A New Way to Serve

This is my second year of retirement. Last year, I “took a breath”, as my husband suggested and didn’t make any commitments. This year, I decided it was time to structure my life a bit more and spend some time volunteering. Volunteering in a school would be the most natural thing in the world. And yet, when I visited the Emergency Room this summer with a broken wrist and again a month later when I accompanied a family member, I felt called to serve. Everyone was so caring that I was drawn to explore the option of volunteering at a hospital.

Before I knew it, I was attending orientation, picking up my smock, posing for my badge and literally becoming part of a huge cadre of volunteers. It felt good to be part of something bigger than myself again and I welcomed the opportunity. Initially, I agreed to work in the Emergency Room. For two days, I trained under the guidance of experienced volunteers, but the physical component of the position was a bit too much for me. Much as I hate to admit it, I just can’t move beds and be on my feet non-stop for four straight hours. I contacted the Director of Volunteers and she graciously went through the other possible positions. I chose to work in the Outpatient Infusion Department and did my training last week.

Today was the first day on my own. I made the long trek to transport blood samples to the lab at least five times, sanitized chairs after patients left, and did various other mundane chores. By far the most gratifying part of the time was when I interacted with patients. It was a joy to serve them a coffee or cool drink. It was humbling to hear the gratitude in the voice when I brought them a heated blanket or extra pillow. It was touching to converse with them and hopefully, make the their treatment time go a little faster. I truly believe that “it is in giving that we receive”.  Working at the hospital today drove home the truth of that statement.


A Life-Changing Decision

Decisions are a part of life. Coffee or tea? Hamburger or hot dog? White shirt or blue? The mundane decisions are of little consequence. But every so often, we are called upon to make major decisions…those that significantly impact our life and the lives of others.

Forty-four years ago today, my husband made a major decision that shaped the rest of of life together. He was twenty-nine years old, our marriage was in its infancy and we had a one-year old little boy.  Our eighteen months of married life had been a rollercoaster because our relationship contained a third party who was wrecking havoc on our life. That third party was alcohol.

After months of serious talks, empty promises and dashed hopes, I was at my wits end. Luckily, Mike was at his wits end, too. We both knew he wanted to be a good husband and father. We both knew alcohol was eating away at his self-esteem and our marriage. We both knew it couldn’t go on like this. After a particularly bad bout of drinking, Mike asked me to find a AA meeting for him and promised he would go. Finding the location of the meeting was difficult and he almost darted into the bar across the street instead. At the last minute, he saw the sign and walked through that door.

Each year we celebrate this day and I know that all five of our children will also contact their dad and to congratulate him on achieving years of sobriety without even a slip. That decision enabled Mike to grow into a man who holds the love and respect of his wife, children, extended family and friends. That decision is the reason we were able to have four more wonderful children and forge a strong marriage of almost 47 years. That decision was a life-changer for so many and a blessing that gave birth to many other blessings over the years.

Alcoholism is a family disease. The contents of that bottle can spill over and spoil the best of lives. It is powerful and insidious but not as powerful as the decision to get help. AA and Al-Anon hold even more power. Maybe today is the day you will make a        life-changing decision for yourself by contacting AA or Al-Anon.

Recently, I clicked on a Facebook link- https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/marigolds/ which promised to give the essential advice to new teachers. Curious, I read the article advising new teachers to find a marigold (or several) and stick close to him/her as they began their career.

Now, if you are a gardener, you probably already know that if you plant marigolds near your other flowers or veggies, the marigolds will protect the other plants and actually help them survive. The author of this article created an analogy, using marigolds as a synonym for those teachers with a positive attitude, who support, encourage, listen, advise, share and help other teachers in the school. The advice to young teachers was to seek out marigolds at any cost if you want to survive and thrive in your chosen profession.

I certainly couldn’t agree more with this advice. The article prompted me to think about the seven different schools I worked in during my teaching career. In every one of those school, I had a special marigold and several other marigolds that significantly impacted my life, both professionally and personally. These folks had a can-do spirit, a sense of humor, a commitment to their students and a passion for teaching. They doled out sound advice, dreamed up exciting projects, dared to stand up for what they believed in and devoted themselves to making the school and the world a better place. To this day, I am in touch with these people, some of whom I worked with over twenty years ago. When you meet a marigold, you may leave the garden, but you’ll never let them leave your heart or your life.

As many of you start thinking about “back to school”, I hope you will take this advice and make it a priority – Find yourself a marigold. More importantly, be one!


The End is the Beginning

March 31st…the end of the challenge. This is the second year I’ve participated and I enjoyed it just as much the second timeResisting around. Recently, I bought a book entitled, Resisting  Happiness. Matthew Kelly, the author, contends that we resist the very things that make us feel happy and fulfilled. The SOL Challenge proves his point. Writing everyday, no exception, for thirty-one days boosts my creativity, confidence and sense of accomplishment. Writing everyday and sharing it with others, opens me to the world in a unique way. So, although this is the end of the challenge, for me it is the beginning of a commitment to write everyday, without exception.

What will I write? Well, somedays I’ll post a slice, right here on my Daily Scribbles blog. When my writing is a bit more personal, I’ll use my writer’s notebook. Of course, I must keep working on the series of picture books that I’ve begun, on my advice book for Middle School kids, on the book I started to help single dads set up and run a home, and on the blog I write to help parents foster literacy in the home. Whew…I really do have a lot of “works in progress”. I didn’t even mention the gift poems that I write for family, friends and the occasional “customer”. This year’s challenge only reinforced my love of writing and commitment to stick with it.

Now it’s time to say thank you. Thank you to all the amazing people at Two Writing Teachers who have made this community of writers a reality. I can only imagine what goes on behind the scenes and the effort it takes to put it all together. Thanks, also, to the many talented slicers. Your words touched my heart, inspired my writing, and enabled me to peek into other lives and meet other families. A special thanks to those of you who took the time to comment on my slices. Affirmation is fuel for the writerly life. You provided a generous dose of it!  I hope to keep in touch not only on Tuesday, but on other days as well with those bloggers who I now follow. Happy Spring!  Happy Writing!

Are Grandkids Addictive?

Are grandkids addictive? Has anyone done a study on that? I’d gladly volunteer for the research project because I believe the answer would be a resounding YES! Based on personal experience, here is some evidence to support my thinking:

  1. My energy dwindles and although I’m not sick, I suffer from a general malaise.
  2. Our house is a little too clean. No fingerprints on the glass door, no unidentified objects on the floor, no little toys to trip over and no sticky feel to the cupboard drawers.
  3. If there’s been a gap in visits and hubby knows the grands are coming, he arrives home from work an hour earlier than usual.
  4. There’s an abundance of goodies in the refrigerator, such as an unopened half gallon of ice cream, a load of boxed drinks, individual containers of jello and pudding and a bottle of chocolate milk.
  5. My heart hurts.

Luckily the antidote for this addiction is pretty simple. Expose one or multiple grandkids to addicted person for one hour or more. These symptoms will quickly be replaced by a messy house, an empty refrigerator, smiles and a feeling of euphoria in addicted grandparent.

Fourteen Things I Made This Week

Since I don’t really know what to write about today, I thought I’d borrow Amy Krouse Rosanthal’s idea and write about things I’ve “made”. Amy Krouse Rosenthal is a recently deceased author and if you haven’t heard of her, I urge you to check her out. She was an amazing person and so are her books. Several years ago, Amy made a video about 17 things she made and invited others to join her in New York to make the 18th thing. Amazingly, tons of people showed up. What fun!

To borrow on that idea, I’m going to write a list of all the things I “made” since Sunday…

  • I made the bed
  • I made several cups of coffee
  • I made time to spend with a friend
  • I made time to see The King and I
  • I made two poems
  • I made dinner several times
  • I made plans to go out to lunch
  • I made lots of phone calls
  • I made several appetizers for book club
  • I made it to the gym
  • I made someone laugh
  • I made someone feel better
  • I made myself do some things I didn’t want to do
  • I made the best of each day

What have you made recently?


I Used to Think (A borrowed format)

I was trolling around for ideas and krueger provided one for this slice. It’s the “I used to think” format and I’m trying it for the first time. 

I used to think I’d never finish college, but I wound up graduating a day before my oldest son.

I used to think being a stay at home mom was the toughest job going, then I went back to work and found out I was right!

I used to think I couldn’t say no, then I discovered I could and it was freeing.

I used to think I had to do everything myself, then I asked for help and got it.

I used to think I’d never achieve my goals, then I achieved them one step at a time.

I used to think I’d never get any grandkids, then I had nine in six years.

I used to think I could never learn to play golf, then I played over and over and over again, learning a little more each time.

I used to think other people’s actions affected my feelings, now I know I’m the one in charge of my feelings.

I used to think I’d never be a writer, then I wrote.