Friday, December 30, 2016

Together in 2017

I wanted to take the opportunity to extend to you my warm wishes for a healthy, happy and meaningful 2017.

I’m excited about what the future could hold and I made a few changes to my blog today to reflect that optimism. You’ll see I’m unveiling my new (if rough) logo- I was inspired by a friend to take pen and paper in hand today to see what I could do.

Whatever your interests and whatever your career- there is worth while work aplenty out there and a new calendar of possibilities right around the corner. Remember: we’re all teachers, parents, siblings and friends at some level.

Let’s work. Let’s dance. Let’s laugh. Let’s cry. Together.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Can You Make an Ox in 2 Days?

“Life on the farm is a school of patience;
You can't hurry the crops or make an ox in two days.”
- Henri Alain-Fournier (1886-1914)

It’s those days between Christmas and New Years so it must be time for wild declarations of intent, right?!?

Not me.

We can make life decisions anytime. We should. When our beings become open to new opportunities, we should stand up and embrace them wholeheartedly. In the meantime, we have to remember the underlying message behind Mr. Alain-Fournier’s words. He lived an extremely short life (he died during his military service in WWI) but he understood that good things take time.

Mr. Alain-Fournier crammed a bunch into his 27 years. He was a writer, critic and ended up a soldier. He lived and loved. Some of what he thought has been saved for us to read today, over 100 years after his life was cut short on a battlefield in France.

My point?

We don’t know how long we have and we don’t know where the road will lead. To worry and compare what we have (or what we are) to what we think we should is a waste. If we live with intention every day, new opportunities and bounties will their own time.

Enjoy the crops of your life and share their bounty as they come to you. They will slip away whether you do so or not.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Hope. Possibilities. Determination.


7 more days.

There are just 7 more sunrises and sunsets for us in 2016 (it's already Saturday for some). There will be countless analyses of the year, but I’ll just say it’s a fair bet we all had a rather wild ride. Being the contrarian, I’m going to throw this out there:

I think I’m closer to my true self spiritually, physically and mentally because of 2016 and am grateful for it.

I left a job I’d loved and held for over 5 years. That process was excruciatingly painful. However, as I look at the messages I received from students and co-workers alike, I have concrete proof that I really affected lives. Instead of just assuming we’re connected, we’ve told each other. And now I have the time to process how each of these people have changed me deep down inside.

This year I also went back to the drawing board regarding my health. At the age of 45, I’ve run over 200 miles- starting in July. That’s crazy to me! 5K Runner walked me (sometimes literally) through the process. I also discovered a love for the current K-pop scene (special thanks to BigBang, BTS, (these are Spotify links: EXO and VIXX))  to fuel my runs and rediscovered joy in dance and weightlifting that had sat quietly abandoned for what feels like a lifetime. I feel physically renewed.

This essay is another example of the teutonic shifts in my life in 2016. I had dipped toes into sharing my writing in 2015 but this year, I leaped in. My mind has been on fire with ideas to explore. To date, I’ve received over 1000 blog views of my essays and most importantly, these are hits from around the world. The US, France, China, Colombia, South Korea. Thank you to everyone who has read my work!!!! It’s possible people from 4 continents have read what I’ve written and maybe something has clicked with them. That’s my hope as I drive forward. Next year...10,000 and 6 continents?

Hope. Possibilities. Determination.

Those things haven’t died for me in 2016. Heaven knows we have incredible pain and suffering to deal with in all directions. I look at my kids and wonder what they are inheriting. And yet, I’m not giving up. The human mind is too tenacious and creative. The soul is too deep and the cries for action are too strong to just fly up into the ether and be lost.
We have 7 more days.

Then, we have...a new sunrise.

Let's use them all!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Darkest Day...The Brightest Hope


Happy Winter Solstice 2016!

I was hoping to take some pretty pictures today but perhaps the clouds are more appropriate, if less uplifting.

It’s pretty darn dark today. (At least in the Northern Hemisphere. Southern is rockin' the solar rays now.)

The Winter Solstice is in fact, the shortest day of the year. The Telegraph has a great article on the history and current events from a European perspective in today’s paper. The wonderful thing to remember, however, is that celebrations of this time of year span both the globe AND time. describes a few in an article posted yesterday. Our ancestors dealt with the lessening daylight just as we do- without the distraction of the internet...or indoor plumbing. They knew that once today hit, things were going to brighten up.


I love how we still maintain some of the practices that have been going on for millennia. I love how some have been integrated in a world our predecessors could never have imagined. It adds rich texture to our modern life. “Old Man Winter” is from this long-ago world as is our usage of holly in our decorations and lighting a fire or candles. Tiny things brought through the generations, reminding us we are all one big tribe of survivors.

Eventually, the weather will warm. Eventually, the days will truly feel longer. Today, light a fire and raise a cup of cheer with those you hold dear. We’re in this thing together and that is something to celebrate!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Highs and Lows

This poem started off as just a general look at those times when we feel stupid and chide ourselves for it. I’ve seen so many people recently who seem to be really struggling with self-doubt and fear. Then, a rap-like beat developed in my head. Finally, the words turned very personal. I have Type 1 Diabetes and that requires daily work to maintain my health. I saw the doubt and fear in my own self and feel good for voicing it- I think this poem could apply to anyone. We go down but we can come up again.

UPDATE: I couldn't resist coming back and editing this- clearly needed to sit a bit for editing. 12/19/2016.

Highs and Lows

Cold clenching, heart racing
Running down the hall in silent desperation.
I feel the fool
But must go on
It’s a sweat-soaked, surreal nasty situation.

There is blood, all day long now.
I have to read it, know it and then try to follow it.
I know we all
Have a burden
But there are times this load so overwhelms me.

This pain is, what I feel
Why can’t I slice this urge to be like everybody else?
I cannot lie
It’s so hard
Sometimes my mind screams in endless frustration.

I flash a grin, I wink my eye.
But then the walls rise up without a warning.
Times are tough
All around me
I try to be upbeat but man, it wants to kill me.

Take a breath, slow it down
There are things I need to take care of.
I go to bed
I close my eyes
And seek the warmth of dreams and the sun's rise.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


We’ve all dreamt of something seemingly impossible and imagined what it would be like if it actually happened. Whether the perfect dream or most horrific nightmare, our minds can take us to countless imaginary lands if we allow them to do so with that key “What if…”.

As a teenager, I would lock up in ecstatic glee at the mere thought of meeting a famous singer or actor. Yes, I would have been that drooling, babbling fool bowing before the great and wonderful Other, feeling an overwhelming sense of inadequacy, in comparison.

Today, I still think I would get majorly jazzed, but for completely different reasons. I’d be excited to learn about connections. What do this person and I share? How can we relate? Even better- how can we share those common links with even more people?

In this season of giving, Omaze has an amazing array of experiences available to pick from where you can #1 help some great causes for humanity and #2 dream about that “What if…” in your life.

Yes, we’re all grown up. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t imagine wild ideas. Here’s the cool bit: we can bend those dreams towards something else good and productive that we CAN do.

Sure, I would love the opportunity to hang with G-Dragon and see a bit of Seoul. (And if you happen to put in for that one and win, please let me tag along!) I may never get to write a travelogue of my adventures in Korea and then donate the proceeds to a humanitarian cause of my own choosing. Well, I’d get G-Dragon’s input, of course. I mean, by then, we’d be tight.

However, that “What if…” of mine has already done a few of things. I hope it’s made you chuckle, for one. It’s also given me the chance to reflect on some big ideas and to write you a little message to hope and dream for yourself.

Monday, December 12, 2016

That Razor's Edge

This poem had its birth back in 2013. I looked back at it recently and messed around with the cadence and tone. We all deal with fear and whether we should stick things out or not- that razor's edge. Do we cut or not? I feel quite a bit more comfortable today with the line "But why worry" than I did when I first penned it. Sometimes the most painful times are the most meaningful times.

But Why Worry

I think I don’t do enough,

I think I get too engrossed.

I think I’m missing the boat,

I think I’m pushing too hard.

The tasks, the rules- is it necessity?
Are they worthy links or weighted chains?

Sometimes it sounds so damn alluring
To jump and let it all fly away.

What’s the right tenacious grab-
How much to cling forever to?

I’m teetering on a razor’s edge.

But why worry?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Sweet Strength


With age and time, one believes strength ebbs.
The stones weather, the trees grow and split.
Through the passage of time, our hopes can fade away.

But that passage breed strength.
Reserves, once hollow, fill with the passage of each season.
The tenuous connection at birth becomes firm.

We see things, we know things
Where once we knew only fear and doubt.
We grow powerful within our own skin.

For truth, the mad rush of youth is gone
And the sunset is closer than the dawn.
But the sweetness of this strength is strong.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Delta Blues in Korean Youth

BTS’s latest album, Wings, which topped the US iTunes Overall Albums Chart when released in October and is the only Korean act to make Fuse’s 20 Best Albums of 2016, is an amazing and diverse collection of sounds and themes. Their latest effort helped them to win the coveted Artist of the Year award at the 2016 MNet Asian Music Awards (MAMA) December 2. This album brings something different with every single song and that’s especially the case with Am I Wrong.

This is not a remake of the Nico & Vinz song of the same name. It’s an interpretation of American singer-songwriter Keb' Mo' (Kevin Moore)’s Am I Wrong, with some of Keb’ Mo’s rich original upfront with BTS then moving into updated Korean lyrics by Naver Music while keeping the basic musical vibe of the original. It works. We go from a lover’s declaration in the original to that of a lamentation on social wrongs and the need to stand up against it in BTS’s version. The blogger Muish has a great run-through of the Korean political context of this song. It’s safe to say that South Korea has more than its fair share of injustice, frustration and social/political decay today.

Despite their youth (their oldest member just turned 24), 3 years into their career BTS has reached a point where they can, and are willing to, make some strong statements. With this song, they certainly do.

The best part- they sing a mix of English and Korean that is powered with absolute conviction. When Rap Monster asks, “The world’s goin’ crazy. How about you, how bout ya? You think it is okay? I don’t think I am” you know he’s serious. Then, he throws down the gauntlet: “If you don’t feel anything when you watch the news- If you don’t feel anything about that comment- If you don’t feel anything about the hatred- You are not normal, you are abnormal.” J-Hope growls “This crazy world, yeah- makes us crazy. Yeah, we are all CRAZY. Now scream MAYDAY MAYDAY” and the rhythm pumps you on to want to chant it with the band “Oh why why why why (OH MY GOD)”.

Live performances still show the band can sing these lyrics sweetly with the requisite sexy moves they’ve become known for, but the fact of the matter is, they’ve put some harder stuff out there with this new album. I expect they will grow into it with time. Am I wrong?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Seeking That Perfect Harmony

"A dandelion. Really?”

Yes, the bane of every overly-manicured lawn is the theme of today’s reflections.

First, let me thank my friend Marlene for the photo itself. What an amazing composition of texture, color and form. I am currently in the process of developing a project marrying her visual artistry with my essays for publication (and profit? ;-)). More on that to come!!

I was attempting to answer the question “Why do I write?” when I penned this line. It’s true that sometimes, the words flow almost effortlessly from somewhere and I just pray I don’t throw a mental spike in the road as they come out, causing it all to crash to a halt.

I’m sure you’ve felt that way about something. Like the symmetry of this dandelion: you are part of something complex, yet totally balanced and whole. It could be when you’re on a sports team, or in or a group of friends, or when you’re creating a meal or during a teaching moment in class: suddenly it all feels right.

Heaven knows it’s not always that way.

Things explode. Things break. There’s disappointment. There’s disaster. There’s a freaking blank screen staring at you...laughing at your feeble attempts. You can get ripped out of the ground and tossed to the wind.

Yet, like the dandelions in spring, we need to rise up once again. We need to reach for the sun. We need to fulfill our destinies- or at least just try and do our very best in what it is we choose to do.

Oh, that sweet harmony. Dawn breaks for us to try to reach it once again.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

When We Believe, We Do

This essay is inspired by a child's mind.

So, I’ve written repeatedly of my interest in Korean culture. It’s not a unique thing- there’s actually at least one term for it: Koreaboo. Just like there are several levels of interest in Japanese anime (my husband insists he’s an otaku and frowns at weeaboo obsessions), people around the world enjoy learning about and expressing their interest in Korean music, film, food and other cultural expressions. I think whenever cultures touch, it helps ground us as one.

I’ve been enjoying my free time and available tools to check out parts of the scene on the other side of the planet from my cozy home in Wisconsin, USA. Just the other day, I found an Instagram posting of K-pop band BigBang’s member, G-Dragon, hosting a (RED) fundraiser on Omaze to support the purchase of antiviral medications against AIDS.

When I told my 10-year old I could donate to a worthy cause and get a chance to go to Seoul and have a meal with a K-pop star, he paused. Then, he simply said:

“I believe in you. You should follow your dream.”

Wow. OK. This wasn’t the first time he’s given me advice like this. It’s what he told me when I decided to start writing again and publishing my essays in this blog and see where that goes.

Logical Middle-Aged Mom Mind could come up with a laundry list of reasons to scoff at all of this and move on to “reality”. Yet, how unsettling and humbling it is to be given this mental pat on the shoulder and expectant nod to begin like that. You have the green light. Go for it, he’s telling me. I expect you to. With a child’s mind he can see a clear path between opportunity and success with one simple bridging action: believing it could come true by trying.

When we believe, we do.

Whatever it is, when you reach out, you risk getting burned. When you take a chance to speak, to write, to build or to draw something, you send the dice rolling out into the universe. It’s hard. There’s no guarantee whether you’ll succeed or fail.

There is, however, a raw beauty in the process of simply accepting, believing and following your dream.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Never Regret a Smile

I’m middle-aged and just now discovering what that might mean.

I’m not talking about wrinkles or stress or looming AARP mailers. I’m talking about regret. Why do we have stereotypes of freakouts during this time in our lives? If nothing more, it could be for the simple reason that our bodies are innately trying to do what we should be doing all along: regret nothing.

Sure, getting older means you know things. Your confidence grows as your experience lengthens. However, I’m becoming convinced that your middle-aged body's influx of energy is nature's way of trying, in a last-ditch effort perhaps, to get you back into a constructive mindset of growth and exploration: one based in joy, happiness and wonder.

If you can couple that mindset in a healthy way with the wisdom you’ve accrued, what revelations await? It doesn't have to simply result in a frivolous car purchase or destructive relationship choice.

Working as an assistant in an elementary school perhaps helped me begin to regain access to this more youthful perspective on the world where things are more fluid and potentials unchecked. Taking on the persona of a rogue in the classic MMORPG World of Warcraft back in my 30s, then diving into Japanese anime like Bleach and Attack on Titan and now enjoying Korean dramas such as this year’s Signal, W and Another Oh Hae-young and Korean pop like BTS’s I Need U- I've been reminded over and over to just loosen up and look at things differently. To not give in or up or simply endure but to enjoy what I'm doing and not regret it.

Basing your daily activities around the goal of simply experiencing them fully can make you truly appreciate all that you have right around you more intimately. It also reminds you that life is basically pretty good and can be made better by every one of your choices.

My biggest hope today is we all find a moment where we smile with pleasure and regret it not a whit.