On Retreat

Today I’m remembering my retreat in Taos, New Mexico that ended a couple of weeks ago. For the second time I went to a retreat with Jen Louden and 24 other women. For several years I read about this annual event and thought about going, but it always seemed too much. I think in part, because I only knew Jen from her online presence, it was hard to imagine the spirit and power that this event involves. I couldn’t give myself permission to spend the time and the money to be there. There was always something else to do or pay for. Last year was my first time, and this year I understand it even better. While this is billed as a writing retreat, it is actually a writing and spirit summer camp for grownup women. Jen creates a ‘container of safety’ that enables and encourages us to listen to ourselves, to give ourselves what we need and helps us find ways of taking it with us when we go. For me, now, this is such sacred time.

Taos is a place of great beauty and great spiritual power. The air is a little thinner than I, a flatlander, am used to, so I move a little more deliberately, a little more carefully. Sometimes I have to stop and breathe. My asthmatic lungs demand it from time to time, so I listen and I sit down and breathe, slowly and fully. We stay in a historic facility where people like D.H.Lawrence wrote. He also painted the bathroom windows because he was embarrassed by their uncurtained openness. The buildings are old and simple, and you can’t help but tap into the energy of all those others who have come before us.


The windows that D.H. Lawrence painted

In the early mornings I dance. We all do. We gather in the meeting room and dance to the day’s loud and booming playlist, for about 45 minutes. Today’s playlist included MaMuse’s “Hallelujah,” and it took me home. Jen encourages us to pay attention to “what wants to be danced today.” When I know the music it becomes my way of singing into the day, which is so uplifting and soul settling. It’s a lovely way of paying attention to my own needs, and setting my intentions for the day.

The path to my place.

Sometimes we spend the morning hours in silence, just writing or honoring whatever else our hearts desire for a few hours. It might be writing, meditation, doing art or napping. But we do it alone, in silence. After lunch, we might attend a class about voice or our inner critic or writing memoir. Craft classes. They are optional but always worthwhile. Then yoga if we so desire, and dinner. The chefs are attuned to those with special needs and I was able to eat gluten and dairy free at nearly every meal. The days are packed with possibilities, and we are always, always encouraged to listen to what we truly want and then decide what to participate in.


My writing spot, looking out at Taos Mountain.

After two complete sessions I realize that, yes, this is a writing retreat, and we do a great deal of writing in a week’s time. But it is also a time of connection. With ourselves and with others. This is a time of listening to what my heart desires and giving permission to honor it. A time of renewal and restarting my life, and I can’t imagine not being there. The friendships that I have forged at this retreat are deep and spiritual, and we are able to say so much without saying much of anything at all. Our laughter is real and deep and the honesty and acceptance are so rich.

Ever since last year, when I sat outside and meditated in a rustic wooden chair, I have wanted such a chair for my home. On the next to the last day there, I found it and that night I figured out how to fit it into the back of my car for the long drive back to California. As I told the group, I would fit the chair first and everything else around it. If I had to leave my suitcase there, so be it. The chair represents so much to me that is solid and grounded. I look forward to sitting in it in my garden, and breathing in the smells of the cedars and all the plants that surround my yard. And yes, I know it is just a thing and I could do the same without it. I get that. But it’s delicious, all the same.


My meditation chair, that fit perfetly in the back of the Prius.

I have made a list for myself of how I will incorporate a sense of meditation and ritual into my daily routine, in a way that I can actually do. I understand that it won’t be the same as it in the rarified atmosphere of Taos, but it will be my way of of extending this peaceful and spiritual time and keeping it in my life.

The time for going home is past now. The final morning we had our parting ceremony, we took a group photo and then we all went our separate ways. But we will always have and treasure the connections we have made here. And we’ll be back next year for an update!


It’s always so hard to say goodbye to this place. That sky, the mountain…

A List for June


Apricot jam. Or jammish, maybe syrup.

Well, I’ve managed to miss most of June here. After such a mad post-o-rama in April, and a smattering in May, June has completely bottomed out for some reason. My best means of recovery is a list, so here goes:

1.Harvesters:  Avery and I picked apricots last week and made jam of them It’s so pretty, if a little runny still. I hadn’t made jam for decades, but it’s like riding a bike, I think. I just flew into action and knew just what to do. I wonder how it tastes.  I’m still off sugar so I didn’t even taste it! All but five of the jars sealed, though, so that’s good.

2. Whole 30: I finished my Whole 30 last weekend. The thing I craved most was cream in my coffee, so that is what I tried first. Unfortunately my nose was runny and my chest asthmatic within an hour of drinking that creamy coffee, so there’s a little message for me. I didn’t stop there, though. I had it a few more times, and the arthritis in my hands flared up painfully and my arthritic knee began to hurt. Is it coincidental? Probably not. I bought a new brace for my knee called an “Incredibrace” from the sports store. It kind of helps it, but I think no more cream will help it more. Bummer! Other than that, I’m not changing much in my diet. This is working pretty will for me, all in all.

This is the vanilla flavored almond milk. Quite an artistic setting. It doesn’t usually live there!

3. Almond milk: This segues nicely from the last paragraph. I’ve begun using almond milk in my iced coffee. I like it a lot. This week I bought some unsweetened stuff with vanilla in it (Not silk. It’s  Califia Farms  brand ). Adding that to my iced coffee makes it taste like vanilla wafers. Even without any sugar.  Weird. I like vanilla wafers, so I’m okay with it.


These are my new VIonics. See the little silver line on the strap? On all the others colors that is patent leather. Or the whole strap is jewelie.

4. New Shoes: Last weekend I went to visit my sister, and she was raving about her new flipflops. They are therapeutic for problematic feet and legs. The brand is Vionics and they have a very built up orthotic-like footbed. Since I have such a problem with my knee, I decided to try some. The thing is, they are all either patent leather on the strap or encrusted with gemstones. Not my thing. The only ones that didn’t have that stuff were grey. “Pewter.”  I decided that was my favorite color for a while, and bought them. They take some getting used to because of the orthotic soles, but I’m liking them a lot now. They might have thrown my knee out of whack for a little while. but it feels better today. (so who knows, did it hurt because of the cream or the shoes or just because it felt like it? And is it better because of the shoes or the brace or just because it feels like it? Whatever. It’s better so I’ll take that.)


There are 150 steps from the cliff to the ocean. I only went down there once! UPDATE: Yesterday (6/26/15) they cancelled the Junior Lifeguarding championships right here at this place because 15 Great White Sharks were spotted swimming around this pier, out at the end of it by the cement ship. Wow!

5. Santa Cruz: This should have been first. Last weekend I went to Santa Cruz to watch one of my dear friends/ former students get her Masters Degree from UC Santa Cruz. I stayed in an Airbnb in Aptos which was just great. The people were so kind and welcoming, and the room very comfortable. I felt great there. I went a day early so I could feel relaxed, and I did. I went and watched the ocean for a while and that was so nice. Except for the stinky old cement boat at the end of the pier that was covered in seagulls and pelicans and their poop.  Anyway, it was good to see my friend, Maribel and her family, and the graduation was inspiring. It was a grad school  only event so was very small and personal. Quite a few people got their PhDs, which was amazing to me. Lots of Doctorates in Astrophysics and Chemistry! I can’t even imagine such a thing.

On Saturday I left and on the way decided, very much on the spur of the moment that I’d go visit my sister in Calistoga if she was home, and spend an extra night away from home. This past year has taught me that it’s so important to make time, to go out of our way  to spend time with those we love. We just can’t count on tomorrow, so we need to make the most of every today, really.


A farewell view of the Napa Valley, as I went over the mountain on my way home.


Tammy and I after dinner.

6. Calistoga: I don’t get to see my sister very often, so it was really a treat to go visit her. She needed to go shopping so we went to Macy’s in Santa Rosa. We don’t have a store like that in Chico, so it was fun. She is very good to shop with, as she used to own clothing stores. She is very good at knowing what fits and what goes with what and really, shopping is painless when I’m with her. This was my first shopping trip since I no longer needed to shop in the plus-size department (YAY ME!!!), and boy was it overwhelming. When you shop in Plus you aren’t used to having very many choices, so it’s relatively easy. You either find something or you don’t. But when you wear regular sizes, my gosh! The choices just go on and on. Things just kept on fitting, so I just kept on buying them. (Not really that much…) Very fun. Then we went out to dinner at a place where we could eat outside, and it was just perfect. Don’t you love it when everything just comes together like that? I sure do.


This is Tammy’s beautiful yard. She really takes care of it!

Okay. That’s going to have to be it for now because, I”m almost at a thousand words already and my house is a disaster!  I’m working up to a more introspective post but it’s taking some mental wrangling. Soon though. I hope you’re finding some fun and relaxation, because it’s important!

May I Debrief?

Pretty punny, aren’t I? (Did you get it? MAY…yeah)  Well, another month has slid by. It started quite cool here and for the ending has begun to heat up. The pool water is warm and the air conditioning is working, so we’re set for June. But first, it’s time for a debrief of the month that was.


1. The Garden: It’s all looking just great, I’m pleased to say. I backed off on watering because of the drought and so far things are handling it okay. We’ll see what happens in another month, once it heats up and I back off even more because water is about to get really expensive. Today I brought home some used coffee grounds from the cafe . I’ve heard that their acidity will make the hydrangeas turn pinker, so I’m going to give it a try. Those are some water greedy plants, I’ll tell you. You probably already know that, duh, hydra- is part of their name and it means water in some old language. Right? It does, doesn’t it? (JFGI Lynn) Okay, I just Googled it. Hydra was a Greek water monster. I suppose that fits hydrangeas if beauty is involved with that monster. Anyway, I don’t know what I expect to happen to the flowers since they are already pink, but maybe the coffee will cement the deal, in case they were trying to decide what color to be. I’m going to mix the coffee with potting soil and use it as a side dressing for the plants. Let’s do an experiment. Here is how they look now:

I’ll dress them with coffee for the month of June and I’ll take a comparison picture at the end of the month. We’ll see what happens. If anything does.

2. School: In five days school will be out for the summer. Or until early August which is still summer, but whatever. You know what I mean. It’s break time. We have five days of revelry left. On Friday we began making paper rockets, which we’ll set off on the last day of school. My daughter, Avery and I made a rocket launcher at a Makers Day a couple of summers ago. It’s cool. You pump it up with a bike pump, and then get out of the way and press a button and whammy!!! They shoot up really high, as long as all goes well. As in they are taped well and not too tight. You use a piece of pvc pipe to make them and you have to make sure they are just loose enough.For my students this meant testing them a lot. Sliding the paper on and off and on and off the pipe. Yeah, you get the visual, I’m sure. Eighth graders.  I’ll be sure to include some photos of the big launching event on Friday. It’s sure to be dynamic.

This week is sure to fly by. The eighth graders promote on Wednesday evening, and they go to the water park on Thursday, and Friday we have short classes and a field day, so I suspect I’ll have time to clean up my room and ready it for summer cleaning.

3. Whole 30, Exercise, all that: I just wrote about the Whole 30 the other day, but here I go again with an update. I think my asthma is going away. I have barely been using my Albuterol inhaler at all, and I seem to be coughing loosely lately. As in, it seems like my lungs are letting go of their congestion. If this proves to be true, WOW!!!  It had been getting pretty bad lately, so I have hopes for this. The other stuff they say, more energy, less bloating is also true this week. I won’t know about weight until the end of the 30 days, but that’s not my biggest concern. It’s maybe second but I’m not doing this for that reason. Reintroducing foods will have to be done very slowly so I can see what, if anything, impacts how I feel. This looks like a whole summer rather than just 30, but that’s okay. It’s not really a burden to do. I just have to plan, and not build my plans for fun around what I consume. What a novelty!

As for the gym, I’m finally getting my strength back. It was a long haul after only four or five days of illness. Between the being sick and the taking Prednisone to knock it out, I lost ground there for a while. It feels good to be back at the gym doing what I could do before and adding new things. On Thursday I did some back squats for the first time. They might not ever be my favorite thing, but it was cool to do a new movement. It you’ve known me for long, you’re probably cracking up to hear me talk about enjoying a new kind of weight lifting. So out of character!! I’ve been asked to write a testimonial for my gym, and I’m turning it into a blog post, so stay tuned for that.

4. Books: In 2008 I did my first NaNoWriMo writing effort. (In case you don’t know, November is National Novel Writing Month, in which thousands of people all around the world write a novel in 30 days. This is 1667 words per day, every day.) I had no idea what I was doing or where I was going with it. I just hd the kernal of an idea and I went with it. I had no idea who would show up or what they’d want or do. I just wrote, each day watching the story unfold on my screen. Since then I’ve written bits and pieces of it, with long breaks in between. Last weekend I decided to print it and read the whole thing, so I could get an idea of where I am with it, just in case I want to try to finish it this summer. Imagine my surprise then it came out to be 140 pages long, much of it single spaced! It is rife with inconsistencies, and that’s okay. It’s what revision is for. It’s interesting to read it and realize how a writer draws on personal experience to shape a work. I’m liking it, actually. Maybe I’ll see if I can bring it to a close this summer. Those characters definitely have something to say. I just need to see what it is.

I am reading Grant Faulkner’s book, Fissures. This is a book of 100 stories, each exactly 100 words long. When I first got it, I thought “No wonder they didn’t accept my 100-word story. I’m not smart enough to write one of these. I’m not smart enough to even understand one that someone else writes!” Grant is the master of this genre, truly. (He is also th Director of NaNoWriMo, but tat’s not part of this story) Yesterday I decided to pick it up again, and wow. It is interesting how much of the story exists beyond the words used to tell it. This genre is complex because it requires the reader to fill in so much. I am enjoying it a lot, and will undoubtedly read it over and over. I recommend it. Be ready to work for it a little. I hope you enjoy it.

5. Fun: Last night my friend Vickie threw a party to celebrate the impending wedding of her son, Andy. Her whole family was there, along with his fiancee’s parents and about 100 of their closest friends. My family and I were lucky enough to be invited. Vickie is known for doing fun and funny things at her parties. Never does she just have a lot of good food (which she did have) or cool decorations (ditto – all made by my daughter Avery). That would all be plenty, thank you. But Vickie is special in that she plans games for her parties. Or entertainment. Homemade entertainment. Last night after all the groomsmen made toasts to the couple, the talk turned to her son’s love of Tupac. Those who had known him during his Tupac days all laughed about it. This led to the highlight of the evening, in which Vickie’s granddaughter, Macy (who is about 9 or 10) got up on the stage with the microphone and began a call and response with the crowd. “I say BOOM!!” (response) “I way Boom Chicka Boom!!” (response)…and so on for about five minutes. At which time Vickie’s husband Tom came running onstage dressed as Tupac and the two of them, Tom and Macy, did a little performance. It was hilarious. Such a fun family, such a fun time. Here’s the backdrop Avery made:

Okay, I’ve taken too much of your time so I’ll go.We’re off to take down the party decorations. All in all it’s been a good month. Here’s to a delicious June! If you have any enviable ideas for fun and relaxation or cleaning the garage, please pass them on. Those things are all on the slate for June at my house!

Memorial Day


The Hands, Chico CA. I love this sculpture.


Well. It’s Memorial Day. A day to give thanks to all the people who have gone to fight for our country. It always seemed so distant when I was a child, because I didn’t know any veterans. Or I didn’t know I did. But after so many recent years of war, it seems much closer now. I’m so sorry for those who have lost loved ones, and so thankful for the freedom we have. I pray that now the wars stop, that we somehow change our focus to one that is peaceful and nourishing for everyone.

So far  today I’ve gone shopping and painted an Adirondack chair. And watched three episodes of Grace and Frankie. (Have you watched that? It’s a Netflix series. Good one. Funny and not funny. Family stuff with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin and Martin Sheen and that guy who was on Law and Order SVU, I think. ) And watered the thirsty things that grow in my garden.

1. The painted chair: I have been preparing for a while now to paint an outdoor chair. I put a coat of paint on it today and I don’t know if the chair will ever get dry. The paint seems peely. Maybe it’s the wrong kind. I guess I’ll find out in time, when it either stays on there or it doesn’t. I’m not worried about it. It’ll look cuter than it did. The thing is, I think it may need some touchup but when I try to sand it it starts peeling off. So I’m thinking maybe latex paint was the wrong idea. I really don’t know about this stuff. I just like the color. It’s an old chair I bought back in 1995. I painted it with polyurethane so it wouldn’t get ruined on my front porch and it held up really well until I put it out on my balcony and left it there over the winter. The winter won, the polyurethane gave up. So now I’m painting it turquoise. I was going to stain it but it had a huge greasy looking stain on the back and I was afraid the stain would’t stick to it. So now it’s turquoise. I wish I enjoyed this kind of work more. I like the outcome, but I lack the skill to do it really well. I’m going to try rubbing a dark stain over the turquoise, just to see if it gives it a deeper look. I’ll try it on a board first.

After one coat of paint. Before I try a tricky paint modification.

After one coat of paint. Before I try rubbing stain on it.

2. App of the week: DSPO.Do you know this app? It’s an app made by Hipstamatic, my all-time favorite camera app. It’s pretty cool. You create a ‘camera’ which is actually a photo session. You decide how long it will last and who all you will invite to participate in it. It doesn’t matter where they are. Then you all just shoot photos for the whole time, and when the time is up, it’s up. Then and not until then, you can all see all the photos. They give you about 4 filters you can use, and for a dollar you can get maybe six more, so you have some control over the look of the photos. It’s like a surprise photo album. This weekend we’ve done two of them. My daughter and granddaughters are in Paso Robles and the rest of us are in Chico. When the camera time runs out, we will all see what each other has been doing. Like watering flowers and painting a chair. Except the people who are on a trip seem to be doing slightly funner things. Like going to parks and playgrounds. If you haven’t tried it you might want to. It’s a fun family or friends thing to do.

3. Whole 30: Avery and I are doing one, as you may recall. We’re on about Day 18. We started strong, and then four days in we discovered that our bacon had sugar in it, like almost all bacon does. We had to start over. So far all I really miss is heavy cream for my coffee. Coffee with unsweetened unthickened almond milk is okay, but it’s not coffee with heavy cream. Other than that, it’s gong well. I feel less puffy, and the arthritis in my hands isn’t hurting. I’m not craving anything really and it’s pretty easy to make good food. It is a matter of changing one’s perspective. I can’t marinate meat in anything with soy sauce, so I seasoned some coconut milk and marinated it in that. And I made cauliflower rice to go with it. It was good. At the beginning of this journey, we went to our gym and got weighed on this device that tells you your percent of body fat (OMG), BMI, weight, water weight, etc. It really tells you way more than you want to know. We are going to do it again at the end of the 30 days of the Whole 30. It’s an experiment. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

(I tried three times to put a picture of the food I made right here.  It didn’t look delicious so I gave up. I’m not a food photographer, so I’m letting it go. Be thankful.)
4. School: Nine school days left. The last three barely even count because wither the kids will be gone doing fun things or the classes will be really short. So, it’s the time when we start cleaning up and getting ready to shut down another year. In my classes the students have been doing music presentations. Each student picked a song and then prepared a Haiku Deck (sort of like a PowerPoint but way easier and prettier) that told a little about the artist and why they liked that song. They played the song for the class and then showed their Haiku Deck. At first they complained that ALL the music has bad words. I had to approve the lyrics of their song before they could use it, and some kids really struggled. They’d bring these songs to me and I’d have to point out all the ‘b’ words and ‘f’ words and so on that they don’t even hear. I talked about how powerful music is to touch our hearts and emotions, commenting that the lyrics reach us sometimes because they are part of music, in ways that the words on their own wouldn’t. I asked them to consider what they are showing themselves if the only music they ever listen to is not ‘school appropriate.’ I asked, “What are you feeding your brain and your heart by only listening to that music?” They struggled, and ultimately I suggested that if they really couldn’t find anything else they should consider oldies. I know they love that music and those songs were created in a more innocent time, when the things singers say today wouldn’t have been uttered publicly. I’m happy to say that this project has gone really well. They’ve enjoyed each other’s music and applauded loudly after each presentation. And without realizing it, they’ve done critical reading, listening, created a tech presentation and spoken in front of the class.
5. Summer Plans: I’m setting up a week-long mosaic class with a local mosaic artist. I’ve invited local people to participate, and the date is set. If we don’t get enough participants the teacher will open it up to her list of people. This will be the third time I’ve done this. It’s really satisfying. So far we have four participants. We are also going to do a painting with an artist thing here, out on my patio. That should be fun as well. Other than that, and the two trips I’m taking and some professional development days,  it’ll be a lazy few weeks. It’ll be a good summer for visitors. Hint hint!

And that’s it for today. Have a great week, filled with all the things you love to do.

On Disappointment

Here we are again. Yesterday I wrote about writer’s angst, and today I have angst about another thing: the new string lights we put up on the patio yesterday. I’ve wanted outside lights for the longest time. I have a wonderful back yard and patio, and at night when we have guests and we’re eating outside, once it gets dark it’s just dark out there. I’ve longed for nice lighting for evening soirees ever since we moved in. (No I don’t have soirees. I don’t even know what one is.  It just sounds good. I rarely even have anyone over for dinner.) This spring, Costco got those heavy duty string lights in again, and I jumped on them. I bought two boxes, or 96 feet of lights. They’re expensive but so cool. They have a really thick cord, and the bulbs kind of hang down from their own little cords. I’ve been putting off hanging them for a while now while I gathered the materials I’d need.

I watched a You Tube video by Build.com about how to hang them. Their method was so professional looking, something my dad would have done.  It involves eye bolts, quick click clamps and a homemade but professional looking cable, sort of like a bike cable that I’d have to  make to order so it’d fit round the tree. Coated with rubber stuff so it won’t hurt the tree. I got all the stuff, and yesterday was the day. Alex worked on it with me – he was up and down the ladder a million times, drilling pilot holes, putting in the eye bolts, all that. We finally began to actually hang the lights and discovered the clamp things were too big. So back to Lowe’s for smaller ones. Once again we began hanging the lights. This necessitated decisions about how much to let them swag. Do we hang them tight and straight, or let them swoop down a little? I had in mind the look of the Italian family dinners in an orchard, where the lights gently swoop down, swinging from the trees. Never mind that I have no such big family, and no orchard either. I have a patio. It’s not the same as an orchard.

Never mind that. Our lights were hung with a swoop. They go all along the patio cover, but starting not at the corner, which is hard for me to accept, around the side of the house, across the garage wall, up to a cedar tree and back to the patio cover. Where there is a two foot overlap. Think electrical wires in Bangkok.

Okay , it’s not this bad, but in my mind it might as well be. It’s like this:


This is really hard for me to be okay with, as corner-centric as I am.  But I swallow hard, and decide to accept it. We wait for it to be dark and finally I flip the switch, and the patio is flooded with light. I could read out there, no problem. It looks kind of stark, like now I need some exterior design like some potted trees or something. My daughter says it’s beautiful. Alex is thrilled. He just can’t get over it.   I’m proud of how carefully we hung these things, how cleanly they are installed.I love the tree swoop. It’s graceful, and has that orchard ambience. 

But I’m bugged by how big they are, the overlap at the end, the fact that they don’t start at the corner of the patio cover, and how (“overly?) bright they are. And it’s niggling at me. I wanted more perfection. No overlap, the whole patio cover strung. I’m not sure I like the swoop. I think maybe it looks hokey rather than just swoopy. I am conflicted. Are they too big? Too messy? Too noticeable for being there all the time? They might be okay at night, but they’re so noticeable in the daytime. I want to rehang them. I want to exchange them for smaller ones. I want to take out the swoop. I am conflicted.

I struggle so with change. I want a certain look and then am anxious when it turns out different than my image, and I judge myself. Not just the lights or whatever the project is, I judge myself.  I feel inadequate. I can’t quite measure up to my ideal, the result isn’t quite what I expected so I must be inadequate. Does this sound familiar? Sheesh. Get a life, you’re probably saying! Or get a bunch of friends and invite them over a lot so you can attach some happy memories to those lights.

Yeah, yeah. I get it. In the meantime, while I’m figuring out who to invite over and when and what to cook and on and on and don’t actually do it, the lights are niggling at me. Tempting me to take them down, return them and start over with some smaller ones. Some more manageable ones. Trouble is, chances are that I wouldn’t like them either. Hm. I did have a good time in Bangkok, so there’s that.

On Having Writer’s Angst

Light on the pathway. Magical.

Okay, I made that up “Writer’s Angst,” but I”m sure any writer out there will go, “Oh yea, I’ve had that.” Or something like it. I swear lately I have a deep feeling of angst every time I sit down to write. I look at my blog, and I think maybe it’s boring. I look at my stats and see that some days no one, really, NO ONE reads it. My teacher blog gets readers even when I don’t write for it, yet I insist on posting to this one. So I sit down and think about what I’ll write about that could be interesting, relateable, profound, humorous – anything that might make people glad they took the time to check in and read. And of course, with that attitude, nothing comes to mind that seems vaguely interesting. It’s the attitude.

A writer has to write. Doesn’t matter who or if anyone reads it. It doesn’t, and I need to keep that in mind. Sometimes I just seem to forget that part of who I am. I am a writer. Simple as that. But when I don’t write, what am I? A wonderer or a thinker? I don’t know. It’s the same way with photography for me lately. At times I’m an avid photographer, but lately my photos look pretty  really bad. Out of focus, weak light, poor composition. Very discouraging. So hm. What am I saying here? The things that I love to do/need to do aren’t happening and I feel like I’m losing touch with that part of myself.

I just don’t seem to be able to fit school and myself into the same life lately. I’m up at 5:00 and hit the pillow at 9:30 at night. I have time when I get home to do whatever I want to, but I’m so tired out that I don’t do much of anything. Except I still work out. And often I take walks when I get home, so I don’t really think it’s a physical tiredness. I think it’s the end of the school year and I’m overfull of thirteen-year-old energy. Yadayadayada all day long.  Some days, I come home and I don’t want to say a single word. Poor Alex. I just want to be left alone.

In two weeks I’ll be bathed in quiet. Time to re-energize, write and take some pictures. I’ve had the first line of a new project rattling around in my head for weeks. I’ll finally write it down and see where it takes me if I give it the time it needs to percolate and develop. Two. More. Weeks.


On Failing to Choose Happiness

It’s the middle of May, and this week feels like it’s already two weeks long. Last week we finished our Common Core testing, and now we have seventeen  sixteen days of school left. Too many to do nothing and too few to do anything longterm. I think a little list is in order, because I like them so much. A good list keeps me organized. Honest. Okay, I don’t know what listing has to do with honesty and I could actually lie in a list as any other way, so forget the honest part. Here goes the list.

I’m thrilled to have such a beautiful piece of art in my garden. I smile every time I look at it!

1. Mothers’ Day: Look at the cool gift my daughters made for me! After that blog post about choosing happiness, they chose to make this for me. I could say maybe I’ve been too grouchy lately and they are giving me a hint, but I don’t think so. I think they just knew how much I’d love this. And I do. And actually, I have been a little grouchy and I’m thrilled to have this on my garden fence!

2. Food and eating: This week Avery and I started a Whole 30. This is a 30 day stretch of eating only meat, fruits and vegetables. It is not a weight-loss diet although that will probably be part of the outcome. It is a chance to reset my body after being sick and taking Prednisone and not exercising and eating sugar freely for a month.  I’ve done it once before and I felt great at the end of it.  Today is day 3 and the headache has subsided at night. Last night I slept pretty well and I have plenty of energy. Today I wasn’t grouchy like I was yesterday, so we’ll see how it goes. The hardest part for me is eating enough. I eat really well, but sometimes not enough. That’s weird, isn’t it? I’ll keep you posted on this. (P.S., in case you follow the link and decide to try this, last time I got the daily emails for $14.95 and they were sooo worth it!) Enough for now.

3. School: OMG. Those kids are crazy. The ones who are not passing and will not “Promote,” which means will not cross the stage, not that they will redo 8th grade (because really, they have to age out of middle school, and if it didn’t take the first two years, something else is needed). Those kids have quit. They (reasonably, sort of) say, “Why should I do this work? I’m not going to promote anyway.” While I get their viewpoint, the alternative, them sitting around like they’re at a social gathering, or taking little naps is already getting old after only about three days. They never choose to just stay home. They show up every day. Unless they get suspended for having a pot pipe in their backpack and get caught with it while they are loosening the handlebars on other kids’ bikes.Yesterday I called a kid’s mother about his lack of handing anything in that was finished She said to send it all home and he WOULD be bringing it back today. He did, but some of it was done in HER handwriting. I couldn’t give him points for that. When I called him on it, he said, “Well I was sitting right there beside her the whole time! I was double-tasking.” I pointed out that he can barely single task, so I knew that double tasking was not happening. I didn’t even try to teach him the word multi-task. He just shrugged. He’s joined the social gathering today. I’m working on what we’re going to do for the last sixteen days that’ll capture their interest, even if they don’t do the work.

I worry about these guys. They fail all their classes, so it isn’t like one F that could be at least partially due to a teacher not reaching his or her students. They are failing everything, and they are only in eighth grade. A “D” doesn’t faze them, and I just don’t understand why. I can kid myself and say that it’s all just middle school hormone sickness and it’ll all be okay when they get to high school, but I know that isn’t true. My former colleagues who teach high school tell me so. Last spring I went to the graduation of my first seventh grade class. We sent approximately 350 students there four years ago, and only 190 graduated. The rest? Some got so far behind in credits that they were sent to the continuation school. The others? I don’t know. Lost to “independent study” perhaps.Dropped out?  It makes me sad that so many are being lost. This doesn’t begin when they get to middle school, either. They are already accustomed to failing classes when they get here. I hope it isn’t like this everywhere. If it is, we’re in serious trouble.

4. News Flash about Starbucks: I just read that people are having their bank accounts drained by hackers who go into their accounts and just keep refilling their coffee card over and over again. Apparently you can allow Starbucks to automatically refill your card via PayPal and their security is lacking a layer of protection. So wow. Delete that app! I don’t have it. I just pay cash if I ever go in there .  But if you do have it and didn’t know about this, you might want to take action before you’re hacked!


Time to reconsider that Starbucks app? Or at least the connection of it to your bank account? Yikes!

5. Hm. It seems that there is no five. Three was so depressing, you’re undoubtedly over it by now. Have a good day and don’t let the bedbugs bite.