What Do You Find Meaningful?

What is one object you’ll always keep?

One object you’ll pack up and move with you, no matter where you’re moving.

One object that is meaningful enough to hold on to, forever.

One object that brings you “joy, magic, and meaning”?

It’s not an easy question to answer.

But it certainly made for an interesting book. 

Bill Shapiro and Naomi Wax have compiled that book. They asked people, from all walks of life, who live all across the country, that question. I recently completed reading that book – What We Keep: 150 People Share the One Object that Brings Them Joy, Magic, and Meaning. I found myself intrigued by these individuals, the glimpses into their lives, the objects they chose.

And, of course, it got me wondering, what would I pick?

There is my wedding photo album. My son’s baby book.

There is a childhood doll packed away in a box on a shelf in my closet. She had two names – Lovey and Jill. (I don’t remember why she had two names.)

There is a ceramic mask I painted and decorated when I was in junior high or high school and had a collection of ceramic masks hanging on my half of the walls in the bedroom I shared with my sister.

But I think the object I would pick would be my signed picture of Sally Ride.

When I was in the fourth grade, and until I was in high school, my career goal was to become an astronaut.

I wrote to Sally Ride. Though I don’t remember what I wrote. 

And she answered me with an 8×10 photo, her NASA photo, signed to me: “To Wendy, Good Luck! Sally Ride.”

Now, that picture is framed and hanging in my writing room. She is there, smiling down on me, encouraging me, believing in me. (Some would call it an “office;” I prefer “writing room.”)

Readers, I’d love to know. What object brings you “joy, magic, and meaning”? Feel free to share in the comments section.


It’s Not All in the Family


Three Generations – my mom, my son, and I. 2015

“It still isn’t easy for me to describe myself as a disabled woman. For a long time I didn’t think a disabled woman sat on the ground pulling out weeds. Or played handball with her son. Or helped her elderly neighbor carry in groceries. But I do all those things. Because being a disabled woman doesn’t look the same for every woman. And it doesn’t look the same for me each day.” 

That paragraph is taken from “It’s Not All in the Family,” a personal essay I wrote that was published in the fall issue of Breath and Shadow. You can read the essay by clicking here.

Lists, Lists, and More Lists

I’m a list-maker.

Daily to-do lists. 

Grocery shopping lists. 

Writing assignments lists. 

Gifts list (gifts to buy, gifts already bought). 

And, of course, my A to Z Lists.

(Check out my Published Work page to be re-directed to some of my published A to Z Lists including “The A to Z List of Verbs Teachers and Students Practice Daily,” “The Alphabetical Prescription for Living with a Chronic Medical Condition,” and “The A to Z List of Boys,” to name just a few.)

And then I discovered Twenty-One Truths About Love, a novel written by Matthew Dicks. 

A novel written entirely in list form. And through these lists the reader learns about Dan – a former teacher, current bookshop owner, a husband, and soon-to-be dad.

These lists are honest. Charming. Amusing. Authentic. 

Here are just a few tidbits from the book’s lists I’d like to share with you this week:

Reasons I quit teaching

– Couldn’t continue to witness bad decisions at the expense of children

– Couldn’t stand one more minute of professional development that was neither professional nor developmental

“My teaching beliefs

– Teachers must be reading and writing on a regular basis in order to be effective teachers of reading and writing.

– Teachers must think of parents as full and equal partners in the eduction of the child.

– The most important lessons taught by teachers often have little or nothing to do with academics.”

“Words that belong on a child’s T-shirt

– Are you really going to rob me of my precious childhood with this meaningless worksheet?”

“21 Truths About Love

– To truly love someone, you must love the person you never knew, the person you know today, and the person that will someday be.

– Love does not make everything better, but it makes everything a little easier.

– ‘I love you’ are three simple words that we whisper to lovers in the dark, say to dogs that don’t speak English, cry out during sex, speak to the dead while standing over their gravestones, tell parents before hanging up the phone, and repeat again and again to the people whose lives are gloriously intertwined with our own.

– Love makes you do the stupidest, bravest, most ridiculous and idiotic things in your life. It makes you scared and crazy and crazed and joyous. Love is all the feelings.”


The Present is a Gift

Let me begin by saying I write these weekly blog posts in advance. You receive them in your inbox each Wednesday morning, but I write them before Wednesday. 

Which means what you’re reading today has been written before the results of the United States election were made available.

So I don’t know what this morning looks like. I don’t know what the election results show. 

But I’m hopeful.

And really, with so much uncertainty in the world, that’s all anyone can really do. Begin each day hopeful. Begin each day with the awareness and recognition that, no matter what, each day is a gift. 

I try. 

Hanging in my bathroom, I have a small, framed piece of art created by Flavia Weedn. It is a reminder to appreciate each day as a precious gift. It is a reminder that each day is a promise of beauty and grace and wonder and magic.

That is my hope for today.