Slice of Life 2013

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 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 27: A Father’s Love

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 after lunch during what our school calls “homebase,” a 20-minute, sort-of- study hall/holding area for students, one of my girls pulled up her chair to chat with me. “Donna” will often come and talk to me when she needs a listening ear. She has confided in me about lots of different things: parent problems, drama with her friends, her grades, her obsession with shoes, etc.

I could tell she wasn’t in need of advice today, as she had the biggest grin on her face.

“I’m having the best day, Mrs. Stevens!” she said. She was absolutely beaming.

“What’s up?”

“Well, I have a visitor I’m going to see tonight and I am so excited! You will never guess who it is!”

“Give me a hint?” I asked.

“Well, it’s someone I haven’t seen in a really long time…” she said shyly.

That’s when I knew it was her father.

I don’t know Donna’s father other than what she’s shared with me. Right after Christmas break she was in tears one day and she shared with me about how her father is always promising things and he doesn’t deliver. At the time I knew he lived far away and she didn’t see him very often. She was sad that he had promised her certain things for Christmas, and here it was January and no packages had arrived. She was so tired of being disappointed.

My heart broke for Donna that day as I know just how important a father’s love is, especially to a young girl.

So, when Donna shared that her father was in town and she would see him tonight, I was a bit surprised.

One of Donna’s friends was listening in on our conversation and she overheard that her dad was in town.

“Wow, Donna, you haven’t seen your dad in what, eight years?” Joanne piped in.

“Yeah, it’s been about eight years since I’ve seen him,” Donna confirmed. “I think I was about four years old the last time we visited.”

Wow. I had no idea it had been that long.

I can’t imagine what that must be like for her. But I do know that just the thought of seeing her “daddy” after so many years…he was finally coming through for her…had this girl absolutely radiating happiness.

A father’s love can do that to you.

My heart breaks for girls like Donna who grow up without the constant and steady love of a father. A father’s love is so important to a young girl’s development of self-esteem, and self-worth. When you are a young girl and you have a dad that adores you just as you are, there is no greater gift.

I did not have that kind of relationship with my own dad, but I did know that he loved me. He just wasn’t that sort of dad.

But I have seen how transformative a father’s love can be with my own daughter. Her father adores her and she has always known that love. She knows her dad would do anything for her and that he will always love and support her, no matter what. That’s a powerful love.

So when I see girls like Donna, sweet, wonderful girls like Donna, who have to make do, accept less than they deserve, it truly breaks my heart.

I hope Donna’s visit with her dad is all she hopes it will be and more. I know that her dad can’t make up for the years he has missed or the promises he has broken…but it’s a start.



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 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 17: A Watershed Event

Slice of Life 


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

wa·ter·shed: (noun)

an important point of division or transition between two phases, conditions, etc.


Constituting a watershed.

It’s Sunday.

As I wrote about here, Sundays are usually hard for me. It is a transition day, with the busyness and fun of Saturday fading away and the challenges of the impending week closing in on me (i.e all the stuff I didn’t do last week that must get done this week). The change in the rhythm of the day allows the thoughts and feelings I am usually able to keep at bay to seep into my consciousness, begging to be acknowledged.

Navigating Sundays is tricky business.

Today, I find myself feeling the all-too-familiar ache amplified by the imminent departure of our youngest child, our daughter, Katie. We have had the pleasure of having her home with us all week for her last Spring Break of her college years.

I know from experience, this is a watershed event for our family.

Soon she will no longer be a college student. On May 11th, she will graduate from college and begin a whole new life on her own. She will establish herself in a new city, with a new job, new friends, and new priorities. She will no longer have “school breaks” but “vacations” that will not be centered around “heading home” but more likely “venturing out” to explore the world.

And that is exactly how it should be.

Some of you who may not have entered this phase of parenting may doubt this swift change in family dynamics, but those who have children who have fled the nest will understand.

Graduating from college is a watershed event in the life of your family.

Yet, tempering the natural sadness about the ending of this phase of our lives, I couldn’t be more excited and happy for her. She is an amazing young woman, and I can’t wait to see what life has to offer her and how she will take it and run with it.

I am so proud of her and I love her so very much.

So, on what could be any ordinary Sunday morning, as we load up her car with groceries, and double check to be sure she has everything she needs, she will be driving off, head filled with her to-do list for the week ahead, as well as excitement about reuniting with her much-loved roommates. She will be largely unaware of the significance this goodbye means to us.

As we watch her drive away, we will wave goodbye to her, and to so much more.


 Katie wind