sol  #SOL18 Day 21

Silently like thoughts that come and go, the snowflakes fall, each one a gem. ~William Hamilton Gibson

Sleet and freezing rain pelt the vinyl siding – changing my plans for last evening.
This morning changes to large puffy flakes then back again.
Now just a steady deluge of heavy wet flakes –
covering everything in a new white blanket.

We are in the bull’s-eye – expecting 12-18 inches.
Not going anywhere today – maybe not tomorrow either.
It’s a good day to grade papers or write lesson plans,
but wait, I have a better idea.

I will play my stay-at-home game – a little work – a little play.
While I do a load of laundry, I can have a cup of tea.
Once the dusting is done, I can work on some writing works-in-progress.
Vacuuming during commercials will allow me to watch that movie.

Fold the laundry – read a magazine
Clean off the desk in my office – take a nap
Organize my closet – call a friend
Listen to the weather report – pull the covers over my head!

Snapshot of Sunrise

sol#SOL18 Day 20       sunrise 2


Nothing is more beautiful than the lovliness of the woods before sunrise. ~ George Washington Carver.

This morning I was greated by the awakening of the sun as it stretched behind the trees.  The photo doesn’t do it justice, but it was the best I could do with my cell phone from inside my car on the way to work.

I wanted to stay, to park, and sit, and watch the sun make its grand entrance across the sky on this first day of spring.  I wanted to stay because I knew that the sun would not be visible for long as clouds are forecasted to be rolling in ahead of the fourth Nor’easter to hit this region in the past three weeks. I wanted to stay, but instead settled for catching glimpses of pink in my rearview mirror as I journyed on to school.

I am growing weary of winter, but Mother Nature doesn’t seem to care much about my feelings.  She has decided that winter is not over yet despite the date on the calendar.

Even though it might sound like a complaint and show signs of impatience, I love the change of seasons.  I cannot imagine living somewhere where I did not experience all four seasons and the natural beauty that comes with each one.

I love living in Pennsylvania!

Professional Admiration

sol#SOL18 Day 19

Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women, who have her back. ~ Unknown.

In honor of Women’s History Month, today’s slice is about some of the women who have influenced my professional life.  These are a sampling of women I have met and admired on my career journey thus far. To include all of them would be writing a book. A later post will be about the women who influenced my personal life.

Lucy Piotrowski – My mom is my biggest cheerleader. She went to work at a time when all my friends’ moms were still staying at home.  She went because we needed the money, but she flourished in her jobs because she was hard-working, loyal, trustworthy, and compassionate.  She taught me the value of working and taking pride in my work.

Sr. Rosathea, SSJ – She was my first music teacher in elementary school.  She instilled in me a love of music and lit that spark that carried me into the orchestra in HS and eventually on to a degree in Music Education. I can still remember being on that stage at Resurrection of Our Lord School and singing “Joy to the World” – Jeremiah was a bullfrog version.  (I know I am dating myself now!)

Sr. Clare Andrew OSF – She nurtured my love of writing and made class fun.  She helped me to believe in myself as a writer.

Sr. Clare Immaculate OSF – She scared me half to death, but she really help me up my writing game.  I even got published in the Literary Journal that year!

Sr. Maryellen O’Connell RSM – She was my principal for 12 years at St. Catherine of Siena in Horsham, PA.  She was tough. She demanded a great deal from her teaching staff, but not nearly as much as she demanded from herself.  She taught me what leadership in action looked like. She was not afraid to stand up for what she thought was in the best interest of the school and its students.  And while she was open to listening to the concerns of parents, she did not let them walk all over her teachers.

Robyn Doyle – She was the school librarian at St. Catherine’s. We worked across the hall from each other for many years.  Our working relationship soon turned into a lifelong friendship, but sticking to work – Robyn was a calming influence on me on days I was letting my emotions get the best of me.  She helped me see many situations in a different light.

Andrea (Andy) Fishman – She was the director of PAWLP when I went through the Summer Institute.  I was in awe of Andy. She was just so intelligent and confident. Andy taught me not to cut myself short (a lesson I still struggle with sometimes) because if you don’t value yourself no one else will value you either.

Mary Buckelew – She is the current director of PAWLP, but back when she was the assistant director, she encouraged me to go to grad school and get my MA in English: Writing, Teaching, and Criticism.  I was afraid, but Mary helped me take that leap. She has also provided me with many opportunities to facilitate professional development in many Delaware Valley school districts, something I love doing!

Teaching Colleagues (too numerous to list without leaving someone out) – They have taught me so many things.  

  • How to be a good team member
  • How to deal with parents
  • How to navigate technology at times.
  • How to keep a work life/home life balance
  • How to accept help when I need it
  • How to laugh at myself

PAWLP Fellows- Becoming a part of this community was life changing!  I treasure the time I spend at PAWLP events especially Continuity Saturdays, the Children’s Book Writing Group, Advanced Institute, and much more.  This is the group that keeps me going, keeps me fresh, and keeps me humble.

Teaching can be a lonely profession, or a profession filled with opportunities to be a lifelong learner.  It is up to you to decide.

A Nice Surprise

sol#SOL18 Day 18

The best things happen unexpectedly. ~Unknown

Today I went on a rare shopping trip to a department store.  The older I get, the less I enjoy shopping. I usually resort to putting my Amazon Prime membership in overdrive.  I have to say I enjoyed my little trip with my husband. We had a list of what we wanted to get, and we attacked the store in a purposeful order.  

I must admit that there were a few items purchased that were not on our original list: a great new bag for spring and another one that was too much of a good buy to pass up, and a couple of clearance shirts.

I bought each of my grandchildren a summer outfit to put in their Easter baskets.  We found and agreed on the four outfits with relatively little debate. It was great.  The checkout line was short, and the clothes were all on sale, but the best thing about the whole trip was that the store offered free gift wrap!  That is unheard of these days of cutbacks. I happily left the store with my four gifts wrapped complete with bows. Bingo!

Cinderella’s Court

sol #SOL18 Day 17

If you keep believing, the dream that you wish will come true. ~Cinderella

I don’t follow college basketball except what my local Philly teams are doing, but I love watching March Madness.  I am always impressed with the unbridled enthusiasm and determination exhibited by the players on and off the court.  Last night 16 seeded UMBC – University of Maryland-Baltimore County (a school I had never heard of before) defeated number one seeded Virginia.  I have to admit, I am a sucker for a good underdog story (after all my Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl this years!), and I thought it was pretty cool listening to the UMBC players and coach being interviewed after the game. My husband on the other hand was not at all smitten with the Cinderella story. He had Virginia going to the final two facing Villanova, and now his bracket is in bad shape.  I don’t mind if Cinderella advances to the Elite 8, but I am still counting on Villanova to make Nova Nation proud and take us through to the end.

Weather Haiku

sol#SOL 18 Day 16

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn. ~ Hal Borland

Winter time should go
We have had enough of snow
Been too cold too long

When will Spring arrive
With its warmth and fragrant smells
Longing for the sun

Need to smell the scents
Of flowers in the garden
Comfort for the soul

Happy Birthday, Big Al!

sol #SOL 18 Day 15

Never forget who was with you from the start. ~ Anonymous


Today is my father’s birthday.

He would have been 90,

but he has been gone

for 22 years.


I often wonder if he had lived

if life would be different

or not.


Would he have overcome his


Would he have become less angry

as he aged?


I doubt it.


Our relationship has changed

over the past 22 years.

How might you ask?


I’ve grown older and wiser.

I see that life is not clear cut –

black or white.


Life is messy.


Although my greatest joy

has been being a parent,

it can really suck at times.


You do the best you can with

the hand you are dealt.

You can win, but more often

you are bluffing or folding.


My parents struggled financially,

and I think my dad was depressed –

his bourbon and water a way to self-medicate.

Who talked about depression in the 60s?

Certainly not men!


We certainly did not see eye to eye very often,

and he ruled supreme

with a heavy hand and strict rules,

But he loved us and made time

to coach baseball and attend concerts.


I’d like to think our parenting styles

are polar opposites.

While no parent is perfect, I tried

to be more caring and compassionate.

I did the best I could.


I am sure when my own children

look back they will definitely

agree they were loved, but I bet

they will think they do

a better job as parents –

give them another 25 or 30 years.


Happy Birthday, Big Al!

What My Students Wish I Knew About Them

sol#SOL Day 14

If we could look into each other’s hearts and understand the unique challenges each of us faces,  I think we would treat each other much more gently, and with more love, patience, tolerance, and care. ~Marvin J. Ashton

A couple of months ago, I was at PAWLP’s Children’s Book Writing group.  As a writing warm-up we were asked to write a letter to ourselves as one of the characters we were developing in our story.  Mine was minimal because I have mostly been working on children’s poetry, but it got me thinking about my 7th grade students and what they might want me to know about their lives. These aren’t from one particular student, but a compilation of what letters might have looked like over the years.

Dear Mrs. DiCarne,

I wish you knew what I was like when I am alone.  I am funny. I have a great sense of humor, but I know it is difficult for you to see that each day at school. At school I am so awkward. I don’t know what to say or how to act. My social skills are lacking, but when I am alone I am not so awkward – at least not in my world. In my world, my parents understand my quirks; they don’t stare at me like I have three heads.  In my world, I am not afraid to pretend, to challenge, to voice my opinion. I am not afraid to say what I like – to be me.

When I am alone, I feel more protected – not afraid of what others may think or that I may say the wrong thing. That’s why I prefer to work alone at school.  Then I don’t have to be afraid.


Your extremely quiet student


Dear Mrs. DiCarne,

I wish you knew that I really do try to use my “inside voice” at school, but it is hard.  You see, I am the youngest of five, and at home I really have to assert myself to be heard.  Not only are there a lot of us talking at once, my siblings are always dismissing my ideas because I am “the baby.”  I hate that.

Since I am not “the baby” here at school, I want to be sure I am heard.  I know that sometimes that comes off as being pushy or bossy. I really don’t mean to sound that way; I just don’t know how else to be.


Your big mouth maven


Dear Mrs. DiCarne

I know you said my job was not to entertain the class, but I am good at it. It makes me feel good when my classmates laugh and think I am funny.  Why? You’ve seen my report card. I am not that good at anything else. I don’t want my friends to know how much I don’t know, so I use my humor as a deflection.  

I am never going to be on the honor roll or have my name called out for an award. If I promise to tone it down a little, could you let me keep on being funny?


The class clown


Have you ever wondered what your students wish you knew about them?  I probably could write at least 10 more letters if I opened my eyes, and ears, and heart and truly listened to everything they are NOT saying.

People Watching

sol#SOL 18 Day 13

Youth is a gift of nature, but age is a work of art. ~ Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

I saw a woman much older than me

wearing pleather pants as tight as can be.

Her feet were tilted in stiletto boots.

Her face and botox were in cahoots.


Her hair was bleached; her skin was tan.

She was walking with a much younger man.

Everyone can dress as they like it’s true.

especially if you want others staring at you.


Her very sheer top had me shaking my head.

What more can I say?  It all has been said.

You might think I write from a place of jealousy,

But whatever happened to aging gracefully?


Self Care

sol#SOL18 Day 12       Today’s slice was inspired by Mandy Robek

An empty lantern provides no light.  Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly. ~Unknown

Self Care – According to Merriam-Webster – activity we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.

Self care is the key to improved mood and reduced anxiety.  It is not selfish; it is necessary. Why don’t we do more of it?  So today’s slice is a “to do or not to do” list – things I should do and not do to take better care of myself.

To Do

  • Write
  • Listen to music
  • Spend more time with my grandchildren
  • Massage
  • Manicure (I will finally be able to since I stopped biting my nails for Lent!)
  • Get together with a friend (I have a list.)
  • Take a nap
  • Go for a walk (That one is tricky for me right now, but I am hopeful.)
  • Brew a cup of tea
  • Keep a gratitude journal (I have one, but it is not current.)
  • Pray
  • Read

Not to Do

  • Check emails at night
  • Go to gatherings I don’t want to go to
  • Answer unfamiliar phone numbers
  • Negative self-talk
  • Try to please everyone
  • Over thinking
  • Emotional eating
  • Hang out with toxic people
  • Stress about things I cannot control
  • Compare myself to anyone else
  • Think about what could have been
  • Pass up opportunities to have fun

So there is my start – a dozen “to do” and a dozen “not to do” activities.  I am sure as I go along and start to really concentrate on taking better care of myself, my lists will become longer.  

Today I resurrected my gratitude journal and brewed a lovely cup of tea after dinner.  Can’t wait to see how much kinder I can be to myself tomorrow.