My favorite word is “Mommy”

Though sometimes repeated more times in sequence than I can handle, you can call me that all day long. It always brings an ounce of happiness and hope each time I’m called for. My heart is warmed each time she calls for me, whether it be for stress or in glee, her heart calls for “mommy.”

Yes, daddy is called just as strong, and I truly get shared joy as she asks for him to come along. I’ve dearly learned in the last few months, how to value thee. As I was to become another mommy to be- I had to let my a piece of my heart free.

Yet as I’ve grown and begun to better appreciate, I’ve healed and found my hope in life from my little descendant of me. My hope for tomorrow and what lies ahead is fragile and uncertain. The questions arise about what lies in the future ahead, but I mustn’t dread all that could be. For I truly have a precious gift of being called mommy.

I now better understand that this gift is not provided to all. There are no prejudice to who may or may not get the call. Therefore I feel the power, strength and warmth to hold hands with the women around me. We bring hope, strength and grace to all that we empower as we stand tall. We persevere, we support, we love.

Though it may not always be easy to do the above- it truly is in our heart of hearts to nurture and love. Because of these reasons, I cherish the honor of being called mommy, as I hold the gift to empower another with all things that the future can be. To greatness, to togetherness- to love.

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Facing Failure

I do my best to demonstrate that I learn from my mistakes in order to become a better person, educator, wife and mother. In my opinion, seeking perfection is a fruitless journey.  I strive to inspire greatness in others and be my best self most of the time. I’m far from perfect but I’m happy with who I am. Facing a failure encourages me to do something different and better next time. My goal is to do my best to not make the same mistake again. If I do, I’ll try something different.

I surround myself with people that have the same mindset and perspective. I have a reputation of being positive and encouraging to those around me. I am happy to hold to that reputation because that’s what I want in my life and for those around me- true happiness. And from my perspective, true happiness is not perfection. We are not perfect. We mess up. We forgive. We move on. We do our best to make the right mistakes and learn together. Laugh it off, cry it out, move on stronger.

Enough about me. Let’s talk about the experience that left me speechless on Friday afternoon. Passing back the math trimester test to my students caused a breakdown that I never expected. In my 12 years, I never had this kind of response. The response from my 10 year olds SHOCKED me.

Let me provide some background. At the end of every trimester, we “check up” on how our students are doing in math. We assess them on the skills they’ve learned over that trimester. We compound three months of rigorous math work into one 7 page assessment. It took us about three class periods (60 minutes each) to complete. They worked hard on this test. You can see it all over their papers. They had a mostly-good attitude about taking it. I was encouraging (kind words and getting to chew gum ;-)), but it was still a test. And yes, text anxiety is real in kids. At 10 years old. It’s heartbreaking.

Before I passed out their tests, I explained to them (in a very comforting and positive tone), that they taught me so much about how I can better support them as learners. I explained to them that I appreciated how hard they worked as I saw it on each of their tests. I really wanted them to know that their effort mattered.

And then they got their tests back.  It was like I gave them an uncurable medical diagnosis. Their heads went down. I had one go straight to the corner and refuse to come back to their desk. I had one student have a full on meltdown. I was shocked. Then came time for conversation. I compassionately asked them why getting their test back upset them. I got the reasonable response of “I thought I did better than I did,” but then I had a shift of response. One student got mad at me for putting a check mark to mark it as wrong and that I should have done a big red x instead. Another was big-tear-crying saying that he was going to be spanked when he got home. Unfortunately, it turned into a ‘family meeting’ on how we can support each other.

After having an emotional intervention, we were able to get better grips with how we did on our tests. The scores were not great, but they were willing to review their work to figure out what they did wrong. As we walked through a couple problems, they began to realize they made little mistakes and they could now articulate what they did wrong. We made progress; for most, but not all. I still had three students in big time shut down mode; two in fear of parental response, the other stuck in a negative self-talk cycle.

I’ve thought about this all weekend. I know my task is to continue to empower them and give them courage to work through difficult tasks and coaching them to be ok with performing less than expected. I”ll continue to remind them that it’s not a final judgement, its a piece of paper with problems to solve. They have so many tests ahead of them, I can’t help but worry about their educational journey if they’re already fear the outcome of their tests. In reflection, it also raises a lot of questions.

How have we created a generation that fears failure? Why are we expecting kids to be perfect? Where did this test anxiety come from? They’re fourth graders: KIDS. How can I encourage parents to put less weight on assessment outcomes? How can we create developmentally appropriate learning environments? WHY DO WE TEST SO MUCH IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL? 😦

All in all, I will continue to embrace my kiddos and tell them I believe in them. I never want them to give up because if they do, they may miss out on the greatest opportunities if they do not face their failures. We as a community of educators, parents and family members need to do the same. Kids look up to us and if for a split second they think we don’t think they’re capable of doing great things based on a TEST, we’ve failed them.

Let’s choose to empower and overcome. With great effort and strong support, we can do all things.

I don’t leave with a song this time, but a couple quotes. May you be inspired. Till next time….

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quotes about failed love                                                                                                                                                      More

Our 2017 Christmas Story

It has been a long time since I’ve sat down and written (typed) up my thoughts. A million of them bounce around in my head on a moment by moment basis. Therefore, I hope to remain focused in this blog. I can’t promise, but I can hope for the best.

As the 2017 holiday season is coming to a close, my heart is full and genuinely warmed by the experiences and conversations over the last month or so. I am surrounded by great people that have great perspectives and provide me true inspiration. I am extremely grateful for the people in my life. I hope you know who you are. If not, I’ll do a better job telling you rather than assuming you already know.

So, everyone has their own yearly Christmas story right? We all have things that are predictable and are the same each year, as well as get surprised by some great, and some not-so-much news and experiences. Either way, I’ve learned to embrace ALL things during the holidays as being part of our ‘Christmas Story.’ And for the good spirit in me and with my motivation to write (and while Bella happily plays with her new toys), I’d like to share a little of the 2017 Smith-Virnoche-Zecher-Sande-Blankenship-Hendricks Family Christmas Story. 🙂

————–2017 Christmas Story———————–

After an amazing Thanksgiving FEAST, my sister, brother-in-law, niece, mom and dad went on our 2nd Annual TREE HUNT. Baby Clara slept ok, not great (thus parents were in exact zombie-ish-new-parent-like shape) and after Beau took an early airport drop-off drive; our clan had a coffee in hand (or had consumed two before departure) as we set off to find the PERFECT tree. After we jumped in the back of the truck (some inside, some outside), we enjoyed the trip through the rainy, muddy hills to the corner of the lot where ‘the big trees were.’ Dad found one. Beau found one. We voted. We chose. After a good hand-saw-fresh-pitch smelling tree was hauled down to purchase, we were a little soggy, but happy with the selection.

Following our Christmas Tree Hunt, the tree remained undressed till the following afternoon. One-Step-At-A-Time. 🙂 Next was our 4th Annual Alderbrook Christmas Breakfast and Santa Pictures. We rented out the wine room and spent our morning together with Bloody Marys, Coffee, The-Best-Eggs-Benedicts-EVER, and French-Toast-Deliciousness, as we shared stories, prepared for Christmas and simply enjoyed time together. The Santa experience was flawless (which is worth celebrating! a 3 month old, a 3 and 4 year old=unsure outcomes in a lot of things: especially with Santa).

This year we started some new traditions that I look forward to continuing.  We had our 1st Annual Friends-Christmas get together hosted by the amazing Randolph Family in their beautiful home. I have not laughed that hard for a long time. The conversations and laughter shared was truly one of my favorite things about this holiday season. The Syran Wrap Ball. The Dining Room Conversations. The PERFECT little Mia. The Pure Happiness and Solid Friendships. I can’t wait till next year.

Next, we had our every-year-I’ve-been-alive (and more) Virnoche-Hendricks get together; Our 3rd Annual hosted by Brad and Christy. I snuggled Clara for a long time (made this aunt happy!) and had a change-the-world (of education) conversation with Bree and caught up with some family that I haven’t seen over the year. I always want more time spent together. I love you all and I look forward to more times spent together.

To jazz up our story, we had to go get a second tree because the first one we cut down was not taking water (even after fresh cut). Our family-trip-attained-tree was BONE dry. Therefore, we went to get another tree for Christmas and thru New Years. Yet this trip wasn’t so orchestrated. We packed our chainsaw, turned on the Christmas Music and drove 5 miles down the road to Hurd’s Christmas Tree farm. Our tree was chosen, cut and hauled out in less than 10 minutes. And it’s a beaut! 11 feet tall standing proudly in our living room. (After trimming a foot or so off the top as it attempted to be a Clark Family Tree.) The star was placed on the top and is decorated and ready to play the part.

Next, came MY 12 (and a half) Annual Smith-Sande-Blankenship Christmas Eve festivities. I love the traditions that hold for this night. Carols. Santa Claus. White Elephant (with a new twist this year) and the games that bring out the competition and the kids participation. This year the knock on the door from Santa made us all jump as we were singing our traditional Silent Night led by Grandma Bea. The new white elephant game may not have given us the ‘steal and deal’ that we typically deal with, but we all ended the night with a smile (and maybe with an off-the-wall calendar) and could laugh at whoever got the Toilet Bowl Coffee Mug (at least it came with shot or two of Baileys). 🙂 To top it off- we will always remember it being Bella and Paisleys first white Christmas.

Now for Christmas Day, Bella, Beau and I woke up in our matching footed onesies to ‘go see what Santa brought us.’ Bella was all squeals and happy-as-could-be about Santa eating her 3 cookies and the reindeer enjoying her baby-carrots. She treasured each gift and if it had a “B” on the gift tag (from Bella or To Beau included), she thought it was her gift. She had the true joy of giving the gifts that weren’t hers to us and her grandparents. She made me very proud for her humble and joyous spirit. We could all learn something from a child’s innocence.

After a delicious breakfast (breakfast casserole, cinnamon rolls, fruit, bacon and french toast sausage), shared with Beau’s parents, we sat on the couch and played with our toys a little more (while Tim took a short post-breakfast-snooze). Bella started playing during this time and didn’t stop till almost 9 pm. She was in heaven with her imagination.

We stayed in our pajamas for as long as we could on Christmas Day (and can’t lie, I am trying to do the same today (the joy of holiday break)). After an afternoon refreshing shower, my lovely parents came over to unwrap gifts and to enjoy Beau’s (I-don’t-know-how-long-he’s-done-it) Annual Rib-Eye (and mom’s delicious Apricot Chicken). As Beau and I smothered the Rib-Eye in butter and seasoning, we turned up the music (thank you Alexa) and shared the joys of preparing for our feast to somewhat conclude our Christmas Day. Sitting at the dinner table, we shared some heartfilled conversations where I got to know my dad and Beau a little better from what they shared.

I think we all got a little closer over this holiday season. I feel like my friendships are stronger, my family is closer as we experienced the true holiday spirit of love and laughter shared together.

The days in between then and now, a lot of things have unfolded around us. We pause to honor those that have faced loss during this time. Our family sends our best wishes for peace and renewal. We cherish each other and memories made together more so because of recent loss around us.

As my dad clearly shared; it really is a wonderful life. We must embrace the joys and not fester on the struggles or losses. We must overcome by seeing the greatness in all things.

I conclude this lengthy post with another attempt to inspire by a great song. I hope these lyrics touch your soul in the same way it has mine.

May it be an enriching, joyous 2018! May you find joy in all things.

What a Wonderful World
I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They’re really saying I love you
I hear babies crying, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world


Inspiration Overload Download

Lightning has struck me! (per se) And my drive has become focused. I can’t ignore the information that has been enriching my life. What will I do with it all? I do not yet know. But I will be doing something. It all started earlier this year, and the more information I absorb, the more I am compelled to do something with it. Again, I do not yet know. But it will be something. Be prepared. I’ve been empowered, enriched, and by golly- MOVED!

So, I’ve been drafting this blog post since June. You know when experiences are so pure for you that it’s hard to explain? Well, that’s exactly how I’ve felt and how I still feel. Therefore, posting this took courage. I feel like I’m sharing the information that I’ve gained from my own personal experiences on a gold platter. They are precious to me, and I sincerely hope they move you in a similar way.

In simple terms, I’m going to share with you some videos that have been compelling to me along my journey. I’ve read books, attended a conference, talked with professionals, been reading blogs, participating in a Brain Highways Lower Brain Development Course, and much more. I’m MOTIVATED and ENGAGED. Essentially, this blog could be written as if it were a thesis (or beginning of an action research project) or have itself on its way to a dissertation! Though, I don’t want to put you asleep, I want to catch your brain’s attention by some of the key things that caught mine. The emotion these videos provoked, made me want to learn more.

I encourage you to watch these videos and reflect on how this information is useful for you. I’d also love to discuss some of your reflections, as well as discover some of your curiosities. Let’s chat about this! 😊

So, here goes…

First, during the school’s book study of How to Help Traumatized Children,  our principal and counselor shared this TED talk. To know the lifelong effect of trauma… empowered me to be a more intentional teacher and person for our struggling youth. It also made me extremely reflective… (Roughly 15-16 min long)

Secondly, after having great conversations following active research, I decided to enroll Bella and I in a Brain Highways Course. From the beginning, I’ve learned more about the brain and behavior and I’ve had DIRECT impact on how its made life richer, easier and happier for the whole family. Here’s some videos that are extremely simple, catchy and informational about these experiences. (roughly 5 minutes each)

Disorganized Brain:

Pons: (The class I’m in right now is addressing these things):


Proprioceptive System: (the exercises that we’ve been integrating into the program to develop more important parts of the brain):

Vestibular System: (even more of the things we’re working on):

Next, I went to a conference. As I sponged in this eye-opening information, it hit home. It’s hard to ignore. We listened to great speakers and the main speaker was from Walla Walla, in my home state of Washington. The Principal Jim Sporleder, had courage to take on the hardest teens and transform their futures. What he did and how he did it, is empowering. Here’s the trailer for his school’s documentary: (you can find it on amazon if you’d like to watch it)

And lastly, neuroscience has always compelled me due to my own personal traumatic brain injury. I’ve always been compelled by my recovery and have spent many of my days thereafter researching to find out more. I’m not “all knowing” and never will be, but research continues to unfold about neuroplasticity and as I keep trying to be ‘in the know,’ I come across information (and discoveries) that empower me. Therefore, here is my most recent inspiration that blends the knowledge of neuroscience, trauma and more…

All in all, I have been blessed with life, after suffering a traumatic brain injury, and I’ve been empowered by the developing science in neuroplasticity, especially from being able to recover from physical, emotional and adverse conditions. From this day forward, I will continue to do my best in creating positive, empowering environments and relationships for those in my life for either a short time or a long time. 😊

Again- please chat/comment about any of the videos above as I love to listen and discuss these topics! A lifelong learner……



Straight up- I feel a little hungover from all of the information I just received from the trauma informed schools conference I just attended. Maybe hungover is not the right term because I feel great; renewed, empowered and focused. Though I’m having a tough time summarizing the valuable take-aways because they were so powerful and I don’t want to diminish their power with my summary. One of the great presenters from the conference described her experience when she first began her journey as ‘being struck by lightning.’ She couldn’t have said it any better, as that’s exactly how I feel.

Yet- today was a little bit of a test… to see how much my ‘paradigm shift’ would be in practice. And goodness gracious- this is GENUINELY going to be a journey. This will NOT be easy. BUT I’m NOT giving up! All good things take work to achieve. By understanding the importance and the VALUE behind the NEED to take this journey, I have more of a buy-in. My greatest concern is how to get the same buy-in from others. I’m NOT trying to sell something, I just BELIEVE that it’s the right thing to do.

I know my ‘window of tolerance’ right now is very small due to my stress level being high (considering the to-do list and the before-school-gets-out-for-the-summer behaviors), so I forgive myself a little for not being as successful as I would’ve liked to have been today. But as one of my teammates reminded me, I need to take it slow and keep trying. So today, I truly realized the need for COMMITMENT. Therefore, I am choosing to commit my best efforts to providing a ‘regulated’ environment and build strategies in supporting others when dysregulated. With this commitment- comes HARD work; but I know it’ll be worth it!

Again- I’m truly over-the-top excited about sharing the information I just sponged-up at the Trauma-Informed-School Conference, but I’ll save that for a later date OR simply share my experiences through small-steps of implementation. If you’d like to know more, please feel free to ask me. I will direct you towards some fantastic resources.

Till then, I’ll leave you with a few quotes/photos to keep you ATTUNED to yourself and others around you….


Brace yourself. I am more inspired at this very moment than I have been in a long while. I have NO idea what is going to happen as I sit and reflect tonight. All good things… but I’m like a child who just got the EXACT present they were asking for at Christmas. I’m just EMPOWERED!

First, let me set the scene: (background information may not be THAT important, but just go with it…) 🙂 As I unburied this laptop from a stack of yet-to-be-graded papers, I have also found myself multi-tasking and having a bowl of Lucky Charms at 9:16 at night (I know, it’s not a glass of wine, but it’ll give me the comfort I’m looking for). It’s late at night, but I feel like I could give an inspiration speech! About what? Oh you’ll see. I’m documenting it right in front of you for your reading pleasure. 🙂

So I just spent the last two hours listening to a presentation given by Dr. Kathy Masarie. I’ve never heard of her before today and I may not encounter her again in my life, but she made me want to be a part of the change I believe in. First, if you are reading this, you may know that I am in tune (or try to be) with brain research. Some may think it’s because I’m a teacher (you know.. learning and brain things go together right?) Welp, that’s not what compels me to read and research about brain science. It’s because I am a testimony to how a brain can HEAL. What I was able to overcome (with many helping hands) is what makes me the INSPIRED teacher and person that I am. Sometimes I want to stand on a mountain and proudly announce to every one about it (in the most humble way possible) haha. So here I am, about to proudly give my testimony about the fact that I was able to overcome a traumatic brain injury with perseverance, endurance and loving support!

So let me get scientific for a minute (without putting you to sleep). There’s this amazing new discovery that has shifted brain research and science. Our brains are a muscle (yes more than that too) but our brains can get stronger and can heal from trauma because (again), it’s like a muscle. To be more specific, I’m trying to describe the concept of neuroplasticity. It’s late, so I’m not going to go much deeper than that. Though I genuinely believe that overcoming my traumatic brain injury is PROOF that there is such a thing as neuroplasticity. To know our brains are malleable and able to heal after social, physical, emotional impacts with intentional practices (some just being a slight shift in WHAT we say)– should empower EVERYONE!

Anyhow.. I would like to give my short testimony about my brain injury recovery and I’m not thinking tonight is the best time though I’m gonna go for it. May the risk be worth it. 🙂

When I was almost 20, I thought I knew where my life was going to take me. I was gonna get my two year degree at Olympic College, while living in my parents’ newly built home and then go to college to be a teacher (preferably Northwest College in Kirkland at the time). My parents were greatly supportive to me during these times, and I appreciate them for letting me stay with them while I started my post-high school endeavors.

Well, with my drive, came a little edge of strong-will. I knew what was best for me, right? I made good decisions and respected others. Nothing bad could come of that right?! Well, until I was told that I couldn’t do something that I found there to be no problem doing: driving to the airport at 11:00 pm to say goodbye one more time right? I will never forget how I spoke to my parents when they told me how much they didn’t want me to do that. It came back to bite me hard. They didn’t want me to go because they knew I would be too tired and they wanted me to be safe. I didn’t listen. Sure enough, they were painfully right. Let’s not go into more details of what happened that night/morning after I fell asleep at the wheel when I was almost home. It’s too emotional to write about. It made a profound impact on my family and I can’t imagine what my parents went through.

Yet, with my mom holding my hand, and helping me in and out of the car (when I know I had the “I’m fine” attitude with her), she diligently took me to speech therapy every day for a long time (3 months?) I’ll never forget the first therapy session. Being 20 and unable to do things that a 5 year old could do, devastated me. But by-golly! I stuck with it! As mundane as some of the tasks were- they worked! I was able to rewire my brain so it could access information that was still there!!! The pathways just got a little mixed up and they needed to be rebuilt. To know that my memories were still there and that all the knowledge that I had attained through the years weren’t lost, was a new level of empowerment I can’t explain.

So because of this- I am incredibly empowered and inspired by the growing research and discovery of how we can contribute to the growth and healing of our minds. I want to be a part of that inspirational journey; more than being a testimony. That is why I am so motivated by our presentation tonight. Many great things were taught that were supported by brain research.

Tonight made me also experience what I could do someday. I could use my experience to inspire others by brain research to reach the social-emotional needs of others and to help our brains heal from all different levels of trauma. Hmmmm… Unfortunately- I don’t find myself getting my doctorate degree anytime soon… but I’m choosing to still keep ‘in the know’ and where that takes me… I guess we’ll just have to find out together.

Till then my friends, I should give myself five minutes post-screen time to allow my hormones to switch over to rest mode, and have a sound sleep so I can apply myself tomorrow and be my personal best.

But like always, I end in a song.

Here’s a little Jack Johnson “Upside Down” (shortened for the sake of not repeating the same thing)

Who’s to say
What’s impossible
Well they forgot
This world keeps spinning
And with each new day
I can feel a change in everything
And as the surface breaks reflections fade
But in some ways they remain the same
And as my mind begins to spread its wings
There’s no stopping curiosity

I want to turn the whole thing upside down
I’ll find the things they say just can’t be found
I’ll share this love I find with everyone
We’ll sing and dance to Mother Nature’s songs
I don’t want this feeling to go away

Who’s to say
I can’t do everything
Well I can try
And as I roll along I begin to find
Things aren’t always just what they seem

Jigsaw Puzzle

Here’s a little philosophical perspective from someone whose never taken a philosophy course (though I’ve heard how enriching they are; since I’m still paying college loans, can I go take a course?) Nonetheless, there are a lot of opinions flying around here and there considering all the political shifting and uncertainties BUT this has NOTHING to do with that. (Take a deep breath if necessary).

Quite frankly, I have been meaning to take the time and sit down and compose a blog post since probably my last one. Please do not go check the date of it as I know it was a long time ago. Almost EVERY day, I think of 20 things to write about. I’m choosing NOT to have a journal to ‘jot’ my ideas down, because sometimes, I think I should keep my thought formations between my two ears.

Well this one snuck out. Therefore- I’m going with the flow (since I also have the time and calm/quiet home to focus and do this). There hasn’t been much formulation of these thoughts, so I apologize if this read becomes a waste of your time. It’s making me feel good to write and see my thoughts unfold and become readable (to me or whomever is choosing to read this).

You can ask my mom- I’ve always been a journal-er. I think I still have my first journal and the 25 thereafter. I would LOVE to flip through those pages. I might have to go grab them to do so here soon. I like to reflect and write my thoughts out. I feel like it makes me whole. I feel like it also makes me accountable to my feelings, thoughts, hopes and desires. Because of this, I hope my journey in journaling and writing has helped make me who I am. That’s why I thank my dear friend Elsa for inspiring me to write again. It sure has been a LONNNNNNNNG time. Again, it makes me feel more in tune and in touch with the everyday dealings of life and to better understand my thoughts and feelings. THANK YOU.

As a teacher (and dedicated lifelong learner), I’ve been an English/Language Arts/Writing teacher for the last 11 years. You think that’d contribute to making me a great writer, right? Welp, that’s the greatest thing about writing- its like life- it has it’s own way of unfolding and the message delivery and interpretation is different for everyone. (That’s my metaphorical interpretation/comparison to life: did it work?) I bring this up because lately, I’ve been ‘teaching with my hair on fire’ for the writing assignment we are doing as a class. I don’t think I’ve EVER had this much excitement in our writing instruction. The students (and I) are writing personal essays about someone important in our life. I CAN’T WAIT TO SHARE MINE and maybe some of my students’ as well. They are simply INSPIRATIONAL. So that is where my writing energies have been focused. The students have been fueling my writing ways 🙂

Haha- I think I’m FINALLY going to get to my ‘philosophical perspective’ that I made you so excited to read about. 🙂 Here’s my thesis statement: Life is like a jigsaw puzzle. We spend our days putting the pieces together to what we think the overall puzzle picture should look like. And the crazier thing about the “puzzle” is the ‘colors’ will change over our lifetime (or the whole picture morphs). We may feel like we have a great idea what that ‘puzzle picture’ looks like so our life choices revolve around our idea of ‘putting the pieces together’ with our best knowledge/judgement. Yet- as much ‘control’ as we think we have over our puzzle design, we can quickly get reminded that we don’t.

Because of this analytical metaphorical perspective, it is my job to have faith (and I’m giving you the same task) in the great things in the developing picture that is within that ‘puzzle’ of life. It’s a puzzle of life; a jig-saw puzzle of life.

Before I go- the inspiration of this reflection came from watching the show This is Us. I’ve had some great discussions about the many layers of this well written storyline. The author, Dan Fogelman, presents the story with intentional introduction of ‘snippets’ of the stories that cross over different time spans. To me- like a puzzle; each piece being placed delicately along the way.

And that’s it my friends. The philosophical perspective you’ve all been waiting for. 🙂

To optimism, hope, great things, wisdom and wonderful things….

I leave you with another set of lyrics from my new ‘jam’: (slightly edited (lyrics removed that don’t really pertain to me):


Fast: That’s the kind of car you wanna drive when you’re sixteen
Fast: That’s the kind of boys that you want on the home team
Fast: Yeah, you think you’re gonna catch your big dreams just like that
Fast: And here you are, looking back

Sixty seconds now feels more like thirty
Tick-tock, won’t stop, around it goes
Sand through the glass sure falls in a hurry
All you keep trying to do is slow it down, soak it in
You’re trying to make the good times last as long as you can
But you can’t, man
It just goes too fast
If I could hit pause I would somehow
But it don’t work like that

Sixty seconds now feels more like thirty
Tick-tock, won’t stop, around it goes
Sand through the glass sure falls in a hurry
All you keep trying to do is slow it down, soak it in
You’re trying to make the good times last as long as you can
But you can’t, no you can’t
It just goes too fast
Way too fast

Parenting Prose

Parenting is POETIC.

As much as each line in poetry is considered INTENTIONAL, MEANINGFUL and follow somewhat of a PATTERN; I am going to deviate GREATLY from what is considered ‘poetic’ in this post. Simply put- I want to reflect in writing about the adventures of being a MOM.

When making decisions, I always try to do so with the greatest of intentions. Yet toddlerhood does a great job mocking me for thinking that being of good intention will lead to success. Before having a child, if my actions were well thought out and decisions were made with good reason, good things and success would follow. I never realized that being a parent challenges that. Yet, I am extremely grateful that I was taught how to endure, be strong and be positive in all of life’s challenges. I hope its making me a better parent.

Don’t get me wrong, I am greatly honored to be Bella’s mom and have Beau as her loving father and my patient, hand-holding husband. I can’t imagine life without EITHER of them. They are both very forgiving and very loving in all the endeavors of LIFE. They help me learn from my mistakes and grow as a mother and wife.

I don’t even know if it is possible to truly express or explain what you go through being a parent. Yes, every child is different; Every parent is different; Every relationship is different and Every family is different. These ‘nuances’ influence the greatest investment of LIFE- our children. That is why it is EXTREMELY important to have a GROWTH MINDSET and learn from our mistakes along the way. (Because let’s be real- parenting itself is truly a daily scientific investigation: mistakes are inevitable).

So enough preachin’ and reflectin’ let me tell you a little story, without too much detail but enough to understand the reason I’m compelled to write and consider my parenting adventures as POETIC. I’m gonna try my best to pull out the POETRY DEVICES and do a little rhyme and rhythm. Bear with me and laugh if you wish (though you know I’m not real good at being funny).

There’s a little girl in the world

Who has a piece of my heart to hold.

As I look into her eyes,

I feel a connection and not in disguise.

Her beautiful blues

Give me such powerful soul previews.

She gently whispers in my ear

That she wishes me to hold her dear.

With her warm embrace, she makes it clear:

“Have no fear.”

For how much uncertainty the future holds,

I can’t help but dream what might unfold.

The excitement, the fear, the thrill,

The emotional roller coaster, yet hold still.

Great things have yet to come

The tears will be less, the heart will be strong

The laughter and smiles, will be heard lifelong.

There’s a little girl in the world

Who holds a piece of my heart.


This was written after an especially emotional, yet an amazing week shared with my beautiful little girl, Bella. She is the light of my life. Her joy is contagious and her smile RADIANT. She is growing into a very independent little girl and thinks she’s got the world figured out (oh Lord, help me in the teens!). Embracing her personality and character brings me joy. When she hurts or is going through something difficult, it breaks my heart. I am honored to be her support and be strong for her, yet parenting has shown me how to keep composure while breaking down inside. This reflection has allowed me to continue to be optimistic, hopeful, happy and strong. This little girl is going to change the world someday! I just know it! She is already bringing more greatness than she is able to understand. I am HUMBLED by the opportunity to be called her MOTHER.

Forever Grateful.

With Love, Hope and Happiness,




Giving of Thanks

I’m a giver. I like to give and express my appreciation. YET- I always feel like I don’t do it ENOUGH. With the demands of life, I hope that those around me understand the inferences of appreciation I show because not always do the words come out of my mouth, though I feel them in my heart.

This Thanksgiving was probably the best yet. The memories we shared will carry me through the year. I want to stand on a mountain and scream the appreciation I have for my family. It took a team effort to make my first Thanksgiving go smoothly. THANK YOU!

I can’t explain to you how grateful I am that my family came together in good health. Sitting around the table together brought me hope. Life is so uncertain and unpredictable, it made me even more appreciative of those moments shared. I know life will not always be easy and these are the moments I must hold dear and near. (I’m still looking for the PAUSE button in life upon which I can also REWIND back to in future days).

As I sit here typing this, the rain is hitting the windows and is making me want to curl up and read a good book and DREAD going to work tomorrow because I know I’ll have to deal with the rain. Yet sitting to my left is my beautiful little girl snuggling close to me coloring a pretty picture for me bringing me HOPE. Her joy for life makes the dreary rain seem like white noise. She is a great reminder that LIFE IS ABOUT PERSPECTIVE.

As a giver, I always strive to provide an authentic POSITIVE OUTLOOK on things and life. In doing so, it shapes my perspective. Seeing life through someone else’s eyes can strengthen my empathy and self reflection. It makes me stronger. Yet sometimes it makes me overthink LIFE’S FRAGILITY. Life is short. Yet how short? Oh geez. I need to find that PAUSE button.

Going back to the start, I want to give thanks and show appreciation in all things because TIME IS VALUABLE and valuing it is how I want to show MY THANKS. As much as I want to be able to determine what the future holds, I know TODAY brings me HAPPINESS and HOPE. I hold tight to those two things as they will carry me through all things. THANK YOU TO ALL THOSE IN MY LIFE THAT MAKE ME STRONGER, WISER AND HAPPIER! I hope you know who you are- BECAUSE I KNOW IT’S YOU!!!

I’ll leave you with another set of lyrics that touch my heart and go along with this post:

Here’s to Willie Nelson and his song “I’m Alive”“I’m Alive”

It’s so damn easy to say that life’s so hard
Everybody’s got their share of battle scars
As for me, I’d like to thank my lucky stars
That I’m alive and well

And it’d be easy to add up all the pain
And all the dreams you sat and watched go up in flames
You were on, on the wreckage as it smolders in the rain
But not me, I’m alive

And today you know that’s good enough for me
Breathing in and out’s a blessing, can’t you see?
Today is the first day of the rest of my life
And I’m alive and well, God, I’m alive and well

Stars are dancing on the water here tonight
It’s good for the soul when there’s not a soul in sight
This boat has caught it’s wind and brought me back to life
Now I’m alive and well

And today you know that’s good enough for me
Breathing in and out’s a blessing, can’t you see?
Today is the first day of the rest of my life
And I’m alive and well, God, I’m alive and well

Post-Election School Day

Wow. Being a teacher at this time in history is remarkable. You get the most genuine, sometimes comical responses from 10 year olds during the ‘turning points’ in history. I am proud to be a guide in the acquisition and filtration of information for these kids. Today is a day that I probably will never forget in my career as a teacher.

As we all came to work (for our 8:00 am meeting) a little weary, dreary and concerned, I couldn’t help but feel an utter concern for change. No matter whom would become our next president, change in leadership (that kids think will DIRECTLY impact their near futures), wasn’t going to be easy to embrace through their eyes as kids. They’ve heard the hype. They’ve briefly caught word of what the candidates have done or said, and it’s ALL been negative- which has greatly concerned me as a leader of our future leaders.

We’ve spent all this time teaching our youth that leadership is supposed to be ‘choosing to be kind’ and ‘making good decisions’ and ultimately ‘showing respect to all.’ Its been a confusing matter when our youth are watching the bantering between our PRESIDENTIAL candidates and even more unfortunate that they can directly quote the negative words/names/phrases/comments coming from our now future president. This is so contradictory to what we are teaching our kids. Again, this brings great concern to me.

Now, I didn’t intend this post to be my ‘ranting’ about all the uncertainties that lay ahead. I meant for it to be an authentic reflection of the innocent response to the things going on around us in the world. Seeing things through kids eyes, definitely provides a true glimpse about what we have transpiring before us. It brings motivation to be the change we want to see (more positive contributions to society) as well as drive to show the greatness that still exists in our world/nation and to inspire THEM to be a part of that greatness.

My lifetime investment in the world of education is to give back what has been given to me. Hope. Inspiration. Belief in Greatness and Myself, and above all- to be HUMBLE and KIND.

As my duty-free lunch has come to an end- I am going to copy and paste some great parts to one of my life-motto songs: Humble and Kind. May you be inspired by greatness SOMEHOW today.

You know there’s a lot that goes by the front door
Don’t forget the keys under the mat
Childhood stars shine, always stay humble and kind
Go to church ’cause your momma says to
Visit grandpa every chance that you can
It won’t be a waste of time
Always stay humble and kind

Hold the door say please say thank you
Don’t steal, don’t cheat, and don’t lie
I know you got mountains to climb but
Always stay humble and kind

When the dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you
When the work you put in is realized
Let yourself feel the pride but
Always stay humble and kind

Read more: Tim McGraw – Humble And Kind Lyrics | MetroLyrics