Saturday, September 10, 2016


through the small house
wailing, moaning
never ceasing

shrieked as it flew from
room to room
swirling to fill every crevice
and corner
so that it claimed
the space as its own

saturated every wall
contaminated every orifice
of that small house

It was deafening

It filled up the soul
as it howled
It left no room for anything else
It sucked up the air
and poisoned the spirit

consumed all in its path
It demanded center stage
It was the star
It required attention and accolades
It would not be denied

insisted on its way
it mandated recognition
it roared
around and through everything
and grasped anyone in its path
by the throat and
and choked
and would. not. let. go.

She Stayed

She stayed
Even though he teased her about being in a cult
After knowing him for only a few months
After breaking up with a man in a cult
A man she thought she would marry
He teased her
She couldn't catch her breath
It was just a joke

She stayed
Even though the fighting started so soon
The disagreements
the accusations that his work schedule
did not meet her "expectations"

She stayed
Even though he did not challenge her intellectually
he was still a "good man"
he still wanted the same things in life as she did
or... so she thought

She stayed
Even though she sat
in a microscopic cubicle
in a remote building in a large city
staring out the window
and a flood of clarity
shook her to the core
and the words left her mouth
out loud - for only her to hear
"I cannot marry him"

She stayed
Even though he proposed
while she was doubled over with cramps
even though she could not dream of driving up
to the end of the street to see the city lights as was his plan
even though he simply handed her the box
even though he did not say the words
even though it was completely wrong

She stayed
even though she asked him on the drive home
"but what about our problems"
and he replied that he hoped we would change
and she asked, "but what if we don't"
and he could only say he hoped we did
and she knew then that it was not a solid foundation
on which to build a life
and yet..... they did....

She stayed
even though there were tears
and tears
and tears

She stayed
even though he grabbed her by the arm and pulled her down
the stairs
and she was scared

She stayed
even though
he stormed out from the bedroom
to grab her by the throat and choke her
while she held the screaming baby
and she screamed she would call the police
and later....
and later... her baby boy asked her why
why would she call the police?

She stayed
even though his anger flared up every few months
and she had to sit through his tirade of accusations
2 and 3 hour lectures of "what you fail to understand" and
"what you don't get" and a multitude of other
indictments of her failings

She stayed
even though
he threw things
and broke things
and made holes in the walls
and upended things
and the children cried

She stayed
even though she tried to see things from his perspective
and agreed that she needed to be better
and agreed that she was not meeting his needs
and agreed that she needed to improve
and agreed that she had failed him,
made lists and promises to herself to step up
and be a better partner and wife and mother
but..... always seemed to come up short

She stayed
even though
he reached out and slapped their daughter
even though he hit his son and used him
as a verbal whipping post
belittling comments
highlighting his shortcomings
never dreaming to offer words of praise
even though their daughter simply wrote him off
even though their son pretended not to care
that his father always put him down
even though the children so desperately
wanted their father
but he could not be there for them

She stayed
even though
there was no longer contact
physical or otherwise, unless necessary
unless it was more verbal abuse
even though it was HER FAULT
that the physical relationship died
even though it was HER FAULT
that he no longer reached for her
even though human contact
did not exist

She stayed
even though
she knew she should leave
even though she was made to believe
she was to blame
even though she knew better

She stayed
because she thought it was best
for the children
not knowing that sometimes
it was a more powerful message
to show that you had enough love
and respect for yourself and them
to not put up with an unhealthy situation
than to simply stay

She stayed
even though it was always
someone else's fault
even though "I'm sorry" was
rarely uttered
even though
empathy was a foreign concept

She stayed
even though communication failed and
there was nothing left but SILENCE

She stayed
through the heartache
through the tears
through the fights
through the lectures and put downs
through the silence
through the head shaking
through the audible sighs
through the rolling eyes
through the lack of response
through the emotional absence
through the loneliness and fear
through the worry
through the pain
through the despair

She stayed...........

But now,
she. MIGHT. not...

Sunday, July 31, 2016


That heaviness that settles in
when the waning days of summer arrive
was here
It lands deep in the pit of my stomach
It hangs in a thick layer in the air above my head
A fitting ending to a summer I choose to forget
A summer filled with tears
A summer consumed with fear
A summer immersed in uncertainty

Long, silent days filled with overthinking
A quiet house that screamed with loneliness, isolation, distress
Minutes filled with pointless efforts
Late nights filled with escapeism
pretended productivity
so much wasted time - lost now

I have held my breath for so long now, 
I scarcely remember how to inhale, relax, laugh
I am afraid - strong, enduring, resilient - but afraid

I swim through the heaviness to bed
pretending at gratitude
dreading the dawn

Quote of the day: Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break.                  ~William Shakespeare

Thursday, June 23, 2016


My throat constricted every time I passed his room.  The neatly made bed. The clean floor.  The silence.  I missed my son - fiercely.  I knew he would be back - Lord willing.  But nothing was the same here without him.  I missed that bedroom floor strewn with shoes which I was forever telling him to pick up.  I missed the empty chip bag laying next to the trash can rather than in it.  I missed the cacophony of noises coming from the TV or the video game or, best of all, my son's infectious laugh as he scrolled through his social media sites or watched ridiculous videos on his phone.  I missed him asking me to take him to the mall or to get a smoothie.  I especially missed his goodnight kiss - a ritual he and I still clung to no matter that he would soon be 16.
I sobbed at the airport as I put him on a plane by himself - off on a month-long summer venture to Michigan where he would spend time at a basketball camp and then visiting various family members.  He had never been away for any length of time - and now here he was having to navigate airports alone, keeping track of his things, remembering to take his medicine... with no parent trailing him to be sure he was OK and responsible.
I'm now halfway through the month without him.  It has not gotten any easier for me.  I know he is fine and that family is with him.  I know he is having fun.  I know it is a good experience for him to be away and learning to take care of himself.  But that doesn't help my heart from longing to have him safely back with me.  It does not help my soul from needing to see him, laugh with him, hug him.
His absence has left a huge emptiness in my home this summer.  I am distracted, sad, unproductive.  It does not help that in a month I will be taking my daughter away to college and will have to experience these feelings all over again...only permanently.  I am not ready to let my children go.  I know I have to - but I am not ready.  I feel lost.  All I ever wanted to be was a mother and I have reveled in this role - I have enjoyed every moment - good and bad.  I know I am still going to be their mother.  But it will be so very different as they begin to step out on their own.  Who am I, then?  What is my purpose if they no longer need me on a daily basis?
I will miss my son's 16th birthday this year as he will be gone still.  He will miss Father's Day, his sister's 18th birthday and the Fourth of July.  Nothing is right...for me anyway.  Tears flow unexpectedly.  I attempt to fill my days with busywork.  Not much helps.  I do not like this season of life.
My throat constricts as I pass by his room - so neat, so tidy, so empty.  I miss my son.

Quote for the day:  How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.
                                            ~ Winnie the Pooh

Wednesday, March 11, 2015



I'm OUT.

Quote of the Day:   I have often regretted my speech, never my silence.
                                                                            ~Publilius Syrus

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Host of Adjectives

A host of adjectives to describe my day:


                                               Forgetful                     Confused



                                                                                              Disorganized              Punchy



No real explanation - save for staying up too late last night.  Off to an early bed this evening to see if that results in more upbeat adjectives tomorrow.

Quote of the day:  A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book.
                                                                                               ~ Irish proverb

Monday, March 9, 2015

On Hugs

What I know for sure... Today ~


Who have you hugged today?

Quote of the day:  Everybody needs a hug.  It changes your metabolism.  ~Leo Buscaglia

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Small Life

She lived in a small house in a small, serene neighborhood in a small community filled with small-minded people.  Her days were filled with small, mundane, repetitive tasks:  work, errands, chores, shopping, homework, TV, laundry.  Her goals seemed small, it now occurred to her: job, marriage, kids, home, car, dog.  All achieved . . . and she took no small pleasure in most of these accomplishments.  She endeavored each day to fill her soul with gratitude for the small things, to live in the present, to appreciate all she had earned or been given.
Yet - she was overwhelmed recently with just how small her life was:  no community of friends, no outside activities, no hobbies.  At home there was no small talk at the end of the day, no small gestures of affection.  Just small noises coming from separate rooms.  Small comments - just enough to function.  Sometimes small, sideways glances of disgust or frustration.
Sometimes in the still, small moments of the night when all others slept she dreamed -  she no longer wanted small.  She wanted BIG.  She wanted loud, busy.  She wanted the glitz and the glamour.  The fame and the fortune.  She wanted her name to be familiar and beloved by the world.  She wanted to create, to be sought out, to lecture, to travel, to lead, to learn.  She wanted to dance and to dine. She wanted notoriety.  She wanted connection to others. She wanted invitations and accolades. She wanted limousines and red carpets and fancy dresses.  She wanted book signings and gallery showings. She wanted philanthropy and foundations.  She wanted BIG!  She wanted EXTRAORDINARY!
She had always felt this was her destiny - but time seemed to be running out.  The small, persistent second-hand was ticking away.
Perhaps she was unrealistic.  Perhaps she was wrong.  Perhaps small was all she would get.  There was an element of doubt, of course.
Fortunately, it was small.

Quote of the day:  Dreaming is an act of pure imagination, attesting in all men a creative power, which if it were available in waking, would make every man a Dante or Shakespeare.  ~H.F. Hedge

Saturday, March 7, 2015

My Horoscope

I'll be honest - I read my horoscope in the paper, and online, daily.  I do so mostly (99%) for entertainment value.  But, occasionally I find insight or tidbits of truth that make me think. 
This was true of yesterday's entry in my paper:

                 Sagittarius:   Animals puff up when they are threatened.  Fur or
                                     feathers stand on end; fish take in more air to appear
                                     bigger; people do the same thing.  When you see
                                     this reaction, ask:  What is this person afraid of?

Intellectually I knew this - but it was a helpful reminder that anger in all its various nasty forms is just masking a deeper fear and that I should be more concerned about the fear and its cause than the anger that hurts my feelings or elicits my own anger in response.
If individuals, and states and countries and governments could focus more on understanding and addressing our fears, there might be peace.

What are we all so afraid of?

Quote of the day:  The one permanent emotion of the inferior man is fear - fear of the unknown, the complex, the inexplicable.  What he wants above everything else is safety.
                                                                      ~Henry Louis Mencken

Friday, March 6, 2015

What I Know For Sure

Thought I'd do a take on Oprah's column "What I Know For Sure" in her magazine -

What I know for sure...

                   Being judgmental never results in anything good.  Be open-minded, be forgiving, be kind, be positive.  These will bring you what you want in life - at least I think so - I'm kinda counting on it.

                    On the flip side, however, don't be a doormat.  Believe in yourself, respect yourself, don't give away your personal power, be confident, be strong, stand up for what you believe.  You are worth it and YOU MATTER.

                   There is an ancient Latin phrase: "In vino veritas".  Translated it means "In wine there is truth".  Tonight, it was not wine, rather beer (two to be precise) that opened my eyes to this realization.  No, folks - not an alcoholic - just joined some colleagues from school to celebrate a birthday.  One member of the party was a woman with whom I have had a rather strained relationship over the years.  I have chosen to release my grudge against her - and while we may never be "besties" I see now that we can get along and might even LIKE each other one day.

                     My apologies to all those upon which I have passed judgement - I was wrong.  We are all dealing with SOMETHING in our lives.  Be kind.

Quote of the day:   If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion.  ~Dalai Lama

Thursday, March 5, 2015

On my way to the drugstore...

I reached home before I remembered that I had meant to stop at the drugstore to pick up a prescription before coming home.  Slightly perturbed, I dropped my bags, threw in a quick load of laundry, told my teenage son I had to head out again, and jumped back in the car.
I drove, slightly too fast, through the tree-lined neighborhood, my mind singularly focused on the errand at hand.  I knew I would get irritated if anyone or anything got in my way - a dog-walker, a slow car, a bicyclist.  I just wanted to be done and get back home, strip off the work clothes, don my sweats and settle in.  Fortunately the road was clear.  
As I rounded a bend, I saw them in the distance.
An elderly couple it looked like, slowly crossing the street.
I checked my irritation - and my speed - as I neared.  Something about them commanded my attention.
They were similar in stature:  short, slightly bent at the waist. They took small, slow steps.  Each wore a hat.  He, a black, flat cap.  She - well, I didn't get a good look.  I could see each had alabaster hair curling out from under their head gear.  The waning afternoon was sunny, mild, yet each wore a beige sweater.
In the gentleman's hand was a cane, but he carried it by the shaft next to his side, rather than using it. "They're so cute" was my initial thought. "Just out for a stroll."
As I slowly passed them, I took my eyes off the road long enough to see that they were holding hands - tightly, at once supporting each other and loving each other.
My throat constricted.
I drove on consumed suddenly by the fear that I would never find myself in a similar scenario thirty years hence.  
I didn't even know I wanted this, until I saw it.

Quote of the day:  Grow old with me!  The best is yet to be.              ~Robert Browning

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Diamante

busy, stressful
frustrating, tiring, unsettling
tests, tears, couch, wine
relaxing, soothing, calming
quiet, peaceful

Quote of the day:  Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to
                                take you in.                          ~Robert Frost

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Twenty Things

Twenty things to which I would always say "Yes"...

1.  Summer
2.  An ice cream cone, coffee chip ice cream
3.  A good book, cozy chair, warm blanket, roaring fire, glass of wine (I consider this ONE
4.  A hug and kiss
5.  A trip to Paris - or Italy - or Spain - or...
6.  New shoes
7.  Financial freedom
8.  A puppy
9.  A summer baseball game
10.  A new journal
11.  A warm cup of coffee
12.  Poetry - writing it, reading it, sharing it
13.  A best friend
14.  A house overlooking the beach
15.  Freedom
16.  A bunch of fresh tulips
17.  Kindness, compassion, empathy (again, ONE thing)
18.  A prime rib, baked potato, salad dinner
19.  Music - all kinds ( well, maybe not Rap so much)
20.  Good health be continued, I'm sure.

Quote of the day:  “Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness.”
                                                           ~Pearl S. Buck

Monday, March 2, 2015


        I won't fill up these posts with my rants about THE TEST.  But today was DAY ONE and I had managed to work myself up into a real tither over the weekend.
         I don't stress about much - ever.  Not worth it.  Life is too short.  But I made the mistake of reading endless Facebook posts regarding THE TEST from around the country - and became more and more worked up over the weekend.  I must have questioned my poor daughter at least ten different times about the walkout she wanted to participate in today, about the test schedule at her school, about her graduation requirements - on and on - poor kid.
         As I went to bed my stomach was churning.  "This is ridiculous" I thought to myself, "You haven't been at all stressed up til now - what gives?"  This morning was no better.  Shallow breathing, mind sifting through all the possibilities of what could go wrong, or things I might forget to do or say.  I KNEW I wanted to have one last conversation with my kids before we tested - I felt I had not adequately prepared them - they needed to know that while I hoped they would try to do their best, that these results in no way defined them or their abilities, that THEY shouldn't stress out about this, that we all just needed to get through it and move on.
         I had to scramble a bit this morning figuring out who the latest kids were to opt out, where the materials were that I needed to administer the testing, other logistical issues.  At one point I felt the tears coming.  I shook them off.  This is madness - I would NOT let myself cry over such a pointless and absurd state of affairs.
         I spoke with my students once they all settled in, got the test started with only a few glitches, made it through about an hour of testing, successfully logged everyone out.  My opt out kids were amazing, as they sat in a corner of the Library quietly working or reading.  My Instructional Coach was a lifesaver in getting me to breathe and relax.  My testing kids were brilliant - listening, following instructions, working hard.
         I am much better now having made it through DAY ONE.  No doubt my emotions will run the gamut over the next few months - but I'll deal!  May all of you who are walking this same path with me be at ease and may all go well for you.

Quote of the Day:  Why waste your time worrying?  Has it ever solved anything? Breathe. Think. Solve.  Much more effective.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

New Beginnings

It swirls up from deep inside
at once churning, engulfing and delicately floating, ethereal
possibilities abound
limitless choices
expectations, prospects
no restrictions
excitement leaps and curls around
each moment
transforming the ordinary spaces
optimism and anticipation
thwart any opportunity for
fear abides,
but nests in a darkened corner of the soul
obscured by potential and belief
accomplishment, achievement, conquest
all attainable
all valid
all plausible
ideas explode, rush in, bombard
a lightness of being, fragile yet sound
permeates each creative cell
Hope bubbles, then cascades over
the brim
of what is to come

Quote of the day:  “Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.” 
                                                                                     ~ A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My Testing Rant

I am working very hard on adopting a more positive attitude - about EVERYTHING.  I am a fundamentally positive person.  I do not want to enter my fourth year joining the SOLC being negative - BUT, I must  MUST rant a moment....
So, I will do so here before the challenge begins - please feel free to skip this post - just blowing off some steam ~


        Losing the next three months to profit-driven, developmentally inappropriate standardized testing

     Having to give up teaching my students to attend to district, state, and federal mandated "busy work"

     Being made to give meaningless District performance assessments - AND having to fill in each student's bubble sheet indicating which questions they got right/wrong - after administering and scoring each test - then having to scan the tests, keeping fingers crossed that the scanner and software will work long enough to get them entered - all on top of the state and Federal tests we have been/will be subjected to.

                                                  I RESENT...

Needing to explain to parents why our daily schedule has been up-ended in order to accommodate testing.
Needing to consider whether answering parent questions regarding how to find out information about opting out their child from testing violates any ethical code or District personnel directive
Needing to weigh and measure ALL my comments regarding testing


                      Having my students' gifted and resource room services CUT IN HALF in order to accommodate testing - in direct violation of their IEP (this is ILLEGAL, btw)

Having my principal call me in to explain to her WHY five of my students' families had opted them out and then have her inform me that our total opt out numbers will likely cause our school grade to drop significantly and would likely have a direct negative impact on my evaluation, as 50% of my score is based on my students' performance on the PARCC. (This is MY fault that families exerted their parental rights?)

Having a Governor and Sec. of Education who are doing everything in their power, legally and illegally, to destroy public education, all the while pocketing money and favors from "educational reform" agencies, publishing companies, and politicians.


Losing money every year - no pay raises, but increased insurance premiums and contributions to retirement plan
Losing my profession - and my passion for it.
Losing my confidence that "this too shall pass."

Quote of the day:  Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail.  What you gain at one end you lose at the other.  It's like feeding a dog on his own tail.  It won't fatten the dog.
                                                                                        ~Mark Twain

Monday, February 2, 2015


Quotes inspire me, comfort me, encourage me, support me, affirm me - they always have.

So, I'll share a few that are currently helping me get through life - may one or more speak to you as well...

   The less you respond to negative people,

               the more peaceful your life will become.

                  The unhappiest people in this world are the people who care the most about what everyone else thinks.

How beautiful it is to stay silent
when someone expects you to be enraged

Things always have a way of working out.  Never underestimate the power of prayer, faith and love.

Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream...

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Little Understanding

I definitely wasn't feeling 100%.  Twinges of body aches, stuffy nose, stomach slightly off. And.... exhausted.  Bone tired.  I entered my room and nearly sunk to my knees - COLD.  The boiler was out AGAIN.  "Noooooooo" I moaned out loud.  This would not help matters.  I hurried to turn on the small space heater under my desk, adjusting it so it was as close to my feet as I could safely put it.  And there I sat for a bit.  Just trying to warm up, wake up.  Instead - I found myself head down on arm, eyes closed, not sure how I could make it through the next 10 minutes, let alone the day.  "Get up and move or you're doomed" I willed myself.  A quick trip downstairs to check my box and visit the office seemed to revive me.
I knew my patience would be thin today - but it wasn't fair to take my malaise and frustrations out on the kids.  I must be diligent, I admonished myself.  The bell rang, they traipsed in, hanging up coats, stashing lunch bags, settling in.  We made it through about 20 minutes.  Then - I could feel the monster welling up.  Some innocent remark, or goofy behavior - one I would normally not even notice - had set me off.
"I'd better warn them"  I thought.
"So guys - I'm not at my best today.  Don't feel real well and am exhausted.  It won't take much to send me over the edge today.  I don't want that to happen so I promise to do my best to be patient, but I need you to help too.  Can you do that?"
I was met with a sea of warm smiles, understanding nods, even a few giggles.  "Naw - we don't need to see you go over the edge, Julie" a few joked. (Sadly they had seen it happen once or twice this year.  I had regretted each time - such a relief to know they didn't hold it against me.) 
They were on my side, in fact.  I felt myself relax.  The monster retreated.  I swallowed the lump in my throat that had come out of nowhere when I realized how much they cared, how compassion came so easily, how they UNDERSTOOD.
We forged through the rest of the day - me not at my best, but gratefully calling on all the patience I could muster; my students - well... champions.

I get by with a little help from my friends.   ~ The Beatles

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


There were only four other cars in the lot when she arrived.  The quietness of the hour struck her as she exited the car.  No cacophony of children's voices from the playground, no cars passing on the street, not even birds welcoming a new day.  It was still, serene.  A light snow mix fell from the slate sky.  32 degrees - but not a bitter cold.  She was snuggly dressed - warm boots, down jacket, scarf, mittens - so she could enjoy the bite of the air.
She gathered her belongings and headed toward the building.  This was the kind of snow she liked it occurred to her.  Gentle, peaceful, silent - and infrequent. At heart she was designed for the heat - a true desert rat. Yet - a winter morning like this could entrance her.  Enough snow had fallen so as to pop and crunch under her feet as she moved forward.  She delighted in the sound and wished for more powdery mornings like this.  Snowy days had been few so far this winter - not an unwelcome state of affairs for her - but a day like this was a happy change.
She did not hurry up the walk this morning, but lingered, drawn back by the gentle winter tableau around her.  An invitation to be present, observe, decelerate - and bask in the warm embrace of crisp December.

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
               ~Robert Frost