Giving Thanks

There are many days that come in with a brilliant dawn and race into blue. Days when every piece fits with precision and one knows exactly why they are doing what it is they do. These are the golden days we cheer on, the days we hold on to, the very ones we celebrate. But there are others. Messy and awkward and ugly. When we wander, lost, lonely and even in fear. Today, we gather those up too, as we scoop up the mashed potatoes onto our too full plates, and unburden ourselves with those who know us, and yet, love us still.

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the witch hunt

@realDonaldTrump

“…..the call with the Ukrainian President was a totally appropriate one. As he said, “No Pressure.” This Impeachment nonsense is just a continuation of the Witch Hunt Hoax, which has been going on since before I even got elected. Rupublicans, go with Substance and close it out!” [spelling all his my friends]

Did he cry Witch Hunt? Again? A term he has tweeted close to 300 times like rapid fire at all of us? Of course he did, because if there is one thing this president knows about lies, is the power of repeating them. “Calling himself the victim of a witch hunt allows Trump to label charges against him as not just inaccurate but fundamentally impossible. Witch hunts, by definition, are illegitimate, their victims innocent, their judgments always wrong” (Markham- Cantor). Is there anyone who believes he is innocent? Not even Trump claims that verdict. He boasts his lies like a prankster proclaims laughs.

Having just finished Arthur Miller’s The Crucible with my Advanced Placement English Literature students, who, due to the large number of theater kiddos in the room, read with passion and gusto, it was as if John Proctor and Abigail Williams and the rest of those iconic characters peopled my class. When Abigail, in all her initial seductive coyness said, “A wild thing may say wild things” they predicted that Proctor’s sin of adultery would unravel around him, and that she had indeed “an endless capacity for dissembling”. In Act Three John lets loose his shame, “I have know her, sir. I have known her.” “You–you are a lecher?” The crux of the Salem Witch trials fought over land tracks and false blame and stifling fear all come to a “pointy reckoning” when the innocent hanged “high over the town.” My students were hooked on every word like greedy fair-goers, ready to watch as lies replaced fact and insanity trumped reason.

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let no man put asunder

As we slip closer to becoming the dystopian world we used to chuckle over while reading the fantastical novels of our youth, I now wonder about ever leaving the house. Even then paranoia creeps in while watching/listening/reading the news. It’s melting ice caps and fire storms. It’s waring tweets from men plenty old enough to know not to taunt but daily they do. There’s corruption in Facebook, phone apps listening, and Amazon with one-day deliveries causing insurmountable mountains of cardboard. Gun violence passing epidemic proportions that not even George Orwell would have imagined. Rational stuff gone daft too, like the inability to debate issues in Congress or use Science as a base for fact. Everyone is distrustful of any branch of government. People are retreating, especially the L.G.B.T., unsure if our marriages or jobs or civil rights will stand this latest round of Supreme Court discussions.

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save this tiny planet

“My message is that we’ll be watching you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”

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summer lessons

There are always days which stay with you long after a season has been folded and packed away. Moments when you felt joy or purpose or transcendence or connection, when nothing stood in your way, blocked your view, held you back or caused doubt or fear to creep in. Summer, for me, allowed for a multitude of such glimpses into splendor. Perhaps you are nodding in agreement because of your freedom days: vacation time to dive in, soar above, or just sway on a porch swing. However you got there, I do hope you felt the divine. Sweet euphoria. And perhaps have garnered a few lessons of your own to remember when the cold wind strikes. Here are mine.

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Back to Schoolers

All over my town kids are filing along side-walks, waiting for the school bus or walking to school. Rush hour starts up before it did a few weeks ago, and every one is on the go. I too am up and out far earlier than just a week ago, ready to meet and greet my almost 90 students. New sneakers and brightly colored garb and all the rest adorn the pre-K through 12 as they stroll about the hallways. But what about all those who are lost in-transition– between foster families– or disputing parents– or living in families who find the back to school basics too much for their budget? For those unable to purchase the items on the must-have-list, these first days are another struggle kids face as they walk into the classroom. Hey, why not consider helping? If you are no longer outfitting your own kids for school, hitting up the local supply store might be a fun trip down memory lane, giving you the opportunity to pick out pencil cases, spiral notebooks, bright highlighters, and all the rest students need. Create your own must haves for someone who can’t.

school bus

At my school, a backpack drive came together to support kids who come to school without the necessaries. A quick call to your local public school guidance office might help you locate a group that is doing the same in your neighborhood, and just like that you can make a huge impact. We popped in to the shop last Saturday and grabbed pencils and markers and highlighters and notebooks, and then added a water bottle and a smaller pouch to store valuables that could be easily accessed and removed. We made sure both backpacks were sturdy, and luckily found a store that offered an additional discount when we told them we were donating. The discussion at the cash register spurred a whole line of folks to do the same, and in just a few minutes everyone was discussing how they might help the kids who really need some help. Like wild fire the contagion of support spreads and before you know it every kid in town has the same advantages.


During this hectic time, it is easy to fixate on our own needs, to dial into our own isolated demands, but I dare you to stretch beyond your own boundaries. Remember this next generation are dealing with so much, from the front lines of targeted school violence to an uncertain environmental future, inheriting a whole planet of catastrophic issues to reconcile. They need to be focused and better educated than we ever imagined necessary. They need to problem solve all that we have laid on them, and they need the tools to do so. Let’s all do what we can to lend a helping hand for those who are our future. #backtoschool2019 #payitforward

ocean vistas and quiet paths are worth keeping

Week after week I have posted about yet another swim. I know. And I’m so sorry. It’s just like this crazy fixation for me. Actually it’s not that, swimming is my lifeline, a means to finding a way through when there doesn’t seem to be another way. In summer all possible watering holes are endless possibilities for joy. I seek out mountain streams that burst over waterfalls, misty lakes where loons call back and forth to each other, the big beachy Pacific or the stoney Atlantic and the occasional outdoor pool to dive in and float under the heavens. But you all know that. It is the same story every August. Me writing about going as far as a dare and then going a bit further.

The reality is I am a playful swimmer, I mean sure come November I’ll be in the indoor pool doing the back and forth lap thing, but even then I find myself breaking up the routine by watching the light skip across the surface. All summer long I just play in the water. While on a ferry recently we saw a school of dolphins playing in the wake, jumping high up over the waves and diving back under, all in unison, right as the sun sank into the horizon turning the sky lilac and tangerine. My buddies for sure. How lucky that we still have miles of water just for our pleasure?

Water rules me, and even though I reside in a land-locked state, there are rivers at every turn, as well as quiet paths to stroll along side. On days when a swim isn’t possible, hearing water run shallow over rock while shimmering in the late afternoon sunshine can elevate my mood pretty gosh darn well. I am so grateful for this magnificent world. For all this clean air and water.

This just might be the time when we all do whatever it is we can to keep it as pristine as we can. That will take a few adjustments for most people on our planet. The United States may not be the #1 country responsible for creating the Earth’s destructive and devastating pollution (China wins that award), however, we are #2. Imagine that? For a country that prides itself on grass-root, small-town, community-caring, we certainly are making a catastrophic mess of this one planet we need to keep inhabiting. Can we each make a change? Depending on our current lifestyles, perhaps a few small steps might be possible for all of us?

Going zero waste is a great step towards combating climate change. Practicing the 5 R’s of zero waste can help.

You’ve probably heard of the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. But there are two more that are equally important.

Lets break it down:

  • Refuse – Avoid single use plastics and paper products by saying no thank you, opting for reusables.
  • Reduce – Downsize what you purchase, opting to be more mindful of what you really need.
  • Reuse – Always find a way to keep an item out of the landfill by keeping it in great condition, repairing or upcycling it when it breaks.
  • Rot – Set up a compost system for your food scraps, or find a food scrap drop off center (like a farmers market, or community garden) near your house.
  • Recycle – Properly recycle any plastic, paper, glass or metal that comes into your life you cannot refuse, reduce, or reuse by researching your state’s recycling laws.

If you ask me, all this glorious swimming and strolling under a big blue sky is worth our efforts.