sol #SOL18

Addiction – when you can give up something anytime, as long it’s next Tuesday. ~ Nikki Sixx

Help. I need a 12-Step Program.  Now.

It began as the “Countdown to Christmas” at the beginning of December – pretty harmless – or so I thought! I was glued to channel 740, the Hallmark channel.  I would watch as I made my shopping lists, wrote out Christmas cards, wrapped presents, or just vegged out on the couch.  The fake snow gently falling down did a good job putting me in the holiday spirit.  

The characters started to look so familiar, I swear I had seen them before, and I did.  You see these feel-good movies use the same actors in different roles.  The next thing I knew I was googling the actor names to see in which movie I had seen them before. Since I was binge-watching, my head was starting to spin trying to keep them all straight.  I didn’t understand why it was so difficult.  Afterall, I had no problem knowing the difference between Tom Hanks as Jimmy Dugan in A League of Their Own, or Robert Langdon in The DaVinci Code, or Forrest Gump! I guess all of his characters were diverse enough and movies judiciously spaced that there was no chance of a mix up.

This channel should really be 666 – the devil’s channel!  You say you are only going to watch one movie, but once it ends there is barely a 30 second commercial before they launch into a new movie.  Such a ploy!

I thought I had this addiction licked once I went back to school after the Christmas break, but no!  Next they went from “Countdown to Christmas” to “Winterfest!”  Having the flu and spending so many hours on the couch caused me to fall down the rabbit’s hole again!!  And I don’t even like winter sports or cold weather!

So this is it!  I have now been watching the Countdown to Valentine’s.  Since tomorrow is Valentine’s Day I am determined to quit cold turkey.  How much can one person take of sugary sweet, highly scripted, happy ending stories before they become too optimistic, too happy, too pollyanna?  

On the other hand… when I look at the alternatives – reality TV, evening news, fake news, the state of the world…I may just take the risk and go back to Candyland!

Decluttering Checkpoint

sol #SOL18

When we clear the physical clutter from our lives, we literally make way for inspiration and ‘good, orderly direction’ to enter. ~ Julia Cameron

It is the first Tuesday in February – time to check in on my One Little Word progress.  The word I choose was declutter. As I reread my post from January 2nd, I see that I had some rather lofty goals about decluttering my life!  Well, I guess you can say I am taking baby steps.

So far I have donated two trash bags full of clothing to the Big Brother, Big Sisters organization.  There are plenty more clothes in my attic and bedroom closets waiting to find a new home. I have learned that I cannot wait until an organization contacts me about a donation.  I must spend some time each week going through clothes and household items and start collecting way ahead of time.  This way I will be good to go when I get the call and not scrambling at the last minute.

I also donated a trash bag of old towels to an animal rescue collection being done by the daughter of a colleague.  I had a large laundry basket filled with these “rags” that we were going to use for house cleaning and washing the cars.  I didn’t give them all away, but come on, just how much cleaning does a person really do that would warrant saving that many towels?

Most recently, I cancelled the daily paper.  While this decision was based on the amount of papers we recycle each week as well as the cost, I am a little sad.  I do like to hold that paper in my hand and read about the local news and of course the obituaries.  I know I can get the same news online, but I have been reading the paper since I was a young girl and my brother was a newspaper carrier of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin.  In reality, I “read” very little of the paper and “skim” the rest.  It has to go.

I have been less successful with decluttering my personal life and use of social media, but no worries I still have eleven months to go!

Cranky & Stew

sol #SOL18


For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


I could be cranky and stew all day

Because my prep periods just went away.

I understand a teacher is sick

By why was today the day she’d pick?


Today I’m so busy. I’m singing the blues.

NJHS induction is today’s big news.

Must set up the stage and put things just right

Going over details kept me up half the night.


I could be cranky and stew all day

But that would be fruitless and get in the way.

I have lots of helpers to make things go well.

It is going to be great. I can just tell.


No need to be cranky or stew or feel stressed

Not when you work with the very best.

Everyone pitched in to do whatever was needed

Cranky and stewing were quickly defeated.


The Flu


sol #SOL18                                   flu

The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature affects the cure.  ~Voltaire

That hit by a truck feeling
I can’t get out of bed
Can hardly open my eyes
With the pounding in my head
Urgent Care trip in the morning
They take a test or two
Confirmed what I could’ve told them
~ my dear you have the flu!
No reading! No writing!
You can say what you will
But when it came to no eating
I really knew I was ill!
Tamiflu, Theraflu
Tissues, hot tea
Thermometer, cough drops
How can this be?!?
Life is passing me by
Missed a party and more
Going on to day five
Without a foot out the door
Don’t look in the mirror
The sight’s too hard to see
That pale and haggard reflection
Surely cannot be me!!
When I go back to school
This I can tell
It will be with my friends
Lysol and Purell!

One Little Word

sol #SOL18

Clutter is nothing more than postponed decisions. ~Unknown.

One little word – that’s all I have been hearing about lately.  I have chosen words in the past – inspiration – balance are a couple I can remember off hand.  I just never saw ads for making your word into a bracelet, or a necklace, but I like it.  I would order myself one except it would go against the word I have chosen for 2018 – declutter.

I debated between organization and declutter.  In a way, I thought they were very much alike, however you can organize your clutter, and that doesn’t help me in my ultimate goal to simplify life.  

Just what needs decluttering in my life?  Well there are the obvious areas – my house (drawers, closets, files), my classroom (closets, file drawers, my desk), the attic (decorations, mementos, baby clothes and toys – my kids are 32 and 36).  

If you dig deeper you will see that I also need to declutter my use of social media.  I could be so much more productive if I wasn’t addicted to scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, checking email, or playing Candy Crush. Social media itself isn’t a bad thing – only when it takes over time that could be better spent on other things….like decluttering my house etc.   Seriously though, I could be reading or writing, or resting, or catching up with friends; I could have a lot more free time if I could keep my index finger off my devices.

The hardest thing to declutter will be saying goodbye to the people who take so much of my time and energy.  I am talking about those people who rope me into situations that really have nothing to do with me, situations that I have no control over, and situations that just cause me stress.  I am naturally a people pleaser, and I generally am interested in other people and don’t mind being a sounding board.  Yet, it’s time to pick and choose what takes my precious time and energy because I have learned as I have gotten older there is only a limited supply of each of them.

In order to declutter, I need to stop postponing decisions.  Touch a paper once and either file it, recycle or shred.  Limit my online time to certain times during the day. Learn how to say no to people and situations that drain my time and energy.  Making decisions won’t be easy for me, but it should produce my desired results – a simpler, decluttered life.  


It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.  Audre Lorde

Recently, my class finished reading Refugee by Alan Gratz.  One of my students came to me and told me that his friend’s abuela was a Cuban refugee and could we ask her to come and speak to our class.  I thought it was a wonderful idea.  

Today was the day that Rosario came to talk to my classes.  Forty 7th graders sat with rapt attention as she described her life in Cuba before Fidel Castro’s takeover and after and the circumstances surrounding her leaving Havana and coming to the US. She also explained to the students the difficulties she faced in the US as well as the good things in her life here as a Cuban-American.  The students had a Q & A session with her after her talk.  They learned a great deal about the trials and tribulations of having to leave your homeland.

Looking over my notes from this afternoon, three things Rosario said really struck me.

First, when asked what her greatest challenges were she said, “Learning English (because she wasn’t the greatest English student in Cuba) and realizing that her life would never be the same again.” She described the scene of her mother and father taking her to the airport to fly to Miami and live with her uncle and looking out the back of the car window and watching the house she grew up in disappear as she drove away.  I cannot even imagine. I haven’t had to leave my childhood home for a new land, but there have definitely been those moments in my life when I knew life as I knew it would never be the same.

After leaving Cuba, Rosario lived in Miami, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, and then finally Pennsylvania. One student asked which was her favorite place.  Rosario replied, “Every place you are leaves something in your heart.” Again, I have never lived any place but Pennsylvania, but I feel that every class I have ever taught has left something in my heart that makes me who I am today.

Rosario has traveled extensively throughout the world.  She ended her talk by encouraging the students to travel as much as they could because “You can see how different people are, but when you talk to them they all want the same thing.”

Isn’t that the truth?!


The Heart of the Matter


No beauty shines better than that of a good heart. ~Kapten and son

This has been the longest week of my life.  

Last Monday, my husband, Chuck went for a stress test as a follow up to his overnight stay at the hospital a couple of weeks ago.  The doctor called around 5:00 saying they saw a shadow on one of his tests and would like him to come in for a heart catheterization.  

I left for work on Tuesday morning expecting him to schedule the test in the upcoming week, and I would take the day off and go with him.  Well my little chihuahua likes to do things quickly!  I get a phone call at work at 8:15 telling me he going to the hospital by 9:00 to get the test. He said,”Don’t worry, I just need a ride home.” Yeah right!

Of course there was not a sub to be found, but I work with the most awesome group of teachers.  My colleagues gave up their prep times to cover my classes, so that I could leave and go to the hospital.

Honestly, I think that the worst we were expecting was that maybe he would need a stent or two put in.  Can I tell you that I almost fell off my seat when the cardiologist told us that Chuck needed quadruple bypass surgery!?! They wanted us to go home and make an appointment to see the surgeon, but that was not sitting well with my “let’s get it done” husband.  Chuck requested to see the surgeon before leaving the hospital.  One thing led to another and before you know it surgery was scheduled for Friday morning.  

The wait from Wednesday to Friday was interminable.  The surgeon gave Chuck a good prognosis, but there is no stopping your mind from wandering to dark places.  

We joke and laugh a lot, so that seemed to be the best way to handle this situation if we could.  I told him that Friday was the first day of Autumn – my favorite day of the year,  and he had better not ruin it for me!  I also told him if he saw any white lights during surgery not to go towards them. Some people thought that was terrible; he laughed.  He knew I was just doing my best to keep the situation light and not have a total and complete meltdown! We also had our serious quiet moments “just in case.”

Seeing Chuck being rolled away to the operating room was frightening.  I could see the fear in his eyes, and that is not something I am use to seeing from my “rock”. Each good update made me feel a little more relaxed, but it wasn’t until I saw him open his eyes just before midnight that I felt like I could really breathe. Of course in his joking way – the first words out of his mouth when he saw me were, “Ew – a nightmare!”

He is doing well, but we have a long road ahead.  I am just feeling so blessed that we got this second chance at life, because his heart was just a time bomb waiting to explode.  Like everything else that has come our way, we’ll take on this journey together, because after all, two hearts are better than one.