Thursday, December 31, 2009

"Headed for the Future"

Song title sung by: Neil Diamond

Today is the final day of 2009.

Tonight, I will cook dinner for myself and a friend who is going through a tough time right now. Comfort food, comfy clothes, and "Glee" will make us happy while we create vision boards for 2010. I've also chosen my Word of the Year: engage.

In 2009, my word was mettle. I felt like the word gave me strength when I needed it. I felt tougher. There were some big "fights" that I was able to mettle my way through this past year. I've never felt stronger.

As the year was coming to an end, I couldn't decide on my 2010 word. I went through so many choices. Authenticity, gratitude, faith, belief, and even a German word: selig. There are still moments when this word, engage, scares me. But, that tells me that I've made the right decision. Why engage? Well, there are many reasons. First of all, I have a tendency to hide away from life sometimes. I get spooked and retreat to a safe place. I need to take more risks. I need to engage with the world around me. gives many definitions of engage:
–verb (used with object)
1. to occupy the attention or efforts of (a person or persons): He engaged her in conversation.
2. to secure for aid, employment, use, etc.; hire: to engage a worker; to engage a room.
3. to attract and hold fast: The novel engaged her attention and interest.
4. to attract or please: His good nature engages everyone.
5. to bind, as by pledge, promise, contract, or oath; make liable: He engaged himself to repay his debt within a month.
6. to betroth (usually used in the passive): They were engaged last week.
7. to bring (troops) into conflict; enter into conflict with: Our army engaged the enemy.
8. Mechanics. to cause (gears or the like) to become interlocked; interlock with.
9. to attach or secure.
10. Obsolete. to entangle or involve.
–verb (used without object)
11. to occupy oneself; become involved: to engage in business or politics.
12. to take employment: She engaged in her mother's business.
13. to pledge one's word; assume an obligation: I was unwilling to engage on such terms.
14. to cross weapons; enter into conflict: The armies engaged early in the morning.
15. Mechanics. (of gears or the like) to interlock.

My hope for my word of the year is that it will motivate me to act instead of hide, to attract instead of repel. My hope is that once again a single word will change my life. I received my ring engraved with my word today from . Here is a picture of it (sorry, it's a bit blurry.) In 2010, I will engage with the world around me.

Happy New Year to you and your family!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Count My Blessings

(Song by Curtis Stigers)

OK...I said I'd try and post everyday. Oops! How about every week? I have written over 3,000 for NaNoWriMo. I've "reset" my personal goal to 12,000. I've also started a blog for my students at school. It's very exciting! Students are writing for REAL audiences. LOVE it!

Other than that, life is going well. Nothing exciting to report. Happy and healthy! Enjoy each day with all of my blessings!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

You Can Do Anything

(Song by Carole King)

Today I am starting NaNoWritMo! My goal is 50,000. That means 1,667 words a day need to be written by ME. Yikes! Scary...hard...but NOT impossible. Doing this with students and fellow teachers helps keep me on track.

I've missed writing here. School, life...there are so many excuses, but no real reasons. So, I'm back. Along with writing everyday for NaNoWriMo, I'll try to post something here everyday!

I'm back!

Monday, September 21, 2009

I'm a Believer

It's been over a month since I've written. The beginning of the school year always seems to take over my whole life. Now that we are into the third week of school, I am able to take a moment and write. But I don't want to write about school.

I believe it's entirely possible that, tonight, I have witnessed a true miracle. I feel grateful, confused, scared, and speechless simultaneously. Without going into details, this is a life changing event that happened to someone I love very much. I'm having a hard time believing that this miracle has happened, yet it exists. Grateful...that's what I'm trying to be. Grateful.

I always thought if something miraculous happened to me or someone I loved, I'd be overjoyed and excited. It never occurred to me that I'd also be scared and confused and unsure if I can believe. I think it's so easy to say that we believe in miracles, but the act of believing in this cynical world can be harder than it seems. Tonight, the impossible became possible. I'm a believer!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Big Girls Don't Cry

(Sung by Fergie...I admit, tonight this is not a random choice of song.)

Ah Saturday night, I had nothing planned. Just finished painting my kitchen (classic berry and lovely, may I add), and my plans consisted of straightening up and watching DVRed programs on television. My prospects brightened when an old friend emailed, "Dinner and drinks" at a local favorite. Yay! This friend always makes me laugh and it's a guarantee of a fun night when we get together. I wasn't sure how many would attend this impromptu gathering, but getting out felt good. Turns out there were only three of us, although to listen to us, we sounded as loud as a gaggle of geese! Giggling and harumphing at each other's stories and tales of whatever. Somehow we kept returning to the topic of reunions. Mine (high school) is this November. My friend had her reunion a couple of years ago. She was telling story after story about people she didn't remember and silly mistakes people were making about her. Also about how it felt to go to a reunion alone and the stupid things people say when you are alone: "Are you married? Engaged? Dating?" No. "Why not?" DUMB QUESTION...she was saying she wanted to respond, "Because I'm a loser!?! I don't know why." Hahahaha, the laughter continued...until she said, "I brought my camera and only took pictures of the people who got fat." There was a barely noticeable hesitation in her story, but she continued. She showed the pictures to her family and they laughed about who "got fat".

She took pictures of the people who got fat and ONLY those people and LAUGHED at them.

She told me this. Guess what? I'm fat. Oh, you can call it heavy, chubby, overweight...whatever you call's me. I don't like it. I'm trying to lose weight. Trying and failing. Wishing I was thin. I don't know anyone who likes to be overweight. I feel bad, physically and emotionally. The weight came on when my dad got sick and passed away. It's not an excuse, but it is a reason. Weight has protected me. It shielded me from life and pain. No one looks at me when I'm fat. People leave me alone and look away. Unfortunately, it takes awhile to get rid of it. I will. I know I will. I work so hard to believe that I am beautiful at any weight (although I don't think I fully accept myself now, at this weight.) But now I wonder, this November at the high school reunion, who will be taking pictures of me and laughing at the fat girl?

And now I'm I really want to go?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

from NPR: 100 Best Beach Books Ever

The audience of NPR voted on the top 100 Best Beach Books Ever. I'm impressed that I've read so many. Interesting list...take a look.

1. The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
4. Bridget Jones's Diary, by Helen Fielding
5. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
6. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells
7. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
8. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
9. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, by Fannie Flagg
10. The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
11. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
12. Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
13. The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan

14. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
15. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
16. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
17. Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett
18. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
19. Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides
20. Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen
21. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
22. The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver
23. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith
24. The World According to Garp, by John Irving
25. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
26. The Prince of Tides, by Pat Conroy
27. Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel
28. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
29. The Accidental Tourist, by Anne Tyler
30. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
31. A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole
32. East of Eden, by John Steinbeck
33. The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant
34. Beach Music, by Pat Conroy
35. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
36. Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier
37. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
38. Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry
39. The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough
40. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon
41. Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett
42. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
43. Interview with the Vampire, by Anne Rice
44. Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier
45. Empire Falls, by Richard Russo
46. Under the Tuscan Sun, by Frances Mayes
47. The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
48. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, by Tom Robbins
49. I Know This Much Is True, by Wally Lamb
50. Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie

51. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
52. The Stand, by Stephen King
53. She's Come Undone, by Wally Lamb
54. Dune, by Frank Herbert
55. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
56. Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
57. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
58. Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
59. The Godfather, by Mario Puzo
60. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith

61. Animal Dreams, by Barbara Kingsolver
62. Jaws, by Peter Benchley
63. Good in Bed, by Jennifer Weiner
64. Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner
65. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
66. The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway
67. The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand
68. Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut
69. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
70. The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler
71. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
72. The Hunt for Red October, by Tom Clancy
73. Cold Sassy Tree, by Olive Ann Burns
74. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
74. Bonfire of the Vanities, by Tom Wolfe [tie]
76. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte
77. Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
78. The Shell Seekers, by Rosamunde Pilcher
79. Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver
80. Eye of the Needle, by Ken Follett
81. Cannery Row, by John Steinbeck
81. The Pilot's Wife, by Anita Shreve [tie]
83. All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy
84. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson
85. The Little Prince, by Antoine De Saint-Exupery
86. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
87. One for the Money, by Janet Evanovich
88. Shogun, by James Clavell
89. Dracula, by Bram Stoker
90. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera
91. Presumed Innocent, by Scott Turow
92. Franny and Zooey, by J.D. Salinger
93. The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
94. Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris
95. Summer Sisters, by Judy Blume
96. The Shining, by Stephen King
97. How Stella Got Her Groove Back, by Terry McMillan
98. Lamb, by Christopher Moore
99. Sick Puppy, by Carl Hiaasen
100. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson

Monday, August 3, 2009

Down to the River to Pray

(Alison Krauss)

I love that this song came up on shuffle, because last night I went to church! Love the serendipity. Going to church for some may be an ordinary part of the weekly routine, but not me. I am Catholic. Born and raised...and forever will I be Catholic. Often, I struggle with parts of the church and have been called by some friends a Cafeteria Catholic (which means I pick and choose which parts I believe in and follow). Spiritual seems to be the accepted word lately: "I'm not religious, I'm spiritual." In my life, religion has taken a back seat behind, well everything else. Why is that? I want something more. I need something more.

Every once in awhile I get a hankering to go someplace I've never been before- go exploring. It's one of my favorite things to do. I'd heard of this beautiful church about thirty miles away. "Why not?" I thought. The drive over the mountain was a spiritual experience by itself, with it's awe inspiring beauty. When I saw the church, I got that "I did it" feeling! (Finding a new place is exciting as I am TERRIBLE at directions.) My timing was early, very early so I timidly sat in my car for a bit. When I emerged, nervous, I approached the giant wooden doors and opened them I saw a church; like any other church. There were two ushers opening the glass doors into the church. I found a seat on the edge of a pew. Kneeling, I prayed and for a moment I was overcome with emotion. Fear, anxiety, hope, love...I didn't know what to do, so I sat and wrote. The mass began. A simple organ tune for the entrance. No singing. I was disappointed. Mass was the same. So far, I wasn't sure why I came...until Father Brian began to speak. His sermon...there are no words. First of all, he spoke to us (the congregation) like people. He told us of his own life and experiences. He made jokes. He even used his microphone and spoke in a deep "God voice" and said, "This is your sign." He said his boss told him to pass along the message. Hahaha! What Catholic priest does that? Father Brian does. I laughed. He kept repeating a phrase, "Stop pretending to be Catholic and be Catholic." I feel all shook up inside like a snowglobe. My life was going along fine, on the surface, and now he made me think and question and wonder. That's was church is supposed to do! Now, I'm left with all of these feelings and I don't know what to do except...return to church. Look for answers.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Some random knowledge about me..

Borrowed today’s blog concept from Lisa at Knitting Yarns.

1. ONE OF YOUR SCARS, HOW DID YOU GET IT? on my right knee there is a raised bump from butterfly stitches when I jumped off a curb when I was little.

2. WHAT IS ON THE WALLS IN YOUR ROOM? newly painted Chesapeake Sunset paint. Getting ready to hang mirror and pictures.


4. WHAT TYPE OF MUSIC DO YOU LISTEN TO? Country music is my favorite.


6. COFFEE OR ENERGY DRINK? Coffee...MY coffee.

7. FAVORITE QUOTE? “Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”
-H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

8. FAVORITE PLACE? sandy beaches

9. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? depends upon my mood

10. MASHED POTATOES OR MACARONI AND CHEESE? Mashed potatoes...ALWAYS mashed potatoes


12. KISSES OR HUGS? kisses AND hugs

13. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING? Fablehaven by Brandon Mull and Holding On to Good Ideas in a Time of Bad Ones: Six Literacy Principles Worth Fighting For by Thomas Newkirk

Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday 5

This week’s 5 is inspired by the party game called Taboo, in which players must make their teammates utter key words by giving them clues. The twist is that each key word is assigned five Taboo words, and players are forbidden from using the Taboo words in their clues. For example, one key word might be milk, and its Taboo words might be dairy, cow, drink, white, and carton. Your clue might be something like, “It’s a beverage from Bessie,” or “You add it to coffee,” or “The land of BLANK and honey,” or “It comes out of breasts.”

Your task is simply to answer these five questions without using any of the Taboo words or phrases. Challenge yourself not just to avoid using the words, but to think of fresh, new answers to these sort of cliched meme questions!

  1. Who’s making a positive difference in your life? Me. People who love me!
    Taboo words: friends, family, husband/wife/spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend.
  2. Where would you like to be right now? at the beach walking my the ocean with the sun shining.
    Taboo words: home, bed, anywhere but here.
  3. What’s the first thing you’d do with a $5,000 (or your local equivalent) gift? Use it wisely
    Taboo words: save, debt, vacation, payments, invest.
  4. What super-power would you really like to have? mind reading and the ability to persuade people
    Taboo words: invisibility, x-ray vision, flying, strength, transform.
  5. What’s your favorite sound? singing, my nephew, not to mention peaceful quiet
    Taboo words: laughter, music, ocean, wind, ____’s voice.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Reason

(Carole King)

Do you ever sit back and look at your life? Is it what you imagined it would be? No judgment, but does it look like what you thought it would look like? Mine is not! What do you do with the expectations that haven't been met?

I remember being a little girl, somewhere around seven or maybe eight years old and talking to my dad about expectations. Well, he was talking to me. I'd get myself all worked up, usually around Christmas or my birthday, about all of the excitement. That would typically turn into disappointment. Nothing ever lived up to my lofty expectations. He started,way back then, to talk to me about the bigger picture. He taught me how to have an open mind and expect the unexpected...and to be grateful. That way, I'd be surprised and certainly NOT disappointed. My expectations used to limit me. If things didn't go exactly as I wanted (even if they were better), I would be disappointed because I didn't get what I wanted.

Who knew that I would use that life lesson at thirty-seven years old? The picture I had in my head of me at this age included a husband, children, and being surrounded by family. None of those things are true. I am single, live over four hundred miles away from the closest family, and I have a dog. There are times when this makes me sad. I feel like I've the most basic thing: having a family. But, thank God for the lesson my dad taught me. I am grateful for so much in my life: I own my own home (and I did that by myself)!! I have a life filled with friends that love and take care of me. I adopted an abused dog and he has grown and changed so much over the past five years. I LOVE my job and it has taken me further than I ever thought possible. Who would have ever thought that I would teach middle school? I have taught a graduate class at a great university and I continue to further my professional development by applying for my national board certification.

Once upon a time, (ten years ago) I was engaged. That life would have provided the picture that I expected, but I wasn't happy. Still I dream of family, children, love...but just like dad used to tell me, I am so grateful for my life today!

Monday, July 27, 2009

For a little while

OK...let me begin by explaining the title of my post. It's a song title. (This one is by Tim McGraw- one of my favorites!) My plan is to use the song that comes up on my iPod next (using the random shuffle). This will serve two purposes (maybe three...): one- I don't have to think of a clever title; two- you can learn some of my favorite music; and three- (perhaps my favorite reason why) I will think of a way to tie the song title (or lyrics) into my blog topic. Let's see how this works.

For a little while encompasses my philosophy of life. "It won't always feel like this." This is what my friend used to tell me. All things seem to be For a little while. Feelings of loss or hopelessness, or elation and perfection are transitory. That's ok. It's a constant I've come to depend on. Forever has never seemed real to me.

Yet, having admitted that, lately I see that forever does exist. It's all in perspective. Family is forever. Faith is forever. Friends (certain ones) are forever. Forever doesn't mean the same. Forever and same are NOT synonyms. That's what I need to remember. Friends may move, family members may die...but they will forever be a part of who I am and who I've become.

This leaves me to believe For a little while will last forever.

Musings and thoughts...