#SOL16 Day 11

All journeys have a secret destination of which the traveler is unaware. ~ Martin Buber

Surrounded by many, I travel alone
Tentatively, one step at a time
Like a tightrope walker
Anticipating a road sign, a mile marker, a clue
Yet finding none
Where am I going?

Journeying onward – still alone
Longing to return to the familiar
Like a refugee
Eyes seeking a flicker, a beacon, a light
Blinded by the darkness
Where am I going?

Trying to read the stars, I travel alone
Their light fading with my gaze
Like a nomad
Longing, yet pushing on – adrift, afraid, alone
Without a compass or map
Where am I going?

Where am I going?
Perhaps the destination is not for me to know,
But to discover.
When I get there, I will recognize and understand,
I will arrive on the wings of those who walked with me
when I feared solitude.

Where Does Writing Hide?


#SOL16  Day 10

What we see depends mainly on what we look for. ~John Lubbock

Where Does Writing Hide?

  • In the billowy clouds rolling acros the sky
  • In the early morning giggles of a slumber party
  • In the smell of lilacs
  • In the aroma of homemade chicken soup
  • In 4th of July fireworks
  • In smiles and tears
  • In the death of a family member
  • In a child’s smile
  • In the memory of a first kiss
  • In an unexpected visitor
  • In a friend’s supportive phone call
  • In a whirlagig
  • In the smell of fresh coffee
  • In a new coat of paint
  • In a cyclone fence surrounding Fido
  • In a surprise party
  • In a bridal shower
  • In a baby’s first steps
  • In a favorite song
  • In an old prom gown
  • In a photo album
  • In the water droplets on a leaf
  • In the mellow tones of an alto saxophone
  • In the delicate notes of the windchimes

Ideas for writing are everywhere. You just have to look at the world with a writer’s eye.

Where I’m From (an homage to George Ella Lyon)


#SOL16 Day 9

We didn’t realize we were making memories; we just knew we were having fun. ~Unknown

I am from the rusty cellar door,
from lily of the valley and roller skate keys.
I am from the front bay window
that looks out towards the oak tree.

I am from the lilac bush,
the peach trees
those long limbs I remember
as if thery were my own.

I’m from tinsel on Christmas trees and bad knees,
From Lucy and Al.
I’m from listening to Phillies home games on the radio,
and changing TV channels by hand,
and from catching lightning bugs in the backyard.

I’m from “Sit up straight” and
“Your turn to weed the garden.”
I’m from canning jars.

I’m from Philadelphia and “What parish are you from?”
keilbasa and saurkraut, and ravioli
from my grandfather who chased squirrels from his garden with tin pie pans
and who trimmed my father’s fig tree without permission.

In my mother’s storage unit there are bins
stuffed with photos
of familiar and unfamiliar faces.

I made these memories,
and these memories made me.

What Time is It?


#SOL16 Day 8

The way we spend our time defines who we are. ~Jonathan Estrin


Am I up? Am I down? How’d I get so turned around?

Writing plans, grading papers – watching out for middle school capers.

How much time is in a day? Not enough most teachers would say.

Recess duty, faculty meeting, Lots of directions that need repeating.

Marking period near the end, get the grades in, then hit send

Today is Wednesday or maybe not. It’s only Tuesday…I just forgot.

It is a hectic, crazy existence, but I am sure I can go the distance

After all, I’m no fool, where else would I be if I weren’t in school?

You never know how many you reach, that is why I choose to TEACH.


All That Jazz


#SOL16 Day 7

Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom.  If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn.  They teach you there’s a boundary line to music. But man, there’s no boundary line to art. ~ Charlie Parker

I wish I were a jazz musician.  You see I played the string bass in high school and college and in groups at church. I loved it.  Arthritic knees and hands put a damper on my bass playing career though. I played Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, and Mozart in string ensembles and orchestras. I love Baroque music and listen to it often as I work. But “classical” music has a particular form; you know what is coming; it is safe, and I have always played it safe.

My son is a jazz musician.  Since the sixth grade he has been improvising – creating melodies from things he has heard or just from his head.  I am in awe.  I can’t do that. If it isn’t written on the page, I can’t play it.  I want to be able to swing and bebop, cakewalk and bossa nova.  I want to let go and be cool like Armstrong and Coltrane, Ellington and Gillespie. I can only dream.

Yet, what are the implications of Charlie Parker’s quote when it comes to writing?  Am I forcing my students to be “classical” when they want to be “jazz”?  Am I teaching them there is a boundary line?  Am I preventing them from creating art?  What about my own writing – am I playing it too safe? Starting this blog and taking on this “slicing” challenge is getting me out of my comfort zone.  Maybe I am moving from “classical” to “jazz” with little baby steps. I have a long way to go until I am “cool” though.

What Parker said about music can also be applied to writing. Writing is your own experience, thoughts, wisdom.  If you don’t live it (write every day) it would come out of your pen onto the paper.  There are no boundaries when it comes to where you can take your writing!

Work in Progress


#SOL16 Day 6

We’re All Works of Art in Progress ~ Carmen Delle Orefice

In my 7th grade religion class we often begin class with a three minute retreat sponsored by the publisher of our text, Loyola Press. A couple of weeks ago our retreat was entitled “A Work in Progress.”  It really got me thinking about my students, others I meet each day, and myself.  The premise of the retreat is that “there is more to life than the present moment”, that we need to “be patient with what feels incomplete”, and that as long as we cooperate with God’s plan we can be assured that He is at work in us and through us and His good work will continue.

Now whether you are a believer or not, the essential question is one we can all benefit from.

“What changes do I notice in myself when I remember that other people are also works in progress?”

Thinking about this question led me to questions of my own.

If I am a continuous work in progress, do I allow myself to be fluid?

       How about my students or others I interact with?

Am I gentle with myself?

        Am I always gentle with my students? My colleagues?

Are my thinking and beliefs too rigid to allow that change and growth?

        How do I encourage that change and growth in my students?

What holds me back from accepting that change?

        What is holding my students back?

Am I afraid? Are they?

So as I embark on this new week of school tomorrow I am going to keep that thought in my head, “We’re all Works of Art in Progress.”  I am going to try very hard to be gentler with myself but more importantly with my students.  When I look at each one of them I want to remember that the child/adolescent they are today is not who they will be tomorrow, or the next day, or a year from now, or ten years from now.  My job is to help them find out a little bit more about the person they are today and help them evolve into the best person they can be as they continue working on their masterpieces.






Sisters-in-law by chance. Friends by choice. ~ Anonymous

Through the love of two brothers
Our lives intertwined.

We were kindred spirits.

Making our way through uncharted lands –
as young wives,
as young mothers,
as new friends.

We shared a love –
of music,
of family gatherings,
of laughter,
a birthday month,
a last name,
and secrets.

Seasons changed, and so did we.

We became –
middle-aged women –
a little rounder,
a little softer,
and certainly a little wiser.

We always thought
we would grow old together.

Not to be!

Cancer changed our plan.

Now you’re gone, leaving me behind.
To make my way again through –
and unfamiliar lands.
The tears come at unexpected times –
first like torrential downpours,
now as soft gentle rains,
washing over me.

Yet, I know you are still with me
In everything that was you.

You are in the –
songs of Broadway,
pipe organ music,
handbell choirs,
shopping trips to Kohl’s,
chocolate Jennies,
and “Oy.”

You are –
in warm sandy beaches,
watermelon baskets,
the backyard gilder.
in slot machines,
Autumn afternoons,
and laughing till we ink.

You are still here now –
in the lives sprung forth from you,
in all the lives you touched,
in their songs,
in their words,
in their eyes,
and in our hearts.

So when I think of you
it will be with a smile.

Remembering how thankful I am
that you were a part of my life
and that I had the privilege
of sharing yours.

Writing With Friends


#SOL Day 5

The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe. ~ Gustave Flaubert

I spent the morning with my writing project friends at PAWLP.  I wasn’t able to attend the last continuity Saturday, so I was really excited to be there today. I can’t begin to tell you how inspired I am each time I sit at the table with this incredible group of writers.  I am in awe at the amazing things going on in the classrooms of these teachers.  I learn something new every time I am with them.

I envy the retired teachers who have more time  to do consulting work and to write. Listening to them describe the work they are doing makes me want to write more, read more, and learn more about literacy.

Each time we meet the group changes.  Members come and go as their lives allow. Some are regulars who are at almost every continuity Saturday and other PAWLP events. Others drop in several times over the course of a school year.  Still others haven’t been to a PAWLP event in years and are finding their way back to the Writing Project.

Today we welcomed a new assistant director to the fold.  Each of us described for her what the writing project means to us. For me becoming a Writing Project Fellow has been life changing.  It has given me the courage to share my writing beyond an audience of one.  It has meant meeting new people, learning new things, and being part of something bigger.

As each person around the table shared one theme became evident. The Writing Project is a safe place for people who share the same philosophy of writing and literacy to meet, discuss, explain, present, and share. No matter how long you have been away you can always go home, and know that you will be welcomed as if they saw you yesterday.

A Lasting Impression


#SOL16 Day 4

To make a difference in someone’s life you don’t have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful or perfect. You just have to care.” ~Mandy Hale

Reading Tricia Ebarvia’s post yesterday got me thinking. Sr. Roseathea, my music teacher in elementary school, planted the seed of the love of music in my heart and soul.  I can remember the shows performed on that little stage like it was yesterday.  When she let us sing “Joy to the World” (the Jeremiah was a bullfrog version) I was stunned that a nun could be so cool!  She awakened in me a desire to create music but more importantly a desire to share music.  Thus started my journey (right there in the fourth grade) to becoming a music teacher – a career that lasted 23 years.  

After I became a music teacher and started putting on shows of my own, I had a revelation. The work was very difficult, but I loved it.  There was so much stress leading up to show night.  It was a challenge to get over 200 kids, grades kindergarten to eighth, on stage in the right places, saying the correct lines, and singing with enthusiasm. We rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed until finally it was the night of the show.  That is when I got to look up at those precious faces staring at me for direction.  When the music began I was usually so full of emotion that my eyes almost overflowed.  I was so proud of those innocent voices. In my eyes, every show night was just perfect.

I realized just how hard Sr. Roseathea worked with such little recognition. I realized that she didn’t do it for the recognition.  She did it because she loved music, and she cared about her students. I decided that she needed to know how my life turned out.  A couple of years ago, I tracked her down and sent her a thank you card. I told her how my musical life evolved after eighth grade and what an impact she had on my life.  She returned my note with a note of her own telling me she learned as much from her students as she hoped they learned from her.  I understood exactly what she meant.



#SOL16 Day 3

Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going to fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why. ~ Eddie Cantor

Tailgaters are missing out on life!  By tailgaters I don’t mean the fun-loving, partying people at sporting events and concerts.  Those people are living!  No, I mean the people who drive so closely behind you that you can almost make out the coffee stain on their shirt in your rear-view mirror.  Why are they in such a hurry?  Don’t they know what they are missing?

This morning on my way to work, I had a car on my tail.  At first I was really annoyed.  Didn’t they see the speed limit sign – 25 mph – 15 around the curve? I decided that I was not speeding up for anyone.  You see, I was taking the “short cut” to work.  It is a short length of winding road that gives me about a minute’s peacefulness each morning. The beauty of the surroundings coupled with the classical music station produce a calmness within me that I try to carry throughout my day.

I began to feel sorry for the speeding demon behind me.  Just look at what she was missing.  Did she see the birds playing chase or the mist rising up from the field?  Did she know that a stream gently winds it way under the road and travels miles from here?  How could she not see the cresent moon peaking out from behind the shifting clouds? Did she notice the broken branches on the trees – some completely off – others precarioulsy hanging down? Did she know that a CSA farm was nestled behind those trees?  It is so well hidden that you may just miss the stone driveway. No, she probably did not see any of those things because she was too busy looking at my braking tail lights and ranting about how “slow” I was driving.

So to my tailgating “friend” I send a wish for you.  My wish is that you slow down and take the opportunity to look closer at what the “short cut” has to offer or else take the long way around and stop ruining my morning minute.