looking towards the light – solc #31

I am thankful for the daffodils that have already come and gone to remind us that winter really has packed its bags to leave. As we get ready to begin the month of April and we prepare for the showers that this month is known for, we try to look past this gloomy time and look forward to the May flowers that this liquid nourishment brings. Yet as I look around today I can discover that many smaller flowers are also already declaring the wonderful change of seasons.

Some cold and cloudy days it doesn’t seem worth the trouble to stop and look for these small signs of spring. We focus on the lack of sun or the cool temperatures and often overlook the blooms that are already there. But I love this quote: “Flowers don’t worry about how they’re going to bloom. They just open up and turn toward the light and that makes them beautiful.”  (Jim Carrey) When it is time for them to unfurl, they just do it, without concern. And they are beautiful.

In my elementary music class in college long ago, I had to choose a poem and set it to music. I can’t remember the tune I floundered around with, or the poet’s name, but I still recall the words:

I was up so tiptoe early that the flowers were all pearly,

As they waited in their places for the sun to dry their faces.

Hearing those words and thinking about a garden of flowers lining up for their morning wake-up warmth still makes me smile.

There’s a lesson in this for all of us, I think. Shouldn’t we look towards the sun, and do our best to carry out our roles in life despite any circumstances that get in our way? Can’t we try to seek the best in life and dwell on that to get us through? By focusing on the good, the bad has less power to control our thinking. Walt Whitman said, “Keep your face always toward the sunshine and the shadow will fall behind you.”  Doesn’t it feel so invigorating to stand in the warmth of the sunshine? That is going to be my aim from now on.

Happy Easter to all! On this day we celebrate the centerpiece of our Christianity, the reason for our belief, the hope for our future – the resurrection of our Lord Jesus. May it be a beautiful day for you today, and may the Son encourage your soul and help you to bloom and grow.

wood fer sale- will delivery – solc #30

I live in a town south of Nashville that is busting at the seams. The growth in the last twenty years is hard to keep up with. Yet we have a historic downtown area that reminds us of our roots. And we are fortunate enough to have a local radio station, to connect us with our past and with each other.

The station is located in a small house on a busy street near the area’s largest mall. But it is separated from all that by the open fields that surround it. The WAKM red letters and the large antenna let passers-by note that there’s a radio station here.

What you can’t tell by looking at this scene is that in the early days of this station Elvis used to stop by here for coffee. And you won’t know by looking that Sissy Spacek sang Coal Miner’s Daughter songs over the airwaves in this very spot. And you can’t see that years ago a local nurse, in uniform, with her high school aged daughter, Wynonna, would come by on Friday mornings to play their guitars and sing together here.

These days there aren’t so many would-be stars stopping in (or maybe we just don’t know that yet). But the radio station continues to broadcast community events, interview coaches and players of high school teams, announce ball games play-by-play, feature local people and their stories, send out happy birthday wishes, and give details of upcoming funerals.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon, the program called “Trade Time Live” provides both business and entertainment services. For sixty years this program has allowed callers to promote items they have to sell, trade, or barter. Featured selections include refrigerators, baby chicks, electric wheelchairs, and nanny goats. The callers interact with the deejays in unexpected and humorous ways.  Tom Lawrence, co-owner of WAKM, says, “It’s as much humor as a swap and shop. It provides a service to the community, but at the same time it’s just downright funny.”

I can remember on trips to Florida during my youth we would listen to local AM radio stations along the way until the signal became too fuzzy, and then we would turn the dial to find the next town’s offerings. Coming from the “big city” of Nashville, we would often laugh at the things we heard. I remember the monotone voice of this one woman caller distinctly: “Far wood fer sale – will delivery.”

But now I smile for a different reason. I am reminded of a simpler time, and I am happy to know that such transactions are still available in our otherwise online world. I am thankful that the owners of our local radio station continue to make our town stand out from the rest.


bird song in the air – solc #29

Just before daylight this morning I awoke, a little stiff from sleeping so hard, and congested as usual. I thought about what today held in store – nothing noteworthy, just another day. I ran through my mental list of to do’s and wondered what to begin with this morning. I thought about turning over and going back to sleep, and then…

I heard it…

The bird song, the “dawn chorus,” filling the air completely – just as the color began to lighten ever so slightly in the sky. But the birds knew what was coming, they knew the light was on its way for a brand new day… and they sang. And sang.

So I did get up and I came downstairs and I opened the door to hear it better. The surround sound engulfed me and lifted my spirits immediately.

What do they sing about, each day so early? The scientists will tell you they are establishing their territories, or looking for a mate. They’ll say they sing in the morning because there is less wind, and the sound travels better. And they’ll tell you it is still too dark for the birds to hunt for the food they need, so they sing before the break of dawn.

But I heard more than that. This morning, their song was a reminder to me of how important this day is going to be. They told me that it didn’t matter what I was to do, but more importantly, today was a day that I could be – be alive, be happy, be thankful. They reminded me of the coming of spring, and of the joy of being who I am, and the possibilities that this day would hold.

a donkey isn’t a mule – solc #28

Last week at church, the children’s sermon was about the original Palm Sunday. The Biblical story was told of how a donkey was taken into service for Jesus to use, and the woman leading the lesson described it as a sort of parade into Jerusalem with Jesus riding the donkey.  She compared it to a celebration in a neighboring town.  Mule Day is coming up next weekend. There, she said, people also ride their donkeys, although they call them mules.

I told my husband that the teacher in me wanted to tell her that donkeys and mules are not the same thing. She was going to tell the same story in the second church service and I wanted her to get it right. But then I couldn’t find her after the service so I guess she misled another group of people at the second hour.

We used to live in Columbia, the “Mule Capital of the World,” so I do know just a little about these animals.

A mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a mare, or female horse. And that’s the only way to get a mule, too, because most mules can’t reproduce. Something else you may not know (or ever need to know) is that a “hinny” comes from a stallion and a female donkey. And yes, they do look a lot like a mule.

Mule Day is a big celebration in Columbia. When we lived there, one of the community organizations I was involved with used to sell admission tickets to Maury County Park on Mule Day weekend. Most of the time this involved selling wristbands and making change for people who wanted to come into the park for the festivities:  the mule show, the mule pull, the craft show, or any other activity that weekend. (Everything associated with Mule Day, except for the parade through downtown Columbia, was held at the park.) So you could see friends and neighbors, welcome tourists, or watch people as you collected admissions.

Working at “the back gate” to the park was a different experience, however. No first time worker was allowed to man the back gate. The back gate was where vehicles entered the park, not just the walk-in traffic like at the other gates. I thought it sounded silly to be such a big deal – and really, how bad could it be – that is, until I worked the back gate.

The circumstance that seemed to cause the most concern at this gate was the fact that one person could get in free for every mule that was in their trailer behind them. So if you had a truck with three people and only two mules, one person had to pay.  And this was true only for mules – no other animals. If you had a horse, you had to pay.  This did not make horse owners happy. Or truck loads of people with just a few mules.

The animals, thankfully, got in free, no matter what species they were.

Another concern was that people would often bring campers and spend the night in the park. Then they would trailer their animals to the parade and bring them back. If they forgot to get a pass to show they had already paid admission the night before, then we were supposed to charge them (again). This did not make these people happy, either.

When you were standing at the truck driver’s door and couldn’t see into the enclosed trailer behind the truck, you had to ask, “Is that a horse or a mule you have back there?” This would always be met by loud guffaws and taunts such as “Why she don’t even know the differ’nce ‘tween a horse and a mule! Wonder who raised her like that?” But I would just smile and say, “Well, I just can’t see from this angle,” or some such kindly reply. After several instances of this same situation and response, though, my words were a lot nicer than my thoughts.

My most memorable experience at the back gate was when a truck driven by a man, with his wife, drove up pulling a trailer of six goats (which I could see and also hear). When I asked for their admission payment, they said, “But we have our goats back there.” To which I replied, “Only people with mules get in free.”

The woman launched into a tirade about how these goats were the most entertaining part of the parade and they smelled better than the mules and whose idea was this anyway and she wanted to see the Mule Day manager. I listened politely and said, “All I know is that you need to pay me your admission to get in the gate.” My friend working with me thought this woman might have had a gun in her car, and she could see that she was getting riled up enough to possibly pull it out if she had one, and she was alarmed by the turn the conversation was taking. So my friend said, “For goodness sake, just let them in.” And I did. And I never worked the back gate again.

But I have to give mules credit for being very smart animals, not nearly as stubborn as some of the people who you may find associated with them.

random happy thoughts – solc #27

1 – I awoke this morning before dawn and noticed, in the dark outside my bathroom window, a full moon beaming through the trees. It was not only beautiful in and of itself, but it told me that the skies were clear. We have had clouds for so long I had almost forgotten what nature’s lights in the sky looked like.

2 – Sure enough it is a beautiful sunny day – finally! Still cold, but warming. And the new buds and shoots are getting excited and growing – almost before my very eyes.

3 – I continue today to clean out places where I have squirreled away belongings. Seeing them in a new light, I am finding more treasures. I have never had a true linen closet, but I must find a place for one. So many hand decorated linens I have inherited!  I am not sure how best to use and/or display them, but for now I am just thrilled to be reminded of them. I think of the endless hours that went into their creation…

4 – I have been emailing information about various parties we are planning for upcoming weddings. I am so happy for these “children” starting new lives together, as well as thankful for the friends we have to celebrate with together.

5 –Attended by hundreds of people, the annual meeting of the company my husband works for is unlike that of many businesses in today’s world. Memories from last year’s meeting make me so thankful to be a part of a corporate family such as this one, and have me looking forward to this year’s meeting tomorrow.

6 – Because my husband is busy with “the day before the meeting” duties, I am having dinner with a dear friend. And I am thinking of treating myself to Krystal hamburgers for lunch!

7 – I am listening to an old CD, Blessid Union of Souls, and I am enjoying the memories this music evokes. Plus now, as then, I like the tunes! Whatever happened to them?

8– I went to the mailbox and found a box with the smile that makes me smile. Yes, even though I am reading my first book on my new Kindle, I am still ordering “paper” books from Amazon, and I get excited when they arrive.

9 – I have always loved the work of Brian Andreas (truthfully the words are what I like, more than the art – but that’s just me), and I found a couple of his works in my cleaning out. Here’s one that “speaks to me”:

My favorite time of day

is just at dark

when all thoughts of what must get done stop…

and small pools of light come alive

on tired faces everywhere.

And here’s another:

Someday, the light will shine like a sun through my skin & they will say, What have you done with your life? & though there are many moments I think I will remember, in the end, I will be proud to say, I was one of us.

10 –  I have seen my daughter a lot this week and our son is coming home from college tomorrow. We will get to celebrate Easter together this year, and I am so thankful.

11 – We finally got our first copy of Garden and Gun. I let it expire, and I had to renew and it seemed to take forever to come. I am a true southerner, and even though some other magazines seem to have lost their regional identity, this is a true southern magazine.

12 – and most of all:  This is Holy Week, and I rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus, my Lord, Savior, and Friend.

treasure hunt – solc #26

Today was another cold and snowy Spring Break day. I woke up to snow on the ground and on the rooftops – it melted as the morning wore on, but the snow kept falling. All. Day. Long.

And yet it was another fantastic day! Today I started the big clean up and clean out. I finished two closets and several pieces of furniture. There’s so much left to do, but getting started feels so empowering. And, as an added bonus, I found several things I had totally forgotten about – or lost, and thought I would never see again:

1 – the mother-of-pearl covered Bible from Jerusalem, given to me by a friend of my mother’s when I was six,

2 – the Bunnykins figurines we collected for our son when he was small,

3 – a brand new Brooks Brothers no-iron shirt for my husband,

4 – the guest book from our wedding almost thirty-five years ago,

5 – pictures of my cross-stitch designs and my husband’s woodworking projects that we gave as presents when we first married,

6 – my dad’s railroad pocket watches,

7 – our daughter’s pearl bracelet she had as a baby,

8 – the full plan (and other paperwork) from the diet we followed to lose weight several years ago,

9 – T-shirts saved to make into a quilt for our son,

10 – coins from Canada and Ireland,

11 – gloves for dressy occasions (that I looked for last month when we attended a “Princess Grace” fashion show), and

12 – the handmade bonnet for the china doll that my aunt made for our daughter when she was in the second grade (everything else was intact except for this missing bonnet).

The weather is supposed to be better tomorrow – but that isn’t as important to me now, because I am planning to stay home again and do more cleaning up and cleaning out.

Wonder what treasures tomorrow will bring?


a simple start – solc #25

Today is the first weekday of spring break. It was dreary, cold, and snowy.  Even so, today was a great day!

I got to spend the day with my wonderful daughter. Although we live close to each other, we don’t often spend time together on a weekday because we are both working. But today we were together, all day, and in our conversations we got caught up on lots of stories, ideas, plans, and dreams.

We drove to another town to visit with my aunt and uncle, and that was a joy as well. We had a good visit, a delicious lunch, and some fun laughs together.

What a fabulous way to start Spring Break – even in the cold and snow –  and to catch up on each others’ lives as well.


henbitten – solc #24

This morning I awoke to a cold gray sky. Looking out my second story bedroom window, I glimpsed the bare limbs of the gray, empty trees. What a great week for Spring Break, I said to myself. The weatherman is even calling for snow today and tomorrow.

Brrrr… I think this is redbud winter. That just means we have more (dogwood, locust, blackberry) winters to come.

Closer to the ground, however, there are signs of spring everywhere. They come in fits and spurts, buds popping out on the warm sunny days that we have had, and halting their growth on the days like today. Those shoots are probably asking themselves, “What was I thinking, coming out so soon?”

Henbit is one such plant. It jumps to the forefront when the days start to lengthen and become warm. It is such a pretty little plant, I have often wished it could grow bigger. I love the magenta hues and the frilly shape.

henbit patch

But I think its enthusiasm is its own worst enemy. By appearing so early in the season, it makes itself susceptible to the freezing temperatures and gray sunless days. Then, frostbitten and stunted, it spends the rest of its short life looking brown and used up and old.


It loses its youth and potential before it ever has a chance to grow and mature into something showy with a bigger impact. Left to live out its remaining days robbed of color, close to the ground, overtaken by more aggressive sorts, henbit comes to be thought of as a weed to get rid of as fast as we can.  If only it arrived later, blending in with other hues and keeping its former glory, it might stand a better chance.

Then again, maybe it does just what it is supposed to do.

I get excited every year when it makes its first appearance, knowing spring really is on its way. And that is good to know on a day like today, as I sit here watching the hail that is bringing the colder clouds filled with springtime snow.

bowling avenue – solc #23

My new book club is reading a new book by a new author – Bowling Avenue by Ann Shayne. The story is based in Nashville, which is where I grew up, and happens during the time of the 2010 flood, which everyone here remembers so vividly.

Along with so many events and places being familiar, the story line is captivating. I am just at the delicious point where the characters seem like people I know and there have been enough plot twists and surprises to make be eager to keep reading – and sad to know it will soon come to an end.

When one of our members bought her copy at Parnassus Books in Green Hills (owned in part by author Ann Patchett), the clerk told her the author sometimes come to book club meetings. I emailed her, but haven’t heard back yet. Having an author in our midst would be a great way to start a new book group, so I am still keeping my fingers crossed!

Here’s my favorite quote from the book, so far. This statement was made by one character who found his way back home to Nashville, to another character who now lives in Chicago and looks down on the city of her birth.  “Rootless child, you poor rootless child. You don’t even know what you’re missing, cutting off your roots the way you do. Life is so much richer, so very much more meaningful, if you plant yourself in a place that will nourish you.”  I think this is so true, no matter where you live.

Tonight we had dinner in Nashville, and we drove down Bowling Avenue itself, in the part of town near my high school. It was interesting to be right there, where my new “friends” were living out their story.

Now… back to the book!

m…m…m…m…m…m…m…madness – solc #22

I haven’t been keeping up with college basketball much this year, and I really don’t know much about any teams or players. So I decided not to do a bracket.

Then, the night before the tournament started, my daughter asked me if I wanted to get in their group. “Maybe,” I said. “But I haven’t been tracking basketball much this year.” She assured me she hasn’t either but that didn’t matter. So she sent me the link.

Late that night, I was tired after making the spelling test for fourth grade, going over my notes for the next day’s professional development, and commenting on several postings on Two Writing Teachers. So I decided it was too late to think about it. After all, I haven’t really been too interested in basketball this year.

So then the commercial came on TV, and I heard that tune.


So I made out my bracket. But I doubt I will do very well. I haven’t really been following college basketball this year.

But I am now.

i don’t know why – solc #21

Our conversation ended with my saying, “I love you and I know this is all going to turn out OK. I’ll be thinking of you.”

To which she replied, “I keep asking myself, ‘Why?’”

I had no answer. I don’t know why.

What do you say to a friend who has had more than her share of tragedy and heartbreak? Especially when another one is barreling her way?

Years ago my friend lost her husband to cancer, then later she lost a son to an early death, and she currently has bad health and is in need of restorative surgery. There have been other things along the way, too. I often wonder how she has borne all this.

And yet she continues to look for the good in situations. Time after time. But this time she seems so very upset.

This time her boss seems to be trying to take her job away from her. Her boss that once was her friend. Out of the blue, seemingly related more to personality rather than performance. What do you say?

I had no answer. I have no answer. And I don’t know why. I only have prayers, lots of them, for her.

If you have any prayers to spare, will you please pray for my friend?

a wonderful woman – solc #20

March in Women’s History Month, and in celebration of this, here is some information about the life of one of my most favorite women.

She was born on March 20, 1921, in a small town in the South. Her father worked for the railroad and her mother was known for her seamstress skills. She attended local schools, even after her elementary school was destroyed in a tornado. She graduated from high school one year late because she had rheumatic fever and could not attend classes in what was to be the final semester of her senior year.

She married at age nineteen, and remained married to the same man for the rest of her life. He was older than she by six years and was a former high school football player. Like her father, he, too, worked for the railroad. They lived in an upstairs apartment above his parents home for twenty five years. She worked at a few office jobs before finding her “calling” in millinery.

She loved hats, and was primarily self-taught in the designing and manufacturing of them. She opened her own business in the early 1960’s and continued it until her death forty years later. She made hats and taught others to make them as well. Her stores were filled with millinery supplies as well as designs of her own creation.

She had a good eye for fashion, both in clothing and in interior design. After she and her husband purchased their own home, she loved collecting antiques, particularly the primitive kind, and she filled her home with unique pieces of furniture and accessories. She loved to entertain with low lighting and lots of candles. She was a fabulous cook, often serving up to ten different items for dinner. She was warm and welcoming to all of her guests.

She had a kind heart and always made people feel comfortable. She continually looked for ways to make others feel happy and fulfilled. She and her husband invited her widowed mother to live with them when they bought their rambling riverside home, and soon afterward her husband’s widowed father moved into a garage apartment with them, too.

After sixteen years of marriage, and giving up hope of ever having children, she and her husband discovered they were expecting. Their only child, a daughter, became the center of their lives. She was a doting mother, yet always pushed her shy child into new experiences throughout her life. She made sure she had the best education possible, and supported her daughter’s dreams in whatever ways that she could. Much later, she was just as encouraging to her two grandchildren as well.

She was a deeply religious woman, expressing her faith in belief as well as action. She was very involved in her church, from membership on the building committee to designing costumes for the musical holiday programs.  Her community activities reflected that faith, such as being a member of the auxiliary at the hospital and helping with numerous projects there.

When it was discovered that the bone cancer she had battled was taking over her body and she realized that her time on earth was short, she never looked back. “I am not afraid to die, because I know where I am going,” she said dry-eyed from her bed as those around her wept. And a few days later she passed quietly, just before Easter, and she was no doubt helping others in heaven don their Easter bonnets on her first resurrection day with her Lord.

Happy Birthday, Mama. You blessed us all when you were here among us, and I look so forward to seeing you again one day. Thank you for making me who I am. I love you.

spring beauty – solc #18

If someone were to be dropped into today from the height of summer, having been surrounded by leafy shade, green carpeted lawns, and sweltering humidity, that someone would surely think that today is quite dull and drab. Bare trees, mere tufts of green grass scattered here and there, cool air.

But today we are coming from a different place. Trying our best to leave winter behind, we notice the buds popping out on what once were bare trees. We notice that lawns freshly mulched look good not only for the neat appearance in the planting beds, but also because of the crisp contrast caused by the grass that is “greening up” around the yard.  And because of the warm air, today is the first day we wear cropped or short pants.

Our point of view makes the difference. That perspective reminds us where we have been, and encourages us to look for signs of what’s to come. And the gradualness of the seasonal change allows us to have time to notice what we might have missed if it had happened too fast. The bird song filling the air. The volunteer shoots in last year’s flower pots. The spring beauty carpeting the yard.

Spring beauty – the small flower that filled the yard of my childhood home. I can hear my mother’s voice joyfully announcing, “The spring beauty’s back.”  Delicate and small, popping out of nowhere and everywhere at the same time. Not sturdy enough to remain unfurled in the cool night breezes, but spreading open in the warm rays of the daytime sun.

spring beauty

A sign of spring someone wouldn’t want to miss!


the luck of the irish – solc #17

Today we celebrate all things Irish, in honor of St. Patrick. And in honor and memory of the Americans who have Irish blood in their family tree. So many citizens today can trace a part of their roots to the sturdy Irish immigrants who came to America for reasons as varied as the people themselves, including survival during the potato famine of the mid-1800’s. One million Irish left their country during this time of starvation and disease, and another one million perished.

Being Irish is a source of pride among many Americans, especially on St. Patrick’s Day. But it certainly has not always been that way. The Irish were scorned and downtrodden for many years in their new country. The Chicago Post wrote, “The Irish fill our prisons, our poor houses…Scratch a convict or a pauper, and the chances are that you tickle the skin of an Irish Catholic. Putting them on a boat and sending them home would end crime in this country.”

However,  the Irish people were strong, hard workers and filled with faith, and over time they proved what an asset their “coming to America” was to this country.  Through the years there have been immigrants from other countries who came to America, worked hard, and made their place in their new home. And this continues today – the coming, the prejudice, the hard work, the assimilation, for people from around the world.

But today we wear the green, dance a jig, raise a glass, and whistle a tune in honor of our Irish ancestors and friends, who have done so much to make America a fine home – for all of us.

good for the soul – solc #16

From the moment he came on stage we were chuckling. I don’t remember his opening line, but the sound of his accent made me smile from his first word on. It continued on from there. The words he spoke through the characters he created are words I have heard people that I know actually say, in that same tone of voice – and I could almost see them up on stage with him as he spoke.  His stories, his timing, his facial expressions – it all added up to an evening of laughter and delight.

We attended a comedian’s performance at our local theater last night. A group of us had dinner together first, sharing stories and catching up on our lives. Coming from jobs, and travels, and various circumstances, it was good to be in each other’s company and share that time together. Such a great way to start the evening.

And then we settled in for the show. Can you imagine being on stage alone for the better part of two hours entertaining perfect strangers? As frightening as that is to me, this man was very comfortable in that role he has played for countless years. And he seemed like an old friend from the start.

I giggled and snickered. I had trouble catching my breath from laughing so loud and long. I actually slapped my knee one time. My head bobbed and my eyes watered. It was a fun way to clean my sinuses and clear my perspective. His delivery is masterful, and his words come nonstop. We tried to retell some of his anecdotes to our children today, but it wasn’t anywhere near the same.

His message is not politically correct, but his language is clean, and his thought-provoking stories leave you thoughtful as well as amused. If some of his stories made you a bit uncomfortable, it was because of the sad truth he revealed, even in his hilarious telling of them. We continue to ponder his assertion that people today are living in fear – and that we need to stop that feeling of dread and move on with enjoying our lives each day.

And we are thankful this entertainer helped us live fully in the moment last night. Yes, laughter is truly good for the soul. Thank you, old friend.

change – solc #15


minds constantly readjusting

inevitable transformation



new position of increased responsibility

deserved reward


Daughter (and Son-in-Law)

new home with needed space and dreams fulfilled

hopeful desire



college graduation and seeking employment

promising future



husband’s new job, moving across the country

exciting adventure



death of sister, aging mother

challenging sadness



retirement looming, pursuing new interests

exciting possibilities



speeding towards us, here tomorrow

clearing vision



providing guidance, answering prayers

reassuring Peace

thankful – solc # 14

A brief moment in time, we gathered around a restaurant table, surrounded by people and background music  noise. Our family ate dinner together tonight. Our son is home on his last spring break, on track to graduate from college in May, making contacts and looking for a job. (Hooray!) Our daughter and son-in-law were  joining us, making time for us in their happy, busy lives.

Nonstop chatter about the interests, amusements, and pieces of our day.

How can someone be adequately thankful for this? How can you grasp this joy without feeling at least a little guilty that not everyone shares this?

We live in the moment, absorb every detail, focus on every shimmer of light, record every laugh, and relish every memory.

it’s only high school – solc #13

There was a conversation at lunch recently about high school experiences. Surprisingly, one of our most dedicated and effective teachers, a woman who is professional in appearance, expectations, and teaching practices, said her high school meant little to her academically.

“I didn’t care, I didn’t try. My teachers weren’t interested in me as a person. I just did what I could to get by. It wasn’t until I went to college, where I could take classes in what I was interested in, that I became a good student.”

I was so surprised. She is so conscientious in all parts of her life now, I wouldn’t have thought this to be the case for her in her high school years.

Another colleague remarked, “I feel the same way. I was always quiet, and I don’t think my teachers even noticed me. Sometimes I would see them in the years after high school and they might remember my last name – but they always thought I was my sister.”

“I think size is important. High schools are just too big,” remarked yet another teacher. “It is so easy to get lost or just hide in the crowd.”

Most teachers at the table agreed, that is just the way high school is, more social than academic, not a lasting influence in our lives.

So I sat and pondered a moment before speaking up. “I would have to disagree. In my own experience, my high school years really made me who I am.”

All eyes turned my way. No comments, so I went on. “I was challenged and nurtured in my high school. My teachers knew me, even though I, too, was quiet and shy. My mother would love hearing me say this, since she made me go to this school, and I didn’t want to at first. She is smiling right now I am sure.”

“Where did you go to school?” one asked.

“I went to Harpeth Hall.”

“Ohhhh,” was the group reply.

Harpeth Hall is a private school for girls. It is known for its outstanding reputation in academics, and sports, and the arts. It was, and still is, small: I graduated with 74 in 1974. The classes were hard, the expectations were high, values were taught and reinforced, and each and every student was appreciated for the things they valued and the work they did. The expectation for the future was there as well – we were to become contributing members of society. And we did.

Our children attended a private school, too. There weren’t any good public options where we lived at the time. It was not always easy, both financially and physically, since we lived in another town. And they had to make new friends as well as adjust to vastly different expectations. But seeing the relationships that continue with their teachers, and the people they are becoming, lets me know it was also right for them. That school had a big part in making them who they are today, and in what they will continue to contribute to our world in the future. I am thankful for those experiences as well.

There is a lot of talk in our state right now about vouchers and charter schools. Of course everyone in public education sees these as threats.  I am not sure either of these paths will solve the issues we see in schools today, but one thing I know for sure. Every student is entitled to a memorable high school experience that helps them grow. One like mine, and like my children’s. Our job is to make that happen for all.

an end and a beginning – solc #12

Tonight was the last session of my class in Adobe Illustrator. As I said in my original post about this class, I have learned quite a lot. I told my instructor tonight that I probably learned more than anyone else in the class. Of course, considering my starting point, I had the most to learn.

I now have enough basic knowledge to begin to try some things on my own. I have many plans for projects, but I know that the key ingredient is TIME.

My main purpose in taking this class to use some of the quotes I have collected over the years and create posters and prints. Thanks to a patient teacher and hand-me-downs (computer and software) from my daughter, I definitely see some possibilities here!

bird song