Shine On

Let’s keep this day. Let’s hold tight to this first teacher day of the new school year, our day number one when everyone’s summer-relaxed, smiling, and full of happy news.

DSC_0610 (3)

Let’s look forward – together – with the spirit and inner peace of summer as each sun sets closer to fall.  Let’s splash a little summer into every day so we feel – all year long – like we do in June, July, and August.

DSC_0862 (2)

Let’s feel summer seep into our souls so we live every school day happier and healthier, positive in spirit and light of heart.  Breezy and brave.  Sun-filled and a little breathless.

DSC_0820

Today’s energy feels full of possibility and inspiration. Every teacher feels fresh. Hopeful. Alive.  So let’s shine on.  Today, tomorrow, and every day until June.

Peach Berry Smoothies

When you’re a teacher, you get two New Years – one in January and one in September.  Teachers get two times to begin again and start fresh. And each New Year – both of them – I vow to get it right. Whatever it is at the moment.

This will be the year, I promise myself. This will be the year I …

Honestly, I’ve filled in the blank and ended that promise in so many ways over the years … but this – this is the year it will be different.

DSC_0844

Here I am, the day before school starts,  promising in public to eat both breakfast and lunch this school year.

Each and every day.

Hand to heart.

It’s an important promise for my health, my happiness, and my hope for a great New Year ahead.

So let’s start with today’s breakfast: Peach Berry Smoothies

I’m not going to get all fancy with you because I don’t have time for fancy in the morning and you probably don’t either. But you have time for this. And it’s flexible enough to be adapted in a hundred and one different ways.

Be creative.

Be fun.

It’s hip to fling fruit around.

DSC_0907 (5)

Peach Berry Smoothies

  • 1 heaping cup of fresh peaches, pitted and diced
  • 1 heaping half cup of fresh strawberries, diced
  • 1 quarter cup orange juice (I added a couple of splashes of cranberry juice too because I had it in the fridge.)
  • 1 heaping half cup yogurt
  • 1 cup ice
  • a tiny teaspoon of brown sugar
  • a tinier splash of vanilla

Toss it all in a blender and pulse.

DSC_0914 (2)

Serve in a mug – with a straw if you’d like to start your day off a little dainty.

Me?

I just grab and go!

Out of the Comfort Zone

We spent the weekend visiting family in western New York.

From our door to theirs and back again, we traveled a total of 980 miles and 16 hours by car.  It’s a drive best done with your closest friend, good music, and snacks in the back.

I recommend peanut M&Ms.

DSC_0860 (2)

It’s becoming more and more important for me to walk down new sidewalks and take in the view from someone else’s windows. Summer gives me more opportunity to go, do, and discover  than any other season, but I’m going to make reservations for these out-of-my-own-world experiences more often and year-round. As my father once said, “I’ve got places to go, things to do, and people to see.”

And, I’m learning, so do I. For me, exploring will no longer be a part-time, Saturday and Sunday, or June through August gig. My children are grown and going.  And I need to grow and go too.

DSC_0866 (3)

These lily pads’ roots are tethered in the muck beneath the Erie Canal. Completed in 1825, some called the Erie Canal the 8th Wonder of the World.

And I walked alongside it with my love, my beagle, and my camera.

DSC_0816 (3)

This generous and kind musician welcomed us, accordion-style,  to the most amazing farmer’s market I’ve ever shopped.

DSC_0805 (2)

DSC_0808 (2)

And once again, I was camera happy.

DSC_0826 (3)

Here’s the beautiful farmhouse living alongside a 65 acre family-owned and operated fruit farm in Burt, New York.

DSC_0828 (3)

Murphy Orchards was once a stop  for runaway slaves along the Underground Railroad on their way to freedom in Canada.

And I stopped there too.

There’s a hidden room under the barn.

Chills.

How often do you get chills in the middle of August?

DSC_0829 (2)

We picked peaches …

DSC_0841

and plums …

DSC_0833 (2)

… and the next day walked along the alley-ways of ordinary people just like us.

DSC_0893 (3)

I’m so thankful for all the beautiful I found away from home and just past my comfort zone.

DSC_0821 (2)

And 980 miles wasn’t too far to go find it.

Summer Writing Souvenirs

I teach my first writing class of the new school year in just 13 days.

Our writing year is wide open, I will tell my students. We will write whatever and wherever our stories, our curiosities, and our opinions take us.

DSC_1189

We’ll write together, I’ll promise, each one of us knowing what it feels like to look at that blinking cursor and blank screen, that wide expanse of empty paper. We’ll know because we face it every single day too. We’ll know today’s drift will lead to tomorrow’s draft. We’ll understand our beginning confusion may end as courage if we’re each willing to write our way through it.

DSC_0468 (2)

At some point in that first 43 minute period I will tell them I spent my summer vacation writing.

And I will tell them, if I wasn’t writing, I was thinking about writing. I listened to phrasing in my head while folding laundry. I wrote bumpy journal notes during long car rides. I subscribed to writing magazines and reached out with story ideas.  I shared my writing with other writers. And  I wrote every letter, syllable, word, phrase, and sentence with my heart.

DSC_0577 (4)

Now my heart’s invested in writing with all of them too.  I didn’t just write for me, I wrote for them. And all summer long, I wrote like a writer who also teaches writing.

So here’s some summer writing souvenirs I’ve stashed in my school bag:

  1. Make time to write. Writers write.  In our class, we will write every single day.
  2. Notes count. Lists and letters too. So do sketches, doodles, diagrams, and drawings. Thinking is writing too, so we’ll be sure to think with our screens open or a pencil in hand.
  3. Use photography.  Photos sometimes inspire topic, but mostly theme, mood, and feeling. I’m a visual learner and many of my students are as well. Sometimes all we need is a visual jump start, and words will come.
  4. We will write from all the places we go: the cafeteria, the playground, field trips, the soccer field, and the bus. We will find the stories of our lives in the dentist’s office, the dance studio, and at the dinner table. We will find our stories in the places where we live, learn, and play.
  5. We will reach out to other writers. Nothing builds confidence like community. Technology allows us to write with other writers all around our world. Our writing will reach, teach, and touch others – and our community will celebrate the writers we are.
  6. DSC_0736Write as if no one else will ever read it. Write without fear. Write real. Write you.

DSC_0784

And toss in a little trust, I’ll tell those kids, because you’ve come to your writing home.

Live Like a Tourist

Last week we strolled around the beautiful and historic seaport town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

And I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

We shopped.

We lunched.

We took photo after photo.  Just like any other tourist in town for the day.

DSC_0713

And Portsmouth’s wearing her prettiest party dress this summer. Pots of flowers splash color in almost every store front, history lives again on every street corner, and the tugboats pose for pictures on the Piscataqua River.

DSC_0723

We shared sidewalks with strangers I’m certain were mostly tourists making memories, happy to be out and about following their feet on such a beautiful day.

DSC_0711

And the only difference between me and them is they live who-knows-where, and I’m from 20 minutes down the road and around the corner.

So why don’t I visit more often?

DSC_0689
North Church, Market Square

Why don’t I live like a tourist?

I wrote here about how I seem to get a little stuck … walking well-worn paths to familiar and regular life destinations.

And that’s a shame — because there’s boats in the harbor, and lobster traps piled on the dock, and life really can be a walk in the park — if I make the time.

DSC_0725
Sarah Mildred Long Bridge in foreground, Piscataqua River Bridge behind
DSC_0751
Peirce Island lobster pots
Prescott Park
Prescott Park

So, if you’re looking for me some Monday after work, or next Thursday, or a week from tomorrow … I may just be out.

DSC_0722

Somewhere nearby.

DSC_0740

Living like a tourist.

Finding Fall

It seems like just when I find, feel, and understand summer’s rhythm, it’s almost over.

DSC_0724

I’ve only just gone camera-roaming around the Portsmouth, New Hampshire waterfront – on my list all summer – and I still need to fly kites on the beach, climb Mt. Major, and read all the books stacked on the nightstand next to my bed.

Press pause. Someone. Please.

Just a week or so ago we gathered blueberries, and now the first peaches sit tiered and proud in the produce section of Hannaford’s Supermarket. And when did acorns so suddenly appear all over our road? When did the petunias in the pot out front grow so leggy and sparse?

Seems a little like summer’s packing her beach bag and headed to the Mall for some back-to-school shopping.

DSC_0728

Sitting here on the porch I see August’s parched the lawns a little and the leaves look dull. There’s an autumn smell in the air I swear wasn’t there yesterday, nights are cooling, and I’m not quite ready.  I only just last week relaxed and put my September-to-June stress to the curb with the old air-conditioning unit we cleared out of the basement.

FREE, the sign said, and I’ve felt free too.
DSC_0766

But holding on too hard to summer means a bit of fall drops by the wayside. What if I miss the ripening of apples because I’m still mourning the strawberries? How will I revel in the final flowering glory of mums if I’m missing the daylillies, daisies, and black-eyed susans?

DSC_0759

Any change takes a little living in before I fit in and feel comfortable.  And I know fall’s out there for the finding if I care to look for the geese headed south, smell an evening campfire, or feel summer wave goodbye in the breeze.

So I’m transitioning. Head up. Eyes open. Invited to be present.

And I’ve responded: Here for both the farewell party and the welcome home.

DSC_0748

Garden Fresh Fast Food

At current count, we have five summer squash and seven tomatoes in the old enamel washbasin on our counter.  There’s more coming too.

DSC_0687 And I love fresh from the garden veggies – especially tomatoes and summer squash.

I just can’t keep up with the crop.

Here’s a quick dinner side dish or delicious lunch idea to use up some of that bounty from your garden or local farm stand:

  • Slice a summer squash (zucchini works well too) and two small tomatoes
  • Saute the summer squash first in a tablespoon of light olive oil until a sort of softened al dente and then add tomatoes
  • Add slivers of fresh basil and toss frequently to mix all the lusciousness
  • Top with shredded fresh Parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of Feta until just warmed and a teeny bit melted

(I had no idea these cheeses would play so nicely together!)

  • Sprinkle a bit of salt, some fresh ground pepper

DSC_0684

And serve.

Warm.

Yum.