Walk, don’t Run


I have a niece that loves to run.  She does triathlons and marathons.  Although I really admire her and I “get” why she loves it so much, it’s never been my thing.  I really tried to love it in college.  They called it jogging then.  Do people still jog?

I tried it, tried it with a friend, in the rain, it was a pain. In the sun, it was not fun.(Okay I couldn’t resist, sorry Dr. Seuss)

Shin splints, tripping and falling on my face were my very negative experiences with running.  I had advice from friends on getting the correct shoes, running on a more forgiving surface.  But after giving it a try, I abandoned running for walking.

These days walking with my 3 year old granddaughter is my favorite.  It’s never rushed and always filled with awe.  Who knew there was so much excitement and adventure just walking from the house to the car.

She chases a bunny delightfully and then pouts when he escapes her grasp.

“Look Grandma, I found a peanut!  Can I keep it?”

“Of course, bring it to the car.”  Later I’ll explain to her that it’s actually a seed from the beautiful trees near Grandma’s condo.

“This is where we fell Grandma,”  she recalls the time we were holding hands and both slipped on the ice, falling together on our butts giggling and scrambling to get back up.

As we continue our long journey from the house to the car, I don’t have the heart to rush her.

“What’s that?” I say.

“A bug.”

“Oh, let’s not bring that in the car.”





Good Morning…

No alarm.  I don’t need one anymore.  I simply wake up at around 5 a.m. everyday.  Some nights that’s after middle of the night bathroom run.

5 a.m it’s quiet at my house.  On Thursday there’s the sound of the garbage truck outside. Somedays, like this morning, I can hear the wind crashing through the trees and making the fan in the bathroom rattle.  I know if I listen to the weather on the radio, it will say “high wind warning in effect today”.  But I don’t turn on the radio.  I like the time to think, to write and reflect.

I don’t have to hop in the shower until 6:30.  I make a list of things to do.

  • Start gathering tax documents
  • Clean bathroom
  • Take a break from the tv tonight
  • Call and check on daughter that’s been having migraines

Shower time.  I swear that I can solve the worlds problems in the shower.  Some days, it’s a private place where I cry and let the spray from the shower wash my tears away. But today, I look forward to my new citrus scrub. Yum.

Glass of orange juice, oatmeal and NPR.   Make a quick sandwich for lunch.  Today it’s ham and swiss.

Take a deep breath and head out the door.




Winter Malaise: an Antidote



a general feeling of discomfort, illness, or uneasiness whose exact cause is difficult to identify

Malaise, a funk, melancholy……not depression, nor major emotional upheaval… just

blah………We got 10 inches of snow in two days…. ugh

When writing, I try to stay upbeat, positive and bright.  But if I truly take a slice of my day today,  I feel this bit of winter drudgery, malaise, low energy and self imposed solitude.

I bumped into the librarian at school today.  She is used to me in the library, cruising around for books, chatting her up in the mornings.  “Hey!”  She stops me.. “you’ve been laying low lately.  I haven’t seen you around much.”

“Yes,”  I admit, “I have been keeping a low profile these days.”

But today, something changed that.

My classroom is the first classroom as you enter the building.  I can see and hear the comings and goings of parents, students and teachers.  I hear idle chatter of teachers starting their day and parents as they say I love you, have a good day and leave their children in our care. It’s Monday, yet teachers are give enthusiastic greetings to students.  Hi!       How are you?      So glad you’re here!

I mind my own business, hunkered down and staying busy with my work.  That’s  when a blast of fresh air enters my classroom. It was in the form of a bubbly second grade girl, blonde with a streak of blue hair and blunt cut bangs. She comes rushing into my room like she’d just spied her best friend.  Walking fast, out of breath and smiling from ear to ear.  “There you are!” she says.  I look up from my desk and can’t help but smile at her exuberance. She skips over to me and says, “Here’s your morning hug.”

I melt.  “How was your weekend?” I say.

“Exhausting” she answers,  ” I played in the snow.  I jumped from my porch into the snow and made snow angels and shoveled.”

“Wow.  That sounds fantastic.”  I grin.

She nods, going on to tell me how she figured out how to stand up and not ruin the wings and dress of her perfect snow angel.

Then like a flash she’s gone again not even realizing how she just cured me of my winter malaise. Or how she changed my perspective of this beautiful winter day.

Screen Shot 2018-01-23 at 6.25.49 AM
Taken in Riverton, WY on a country road


Dyslexic and Strong


The young man stands there, hair curly, unruly, in need of a haircut in the near future.  He’s only in the 5th grade, yet so responsible, volunteering at the YMCA where his father works.  His eyes are kind and curious.

He is not lazy, yet he cannot read or write basic 1st grade text.  He’s been in school and had excellent teachers. He has not been neglected. He is severely dyslexic.

Although he struggles to read, he has many strengths.  His people skills excel beyond my own. “Are you okay today?” He may ask, looking at you intently with those sincere, blue eyes.  He makes art that is intricate and beautiful enough to hang on my wall.  Math is a strength… he gets it.  If text is read to him, he’s insightful, can see the whole picture and understands the characters.  These thoughts race through my mind as I watch him this morning putting finishing touches on his report.

5th grade presentations are today and he stands before me ready and confident.  He recorded his presentation on an Ipad a page at a time so that he would not have to stand in front of the class reading notecards, which he wrote, but cannot read or remember more than a notecard at a time.  His report is about the book “Black Beauty” which he listened to on audio.  He’s even added some of his beautiful artwork to the mix.

“Are you ready?” I ask as he looks at me and beams.  He’s on his own, independent.  “Let me know how it goes, ” I say.

He just smiles at me.  “How are YOU doing today?” he asks.

“Fantastic!” I say.

What will you do this year?


Create peace, calm and a sense of wonder.

Create meaningful, fun and relevant lesson plans.

Create bold communication. Open and honest.  Create truth.

Create more time for reflection and time to  write.  Just write.

Create long lasting memories with family and close friends.

Create space for laughter and new adventures.


San Juan Islands – March 2017


Dear Writers

Inspired by the song “Dear Hate” by Maren Morris  

Dear Writers,

Please keep writing.  Your stories are so very important. Your stories have an impact and make a difference.

Never stop sharing.

Your voice.

It is you that helps us stay connected as a people… all people…. the human race.

Yes, there is diversity in this world.  But… but your stories help us see our commonalities and our sameness.  We can share a laugh, tear or righteous indignation over a story. We can relate.

To each other.

Have empathy.

For each other.

So dear writer…….please keep writing.

Very Sincerely,


Little Grandma

Little Grandma (1)


Walking into the intensive care unit at the nursing home, I look around anxiously for my grandma.  She’s my dad’s mom, named “Little Grandma” by my cousin Rachel when she was just 4 years old to differentiate her from “Big Grandma”, my mom’s mom.  The name stuck.

Scanning the room, my eyes rest on her, sitting in her wheelchair, body slumped and sleeping while sitting there.  She looks so tiny, overwhelmed by the size of the chair surrounding her.  She’s 102 years old this year and the last time I saw her was a year ago.

Growing up, “Little Grandma” was there for me, filled with warmth and confidence in me and never doubting my abilities.  As I grew into my teen years, she listened and supported me.  She was a wonderful force for good in my life.  But I’ve moved away to Wyoming while she has stayed in Wisconsin and I miss being close to her.

Quietly, I walk over to the wheelchair and pull a chair next to her.  I sit by her “good” ear and gently touch her arm.  “Grandma, it’s Vanessa, I came to see you.”  It takes her a minute to comprehend that it’s me… “Vanessa?”


And so we’re off, reminiscing, chatting and laughing for 4 hours.

The nurse comes by and asks me… is she engaging with you?  She looks incredulous.  She doesn’t normally engage with us, she says.

I have had a week here and my purpose has been to spend time with grandma.  I spent each day with her.  Her mood varied and sometimes seemed in a fog and yet I seem to be able to reach her and we talked and she held my hand and I felt like I’d gone back in time and became her small granddaughter again.