Celebrating Encouraging Words

Several times throughout this week, I have been the recipient of encouraging words. I celebrate these gifts.

A fellow teacher thanked me for the invitation I had emailed in March inviting  the ESL teachers to join in the Slice of Life Story Challenge. It had prompted her to start writing again (unknown to me, she had worked as a journalist before she became a teacher). She said how it has meant so much to her to be writing again. I feel grateful and encouraged to keep telling my story of starting to write, and how much I believe in teachers as writers.

That is just one example. In each case, the words were few, said in a fleeting moment, but the effect will be far-reaching. I know I will think of them again when they are needed. And I hope the heart memory of the feeling those words gave me will remind to speak encouraging words to others. Such an easy thing to do, really, and yet so powerful.

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I am in the middle of a two-day retreat for my district’s ESL Team. Here is what it’s like:

  • At the Museum of Art
  • Big, airy room with huge windows
  • View: on one side, a fountain; on the other side, a garden with green shade trees
  • Seated around tables with real tablecloths
  • Breakfast of fresh fruit and delicious pastries
  • Cue the music video: opening scene of Rocky
  • Our director shouts “Are you ready to rumble?”
  • Our district staff comes in and takes their corners- dancing, jabbing and trash-talking- to introduce our four areas of focus for the year
  • We have a contest: each team is given a bag with a standard, a book, and a few resources and has 15 minutes to come up with a lesson; we presented and a panel of judges picked “America’ s Best Teachers”- the prizes were certificates for each member of the winning teams to choose and purchase items for their classrooms: 3rd place- $100, 2nd place- $250, and my first place team- $500!!!!
  • Yummy gourmet box lunches
  • An afternoon free to explore the museum
  • Closing raffle with prizes

Tomorrow will be another exciting day including:

  • Same lovely setting and food
  • Keynote by our district Teacher of the Year (a libraian!)
  • Cultural gallery walk (we will all bring an artifact, write, do the walk and leave comments for each other)
  • Break-out sessions (I am leading a session based on Dream Wakers: Mentor Texts that Celebrate Latino Culture by Ruth Culham- who signed my copy when I saw her at AllWrite)
  • Another raffle with a grand prize of two trips to the WIDA Conference in…drumroll please…TAMPA, FLORIDA in October!

Don’t you all wish you could be part of it??!!!


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Celebrating This and That

Busy days with my school’s leadership team, planning ahead for the new school year

Spur of the movement visit with a friend

Seeing a rainbow

Flowers blooming


A memorial for my friend filled with tears, laughter, and hugs

Sunday morning Bible study

Getting through the much- dreaded colonoscopy, with my sister praying for me when I was getting really nervous- and getting an “all clear” report (don’t forget to schedule yours if it is due)

Sunsets- my sister-in-law posts a picture every evening on Instagram


Finding wisdom on Twitter


A caterpillar captured by my daughter


Anticipating a box of books from Amazon to land on my porch today

Spending time with these handsome fellers


A lot to celebrate, don’t you agree?

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The last time I saw my great-nephew, he was just starting to walk. He would stand, wobble to get his balance, take a step or two… then drop down to his hands and knees to take off crawling. Crawling was still his preferred manner of getting around. It was much faster.

That was just a little over a month ago. Saturday at our family get-together, he was walking confidently everywhere he went. (Well, he still hesitates when he has to go up or down a step… there was a little pile of toys at the threshold between the house and the enclosed porch where he would drop them as he tried to maneuver.) Most of the time he was a little blur of constant motion.

After such a busy day, we all thought he would quickly fall asleep when we got on the boat for a leisurely evening cruise on the lake. We were wrong. He decided to get his “sea legs.” He toddled among us, going from one pair of outreaching hands to another. He howled with outrage when he would fall, but bounced right back up to try again. He soon mastered it with his determined practice and was giggling with the delight of his accomplishment. He took a break to sit on grandpa’s (my baby brother!) lap and steer the boat:


Isn’t it amazing to see growth like that?

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She has risen above
Above pain and suffering
Above disease and death
To glory

We celebrate her life
Cherish memories
Embrace faith
In glory

We sorrow
But not without hope
To God be
The glory

In loving memory
BW 6/26/1960 – 6/24/2017

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Hello, Goodbye

This weekend I will be saying hello to a dear friend. She will be coming here on vacation with her family. They are taking a road trip from Albuquerque, NM to Indianapolis, IN. I haven’t seen her for more than 15 years, but I know it will be as if we haven’t missed a beat. I am so excited!

Any time now I will be saying goodbye to another friend. It has been a long goodbye, stretching out across the years of her battle against ovarian cancer. There have been many times when it could have been the last goodbye. Now there is no doubt, the last goodbye is very near. I repeat how much our friendship has meant each time I am with her because I want that to be the memory we keep.

Hellos and goodbyes with friends are moments to remember. That is why I am writing this down. To remember.

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Oh, My Beautiful Flowers!

Every summer I look forward to this. I watch the stalks grow tall, fill with buds, and finally bloom.

I am not sure if it will happen this summer. You see, my flowers come up in a kind of unusual spot- right between two bushes. I am no landscape expert, and when I planted the flowers in a the big space between the bushes years ago, I did not anticipate how big the bushes would grow. I’ve thought about transplanting the flowers to a new spot, but I’ve grown accustomed to where they are, and I am afraid I might kill them if I tried to move them.

My neighbor intended to do me a favor by trimming my bushes. But the thing is, this is her first summer in the neighborhood. She’s never seen my hibiscus in bloom. Never been amazed by how many buds grow and bloom or how some of the blooms are as big as plates.

“There were some tall things poking up, ” she said, “I just trimmed them, but I’ll get in there and dig them out next time.” Then she was distracted by a friend pulling up at her house. I was still kind of in shock. I didn’t get to show her the pictures. I’ve got to get over there soon.

I hope the hibiscus will still grow and bloom so she can see them in their glory.

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