Slice of Life 2013

Courage over Comfort

I’ve been reading some of the slices posted today by women who participated in the Women’s March this past Saturday. I also participated in the march here in Raleigh where organizers were expecting 3,000 women and ended up with an estimated 17,000+ marchers.

When I first heard about the March on Washington a few weeks ago, I remember texting my daughter to see if she would be participating since she lives in DC. She was on board from the start and was eagerly anticipating the event, not knowing what to expect.

When I discovered that there would be “sister marches” all over the country I quickly researched and found one right here in Raleigh. I knew it was where I needed to be.

Like many of you who marched, it was an overwhelmingly positive experience for me, my husband, and my daughter and her friends. We came away from the march even more committed to supporting the causes that are important to us and felt empowered to take action in the face of opposition. History was made that day and we were all a part of it.

In the days since the march, the trolls have been busy trying to discredit the legitimacy of the march, openly questioning why women marched in the first place, and posting memes and making comments ridiculing the women who marched. Even one of our NC senators took a shot at us on Twitter. You can read about it here.

This is just one example of the kind of negative responses many of us were confronted with after speaking out. I don’t know about you, but I am not big on criticism, especially this kind. I expect a lot of you feel the same way. What I suspect is that the people who are throwing stones at us for marching are hoping that this backlash will cause us to withdraw from the fight, to stop speaking out to avoid further criticism and attack. Appeals abound on Facebook and Twitter for “people to get over it” and “stop trying to divide our country even more.”

My nature tells me that if I continue to speak out and become more engaged in this fight I will have to face more of this and likely it will intensify as we make progress in the battle for human rights. Honestly, I’m tired and we are only a few days in!

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9) 

I am praying that I will not grow weary in the days ahead. That I will not give up but keep on fighting for what’s right. That all the women, men, and children who marched all over the world on Saturday will continue to speak out and it will make a difference.






Slice of Life April 30, 2013: Living in the Moment

Slice of Life

I’m participating in the Slice of Life 2013, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at Two Writing Teachers.

I am not what you might call a spontaneous person. I am often accused of being “in my head” a bit too often, and have a difficult time extricating myself from the past or the future, whichever state happens to be the most threatening to me at the moment.

That’s one of the many reasons why I love Rosie, my six-month-old golden retriever.

With Rosie, I can be present, engaged, in the moment, in ways I haven’t been in the past. When I am with her, I can’t help but be in the moment watching her play with her friends at the dog park, learning new skills, or just being her loving, adorable self.

Since she joined our family, much of our free time revolves around her and her needs. We spend several days a week traveling to the local dog park so she can get in some “wrestling” with her friends, or just running free. This past weekend we took her to her first “swim” with other goldens. This event was sponsored by a local golden rescue group. Rosie was one of 150+ dogs who were having the time of their lives fetching balls and sticks and jumping in and out of the lake. Rosie swam for two hours non-stop, and we watched her the whole time, loving every minute of it. The whole time I was right there with her, in the moment just soaking up the happiness I could see on my dog’s face. I don’t know who had more fun, me or her.

Without Rosie, I would probably spend more time than is healthy worrying about things I can’t change and fretting over things that might never happen. She has taught me to enjoy the now, to be present, to have fun again. I think I tend to take life a bit too seriously, and having fun has always seemed like a luxury I couldn’t afford to have if “everything was going to get done.”

Now I can see how having fun is so vital to my well-being, and I so look forward to every outing with Rosie. She has taught me so much already in her six short months of life.

Thanks, Rosie!

Rosie swim


Slice of Life 2013: April 16, 2013: Thinking of Boston

Slice of Life

Slicing through the year on Tuesdays with Two Writing Teachers.

Here we are again. Glued to the television, watching the same horrific scenes repeating over and over.

This time it’s the Boston Marathon.

Many slicers have written about their sadness and horror over the senseless tragedy that took place yesterday during the Boston Marathon. Three dead already, 140+ injured, many of the injured serious/critical with several amputations. The crime scene has been described as something out of a war zone.

Today, teachers at my school murmured the thoughts that most of us have…we’re not safe anywhere anymore. We say this every time there’s a senseless tragedy like this one, and every time we live through another one it brings it all back. As time passes, we tend to put these tragedies out of our minds. We secretly hope that this one is the last. Nothing could possibly be worse than this.

We want to believe it can’t happen to us, it can’t happen in our town. But it’s simply not true. It can happen anywhere at any time. Of course deep down we all know this, but we don’t want to acknowledge it. It’s much too scary.

Naturally, as parents we want to protect our children. We want to do all that we can to keep that protective bubble around them and keep out danger and evil. So I wasn’t surprised that in the wake of this latest tragedy that my husband said, “I don’t want Katie to move to _____city!” Our daughter is in the process of applying for jobs in a major metropolitan city. In fact, she is on her way there right now for an interview. My husband is fearful for her as it seems that these big cities are often terrorist targets. While I can go there when I am operating out of fear, I gently reminded him that it wasn’t long ago that a madman terrorized an Amish one-room schoolhouse. If you aren’t safe in an Amish one-room schoolhouse, you aren’t safe anywhere.

At times like this I am so grateful for my faith. When I find myself operating out of fear I remind myself that fear is not from God, nor is it the way he intended us to live. Difficult as it is, I have to choose to move forward with faith and trust. It’s what I must do.

Tonight, my thoughts and prayers are with all of the people affected by this tragedy.



Slice of Life 2013 Day 31: Easter Surprise

Slice of Life
I’m participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at Two Writing Teachers.

Life is full of surprises, isn’t it?

We were planning on having a quiet Easter at home, just the two of us. Neither of our kids could make it home this year, and we made plans accordingly. Last night after making my orange-carrot-pineapple jello salad and ice-box cake, I settled into my chair and had just dozed off when there was a loud knock at the door. I wasn’t too alarmed as my daughter had told us that a friend of hers was going to be stopping by to pick up a pair of boots. Husband answered the door and guess who was waiting out there on the porch?

You guessed it: both of our kids!

Matt (our oldest) is a fight instructor at Embry Riddle in Florida. He had a flight student with him who had just flown from Daytona Beach to Raleigh to complete a cross-country flight for his instrument rating. They needed to fly a certain distance and they decided (at the last minute) to fly to Raleigh and surprise us. Of course Matt called Katie and convinced her that she needed to come home, too, to complete the surprise. Being the trooper that she is, Katie made the trip (again!) and met up with her big brother and a few other friends.

Within minutes, our formerly empty nest was full once again : )

Today has been a lovely day starting off with a beautiful Easter service at church (sang the first few words of “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” and was in tears), a delicious meal (good thing I decided to cook!), and some precious time with my little family of four. We are a tight-knit group, we are. Our time together in the past few years is so precious, as it’s rare we are all in the same state at the same time.

I have never been big on surprises, but I am learning to embrace them as gifts.

As I wrap-up this last post for the Slice of Life Challenge, how fitting that it was not what I had planned to write today. But since we are talking about surprises, it does fit in that category. It has been a delightful surprise to be a part of this writing adventure with all of you. Thank you to those who took the time to read my posts and especially those who responded to so many of them. It really means so much to me. This experience has been so much more than I ever expected and I believe has started me down a new path.

Congratulations to all of you slicers who made it to this 31st post!

Thanks again, Stacey and Ruth, for hosting this life-changing event.



Slice of Life 2013 Day 30: Orange-Pineapple-Carrot Jello Salad

Slice of Life

I’m participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at Two Writing Teachers.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and I find myself in the midst of preparing a holiday meal for my family (correct that: husband). The kids were not able to be home this weekend, so it looks like it is just the two of us, plus Rosie, of course.

Since it was just going to be us two, I suggested that we go out to eat for Easter dinner. Husband wasn’t feeling it. Thought it “would not be right if we didn’t have our Easter ham” and lo and behold guess what I’m making for dinner tomorrow? You guessed it : ham!

This isn’t surprising as we all have our dearly held holiday traditions. Some are our own, some handed down from family.

Tonight I am making my mom’s orange-pineapple-carrot jello salad, and for dessert her “ice-box cake” which is not a cake but does reside in the “ice-box” (remember when we called it that?).

My mom died this past October, and I find that one of the ways I keep her close to me is by making some of the dishes she loved and looked forward to, especially around the holidays. If it’s Easter, you must make a ham, little red potatoes, fresh asparagus, and orange-pineapple-carrot jello salad (served with the meal, even though husband feels this is actually a dessert). The ice-box cake is a nice addition for dessert (which mom ate at every meal and never had to diet her whole 85 years!).

So, Mom, you will be thrilled to know that your daughter (who you thought didn’t cook enough “real meals”  for her family) is making you proud by serving your favorite Easter meal.

I miss you, Mom.

me and mom


Slice of Life 2013 Day 29: Time to Dream Again

Slice of Life
I’m participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at Two Writing Teachers.
I had the day off today as my Spring Break has officially started. After all too many days of cold temperatures and dreary weather, the sun finally came out here in North Carolina. We are still not seeing normal temps but it was warm enough to sit outside in the sun. First time in a long time.

To add to that sweetness, one of my closest and dearest friends came over so we could catch up and enjoy the freedom of a day off.

We sat out on my back deck and soaked up the sun and just talked and shared what was on our hearts today.

We talked a lot about dreams and how important it is to keep dreaming, especially as we get older. We talked about how this stage of our lives has left us puzzled, not sure what to do next, what’s left for us.

Can we still have our own dreams at this stage of life and if we can, what would they look like?

In the last few years I have had a few of my dreams die. This is never easy and it can be difficult to bounce back from these losses. My desire to dream was dampened by my fear of more loss.

From our discussions today, I realized that when my children still lived at home, it wasn’t as important to have fresh hopes and dreams for myself as it was easy to live vicariously through theirs. When you have young people around you, it is easy to get swept up in all of the “firsts” that they experience, and not notice that you aren’t having as many in your own life.

After your children leave the nest, your steady diet of new and exciting experiences dries up. If you aren’t doing new things and taking risks yourself, your life is probably predictably stable and relatively unchanging (translated: “safe”).

What am I trying to say? I think I am beginning to see how important it is for me to shake things up a bit…take some risks…upset the apple cart…if I am going to truly live and dream again.

I do not want my life to be defined by my losses.

It’s time to dream again.


Slice of Life 2013 Day 23: There’s Something about Weddings

Slice of Life

I’m participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at Two Writing Teachers.
Today I find myself thinking about weddings.

Katie, my daughter, is the bridesmaid in a wedding of a good friend of hers from church. This is her first wedding where she is a part of the bridal party. It reminds me of my bridesmaid experiences, the first being the wedding of my sister, Jane, when I was 15 years old.

When I was Katie’s age and a senior in college, two of my roommates got married within two weeks of our college graduation, and I was in both weddings. It was a crazy time for all of us as we were wrapping up our college lives and getting ready to move on to whatever life had to offer us at the time. I remember feeling completely adrift at the time. No job prospects, no boyfriend (my college boyfriend and I had broken up in February of our senior year), no plans. It was a scary time for me.

I envied the security my friends who were getting married seemed to have. No need to worry about the fact that they didn’t have teaching jobs yet (it was 1982 in New Jersey and teaching jobs were almost non-existent). They had husbands who would provide for them. At the time, they seemed to have life all figured out. I felt like I had no clue.

Several of Katie’s friends have gotten married in the past year. A few more will probably get engaged within the next few months. They are all so very young.

Seeing Katie’s friends getting married reminds me that my little girl is not so little anymore and it could (and will) be her one day walking down the aisle. So hard to believe.

Still, I know these weddings can be hard when you are young and feel like maybe you will never find that special person for yourself or maybe you will never find that perfect job. It seems like there is so much to figure out about life and you have no clue where to begin.

Weddings…they bring up so many mixed emotions, but they remind us that life is about new beginnings, about starting out with very little direction and a whole lot of hope.


Slice of Life 2013 Day 22: Change in Plans

Slice of Life
I’m participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at Two Writing Teachers.

This has been a long week. We don’t start our Spring Break until next Thursday, so we have three more school days to go before we are set free. It is so close, yet so far.

I was very much looking forward to my Spring Break. Not because I am going anywhere special, but just to have some down time. Last year during break I was in the process of writing new curriculum for our county and spent eight to ten hours a day writing every day of break. I was extremely productive, but it wasn’t relaxing to say the least.

This year I thought I would just enjoy being off, spend more time reading and writing, as well as get together with friends for lunch and long walks in the park. Since I have a young pup, I thought we could spend some more time at the dog park and go for walks together.

Looks like that’s not going to happen.

Took Rosie to the vet tonight and she recommended that we have her spayed as soon as possible. Seems all of her adult teeth have come in and the vet is concerned that she could go into heat at any time. She recommended that we spay her at our earliest convenience.

Since we both work, using my vacation time to do this makes sense. Rosie will be on house arrest for a week—no playing, no jumping, no walks, no running: no fun. She must also wear a “cone” for a week.

This should be interesting.

I was told we need to “keep her calm” and not to let her get “excited.”

Rosie is a five-month-old golden retriever.

If you look that up in the dictionary, I am pretty sure it will say “always excited” next to the definition.

Anyway, I have decided to have her spayed on April 1st. I will be home all that week and can tend to her needs. It’s not the spring break I was looking forward to, but it seems like the best for Ro.

Who knows? Maybe she will let me read to her.


Slice of Life 2013 Day 21: What Makes You Happy?

Slice of Life

I’m participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at Two Writing Teachers.
In my Thursday afternoon email, I received my NY Times weekly update and saw this What Makes You Happy?  It’s a student questionnaire, but I thought I would use it for my slice tonight.
From the article:
The United Nations declared March 20 the first International Day of Happiness, declaring that “the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal.”

What specifically makes you happy? How do you make others happy? If your nation had a Gross National Happiness Index, as the Kingdom of Bhutan does, how happy do you think people would be? Why?

All great questions, right?
I am going to share this with my students, as I would be interested to see their responses. Would they be family, friends, fun or my iPhone, X-box, and texting?
What makes me happy?

For me, I am happiest when my family is happy. Nothing warms my heart more than seeing my children smile and knowing that for them, all is right with the world.
I’m happy when my husband gets a chance to fly his remote control airplane (his “mistress”) on a beautiful, day with a Carolina-blue sky and no wind. His joy is contagious.
I’m happy when I watch my dog, Rosie, wrestle and play with her friends at the dog park. When I watch her play, I am in the moment and I can’t help but capture her sheer joy at the freedom and fun of playing with her friends.
I’m happy when I get together with a good friend to share a meal or a cup of coffee and we have a chance to catch up and really talk. These experiences “fill my cup” like no others. I treasure them.
I’m happy when my students are so engaged in learning that they lose track of time and are shocked when the bell rings (“What? The class is over?! But we were just getting started!”).
I’m happy when I find “that book” that changes a child’s life. Whether it’s the non-reader who becomes a reader or the book that’s read at the right time, it’s the same: life changing.
I’m happy when I spend time writing and I am able to craft a piece that perfectly expresses what I feel with precisely the right words.
I’m happy when I get my daily “slice” written and posted on time. Challenge met.
How do you make others happy?

I think I make others happy by being a good listener. I genuinely care about people and try to be sensitive to their needs. I enjoy being able to give to others and serve them when they are in need.
If your nation had a Gross National Happiness Index, how happy do you think people would be? Why?
Hmmm…that’s an interesting question. My guess is that the United States would probably not rank at the top of the happiness chart. I think it might even be a 60/40 split right now in our country, due to the economy, wars, gas prices, unemployment, stressful jobs, etc. I also think that being a materialistic nation that places such a high emphasis on acquisition of things puts us at greater risk for unhappiness, because if your happiness is based upon how much stuff you have, there is always going to be someone with more stuff than you.

So what about you? What makes you happy?Rosie 5 months


Slice of Life 2013 Day 20: My March Madness

march madness


I’m participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at Two Writing Teachers.

It was inevitable.

I have been living in North Carolina for 20 years now, and I have yet to succumb to “March Madness.”

Yes, it is possible to withstand the college basketball mania that is a pretty much a fact of life in these parts.

I have mostly been mildly interested in what happens on the court, but I emphasize mildly. I didn’t go to college here, so I don’t have an allegiance to any one particular team, and my family is ABC (Anyone But Carolina).

My husband and daughter are big Duke fans. They watch with interest whenever Duke plays, my daughter live tweeting the game with her dad. They have a blast!

If I had to root for any team from our town, I would pull for NC State. I do have some history there as that is where I attended the Capital Area Writing Project many years ago. My love for all things NWP spills over onto NC State, so I will wear the red and black and support the “wolfpack” when forced to choose (and believe me, around here people will pin you down to know whose team you’re cheering for).

College Basketball is serious business around here.

So, with the Duke fans in my house all abuzz about the March Madness brackets and the upcoming games, I did something tonight that I’ve never done before.

I filled out my very own bracket.

Yes, sports fans, even I have gotten caught up in the madness.

I think I just might like it, too.

Oh, and in case you’re interested:  I picked Duke to win it all.