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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Facing Fear

Last year at this time we were living on a channel that led to a small lake. The kids really got into ice skating, and we all got skates. We thought, "What a great idea, this will be a great activity."

It was a great activity, for everyone...but me. I have a slightly irrational fear of falling. Heights can scare me, but typically only on a human-made structure. A trail on the side of a cliff doesn't seem to bother me as much as a suspension bridge. Water scares me. I can swim, but I don't very often, and when I do it is usually in a pool. I really thought ice skating would be something I could work my way into enjoying. I mean it looks so fun!

Last year I put my skates on at least a dozen times. I would sit on the dock. I would sometimes scoot onto the ice for a moment in a totally awkward squatting position and then frantically get back off. We started going to a skating rink, thinking, it was because I was worried about the ice breaking. Nope. No deal. I sat. I would set my skate on the ice and immediately stop myself and then go sit back down.

I watched people on their skates. I watched my children skate with glee all over the rink. I could not figure out why I was so paralyzed and why I could not will myself to just do it. So what if I fall. Why was it such a big deal?

We went to the rink today. I said I would try...again. They knew that meant I might not get on the ice. I moved a "walker" style support close to me so I wouldn't have to walk over and get it once my skates were on.

Was I actually going to try today?

I put my skates on, and my heart started racing.

Someone walked by and took my walker thingy! Oh no!

My son went and got me a new one.

I sat.


Then I stood up, just one foot and gripped that red piece of plastic walker like my life depended on it.

I barely moved at first. It was an inch at a time. Then a little more.
I was halfway around.
My husband said, "Okay, 3 times around and then you can take a break."
WHAT! NO, I have to go back now!
Then I said to myself, "What the heck am I doing? I have had these skates for over a year now, and this is the first time I'm actually using them. I better do three laps."
So I did.
I thought every muscle in my body might burst into flames. Especially the arches in my feet. I could feel all the tension with each move.
Slowly, and for a moment here or there, it felt a little effortless. My hands never left the walker.
I watched many people fall.
I watched moms with their toddlers struggling to make it around.
I watched teens holding hands.
I watched a hot shot hockey player nearly take out five people.
And then I was done.

A total of seven laps with three breaks in between. I was exhausted but elated. I had finally done it, and I lived to tell the story.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Relentless Frenzy

What's this? Wait, this is familiar. It's been a while, but I remember this. I hate this, but I can handle this. I'll just sit for a minute, and it will pass.

Five minutes go by...

It's still here. Hmmm, okay. I'll go hide behind my desk and try to relax, try to will it away.

Ten minutes pass...

People are noticing. I can't hide it, and I see the worry in their eyes. I've done this before. I'll be okay. I can't seem to shake it though.

Thirty minutes pass...

I listen.
"What does he think?"
"We should call someone. This isn't right."

I hear the walkies, the conversation.
"The ambulance is here."
I've lost. I couldn't will it away. I wonder what it could be? Is it really something I can't understand?

Bumpy roads
No lights
No siren

--"Hello Mrs. Hubbard, let's go over your information. Have you had any other symptoms? When did this start?" Etc. Etc. Etc.

Hours pass...

--"Everything came back okay. If you are feeling better, you can go home."


That was my afternoon yesterday. A jarring and startling pain that caught me off guard. A spasm that I've had on many occasions, but it's been so long since I've felt pain like that.
A reminder.
Yet, everything is fine now.
A fluke?
I don't know.
Better safe than sorry but frustrating none the less. A reminder that sometimes we don't know what is happening to us. Sometimes we are reminded of those who care about us, for us.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Dreaming of Questions

I wonder, if beings are capsules, what do they epitomize? I have experienced many bits of life, and many bits of life await.
If our dreams are representations of our experiences, how is it we can experience, in a dream, bits of life which we have not encountered? Chased by a bear. Falling from a height. Flying from a string.
I suppose all such experiences are a culmination of our sensations. I mean really, what is a dream but a representation of just that, sensation.
Intense fear. Immense love. Gusts of joy. Fleets of sadness.
A dream is the encapsulation of all these. Bits of life squeezed into a moment.
Acute ideals swept into our sleep. Realizations of wishes wanted and just out of our grasp.
I wonder, what dreams have I yet to meet? Are we dreaming enough? Have I let my mind wander to the risks outside of my grasp?
We say, "Dream BIG!"
But, a big dream rarely comes to be without little dreams along the way.
Have a sweet little dream. Let it grow.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Noticing the Immeasurable Bits

Such a funny thing,
to watch stories step out
from behind clumps of lines...

Kneeling in the dirt
troweling bulbs,
I gather clustered ideas.

Looking up above,
whisps of white
write across a pink sky.

No burdens over me
of format or rules,
just words from my day.

I watch the letters,
they dance over my fingers
clinking and clicking together.

All just little bits
of immeasured life,
waiting for the curtain.

I breathe in a breath,
eyes shut I exhale, open.
Audiences the same, but I am not.

Poetry has been on my mind lately. I can feel those words piling up in places that have been a bit vacant. I look around at things, at stories, at people, at situations, and the words write and swirl around. Like little tornadoes of poems flying and out of control. I've got to somehow catch them all and close them in a notebook to settle down and sort out later.
Are they poems?
Are they feelings?
Is there a difference?

"Writers must...take care of the sensibility that houses the possibility of poems."
~Mary Oliver 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

For Writing's Sake

I've been working on a short story. It links a trip I took to my Great-Grandmother's hometown in Missouri to a fictional tale of her meeting her best friend Maureen as a young girl. I was spurred by a writing contest in my state that was open to my students and decided to write alongside those interested in joining the fun. I've never entered a short story contest. It is a bit outside of my writing comfort zone if I have one of those. I've struggled and still struggle to find the story. I've written many little scenes and I'm not really sure I'll finish in time to submit the story I hoped would come but either way, I hope I finish it "enough" to send it regardless.

When I began writing slices many years ago, it is what opened me to the idea of how difficult and how simple writing can be. I wrote little pieces of my day. I wrote about experiences in the classroom. I found stories. What I'm finding now is that searching for stories in my daydreams is more challenging. It's a good stretch for me and has reminded me that I need to write small if I am ever going to write big.

Some might say that writing for an educational audience, like the one that comes with being a co-author at Two Writing Teachers, is writing big. It is big. It allows words I've thought, said, and written to be read. However, I have always believed that the best words are often the ones that begin for ourselves. I'm wandering back to those woods. It's chilly there but welcoming, and eventually, I'll be warmed again by the swirl of ideas that come from writing. Writing long and short. Writing for writing's sake.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Hydrothermal Vents and School Culture (Yeah, I Just Did That)

As human beings, we can experience temperature changes in different ways. 

It's hot. 
"Ah, feels so good, so relaxing."
"Oh blah, it's so sticky and awful."

It's cold.
"Oooo, (squeal) snow is coming."
"Gah! I hate the cold."

More than likely you, like me, have spoken a phrase somewhat matched to any of these. The point? We get to decide how we will respond and the fact that either of these responses is often possible it makes one think a bit. Well, I should say, it makes me think. 
The other day my daughter was reading an article about ecosystems, and she was having difficulty with some vocabulary related to hydrothermal vents. My meagerly informed summary of these vent formations goes a little like this. The vents form when cold seawater seeps below the ocean floor through tiny cracks. When the water becomes superheated from magma, it reemerges to create these vents. It turns out that some organisms thrive in these conditions. 

We read and reread the section a few times to fully grasp the ideas presented. I realized part of her misunderstandings were related to the fact that the idea of organisms surviving conditions like extreme heat seemed impossible. To imagine vents within the ocean floor providing this heat was outside of her experience. 
The ocean provides many spaces we have explored and spaces we have not. It is fascinating to grasp the enormity of its composition. 

I don't know how my brain works but we read this article, and in my mind, I began comparing the ocean floor to a school's culture. Cracks occur. Well-meaning drops of water seep and become heated due to exposure, and their only way out is to vent. When these droplets reemerge they transform their surroundings. Organisms thrive on the poisonous metal deposits and can develop rapidly. 

Venting is necessary. The ocean makes a place for this, and yet it is so vast that it also makes spaces for beautiful reefs and shorelines. You get to decide. Within the ocean of your daily life, you can choose where to vent. Choose wisely. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Nice to See You Again

Little boy
boots too big
waist cinched
by brown cords
too tight to clip
too much yours
to let go
with a crinkled brow
in each inch you rise
examining your stride
navigating your steps
you risk your feelings
spilling them
from capture
a soul
you thought no one saw
you thought lost
laboring through the day
born anew
with eyes open
seeing the world
for the first time.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Watching Progress Step by Step

It's hard to believe that nearly nine months ago we lost our home. Within all the tears, fear, and unknowns we continue to come up for air. Watching the progress has been both exciting and confusing. I say confusing because the circumstances create mixed emotions. It's difficult to watch so much good come from something that was so horrific. Yet, so much good has come.

We still have a long way to go but upon returning from our ten nights of camping yesterday Shawn and I went to take a peek at the progress. We now have tile on the floor in the bathroom, air conditioning is in, new duct work, electricity is hooked up and working, and so many other pieces are falling into place. They think siding will be soon. Soffits and fascia were going up while we visited.

Shawn and I continue to be grateful for the many things we have been 
afforded following this event in our lives. We have a beautiful home to live in while ours is being built. We have friends and family from all over who have come to our aid. We have been surrounded by love, understanding, and care. It is a beautiful thing to witness so much kindness.
As much as I wish this had never happened and I wish the constant worry, stress, and pressure to work through this whole process would end, we will have a beautiful home when it is all over. We will all be together and back in our home. I cannot thank each of you enough from this community who helped us early on way back in November. Your support did not go unnoticed and I appreciate your kindness and generosity. My Two Writing Teachers team was unwavering in their support as well and I could not ask for a better group of people to work with on the blog. My school community helped in so many ways, easing my mind as they took care of my classroom and at times my own children.

Visiting the house today, after being away for a stretch of time, reminded me of how far we have come. Each day we are a little closer to our move in date and each day we are a little more healed. My feet are weary from all the steps it has taken to get here but I suppose we can all keep going as we approach that finish line. Step by step.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


My feet have covered a lot more ground lately. I've been stepping on several paths, trails, and many grains of sand have scraped between my toes. 
I've found time to read more, write more, breathe a little more. Fresh air has been my friend and it seems like the air stretches the hours a bit. 


We are on our third camping trip of the summer. Most likely our last until next year. I downloaded an app today that should allow me to blog through the day as we travel around. I've tried this before with some success. We'll see how this one works. For now I'd call this an experiment. 

The kids made their own survival tools this morning! 

We all went on a hike to "Lake of the Clouds." Beautiful!

Janie loving on grandma and grandpa's dogs. 

A little beach time. AND by little I mean about fifteen minutes. Lake Superior is not forgiving when it comes to temperature or its famous biting flies. Sure is pretty though! The kids found their own little private beach and an organic flotation device! 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Not as Bad as Meredith Grey

I was in the biggest funk last week. I started to think it might be because I was going to turn forty. Turns out, I don't think that was it at all. I'm in the, "it's the end of the year" funk. I can hardly stand it. It's the kind of funk you wish you could just wash off with a good hot shower but it lingers.

I watch and listen to everyone stew and complain. The students get a little meaner and more spiteful. It's so sad to watch everyone turn toward the dark side.

Yesterday, I was having a conversation with my principal about one of my students who is really struggling. I said, "Have you looked around? No one is at their best right now! We have to be understanding of one another, breathe a little. No one is at their best and that includes the students."

My way of coping? Re-watching Grey's Anatomy from the beginning on Netflix. It has turned out to be good therapy. I literally say in my head, "It's not as bad as Meredith Grey." It seems like literally, everything happens to that girl.

And really, it never really gets that bad. Mindless drama watching seems to have put me at ease a bit and I am able to breathe again.

So, my advice...feeling like your life can't get any worse, watch season two, it could definitely be worse. I say that tongue and cheek of course. Some people do have serious and real issues to deal with. Myself included. However, I just can't dwell. I would get swallowed up if I couldn't find a reason to smile. Instead, I'm just going to keep moving.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Day Thirty-One of Thirty-One: All Mine

We always tell each other, don't take things for granted. Be grateful for all you have. Always be brave. We say these things to each other. All of us, well, most of humanity. We mostly live by these rules. We say these things and as much as we mean it we sometimes forget. Sometimes we get a bit caught up or caught off guard by life. 

All month long I sliced mostly about things we lost in the fire. I threw in a slight deviation here and there while sticking to my "not my" theme. What I never said was that there was a lot more that could have been lost in those wee hours of the night back in November of 2016. I didn't mention all the "what if" statements I've wondered about over the past several months. I certainly never think, gosh, what if I could have saved that mug or what if I could have snapped a quick picture of the wall in my kitchen with all the little growth marks on it. I never think of those, "what if" statements. It's the horrifying "what if" that I think about. 

Regardless, I'm lucky. I'm grateful. I'm brave. For all these reasons and so many more. My amazing parents, in-laws, sister, and all my extended family beyond. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Day Thirty of Thirty-One: Not My

This was the first year I followed a thread through my SOLSC posts. I was really hesitant to try it. I wasn't sure I could do it. Could I keep it going? I knew it would be hard for a few reasons. In the past, I was able to treat the challenge as a way to force myself to notice. To be a witness to my life and record the little, the big, and the invisible. This year, following the "not my" thread through each post, was a new challenge. I think I will really appreciate having recorded all these bits of life that are not mine. I might have forgotten otherwise and it is a further testament to the importance of writing down the small, the big, and the invisible.

When we ask ourselves to be a witness we see all. We reflect more deeply and the fog of our day to day dissipates. Visibility improves. I not only understand myself a little better but I understand everyone around me a little better too.

As I wrote it all down, you became a witness to my life and I became one of yours.

I have appreciated the journey and tomorrow's slice will not be a "not my." Thirty days of thinking about what is no longer is enough. Thirty-one seems like a fresh number. A turning point you might say. Here's looking to tomorrow. The last day or maybe the first day.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Day Twenty-Nine of Thirty-One: Not My Nest

The other day I could hear a clattering below our bedroom window. It sounded like something was banging into the drain spout. I asked my children what they thought the noise was. They knew immediately.

"Oh, it's that bird that lives in the nest by the back door."

I had to go look of course. I haven't attempted to get a closer look yet but it appears to be empty, no eggs. I snapped a picture and thought about how much work goes into making a nest. Strand by strand. Carefully placed. Sometimes a sprig of tinsel here and there. It's not my nest but it did inspire a poem.

With bits of green,
brown, and gray

Pieces of earth
painstakingly placed

Carefully woven
with a mix of glitz

Tucked safe and tight
nestled by brick

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Day Twenty-Eight of Thirty-One: Not My Nine-Year-Old

When did this happen? When did this little girl become double digits? Shawn and I were talking about it last night and realizing as we talked that in less time than we have known her she will likely be moving on. Starting an independent life of her own.

As I watched her last night decorating her cupcakes for school I could see that independence blooming. She's grown so much over the past year. Her confidence is no longer in short supply. She brushes her hair on a more regular basis (this is a big deal). Her style is all her own. The creativity inside her continues to make its mark and some day I am sure will make a splash in a big way.

She's not my nine-year-old anymore. :)

Monday, March 27, 2017

Day Twenty-Seven of Thirty-One: Not My House

Today I was teaching a poetry lesson on personification. I talked about taking an existing poem and just changing the perspective.
Did you write a poem about the sunrise? How do the trees tell the poem? How about the sun?

I also explained that personification is a great way to explore sensory details. Thinking about the five senses +1 (emotional feeling) and giving objects or non-human things senses can help when trying to add personification to a poem.

Later I was thinking about what I might personify in a poem. I thought about my poor empty house. As I started to write about it, I realized I wasn't personifying it quite like I expected but instead writing it a letter of sorts.

I sometimes wonder
if you miss us.
I feel bad
you were left behind.


We are okay.
Don't worry
but we miss you.
We'll visit again soon.

So, I decided to try again and write something truly from the house's perspective. I realized that I couldn't do it. It's a little too hard to think about the house as a person. Then I thought about how they are going to tear it down and I thought the house might wonder if that was going to happen. It might ask. I didn't want to tell the house. In a weird way, putting that in a poem would be like admitting the house was dead and I'm not quite ready to do that. I'm not ready to tell the house.

This place, it is not my house. It is a home. It is comfortable. My house is not jealous. It is not human. But I do sometimes feel its feelings. Its sadness. I feel it for the house. I am my house.

This is not my house. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Day Twenty-Six of Thirty-One: Not My Cabinet

My great-grandmother, Edith, was quite a character. When I was still living at home we would go every weekend to take her out to lunch and run different errands. She lived about thirty minutes from our house in a nursing home. She was a very observant lady who, even though she could barely see, didn't seem to miss a beat. Edith was always up for a trip or a good chicken wing. 

Because she spent a lot of time alone, she had a lot of time to think and watch the Lawrence Welk Show. We would often know when it was on because she would call to tell us the channel. Surely we would want to watch too. She would also call quite frequently to ask my mom about various items.

"Do you know where you put my salt and pepper shakers?"

There were so many things she wondered about and she would often give my mom directions as to which cabinet or drawer the item had once belonged to. I imagine it gave her a reason to call but I also think she honestly wondered about all her "stuff." 

I have a better appreciation for that wonder now. I sit here, all the time, my mind might be on any number of things but I still picture my house. I picture my cookbooks every Sunday because I would often grab one or two from the cabinet above my stove when I was making my meal plan for the week. Rarely did I actually pick a new recipe but I really liked looking through my cookbooks. I imagine my great-grandma also pictured her home and exactly where those salt and pepper shakers used to be. 

The cabinet above the stove here is empty. It's not my cabinet. I look forward to rebuilding my cookbook collection and filling up a cupboard with new memories one day. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Day Twenty-Five of Thirty-One: Not My Shoes

Back on day twelve I sliced about "not my style." I was ready to break into spring weather wear and mentioned the fact that I haven't purchased any sandals and I still only have one pair of shoes.

Well, now I don't even have those!
Elliot, my eleven year-old, and I have have the same size feet at the moment. He must, at all times, have two pairs of tennis shoes. We have learned we just always need a backup. This was one of the first purchases we made for the kids. He had one pair of shoes for a couple of days until I quickly bought another pair remembering the day would come when he would need a back-up for whatever reason.

Last week, one of his shoes got caught on the leg of a desk and tore a hole right in the side. He came home with packaging tape all over his foot and shoe. Enter back-up shoes! I was so proud that I had gotten them and wouldn't have to run out that night to get shoes.

The next day Elliot and my husband were playing soccer in the back yard. The ball went out on the ice covered channel. Without going into that story, Elliot's shoes got completely soaking wet. We put the shoes down in the basement near the heater in hopes they would be dry by morning. I was sure they would be.

It was a typical run around like crazy get this, grab that morning.
Elliot goes to put his shoes on and says, "Um, mom, my shoes are still really wet."
WHAT? A moment of panic, then I remember we have the same size foot!
"Here, try these on."
"These are perfect! They are actually kind of comfortable."


That night, as I watched him run around in the backyard I realized I didn't have shoes anymore. I'm pretty sure he's claimed them and knowing him, he'll need that back-up pair anyway.

Not my shoes, anymore.