Journal

Shout Out


I thought this needed to be said loud and clear. If you can put one foot in front of the other, and smile while doing it, you are a champion in my opinion. These last two-plus years have been horrendous. It is not only the pandemic, but the atrocities occurring daily in Ukraine. There have been heavy blows to the economy, unemployment, suicides, the list goes on. At times it seems like there is no hope. I try hard to seek out the light, whatever glimmer of good there is in the world.

There are still good people in this world. It is those people I celebrate. The people who generously open their home to refugees, the school teachers who scramble to put their lessons online so their students get instruction, the nurses and health care providers who work covid units and still manage to smile and provide care to those in need, the grocery workers who stock the shelves, as well as the people who deliver food to those who can’t get to the store. There are so many good people who have empathy for others less fortunate. I hope they are all blessed immeasurably for their goodness. A shout out to you all.





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Children's Books, Journal

Saying Goodbye to Future Teachers

End of SpringTerm

I have been an online instructor for a university for almost seven years. Each term I change my course based on what I feel would enhance the learning for my students. I learn so much from them. I love sharing my experiences and insights. This last term I decided to try a new course. I sent out an email to my course developer who put me in touch with a colleague who set me up with a course I have long wanted to teach, Children’s Literature. Whenever I try something new I get a bit anxious, and once I get into it (believe me, I research), I feel like Wonder Woman. On top of it all, I was given autonomy to make any changes I feel are necessary. Being brand new, I hardly changed a thing. To have that level of trust and responsibility given to me is life affirming. I went well above and beyond and made more work for myself than necessary. But oh, what a good class!

I now need to say goodbye to my students as they have completed the term. I received feedback from them stating how much they learned from the course. I wish the course was longer. We could have covered so much more in depth. Goodbyes are hard, but I know the students will make a difference in the lives of their own students. That’s the best outcome ever.




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Journal, Wisdom

“I Wish You Happiness”

Photo by Jack Hawley on Pexels.com

I once read that Richard Gere, that handsome actor from An Officer and a Gentleman, said that when he encounters someone who is angry or hurtful toward him, he directs this unspoken thought to them, “I wish you happiness.” I recall thinking, ” How can he be so gracious in the face of such bitterness?” I decided to give his peaceful method a try.

There was the woman in Costco that shoved her way past me. Mind you, we are in a pandemic and she might just be afraid of covid. I wished her happiness in my mind. It didn’t prompt her to turn around and apologize, but I did feel a bit better that I’d chosen to react kindly (and silently). I tried it again when a man cut me off on the freeway. He was driving a huge truck with too many tires and I was driving toward the exit ramp with my turn signal on. He sped up and gave me a finger wave and a mean glare as he sped past me. I am grateful for my reflexes because he almost hit my car. Yes, I wished him happiness rather than yelling at a man who couldn’t hear me and didn’t care. I must admit, I felt calmer.

Would this practice be effective with my husband who on occasion gets on my nerves? We know each other’s triggers after almost 25 years of marriage. I figured it can’t hurt to try. He leaves 10-12 pairs of tennis shoes in our front entryway. I moved them to the garage on a brand new shoe stand right by the door. He moved them back. Although I wanted to yell, “I worked hard to clean up that area,” I told him that I like the area to be clear of clutter. Then I silently wished him happiness. It didn’t take care of the excess shoe issue, but I felt that displaying his large stash of shoes is obviously important to him. They remain where he put them. Who knows why, but I let it go, hoping he would be happy.

What I took away from this new mental exercise in kindness is that it only harms me when I unleash anger or react without taking a pause to assess how my next move may effect my health. My amygdala, the part the brain that warns us to fight or flee, would secrete cortisol. Too much cortisol leads to serious health issues. On the other hand, if I wish someone happiness, it oddly brings me a moment of happiness, however brief. I’ll take it.




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Journal, Wisdom

Stop and Be Still

My grandson on a morning walk with his dad . This was taken half a mile from his home.

I learn so much from my grandchildren. They teach me how to enjoy the moment. They teach me to be still and absorb sights and sounds that I have taken for granted. I have learned to see nature through their eyes. It fills me with optimism and hope that the new generation will not take for granted the splendor that is all around them. My grandson is fortunate to live close to a nature preserve that he and his dad walk to often. On this particular day he was very still and watched as a deer crossed his path. He noticed everything about the deer, but knew to be very quiet and very still. He just stood there and looked on with awe at this beautiful animal. Such restraint from a two year old! I would have scrambled for my phone if I had been there. Obviously my son did just that. Not my grandson. That moment is in his memory bank.

Children learn through experiences. New information is stored in longterm memory when it is connected to multi-sensory experiences. These walks to nature are such good learning opportunities.
Perhaps next time I will join them and leave my phone in the car.


Get outside. Stop and be still. You never know what you might see.


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Journal

Oxygen

New growth, seeking oxygen

I spent eight days in the hospital with covid and pneumonia. Despite being fully vaccinated, my age and being vulnerable with a pre-existing condition contributed to covid finding me. I found myself unable to breathe and completely exhausted. A trip to the emergency room resulted in my admission to an isolation room for covid patients. I was joined by two women, one who moaned, “Help me, help me” continuously. The woman next to her tried to soothe her without success. Nurses came and went, but once they left, she would call out the names of what I assumed were family members. She was transferred to “another level of care.” That left me and the woman across from me who got to go home. You don’t know loneliness until you are by yourself in an isolation room. The staff that entered looked like beekeepers or those sci-fi people who are examining an extraterrestrial creature.

I was told that I needed to be flat on my stomach at least three times a day to help my lungs. I did as I was told. When the nurse left, I fell asleep. My arms were pinned down and the canula that supplied oxygen had somehow moved while I slept. I was breathless and began to panic. I reached for the nurse call button that I was told would be right near my hand, but I could not reach it. I struggled to breathe as my fear grew. I tried to locate the call button, unable to turn over or pull my arms up. I was the most helpless I have ever been and cried out just like the woman who moaned so much. Frantically I felt around near my hands and found the call button at last. I pushed and pushed to no avail. I cried and asked God to please let me live. I kept pushing areas of the nurse call button and realized as I fumbled with it that it was upside down. I flipped it over and pushed the whole thing until I heard a nurse respond. I cried out, “I can’t breathe. Help me.” The nurse arrived and helped turn me over. She put the canula in and the life-sustaining oxygen flowed. I cried, this time tears of gratitude.

I am grateful to the nurses who cared for me. One nurse noticed that my hair was a tangled mess that looked like birds were nesting in various spots. She brought a can of shaving cream and told me that after many years she discovered that it helps remove tangles. She sat and brushed the knots out of my hair. She then braided my long hair. The last person who did that was my great-grandmother.

Another nurse brought me chocolate ice cream and I don’t think ice cream ever tasted that good. A stocky nurse on night shift helped get me upright on a chair so he could change my sheets. These nurses are heroes. They are angels.

When my oxygen level was stable I was allowed to go home with portable oxygen. My bed never felt so good. After about two weeks I was able to walk to the kitchen. Another week and I could sit on my little deck for a few minutes without getting tired and out of breath. My heart filled with gratitude for the fact that there was enough oxygen in my lungs to sit on my deck. I have a new found love for oxygen, for life.





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Journal, Wisdom

Move On

I’m not sure if it’s the pandemic or the recent tragic devastation from tornadoes across six states that reminds me of how fragile our time on earth is, or maybe it’s old age, but I have been dwelling on mistakes I’ve made that can’t be undone. It hurts to know that one moment in time when I could have done something differently, is lost forever. Poor choices, a lapse in judgement, a slip of the tongue, all these hideous memories that haunt me can’t be undone. All that is left is my guilt and a desire to try to keep true to my values. I know that I can make better choices moving forward. More importantly, I want to do better. I want my time to be spent feeling the joy of knowing I did the right thing. I want to know I loved fully and I made good choices.




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Journal

Thinking Out Loud


Son of My Son

I was still a teenager when I had my son. I had no idea how to raise a child. I only knew that holding him was the best feeling ever. I knew that loving him would be easy. I had the luxury of staying home and caring for him while his dad went to work. My son received my full attention. I read to him from a variety of books. Teaching him was my full-time job. Playing with him, singing to him, and resting next to him are sealed in my memory. The number one song at that time was The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. I sang it to him at every nap and bedtime.

When my grandson was born all those sweet memories were visible in his beautiful face. He is inquisitive, fearless, and incredibly loving. I know my son will have the joy of his life with his own son. I am a blessed grandma.

When you teach your son, you teach your son’s son.

The Talmud



This photo of my granddaughter serves to remind me to savor the images and times when I was captivated by someone or something. The sense of wonder is a cause for celebration. She was at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and stood inside a tunnel that allowed her to see a wave breaking above her. That sense of awe is something that children encounter often as they have new experiences, ones I have taken for granted. They unabashedly show their feelings, and it is beautiful to watch.

I think it is my grandchildren that opened my eyes to a renewed appreciation for nature. They most definitely savor new experiences. They are expressive and inquisitive. The newness of everything and their sense of wonder is contagious. I am filled with gratitude for the privilege of being a part of their lives. I hope they keep their sense of wonder and embrace new experiences with the same curiosity and enthusiasm.






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RESCUED

Who Rescued Who? 

I was on my way home from work when my husband called me to ask how I like the Pyrenees. I told him that I absolutely love them. I thought he was referring to the mountain range I saw while traveling through Spain and France. He meant the dog breed. He told me he was at the animal shelter and he wanted me to stop by. What I didn’t know is that my husband had spent hours in an outdoor pen playing fetch, petting and getting acquainted with what I thought resembled a small white horse. I couldn’t say no when he asked if we could take him home.

Once inside our house the giant white dog galloped upstairs and took a bite out of the edge of the coffee table. Not satisfied with that, he went for my Ugg boots and tore them to bits. We chased and yelled, until he came to a stop near my rocking chair. We tried to get him downstairs by enticing him with treats, but not before he bit the legs off my rocking chair. I just cried. My husband kept saying, “ He’s scared and hasn’t learned yet.” I named him Max because he reminded me of the naughty boy from Where the Wild Things Are.

We thought we would try putting Max in the backyard. He chewed the top of our spa cover. I told my husband that either the dog receives training in order to extinguish bad behavior or we find a new home for Max. I obviously lacked the same patience and optimism that my husband had. My husband attended training classes every Saturday and after two months we had a different dog. Max is my husband’s best friend and they are inseparable. It turns out Great Pyrenees are very loyal, protective and gentle.

As for the tiny fur ball, she did not get along with her siblings so I rescued her. I did not name her, but Tootsie seems to fit. She is quite the alarm system when anyone approaches our house. I learned about Great Pyrenees; they are guardian dogs for sheep. I think Max considers Tootsie a baby lamb and he is very protective. Can you tell which one is the trouble maker? Fortunately we have a lovely dog park at the end of our road. The dynamic duo are the best of friends.

Tootsie and Max

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Journal, Teacher Tips

What If?


I teach an online course for future teachers in a master’s degree program. I was grading journal post last night when I read a student’s journal entry detailing her fears about interacting (or failure to interact) with parents. She was candid in describing possible scenarios. “What if a parent had a horrible school experience and hates teachers?” “What if the family doesn’t value education?” “What if I don’t make a good impression?” “What if I cannot connect with them at all?”

I asked myself, “What if I give her the wrong advice?” I found myself falling into the trap of fear and doubt that she carried. I’m a veteran teacher with 20 years experience dealing with parents. I know better. I know that being my authentic self is all I can be, and it’s good enough. I love teaching, and this student is obviously worrying herself sick over ‘what ifs.’ Her anxiety was reaching toxic levels. I thought about the most honest and heartfelt (hopefully helpful) advice I could give her. I told her to highlight the student’s strengths. I encouraged her to send notes home with the child

to report effort, acts of kindness, and any improvement. They send a clear message that you are noticing their child’s growth, and you care about their child. It will help build a bridge that may undo preconceived notions about the teacher or the school. This is crucial if they’ve lived their life with negative memories of a bad experience. A student that goes home happy and feeling supported is bound to share that with their parents. A teacher’s job is to make sure they get to know their students, let them know you value them for who they are.

Too often parents are not part of a student’s support team. That is a signal that the teacher needs to give even more of their heart and time to that student.

It’s good to give a glance at the what ifs, but more important is to be proactive in how you will connect with your students. What if you make a real difference? What if the parents want to decide to become involved? What if that student remembers you all their life?


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Journal

Girl Power

I would replace shoes with tools. Traditionally girls have been limited in which dreams they could pursue. The changing landscape no longer relocates girls to secretarial or caretaking jobs (unless they choose such). I was pleasantly surprised when my granddaughter shared her dream of being an astronaut.

Education has opened new possibilities for women, releasing them from dependence on a man for their sustenance. Legislation has created laws to enable equal opportunities as well as broader opportunities for women to obtain jobs other than teaching, nursing and other traditionally female roles. Public outcry has shone a light on the issue of gender discrimination, but despite this, women are paid and advanced less than men. To break the cycle of power and poverty, women need confidence, strength and education.



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Journal

Early Morning Turtle Watching



Here are some of the best places to take your kids or grandkids to see sea turtles on the island of Kauai:

Poipu Beach — Great for kids because even waders can spot sea turtles hanging in the reef shallows while snorkelers can see them swimming in the clearer depths.

Kuhio Shores — Though a little rocky at the entrance to the water, the bay just east of Kuhio Shores is a favorite sea turtle hang out. Honu visit this spot year round to snack on the plants growing among the rocks.

Kipu Kai Beach — This beautiful crescent-shaped beach boasts clear waters ideal for seeing and swimming near sea turtles. Scenes from the movie The Descendants were filmed here.

Koloa Landing — Straight out in front of  Koloa Landing Resort is one of the best places to snorkel with sea turtles in Kauai. Guests can even grab snorkel gear from the resort or get hooked up with a local guide.

There are so many more, so get packing and have a memory-making time!

Caution:

  • Always stay at least 10 to 15 feet away from a sea turtle. Do not chase, approach, touch, dance with, high five or ride a turtle. Fines can set you back $100,000. Not worth it — not to mention cruel.
  • If you would like to move closer to a turtle, float or swim as gently as possible. They are living, breathing creatures that deserve respect and care. Look, do not disturb.
  • Never attempt to feed a sea turtle — unless of course you are a rock covered in delicious algae. 
  • Avoid loud noises and abrupt movements which will startle these timid guys.
  • Do not pour water over a beached turtle or try to push it back into the ocean. (You’d be surprised what people attempt!)
  • Always give a sea turtle a clear path, taking care not to block their access to land or sea.
  • Avoid following a sea turtle out too far or you could find yourself in dangerous waters. 
  • If you encounter a sea turtle that is stranded, injured or in distress, report it immediately to a lifeguard.
  • Use a sunscreen that is friendly to marine life and reefs. Today, Hawaii now sells only environmentally sound sunscreen.


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Journal

Wanderlust

When I was a little girl I wanted to be an airline stewardess so I could travel all over the world. As it turned out, I became an elementary teacher with travel limited to summers and books, where I can let my imagination take me away. I’ve had incredible trips to England, France, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Costa Rica, The Netherlands, Canada and Mexico. My husband was stationed in Turkey during his time in the Air Force. He still longs to return. I have a former student in Germany and it’s on my bucket list to surprise her one day. I love learning about cultures and customs. I especially love meeting people who take the time to talk about their life. I have had serendipitous moments like the time that my husband and I were in an airport and saw a former student, or the time we were in a cafe and the waitress overheard me tell my husband that I had never eaten fried green tomatoes. She told the cook and he brought out a platter of them for me to try. In France my husband wanted to surf and the owner of a surf shop loaned him a brand new surfboard for the day. The world is filled with friends I haven’t met yet.


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Journal

Adventuring

10 Great Quotes About Change

This year I decided to join my daughter’s family in Wales for Christmas. Yes, during a pandemic, with a new variant waiting for its next host. I am triple dosed with the vaccine, have a pile of masks and will do may best to avoid crowds (in an airport?) I decided to reframe my thinking, kick my fears to the curb, and join in a joyous celebration with my granddaughters. My daughter really gets into the holiday spirit. She sent me pictures of the snow falling on her yard. I can’t wait to tromp around in the snow with my fun-loving granddaughters. The girls have a love of books that I like to think they inherited from me. The journey will be long so I have saved books on my phone as well as a book of puzzles.

Wales is a magical place that stole my heart on my first visit. Mind you, I ended up in Zurich overnight due to a snowstorm. Even that detour was filled with adventure. So I have made my Mind Map of the journey and I am counting down the “sleeps” until I leave.


Had to switch month to December due to covid

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Journal

Hang In There

May be an image of cat

Some holidays are difficult. Especially now that my kids are grown and off living their lives. The house is quiet, too quiet, and there doesn’t seem to be any point in cooking a big feast, or even a little one. It’s those times when thoughts of the past seem to hold me in a vacuum. Thoughts of my grandmother’s kitchen remind me of the smells of freshly made tortillas and lentil soup bubbling on the stove. With my eyes closed I can see her wiping her hands on her apron while she makes sure everyone has a full plate. Then I think of people in line to receive food from a food bank, hopeful there will be enough to last a few days. I have a stocked kitchen. I can hear my grandmother saying it’s time to take that turkey breast out and make a meal. Gratitude covers me like an old quilt. As my grandmother would say, “Cuega ahi, mijita.” Hang in there.

27 Best Thanksgiving Quotes - Grateful Sayings to Share on Thanksgiving


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Journal

Slow Your Roll

I need to remind myself that I don’t need to take on more than I can handle. I see stress on the faces of people everywhere. Rushing here and there to get things done. Always haunted by a mental list of what they must do to be whole. To be satisfied.

Worry lines seep into skin and leave a reminder of their power. I tell myself to enjoy every moment, but to do that means to actively pause what I have deemed the do or die tasks that wait for me. I choose to replace thoughts of procrastination with thoughts of peace. I will enjoy a peaceful day and get to my task list tomorrow. Ahh, it feels better already.

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Journal

Stay Weird


I was hunting in my closet for something to wear. At one point in time my closet was organized so all clothing of a particular color were together. It has now returned to a multi-colored mess. As I reached for a white blouse I thought, “No, it’s past Labor Day, I can’t wear white.” Who made that rule and why?

I have very long blonde hair that I am told should be short because I am older. A teacher I worked with actually said, “When are you going to get a hairstyle? You should cut your hair. You wear it up anyway.” I have no idea who made her the hair police, but I actually like my hair and wear it up because working with second graders means I lean over to help them with their work. Why do I need to explain? In retrospect, a simple, “I don’t want to cut my hair” might shut down all judging. What happened to, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything?

At my age I will wear anything I want! Rant over.


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Journal

Welcoming The New

For six years I have taught an online course for a university. I enjoy staying connected to education by instructing teachers who are earning a Master’s Degree. So far I have only taught one course on Literacy and Reading and enjoy it very much. Today I was asked to teach an additional course on The Art and Craft of teaching. The university’s confidence in my abilities mean a great deal to me.

I am grateful for the additional course and the opportunity to instruct undergraduates. I genuinely hope I can continue to be a part of guiding future teachers.

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Journal

Rest

It’s good to take an inventory of how you’re doing physically, mentally, and emotionally. Taking time to rest is an opportunity to recharge our batteries. If we don’t get enough sleep at night, we need to rest during the day. That’s a luxury that most people don’t have. It takes determination and commitment to stop all activity, turn off all devices, and go to sleep.

I discovered that apps like Headspace and Aura offer soothing music and meditations that assist in restorative sleep. The difference is remarkable.

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Journal

Unplugged

I did it. I booked a flight to England to visit my granddaughters, daughter and son-in-law. I wrestled with the idea of flying during the pandemic, but felt that with two vaccines and a booster, I am as protected as I can be. The thought of being with family washes over me as I remember the laughter, silly jokes, heart-melting hugs, and general sense of wholeness. I love everything about the life my daughter has made in the UK. There is magic in the way she cooks for her family. Love in every serving. My son-in-law made it a way of life to include belly laughs with the banter that happens the moment he is home from work. My granddaughters share their day at school and everyone settles down for the evening in a very cosy family room.

The flight is my least favorite part of the journey. I try to make the most of it by listening to books on tape or writing in a journal. To truly unplug, I generally prefer not engaging in conversation with strangers. Books and journaling help me pass the hours. I think about places in Wales that I have been shown that literally took my breath away. If fairies exist, surely they live in Wales. The times I have been there have always given me a sense of peace. I so need that. I need to come back home with a renewed hope for happier days. I will have made new memories to hold onto.




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Journal

What’s Important

I got to spend time with my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughters from Wales. It’s been years since we were together. My husband took our 10 year old out to the beach to teach her to surf.The little ones played in the sand and got their feet went in the ocean. I couldn’t wait to see the cousins meet for the first time. To hear my son and his youngest sister laugh took me back to when they were children. We kayaked, took walks, saw sunsets together and watched their children play. Our otherwise quiet home was filled with sounds of love and joy. These moments are what is important.





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Truth

I said goodbye to my family from Wales. They came for a short visit as we have not seen them in years. I stood in line at the airport waiting for their turn to put their bags on the scale and show their passports. I looked at how much my granddaughters have grown since I last saw them. The tears came with intensity. Their presence brought life, laughter and love to my otherwise lonely, quiet house. I prefer a messy house full of love and life to being alone in a quiet, tidy house.

They divided their time in California to accommodate divorced parents. The stark contrast in climate and lifestyle was quite dramatic. They saw the high desert and the beach on their visit. We learned that time spent in a car to travel to any attraction is not worth our time. It was a unanimous decision (after the fact) that enjoying our beach town offered all the excitement that we could ask for. We made the long journey to Big Sur, and it is breathtaking, but being together at home was a much better use of time. The oldest grandchild learned to surf.

I can still hear their laughter. Cousins meeting for the first time is magical. I have a greeting card that says, ” She said she usually cries each day, not because she is sad, but because the world is so beautiful and life is so short.”

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Grandpa Teaching Granddaughter to Surf

Our granddaughter from Wales wanted to learn how to surf and she wanted her grandpa, an accomplished surfer, to teach her. He got her outfitted with a wetsuit and spent time on the sand prepping her and acquainting her with the basics. Her little sister was content playing near the shore.

I watched and it reminded me of when he tried to teach me to surf. I remember him telling me that the best surfer in the water is the one having fun. He is a retired teacher with so much experience and adventures with surfing. Our granddaughter walked into the waves asking if there were any sharks. I couldn’t hear his response, but that was when he took her hand.





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Grow Your Mind

Ever since I was a child I have loved books. I found the joy of traveling in my mind to exotic places where I could experience adventure, and become someone else. I could be a scientist, an explorer, a hero or a villain. Each book brought new possibilities.

Everywhere I went I would be sure to bring a book. Being called a bookworm was not offensive to me. I preferred reading to interacting with those who didn’t share my fascination with books. I can only assume that a person who doesn’t enjoy reading has not found the right book that captures their interest. To this day I carry a book with me (sometimes on the Kindle app on my phone).

I like to explore various genres to broaden my choices and gather information. There is much to be gained by selecting a book on a topic that has been on your mind. I knew I liked pictures of New Zealand, but reading about it and learning customs, culture and history has increased my knowledge base substantially. When discussing a topic it is always better to have facts from reliable sources. I never realized how much I would enjoy nonfiction books, but the information enhances my vocabulary while strengthening my knowledge base. A real win!

Historical fiction and thrillers are the latest genres that appeal to me. I have had the pleasure of joining two online book clubs and have engaged in discussions with a few authors. It opens up an entire world once your mind is open to learning from an author’s perspective. It’s often surprising when I find myself challenging my own long held beliefs. In that way books are helping me grow my mind.

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Family Time

I like to think that even if you did not have the opportunity to grow up in a loving, nurturing, healthy home, you can still create that kind of home for your own children. It is never too late to start building the kind of life you want. I am blessed with great kids and like to think I am much wiser as a grandma than I was as a mother. Time and experiences along the way helped to shape my priorities. I know how much laughter, forgiveness and feeling confident are essential elements in every day life.

My daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughters are visiting here from Wales. Every second with them is a treasure. Sitting at the dining room table as I listened to my daughter, I thought of how proud I am of her and her capacity to love. My oldest granddaughter helped me in the kitchen. The little one celebrated her 5th birthday here, in the US, complete with a unicorn theme. These moments are precious. There aren’t enough of them. All I want to do is make memories that they will cherish and pass on to their children one day.



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About Me, Journal

On the Road to Peace

It’s been in my head and heart to see new places, explore different cultures, learn about how to do new things. That’s why I spend time admiring posts of scenery from places I long to experience for myself.

Lately my fascination centers around waterfalls. My first encounter was in Costa Rica ten years ago with a group of surfers who managed to get a great travel package that included horseback riding to a waterfall and zip lining through a rainforest. It was an unforgettable and much needed adventure.

Most recently I saw Snowdonia where there are too many waterfalls to count. I sat in the backseat of my son-in-law’s car gaping at the majesty of it all. That is another trip I hold in my heart.

This world is full of magical memory making place waiting to be explored. I’m ready for another adventure.

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Journal

Stay Safe Out There

I was in the grocery store to pick up a few items. I wore my mask and assumed that others would also. Not so. I pushed my cart through the produce section and a very large man yelled at me, “You don’t need a damn mask!” He scared me. I got out of the store quickly. The sign on the entrance said, “Masks required.” About half the people I saw were not wearing masks. I am fully vaccinated, and even got a booster shot. I am protecting others, as well as myself. What if I had a kidney transplant? What if I had a compromised immune system? The what ifs are endless. I should not have to respond to such an unfiltered verbal assault, and to be honest, I was too frightened so I did not respond.

The cases of Covid are going up in our little area. I am being responsible and this is a public health emergency. Hopefully we can all see that. We will all die someday, but if you know there is a vaccine that will provide some protection, why not take it? I watched my mother die gasping for air, and I imagine that being on a ventilator isn’t much fun. I lost an aunt and an uncle to covid. I hope that we all make it through this horrible virus. I hope we care about our fellow citizens enough to do what will help them survive.



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Journal, Teacher Tips

Don’t Be Afraid to be Silly

It’s good medicine to laugh. It’s even better to have a belly laugh. This is a great way to begin the day, a meeting, the school year. According to Psychology Today, “A hearty chuckle releases endorphins, feel-good neurotransmitters and endorphins are part of the reason laughing is so contagious. Laughing also has many health benefits such as increasing blood flow and improving mental and physical resilience. In fact, it’s not unlike a vigorous workout session.”

Interesting facts:

“The eminent psychologist on laughter, Robert Provine, Ph.D., of the University of Maryland, agrees that laughter isn’t really about humor. He contends that it’s more about relationships. Cutting-edge humor straight out of Comedy Central is great, but people actually laugh more in conversation and through interaction. Provine has unearthed a few facts on laughter including:

  • Laughter bonds people through prosocial behavior
  • It’s a contagion
  • Women laugh 126 percent more than men
  • Mating would be nowhere without it
  • Men want to generate laughter and they need women who will laugh
  • Women are commonly laughter appreciators”

Here are some research-supported tips for using humor to increase retention:

Do

  • Use humor to enhance classroom joy
  • Use humor to develop a sense of community
  • Use content-related humor
  • Use age-appropriate humor
  • “Sandwich” humor between instruction and repetition

Avoid

  • Sarcasm
  • Cruel or inappropriate humor
  • Forced humor
  • Off-topic humor
  • Too much humor



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Journal

Life is Good

I spent part of the day with my grandson. It was just the two of us. When it was time to take a nap I asked him to select two books that I would read to him. He ran into his room and brought back two of his favorites. I always say, “Be sure you are comfortable so you can enjoy the story.” He got a pillow and put it right near me. We looked at the pictures first and found things we liked. We talked about what the story might be about. He snuggled next to me as I read to him. When I finished, I told him that I was very tired and needed to rest my body. He looked at me and said, ” You’re a good grandma and I love you.” He put his arm around me and fell asleep that way. I think I will remember that moment for the rest of my life. I thought about how good it is to be alive to witness those kind of moments. In spite of all the bad times, events that make me want to disappear, there are moments that are precious beyond words. I am grateful that I lived to have moments like this; to see that there are sparkling moments in life that are just around the corner.



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Journal

Kayaking on the Bay


Today was the perfect day to take out our kayaks. My son, daughter-in-law and grandkids joined us on this sunny day. I paddled with them out to dunes to let the kids explore the dunes. They are no strangers to the area as their home is very close to the bay. We were treated to otters and seals who seemed to greet us. There were lots of families who had the same idea on this gorgeous day. The kids love to climb the hills and slide down. They both love to wade near the shore, and there were a few tears when it was time to leave. Such a lovely way to spend a Saturday.


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Journal

Disconnect


My husband treated me to dinner at a very nice restaurant recently. What did I do the moment I sat down? I pulled my phone from my purse and checked emails and Facebook. It’s become a habit, even though I know it’s not only rude, it robs me of being completely in the moment. I have been making an effort to stow my cell phone in another room before I go to bed. It’s not a coincidence that I am sleeping better. I made a list of things I could do rather than checking my phone:

  1. Write a letter to the person or business that you appreciate or are concerned about. It could be a family member or a friend you haven’t heard from in awhile. Write a compliment to a business that is doing good job during a pandemic. Make their day.
  2. Read a book that you have been meaning to get to (not during dinner).
  3. Go through your closet and drawers and donate items you do not wear. Put the bundle in your car to remind you to drop it off.
  4. Clean out your refrigerator and make sure you dump outdated food.
  5. Clean window ledges, and your windows while you’re there.
  6. Plan out your next vacation. List possibilities.
  7. Go to dinner without your cell phone. Leave it in your car. Enjoy precious time.



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About Me, Journal

Grandma’s First Contact

Featured Post

My youngest daughter lives in the UK. I live in California. When she shared the news of her pregnancy, I began a series of Letters to My Granddaughter. I felt the urgent need to capture all my emotions and keep a living record of my joy and hope for the future. I wanted my words to wrap her in love, and assure her that I will always be grateful for her life. This tiny girl reminds me of her mama; so sweet. As I held her I thought about how love is limitless. She is in my heart wherever I am.

Here are a few letters I wrote before she was born;

December 31, 2011

Dear Granddaughter,

Right now you are preparing for your entry into the world.  We are all very glad that you got this far and we are anxious to meet you.  Your mom and dad smile when they talk about you. I got to see your movements across your mom’s belly via a wonderful invention called Skype.  I knew that a baby in utero can hear sounds outside the womb, so every time I talk to your mom, I tell her to say that I love you. Soon I will get to say that myself.  Your cradle is amazing, complete with fairy lights all around your room.  You are so loved already.  There are a billion things I want to show you!  I live near the ocean and plan to show you tidepools and teach you what I know about the sea.  Summers will be our time. 

   I love you,

  Grandma

January 2, 2012

Dear Granddaughter,

     It is New Year’s Eve and I don’t like to go out of my house on this day.  Some people think that to celebrate you must drink and alter your mind.  I think it is not a good idea to begin the new year with anything but a clear head full of hopes for the future.  I hope you will have an easy birth.   Our celebration will be clear-headed joy and we will be drinking in the moment.  We are anxious to dance with you, sing to you, and hold you.  Birth is the greatest celebration of all.  

     I love you,

     Grandma

January 12, 2012

Dear Granddaughter,

 2012 is the year you will be born, so it is already filled with hope.  I have so many things I want to accomplish this year.  I want to be the best grandma a child could ask for.  It will be a year of changes for your parents because they will be on a new journey, one in which there is no guidebook.  Being a parent will be their primary job.  They are both busy professionals, but you will be their reason for living, and making a living.  They don’t know it yet, but every single second they spend with you is worth more than any time doing anything else.  It goes by so quickly.  My hope for the new year is that I can get to see you as much as possible.  

     I love you,

Grandma






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Journal, Wisdom

Outdoor Play

I used a card table and a sheet

This picture brought to mind how my cousins and I would make do with whatever was handy to create our own environment for play. We didn’t need expensive toys or electronic devices to entertain us, our imaginations did the work. Our creativity flourished in our grandmother’s garage that housed boxes of old clothes that we used to put on plays. We draped a sheet across the wire that held the garage door and it instantly became a theater. We didn’t care if we had an audience or not. A refrigerator box became a puppet theater.

I remember learning about the lifecycle of frogs long before second grade. The little stream near our home was host to tadpoles, frogs and dragonflies. We were keen observers and had conversations about our discoveries. Holding a caterpillar or a snail was a science lesson. The lessons and experiences gained from outdoor play are stored in longterm memory. I think the most important aspect of outdoor play is that it supports children’s problem-solving skills and nurtures their creativity, as well as providing rich opportunities for their developing imagination, inventiveness and resourcefulness.


Nature promotes the use of executive function skills. Executive function skills are the life skills we use at every age, and that help us stay organized and independent. With unstructured play in nature, children are using creativity to solve problems and working memory to make up stories. They work their flexible thinking skills by testing boundaries and learning how to stay safe while exploring, creating, and having fun. They are strengthening and challenging their own life skills just by playing!






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Journal

Growing in a Glove and Dem Bones

Quite a few years ago when I taught a 4/5 combination class

My fourth and fifth graders loved experiments. This was a fun way for them to get a close-up view of germination. We planted sunflower seeds by pressing them onto a moistened cotton ball. We used clear plastic gloves and taped them to the windows. The students documented the progress in their science journals. Great fun!


Dem Bones

When we studied bones we got a bit creative and used qtips.






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Journal

Seaglass = Mermaid Tears

After a light rain, I thought about walking on the beach to look for seagrass. I identify with seaglass. I have been broken, beaten against rocks, swept away by winds, and over time my sharp edges have been smoothed by the battering of the elements. I have emerged triumphant and reformed.


Click here to view a video about seagrass.


Seagrass began as a bottle of some sort (perfume, soda, whiskey, etc,)


The rarest color to find is pink, and some purple.


All shapes and sizes


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About Me, Journal

My Beach Life

So many tourists visit our little town, and not just during the summer. The cooler ocean air brings many people from the valley to our area to escape the heat.

The roughed coast of California offers sights that visitors from other areas seldom, if ever, see. I live in a place that is an escape for many. Being a desirable vacation destination means it gets unusually crowded with tourists on holidays. The rest of the time it is peaceful and quiet.

Up the coast we have a viewing site for elephant seals, and if you look up into the nearby hills, you will see Hearst Castle, where zebras, cows and llamas roam the area. The sunsets cause drivers to pull over and to stare in awe. I’m grateful that I live in this beautiful, peaceful place.

Having lived in the high desert for too long, the 23 years I have been on the Central Coast have given me a firm belief that being near the ocean restores body and mind. I am grateful to be lulled to sleep by the waves. Some nights I can hear the seals on the rocks.





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Journal

Dream Big

I used to live in the high desert where it can reach 120 degrees F in the summer and sometimes snows in the winter. To be honest, I never felt like it was where I belonged. I longed to live near the ocean where I could feel the cool ocean breeze. I am sure that the high desert has its own charm, but I never saw it. I used to dream about someday living so close to the ocean that I could hear the waves crashing on the shore. I remember a trip north and stopping at The Rock in Morro Bay. The parking lot was packed and the surfers were lined up waiting to catch waves. I sat in the car and wondered what kind of work might afford me the opportunity to someday live in this incredible coastal area. It was a dream I held in my heart.

It sounds trite to say that we never know what the future holds, but I do believe that setting an intention and moving in the direction of your dream, coupled with prayer and doing the legwork, results in positive outcomes. I had lessons to learn and there were many. I always kept my dream of living near the ocean.

I have been a happy coastal resident for 25 years. If you are going to dream, make it big, hold tight to it, be open to change, work hard and give thanks in all things.



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Journal

The Sense of Wonder

Ok This photo of my granddaughter serves to remind me to savor the images and times when I was captivated by someone or something. The sense of wonder is a cause for celebration. She was at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and stood inside a tunnel that allowed her to see a wave breaking above her. That sense of awe is something that children encounter often as they have new experiences, ones I have taken for granted. They unabashedly show their feelings, and it is beautiful to watch.

I think it is my grandchildren that opened my eyes to a renewed appreciation for nature. They most definitely savor new experiences. They are expressive and inquisitive. The newness of everything and their sense of wonder is contagious. I am filled with gratitude for the privilege of being a part of their lives. I hope they keep their sense of wonder and embrace new experiences with the same curiosity and enthusiasm.






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Journal

Son of My Son

I was still a teenager when I had my son. I had no idea how to raise a child. I only knew that holding him was the best feeling ever. I knew that loving him would be easy. I had the luxury of staying home and caring for him while his dad went to work. My son received my full attention. I read to him from a variety of books. Teaching him was my full-time job. Playing with him, singing to him, and resting next to him are sealed in my memory. The number one song at that time was The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. I sang it to him at every nap and bedtime.

When my grandson was born all those sweet memories were visible in his beautiful face. He is inquisitive, fearless, and incredibly loving. I know my son will have the joy of his life with his own son. I am a blessed grandma.

When you teach your son, you teach your son’s son.

The Talmud







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Journal

Seeing The Light

Many years ago I went through some rough times. I was a single mother living in the high desert. There were times when there wasn’t much money and very little to look forward to. I was in a dark and lonely place with little hope, and blinded to possibilities that were available. At the time I didn’t know where to turn. The feeling of isolation and hopelessness engulfed me. I remember spending days wondering when this endless, trapped feeling would end.

I took a class at the community college to build my confidence. I learned about grants and loans I could apply for that would help me pursue a career of my choosing. I wondered what I was good at (other than cooking, cleaning and raising kids). I thought about teaching because I loved teaching Sunday School. Before I knew it I was completing coursework that would lead to a teaching credential. I learned that education unlocks the door to opportunity and a life of possibility. For me it was life-altering.

I encourage anyone who feels like they are trapped and feeling hopeless to investigate what opportunities await them through coursework. Baby steps enable the confidence to take giant leaps of faith. Go toward a better future.






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Journal

Take Me back

If I could go anywhere in the world, I would choose Wales. Hands down it is the most magical, natural, serene land of peace I’ve ever visited. When I read Tintern Abbey by William Wordsworth in college, so long ago,
I knew that one day I had to see this inspiring place. Little did I know that my daughter would marry and move to Wales. She and my son-in-law took me to see Tintern Abbey. Stepping inside the ruins, I immediately felt drawn to the beams of light that streamed through the remains of windows. The sense of holiness is overwhelming.

There are a variety of landscapes and landmarks that are scattered throughout Wales. Each one is impressive historically as well as aesthetically.

 Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales. Snowdonia’s magnificent scenery is accentuated by stark and rugged rock formations, many of volcanic origin, whereas the Beacons generally have softer outlines. In the winter it is a wonderland. There are plenty of waterfalls. The uplands are girdled on the seaward side by a series of steep-sided coastal plateaus ranging in elevation from about 100 to 700 feet.

There is a village, Eyam, where the villagers isolated themselves during the plaque. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-35064071 I spent hours looking at the preserved village realizing how selfless the people were to protect others from the deadly disease.






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Journal

I Wish






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Journal

Moods

There are mood changers all around us if we look for them. Here’s my list. I encourage you to make your own.

  1. When you smile at someone and they smile back
  2. Fresh flowers on the kitchen table
  3. Find an intact sand dollar
  4. Iced tea on a hot day
  5. Lay in a hammock
  6. Look at old photos
  7. Setting out a hummingbird feeder
  8. Sing in the shower
  9. Keep a journal
  10. Baking bread
  11. Watercolor painting
  12. Volunteer
  13. Walk outside for 30 minutes
  14. Look at the stars
  15. Donate unused items
  16. Plant vegetables
  17. Visit the animal shelter
  18. Write thank you notes
  19. Read a classic
  20. Listen to your favorite music







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Journal

My Daughter

Dr. Katie

I don’t know how many people can say that their daughter is their best friend, but I can. Katie was a quiet, loving little girl who collected rocks that caught her eye. Her bedroom closet was home to an assortment of rocks that very quickly became a quarry. I used to beg her to clean her room. If I had a crystal ball I may have been able to predict that later in her life she would find archaeology fascinating. I passed by the bathroom and heard her singing in the shower when she was eight years old. This quiet little girl never sang for anyone in her family until I heard her sing. She was part of a singing group in High School where she performed many solos. She aspired to be a rock star (rocks again). My beautiful daughter fell in love in the mountains of Santa Cruz where she met a young British man. They were both camp counselors for the summer. After high school she moved to England to go to college and be with her love. She earned a PhD in Anthropology and Steven is a medical doctor who also has his PhD. They have two lovely girls who are as inquisitive and caring as their parents. Katie has grown into the smartest woman I know. Her capacity to love is limitless. She is wise beyond her years, someone who I call on for advice and validation. I am in awe of her kindness and patience. Today is her birthday and I think I received the greatest gift when she was born. Thank you, God, for this sweet baby girl of mine. 







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Journal, Wisdom

Finding Joy

I have taken a break from any kind of “must do” or social media that tends to take me down a rabbit hole. I have been taking an internal inventory of my values to make sure I am living in alignment with them. It has been a journey of the soul, one that has opened my eyes to the many missed opportunities to right the wrong and stay true to what is important to me. My daily routine includes time on the treadmill listening to music that I love. I put flowers in a vase on my dining room table to remind me of the beauty outside my door. An afternoon nap recharges my energy and reminds me that rest is restorative. I now make my own frozen yogurt so I know exactly what is in it. My experiment in eating 90% plant- based food has proven to be beneficial. I discovered how good cherry tomatoes are as a snack. I squeeze a lime into my water and add crushed ice. I am making simple changes that heal body and mind.

My grandson turns two on Monday and he tugged on my blouse the other day. I turned around and he said, ” I love you, grandma, so so much. You’re a good grandma.” I picked him up, held him, and wanted to freeze time. It really is the little things that feed our soul. There is no doubt that when you stop to acknowledge the good, actively move in the direction of your values, and disconnect from anything that gets you off track, you enjoy the little things. I wish you joy.








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