delightful.

Grilled cheese kinds of days are the goal. I wonder how often we savor the comforts we enjoy. I wonder how often we simply partake without thinking.

I wonder how often I can't even see when grilled cheese is right in front of me set on a plate waiting for me to take a bite.


The first slice is always the hardest, I think. There is this uncanny pressure to write something profound when embarking on the month-long journey.

I don't really have anything though. I have barely written anything in several months in comparison to how much I am used to writing, so this every day thing is truly intimidating to me. Maybe it will help me get out of this shell I've crawled into. Either that, or I will truly hate my life come May.

I say May because directly following Slice of Life Month is National Poetry Month. I seriously don't know how I'm going to make it. I just don't have the words right now. I've been feeling a new energy coming about though, so maybe it will all work out. Things usually do.

But all of this is a first world problem, so I will survive. I will write and will survive. Plain and simple.

Now, I just need to think of some ideas for what to write tomorrow!