My Homework Assignment

In Cambria, one of my most favorite places. 2016

Last week, I met with one of the doctors who helps me try to manage my chronic pain.  In addition to a new medication, we talked about lifestyle changes.  So I have homework to do.

  1. I’m supposed to lower my stress.
  2. I’m supposed to get enough sleep.
  3. I’m supposed to not push myself so hard.
  4. I’m supposed to make taking care of myself a priority.

Anyone who knows me, knows that those “lifestyle changes” aren’t so easily implemented.  I worry, I make “to-do lists,” I am always trying to do what I can to make life easier for my husband and son.  I don’t easily acknowledge my own wants.

This medical condition of mine doesn’t just affect me physically.  It also has an emotional/mental impact.  Asking for help and admitting I sometimes can’t do certain (relatively simple) things are not easy for me at all.

So, it’s an ongoing homework assignment. 

What My Third Grader Is Learning

When I publish my writing, I’m often asked to contribute a brief biography.  And I always list my son and the experiences from my teaching career as my biggest sources of inspiration. 

Here’s another example of what I mean by that.  In this essay, I was able to combine both — a true event that happened to my son and my perspective of it based on the twelve years I was a public school teacher.

You can click here to read my personal essay, “Why I’m Teaching My Third Grader About Harassment” on

I Am Blessed

As part of their language arts curriculum, my fourth graders learned that there were four main reasons to write — to persuade, to explain, to inform, and to entertain.  The writer had a purpose, and conversely, the reader has a purpose in picking up a certain book, article, or pamphlet.

However, I don’t think those are the only reasons.  I also write to make a connection with others, and I read for comfort. 

This week I’m reading Maya Angelou’s Letter To My Daughter.  It’s been a very challenging week (health-wise), and when I read this passage I indeed was comforted.

“He said, ‘First write down that I said write down and think of the millions of people all over the world who cannot hear a choir, or a symphony, or their own babies crying.  Write down, I can hear – Thank God.  Then write down that you can see this yellow pad, and think of the millions of people around the world who cannot see a waterfall, or flowers blooming, or their lover’s face.  Write I can see – Thank God.  Then write down that you can read.  Think of the millions of people around the world who cannot read the news of the day, or a letter from home, a stop sign on a busy street, or … ‘ ”

Maya Angelou received those instructions from her voice teacher and mentor, Frederick Wilkerson.  It was one afternoon’s lesson that guided her from then on.

The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm and amiable seas.  The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising.  Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights.  I maintain an act of gratitude.  If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow.

Today I am blessed.”