Why do we gather? Priya Parker asks this question as she begins her book, The Art of Gathering. One of her answers in to welcome.

I realize as 2021 gets ready to turn its page and begin a new chapter, I have two special gatherings planned.

My first one is in Toulouse, France. Toulouse is known as the “Pink City” due to its century-old terra cotta bricks, It will be my first visit and I am imagining enjoying my breakfast of a croissant and tea in the hotel coffee shop. Then I’ll pull on my overcoat and head out to meet up with my daughter Anne and her partner, Remi. As I meet him for the first time in person, they will introduce me to their city. I am so looking forward to this December gathering.

Twenty years ago, during the month of August my husband and I explored Spain with our two girls. One evening as the sun was starting to set in Barcelona, we strolled the busy Ramblas, stopping to view the the movements of the mimes. I insisted that we touch the Mediterranean Sea and the girls raced ahead to the water’s edge. Then Brian arranged us by height and suggested we pose with our hands on our hips and snapped our photo. Maybe then we should have realized that at least one of our daughters would return to this region. Anne is only four hours to the north, teaching, exploring with Remi and caring for their new cat, Rajah! Come December, I’ll gather with them in Toulouse.

Five months later, I’ll gather in Savahana, Georgia. Know for its cobblestone squares and Spanish moss-covered oak trees. On May 1st, my oldest, Bridgit, will stand under one such tree and agree to be united with her partner, Charlie with all her family and frieds gathered.

Gatherings. I will admit, I’m a little out of practice thanks to Covid. However, I am feeling grateful my girls are giving me wonderful reasons to gather again in the coming months.

Do YOU have any plans for gathering?!

I learned of Priya Parker her and her work while listening to this episode of On Being. I used this as a Quick Write during my October ELA Department Meeting.

Keep Cup

My Writing Club (two lovely writers who participate in the March Writing Challenge as PencilOnMyBackPorch and WordJourneys) met last Wednesday and one brought along Georgia Heard’s book Writing Toward Home.

We descided to all try this exercise: Pick one word. A noun. Something concrete. Write two pages with this word in mind. Afterwards, in the margin, write the links to this word.

I picked the object that I now carry with me – my Keep Cup . Here’s where the prompt took me….

For Mother’s day, my girls had my present delivered to me. They must have been conversing across the miles and I recall Anne sending me a text a week prior asking about my favorie color. I recall my reply was “green, blue and purple but I guess blue if I can only pick one.”

As I opened the small package, I found a glass cup the size of a Starbuck’s grande drink inside and a blue plastic removable lid. I immediaely sent the girls a thank you text. Anne’s reply was, “Use it at Starbucks and be sure to ask for the reuseable-cup discount.” This made me smile as I held this small but thoughtful present called a Keep Cup. The girls know me and my routine well.

Now, I routinely carry my Keep Cup with me when I head to Starbucks in the morning. “Grande black iced tea, no sweetener,” I announce and $2.95 appears on the register. Then the minuse ten cents (-.10) appears. I smile and think how the girls’ gift is the gift that keeps on saving!

Last week and over a month since Mother’s Day, I drove and parked at my neighborhood Starbucks and realized I forgot the Keep Cup. Not wanting to return to my old habit, I actually drove back home to retrieve my Keep Cup. Each Starbuck’s purchase is one less plastic cup and one less straw added to a landfill. One small, very small gesture to reduce by reusing.

(My writing began to wander to the girls’ gift to their dad for Father’s Day…a comparision but after a paragraph, it seemed off-topic so I stopped and wrote this next…)

Reduce. Recycle. Reuse. Gestures needed for my planet. My girls are conscious of the need for such gestures. I wonder if it is doing anything at all. I am reminded of the story of the hummingbird (which PencilOnMyBackPorch shared with me last Earth Day – view video here). The hummingbird, though so small, tries to put out the fire. Action. Thanks to my girls, I’ve made it a habit to routine;y use my Keep Cup. Action.

After 2 pages, I write these links in the margin: gift, new routine, gift is saving me $, different dad gift – off topic, being sustainable

NOTE: I enjoyed this exercise. I see now that this writing could be a seed for many more stories. I really enjoyed doing this exercise in the company of my writing club. While I wrote about my Keep Cup, one picked the noun, fireplace and the other picked the noun bra. So fun to listen to their ponderings related to their chosen noun!

Do you ever “prompt write”? Maybe something to try.
Now I’m heading to Starbucks with my Keep Cup!!


Election Night, 2016

I watched Rachel Maddow interview Hillary Clinton Wednesday night on The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC. I was reminded that this summer, while at the TCRWP Summer August Writing Institute, I worked on a story about Election Night. I didn’t have my laptop with me then so I hand wrote it. I realized that I never added it to my blog so I decided to do that today to be my Tuesday TwoWritingTeachers blog post. #ImStillWithHer

I voted for Hillary. From the time I was old enough to vote, I’ve always voted Democratic. To me, Democrats look out for everyone – young, old, black, white, poor, middle class. This feels fair to me, so I vote Democratic. However, I must admit that I voted for Hillary for another reason. My oldest daughter, Bridgit worked for the Hillary campaign. So, of course, out of loyalty to my daughter, I voted for her boss.

I visited Bridgit at the Brooklyn Headquarters once during the summer of 2016. Bridigt took my photo in front of the large painted “Hillary for” arrow. I rememeber adding a post-it to the hundreds on the wall. Mine said, “children – especially those attending public school”.


I remember how she took me around and introduced me to lots of her co-workers. I remember telling each, “Thank you for all you are doing….keep it up…this work you are doing is too important.” And as a mom, I imagined telling my friends for years to come how Bridgit helped elect the 1st female President of the United States.

On the evening of Election Day, I sat on the couch alone. The TV was tuned to MSNBC and my phone was in my hand. I watched the US map on TV – soon states would be colored red and blue but now, all still were white.

I sent Bridgit this text:
Tuesday, Nov. 8, 7:09pm
Fingers crossed for today!!
Can’t imagine the feeling
at your office. Thankful for
ALL you have done.
Bridgit’s reply: FullSizeRender 3

A little later I texted and asked:
Tuesday, Nov. 8, 8:16pm
Where are you

Bridgit’s reply:
at HQ
crunching numbers.

ME: Keep it going!
Empire State bldg and
NBC are lit up pretty
red, white, and blue
Hate all the “Too Close to Call”

Bridgit – I know
Everything is just really 
surreal right now

ME: Hang in there

Then later still, I sent this:

Tuesday, Nov. 8, 11:12pm
ME: Completely numb
Hang in there

Bridgit: I just…
What is this world
we’re living in?

The news wonks seemed confused by the election returns coming in. I’m feeling confused, too. I’m also hurting because I know my daughter is hurting and there is nothing I can do.

Instead of pressing the green speech bubble to send another text, I press the green phone receiver app, then contacts, then D, then Bridgit and I hear a ring. Then I hear it connect but don’t hear anything else.

“You OK?” I ask.

“No,” she replies. I can hear such sadness as she says this one word.

“At least VA went blue, ” I say, trying to be positive. Then we both are quiet. There is really nothing more to say. We stay quiet. Then after a bit, I say, “OK. I’m heading off to bed. So proud of you. Try to get some rest too” and I pressed the red phone receiver button and end the call.

I voted for Hillary and so did the majority of American voters. But that wasn’t enough. My state of VA went blue for Hillary and so did 18 other states but that wasn’t enough. My daughter worked 7 days a week, 14+ hours a day for 6 months at HQ in Brooklyn for the #ImWithHer campaign. But that wasn’t enough.

Losing is always hard. On Election Night, 2016 I learned losing is the worst ever when it is your child that loses and there is nothing you can do. At 12:30am, now a half-hour into Wednesday, I grabbed the remote, clicked off the TV and go to bed. Numb.

While watching the September 13th interview by Rachel with Hillary, I learned that Hillary started a non-profit called Onward Together with the motto: “Resist, insist, persist, enlist.” After hearing about it, I made a donation because I like what the organization stands for: Onward Together is dedicated to advancing the vision that earned nearly 66 million votes in the last election. By encouraging people to organize, get involved, and run for office, Onward Together will advance progressive values and work to build a brighter future for generations to come.

I’m starting to feel less numb.



A Puzzle


My new living room coffee table looks like this right now. My oldest is hanging out with us. A few weeks ago, an Amazon package arrived on our doorstep and this puzzle was inside. “I ordered it when I saw the weather report. I thought we could work on it during the snow storm.” So a few weeks ago, she sorted to find the outer edges. Once connected (except for one piece), she then assembled the stunning pink streak of the sky and then the colorful homes of the Cinque Terra. Now the many shades of the blue sky and Mediterranean Sea need to be sorted and pieces together. Plus the grey-green rocks. Who knew my coffee table is just the right size for a 2000 piece puzzle? Who knew a 2000 piece puzzle would require such time and single-minded focus?

Why is she home? Why does she have time on her hands? She took some time off after working tirelessly in Brooklyn for a political candidate. She needed some time to comprehend the loss of the campaign. Now she is starting to feel ready for her next job. She has some irons in the fire and is just waiting for an offer. I admire her courage? persistence? confidence?….Not sure exactly what to call it – that ability to wait to say yes to a job. But not just any job. A job that she really wants. It helps that she planned well and has a large savings account to tide her over as she waits. It helps that we have a spare bedroom and easily cook for three now.

The snowstorm allowed for only one day off from school. So now, weeks later, I help add pieces to the puzzle on the weekends. She continues, in her spare time. Soon, the puzzle will be competed. Soon, she’ll take that next job. For now, I’m going to post this story on Day 25, a Saturday, and add a few more pieces to the puzzle.

Women’s International Day

Somehow, International Women’s Day snuck up on me. I was reminded the day before when I heard Alexandria Public Schools, the next-over district, announced they were closing on March 8th due to the large number of women taking the day off. Our district was considering following suit but didn’t in the end.

I was reminded when I opened my laptop and clicked on chrome and saw this on my homepage:

Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 8.55.57 PM

I was reminded when I kept seeing women wearing red and noticed I was wearing a boring black and white outfit.

I smiled when I saw that a creative person added this to the sign at my school’s restroom:


Once home after school, I asked my daughter what we should have for dinner. “If we were to get take-out, the paper listed Women-Owned restaurants. One is in Arlington.” Perfect plan, I thought! This can be my small contribution to give a shout-out to women on International Women’s Day.

Now, Arlington Kabob  restaurant’s phone number is added to my phone contacts as I plan to return again. And the women-owner kindly gave me an extra order of lentil soup for stopping in to show my support. I’m looking forward to enjoying this at lunch today as I talk up this yummy restaurant with my co-workers and check twitter to see how many more likes I get to this tweet:

:Screen Shot 2017-03-09 at 6.56.36 AM

Change sprinkled with Routine

As 2017 starts, I focus on my OLW – Routine. I know I feel comfort when in routine. I know that discombobulated feeling that comes when change is demanded.  I thought about this as I reflected on my 2016 Christmas.

Tree was decorated in the living room,

not cut down after a drive out to the country, like those first few years.

Blue, green and white-flashing lights wrapped it and ornaments hung,

no hand-made ornaments received as the kids are both 20+ years old.

Most presents shipped via Harry and David and gift cards mailed

so not many presents to wrap and place under the tree

Christmas Eve meal cooked by me this time, included stuffed cabbage and egg nog

no Grandma’s house to visit  to eat Grandma’s stuffed cabbage because Grandma is no longer here.

A highlight was an unexpected trip into DC to view ZooLights.

We entered the zoo gate and saw this:


and then this:


and this:

and then this:


and I happily stood and posed with my daughter here:


Now I plan to make a visit to ZooLights my new routine. Somehow unexpected fun helps accept the unexpected changes of the season.


New Sport Discovered

“What is that?” I interrupted my daughter who was telling me about her new job as we took a walk in her new Brooklyn neighborhood. I was pointing to the playing field across the street at Prospect Park. And I was thinking,  That is the craziest sport I had ever seen.”

Similar to a soccer game – 2 teams, 2 goals, 2 refs, and a ball. Yet, so crazy looking with the players moving inside a giant bubble! “Who thinks up this kind of stuff up?”

I showed my husband this picture once I returned home and his curiosity led him to send me an email from work on Monday that read:

Turns out it’s a thing.  You have to watch this video:  Soccer is even more fun in a bubble


When I forwarded his email with my daughter, she replied with this email:

Check it out:    Pick-up games are $65 PER PERSON!
 Now that I discovered a new sport called Bubble Soccer, any takers to join the next pick-up game?? I know where we can find one in Brooklyn!! Or maybe we all start a league in our hometown!

A List of Oranges to become Slices

I traveled this weekend and have too many slices in my head. Today I spill many oranges out here on the page through pictures. This summer I vow to return and with the sharp knife of my memory, zoom in and tell each slice.

Yes, I am a proud mom. My oldest put herself through Graduate School at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. And after a wonderful weekend celebrating her graduation together, she starts Day 2 today at her new job – Project Manager for the Data Analytics Team for the Hillary for President Campaign…off changing the world, using big data to drive decision.

Yes, indeed. A proud mom!

A Long Phone Call (as a found poem)

As I prepare to teach a Poetry Unit, I found directions for writing a FOUND POEM on the amazing  website of Kenn NesbittHow to Create a Found Poem

Using the directions, I took the slice I wrote on March 22 and used the words to FIND A POEM inside!

First, I copied the words into a word document and highlighted some in YELLOW.

Then I opened a second blank word document. I started to add on the blank page, the highlighted words to form a poem. It looked like this on my computer screen:

And now here is my slice of Life today –

A Long Phone Call
(as a found poem)

I texted, “I’m free to chat today”
“How about in 20 minutes?”
A happy face reply
I send.
The phone rings
To free up my hands
I place the phone on speaker
And asked, “So tell me why this company?”
Lots of rattling off of lists
Of ideas that attracted her
Clarifying questions posed
Brainstorming together
And clearer answers practiced.
A beep from the phone signals “low battery”
and shows the beginning of
hour three of this conversation.
“I think I better go. I hope this helped.”
Now off the phone
I think
Hire her.
Any company
would be lucky.
Now off the phone
I plead
Treat her well,
As a valued employee
With time off to enjoy
and not just work.

#18 – Memories recalled from reading "Sip a Little Springtime"

“Sip a little Springtime” the sign read as I purchased a Friday breakfast treat at Starbucks this morning. Instantly in my mind, I was transported back to a day spent sightseeing a dozen years ago. My mom, my two girls and I did all the touristy things – saw the ducks, rode the swan boats, went to the top of the Prudential Building, played in the fountains we saw nearby from above. As we were walking back to the T to ride back to the hotel, we were sweaty and so hot. “Let’s cool off inside here,” I suggested and I ordered four grande vanilla bean frappuccinos. Sipping this cool drink was a great ending to our first day of sightseeing in Boston.