Pondering a Podcast

Sometimes it’s hard to carve out time to listen to a podcast, but I’m usually rewarded when I do. I was stuck in traffic (again) so I decided to listen to Heinemann Publishing’s podcast with Cornelius Minor. This episode caught my attention with the title “Semi-brave.”

The part that really spoke to me was when Cornelius said that no one wakes up and decides to be brave that day. He doesn’t feel it is an adjective that describes a person because no one is brave all the time. Rather, he said that bravery exists in units of time, in windows of time, and moments of choice. The brave act is in seeing a need and meeting it; saying no to someone in power over you when what they are asking does not match your beliefs (or the research) about what is best for children; in standing up for a colleague having a rough day.

Thus the idea of semi-brave is that we don’t all have power to lead marches, testify before Congress, or raise huge amounts of money to effect change. But we do all have a little bit of power in our spheres of influence where we can look at the way we spend our time and spend our love (phrase borrowed from Cornelius). We can lay out priorities and allocate our time for the things where we can make a difference.

This was a message I needed to hear today. It gave me courage to do my little bit, to have small units of time wherein I can be brave based on carefully thought out priorities.

Cornelius shared wisdom of his father who taught him that you are not what you profess to be, but you are how you spend your time. He talked about doing time audits on his daily activities and asking the hard questions about whether the use of time reflects the important deeply help values he holds.

I found this podcast very encouraging and thought-provoking. I sometimes feel bad that I’m not hopping on bandwagons, and social justice trains, but Cornelius validated the power of building relationships and staying in touch with people so that when a need comes up, you have the opportunity to be brave and step up to help.

On the Bus

The bus was nearly full
but the seat next to me remained empty.
I hoped it would stay that way.
At the last minute before departure,
A young man boarded
and sat next to me.
With the ease of youth
he unpacked an iPOD, portable DVD, a magazine, and a journal.
I could see he came prepared
for the journey ahead with private things
that said, “Please don’t talk to me.”
I suppressed my chatty nature.
I dutifully avoided eye contact
and carefully kept to my space.

when he slept
and his foot unintentionally touched mine,
I didn’t move.

The Woman on Route 7

Tonight, I struggle to find a story to tell.

While sitting in traffic on my way home from the gym, I noticed a woman in a motorized wheelchair making her way down the sidewalk. She was alone. Her beautiful white hair blew in the crisp March breeze. Her ears were covered by the kind of earmuffs that go across the back of the head instead of over the top. She was impeccably dressed in white slacks, fashionable shoes, and a tailored coat. Her legs were very thin. I wondered where she was headed and where she had come from. I know the area, and there are no residences close by.

The traffic was slow, as always. She was making pretty good time and passed me a few times as I inched along. She seemed to know the bumps and places to avoid as she navigated the frequent car entrances. Car dealerships, restaurants, Walmart, and a few hotels line this stretch of road. The subway runs above ground down the middle of the highway. Had she come from a hotel? Was she headed to the subway? Why was she alone?

I marveled at her apparent independent spirit which would take her out on a blustery day at rush hour. I hoped she was meeting a friend. Did she have children? Would they worry if they knew she was out alone?

Then I wondered if I had need of a wheelchair, would I be a brave and independent woman?


A Saturday night treat was a tradition in my family growing up. Sometimes it was glazed doughnuts from the Westover Bakery or a bag of miniature Hershey bars. (My favorite were the red Krackel bars.) We also loved Brach’s toffees that were wrapped in different colors of cellophane and had raspberry, vanilla, buttercream, maple, or chocolate fillings. And then there were M&Ms, jelly beans, gumdrops, or whatever my mom found on sale. Needless to say, a sweet tooth is in my DNA. One of my Dad’s frequent sayings was, “Sweets, for the sweet.”

When my kids were little, I stayed at home. Our finances were tight. My husband sometimes became angry if he felt I had squandered our money on too many treats for the kids. He had grown up in a home with very few treats. “What if we have Saturday treats?” I asked. He agreed to that compromise.

Saturdays I went to the grocery store. Often I would come home with a movie-size box of Hot Tamales or Mike & Ikes. The kids would grab the box, run to the living room, and carefully divide the candy into four equal piles. If it couldn’t be fairly divided, the extras went to mom. Thanks, kids!

I’m afraid I cursed my children with my sweet tooth. Yesterday, my son felt he hit the jackpot when stopped at a gas station on I-95. He’d discovered a favorite cousin of Mike & Ikes: Cherri & Bubbs, a rare find these days. Or so it seems where we live. This time, he got 4 boxes instead of one-fourth of one box.

“I’m candy rich!” he wrote in a text to all of us.

I wonder how long they will last.


Birthdays, A Moment

It was finally time to open presents. Maggie had been waiting and anticipating this moment for HOURS. She sat in the middle of the living room floor as brightly colored packages and gift bags were carried over to her. Since she was sharing her party with her baby brother, Johnny, there was a little organizing to do.

“This one’s for you, Maggie.”

“No, that one is for Johnny.”

Every gift Maggie opened filled her with delight as her eyes got wider and wider. She squealed, “Ohhhh!!!!” Nail polish, beads to string, and a marble run were hits.

Then came a special gift from her mother. Jill decided that this was birthday for her to pass on her American Girl doll, Samantha, which she had saved for her little girl. There were two boxes. Maggie opened the box and was speechless for a moment. I wonder if she couldn’t believe a doll like that was hers.

The second box turned out to get a bigger response than the first. All the clothes, shoes, headbands, necklaces, and little Samantha knick-knacks Jill had saved were in this box.

“ACCESSORIES!!!” she cried.

The best birthday of her life.



We have a lot of birthdays in March. My son and his wife and 4 of my 12 grandchildren were March babies.

We traveled today to our youngest daughter’s home for the birthdays of Maggie and Johnny, age 4 and 1. Two of my other children drove here as well. It’s been a full, happy day. Here are a few snippets of the day.

Maggie: My birthday is going to be perfect.

Maggie: The cake is just right.

Maggie: Is it time to open my presents?

Maggie: Is it time to have cake?

Maggie: Hey, everybody! It’s time to sing to me!

Maggie: Now is it time to open my presents?

Maggie: Angela, it’s time to sing to me.

Jill: Maggie, it’s time for bed and tomorrow when you wake up, you’ll be four!

Maggie: Then I’ll be older than all of you.

Four-year olds are so wonderful.




Design, Cut, and Glue

Today was the day to celebrate our learning and enjoyment of Eric Carle’s art and stories! Sally, my art teacher friend, came to school and guided my first graders through the steps to think about what they know about Eric Carle, plan their piece, take their painted papers, design, cut, and glue.

First, we read The Man Who Painted a Blue Horse which Eric Carle wrote and illustrated to honor an artist who inspired him, Franz Marc. We talked about color, shape, and size. Then, we set them loose to go to work.  I loved watching each student work through the process. Each had their own idea and own way of working. The results made me so, so happy. Here are a few samples.


If I didn’t know it before, I know now. Humans, and especially kids, need to make art.

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