Engaging Each Day with Action Words

Attack. — Know the signs.

Here’s a story from a while ago. Yes, I’m recycling a blog post, but for a good reason.

A good reason that I’m not quite ready (still slightly traumatized, although I’m fine, everyone’s ok now…)
to tell the whole story just yet, so I may or may not try to explain another time.

For now, I’m just reminding you of the signs.


So, know the signs. Pay attention to the signs. Don’t ignore the signs. Respond quickly to the signs.

Elizabeth Banks teamed up with Go Red For Women in this short film on women, motherhood and recognizing the signs of a heart attack.  Just. In. Case. We’ve all had mornings like this… Know the signs.


The phone rang.

It was a friend. But a busy, on the go friend, who is usually more likely to go for the quick text than an actual ‘stop and have a conversation’ phone call. Weird. But the conversation that came after my answering with a casual “Hey there” was even weirder.

First of all, there was a very unfamiliar panicked concern in her voice. It wasn’t right at all.

“Are you ok?” She asked me.


“Are you ok, really?!”  She almost…almost sounded like she was ready to cry, which started to concern me.

I responded with a  suspicious tone… Yeah. I have a little cold, but…

“Did anything bad happen today?!” I thought, well, clearly something bad has happened or you wouldn’t be calling me and asking me questions like this!

Ok, now you’re freaking me out.

“Oh my God. Ok. I’m calming down. Oh my God. Letting the cortisol come down a little….”

What in the world!? What is going on?!

“I just heard that you had had a heart attack on the soft ball field today!”

WHAT?! WHAT?!  (I’m betting that I started to sound like that Mom over the phone on “A Christmas Story” … )

The conversation continued and I reassured her again and again that I was fine. Just sitting here, relaxing on the couch. No signs of a heart attack. I haven’t been to the softball fields today. I’m not sure where this is coming from. This is crazy, but I’m fine.

Fine. But now a little freaked out at just the thought that someone out there thinks I had a heart attack. That is crazy. Right?

Y was sitting right beside me and I was too shocked to keep the conversation from her as I probably should have done. So, I used this as an opportunity to talk about rumors and how rumors get started and how rumors can unintentionally hurt or scare people…yada yada yada, …. insert brilliant parenting moment here.

But in my head, I kept thinking…Heart Attack? Me? Who would think that I could have a heart attack? How many people out there think that I have had a heart attack? Am I going to have people showing up with flowers and offers of dinner? Do I need to post something to let everyone know I’m ok?

And then it moved on to things like: I can’t have a heart attack! I’m just 40! I’m a health coach! I eat well and play more and choose happy and all that jazz! Sure, I haven’t been to the gym everyday for a while, but life’s been busy and there’s been traveling and people have had colds and fevers and such…yada yada yada, insert other plausible excuses here.

A heart attack? Me?

It took all evening and three different phone calls from three different concerned, loving friends to finally track down the origin of this story. As it turns out, a good Momma was trying to let her husband know about A’s Mom, (who is 80+ years old and might have had a heart attack). But on a noisy softball field, he misunderstood and heard “Y’s Mom” and thought … well, Me. He was shocked and shared the news out of concern to the hubs of one of my good friends who in turn, called his wife and shared the news out of shock and concern. She called a friend to see what was happening, and that is when my phone rang and this whole crazy story began.

Of course, we were all concerned about A’s Mom and keeping her close in our prayers. But we were all relieved that I was fine and this was just a misunderstanding.

And while we laughed off the whole misunderstanding of it all, I think it messed with us all just a bit. And that is when I started noticing the signs. I swear, all evening long, even while the girl child was watching the Disney channel, every other commercial on TV was something related to heart attacks or heart disease. I’m not kidding.  Then I started thinking about walking through the airport at O’Hare last week. There was a poster on the wall, that randomly caught my eye and made me stop to comment about how the ad was targeted to women.

Finally, this morning, I woke up and was having a little trouble going back to sleep. So, I checked my phone and found another sign: An advertisement about women and heart attacks.

Yeah, I think I’m supposed to share this story. Just in case. Just in case it helps one person.

More than 250,000 women in the U.S. die of a heart attack each year. Many don’t know the symptoms of a heart attack, which are often different for women compared to men, or how to prepare for them.

Warning Signs of a Suspected Heart Attack

  • Chest pressure, tightness and heaviness
  • Pain in shoulders, neck, jaw* or arms*
  • Lightheadedness
  • Paleness
  • Faintness
  • Sweating
  • Nausea*
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest pain*
  • Extreme fatigue*

*More common in women

If you suspect you’re having a heart attack call 911 and crush or chew aspirin as directed by a doctor. Aspirin, when taken as directed by a doctor during a suspected heart attack and for 30 days thereafter, can reduce damage to the heart and reduce the risk of death by 23 percent.

 Later, a friend shared that the she thought, “Crap. If Z has a heart attack, we are all screwed.” Which is funny, … but we know it happens. It has happened. So, take care of yourselves, people. Eat Well. Play More. Choose Happy.

For More Information: or IamProHeart


Entertain. — Hey Kids! It is not always all about you.

Every now and then I find myself saying to the kiddos: “This is not about you. This is about (_________). I know you can do this.”

I’m usually saying this to them when I need them to recognize that it is not my job, at that moment, to entertain them.

When I need them to sit still and quietly and find something to do amongst other adults.

When they need to know that it is important to be able to focus on others sometimes and learn how to (gasp) wait for their own needs to be met.

I said this to the kiddos a few nights ago, when we all needed to attend an event.

An event that was clearly not going to be exciting for kids. It was a political forum. So maybe it was an event that was not even going to be exciting for some of the adults around us, too.

But their Daddy is running for a public office, so we were there to show support. To show solidarity. To quietly be his cheerleaders.

The kiddos needed to be able to sit in an auditorium and be quietly entertained.

Which is hard when you are a kid. But it is also something that I believe, for my own little world, kids need to be able to do.

We came prepared though. We had books to read. iPads to play on. Paper and pens to write and draw.

But still there were a few times of shhhhussshhhhhing interventions, several trips to the bathroom, a few “I’m boreds” and “I’m hungrys” thrown in for good measure.

As tired working Mommas, we have probably all had to drag our kiddos to events like this. Well, maybe not just like this.

But we have all probably needed to be somewhere and our kids had to come along with us. Maybe we had to bring them to work or to a meeting. Maybe we had to bring them to a race or a performance. Maybe we had to be at an event to talk to someone, in front of a group, or even just needed to have an important conversation with someone else.

Whatever it is, I think this is important for our kids to know.  While we work hard to engage in their lives, not every minute, every second has to be about them. Not every activity needs to revolve around them. Not every conversation is ok to be interrupted with their immediate need or want. And sometimes, sometimes, they have to learn how to wait. How to sit still. Be quiet-ish. And entertain themselves.

I’ve seen children that don’t know how to do this.  I’ve seen my own kiddos who don’t always know how to do this.

So, how do we model this for our kids? How do we teach them that sometimes, it is just not going to be about them? How do we give them opportunities to entertain themselves? How do we help them understand that sometimes they have to ‘show up’ for someone else? How do we let them know that they may need to put their immediate needs aside for a few minutes to support someone else?

We give them a chance to practice this. Practice showing up. Practice sitting still. Practice listening and watching.

We set expectations ahead of time. Prepare them for what’s coming. Give gentle reminders. Applaud their successes.

And let them know how much it meant to (__________) that they were there for them for this event, For this performance. For this race.

Overall, they did a great job and I was extremely proud of them.

Y did some reading. She also did some observing and had some fascinating insights on the whole political process. I really enjoyed talking with her about it afterwards. At 8, she has politics figured out better than some adults I know.

By the end of the forum, X was laying on the floor, between the rows of seats, doodling. Quietly doodling.


And I even captured his masterpiece to have forever as a treasured souvenir.

As bored as they may have been for the evening, they learned three important lessons that evening:

1. How to entertain themselves.

2. It is important to show up for someone else.

3. It is not always about you.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

Today’s Action Challenge: Think about how you show up for others. When do you put your needs aside to really be there for someone else? How do you entertain yourself? If applicable, how do you help your kids know how to entertain themselves?

Recognize when it is important to say, “It is not about me. It is about (______).”

Let’s all, Go. Do that.


Decide. — Cornstalk Crossroads with Five Year Olds.

corn maze

I handed the map to X and his friend.

They looked at the map and immediately decided they knew where we were going.

I just walked behind and observed.

Once I again I discovered, these 5 year olds have it all figured it.

At every crossroads, they made a decision.

They made a decision and they didn’t look back.

They didn’t second guess.

They didn’t look to see what other kids were doing.

They were confident in their choices

They decided which way to go and they owned their decisions.

And if they were wrong, they didn’t apologize to anyone. They just said, “Aw. Man, we’ve already been here. Ok. This way!”

And they took off again. In search of the next sign, the next adventure.

In search of the prize.

corn crossroads

They didn’t get nervous about the consequences.

They weren’t concerned about getting lost.

Sometimes they went off the path.

Sometimes they even made their own shortcuts.

They worked together, looking at the map.

They took turns.

Along the way, they picked up treasures of sticks and fuzzy caterpillars.

And ultimately, they found their way through and out of this corn maze.

Having fun every step of the way.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

Today’s Action Challenge: Consider how you make your decisions.

Do you make a decision with confidence, feeling certain in your choices?

Or do you fret about every consequence, leaving you stranded in the maze?

Based on this, set a goal for yourself for the next time you are at your very own crossroads, cornstalk or not.


Stand. — Up. Not Just By.

When I was in the 7th grade, I vividly remember a time that I did nothing.

When I stood by  and did and said nothing. When I didn’t engage in action words.

Because I was 13. Because I didn’t know what to do. Because I didn’t have the right words or the right nerve to say those words.

And because I worried so much about what others thought. All the time. Just like every other 13 year old.

I can still remember how she looked at me. I can see her eyes. They weren’t so much pleading for my help.  I think she knew I was in a tough spot, I think she knew that I probably wouldn’t say much. I think that there was a part of her that sympathized, knowing she might just do the same thing.

I remember the look now as one of  … disappointment. I definitely failed her that day. And we both knew it.

I stood by and said nothing while a group of my ‘friends’ teased and excluded her. Again.

Without a doubt she was bullied. Dr. Dan Olweus defines bullying in his book, Bullying at School: What We Know and What We Can Do.  “A person is bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons, and he or she has difficulty defending himself or herself.”

Almost 28 years later, I still tell that story.  And every October, I find myself thinking about it and sharing it more.

While everyone is busy wearing pink ribbons in support of Breast Cancer Awareness, October is also Bullying Prevention month.

I once had a parent call me at work, upset that her son’s school was doing nothing for National Bullying Prevention Day. I told her that every day, every month should be about preventing bullying. But I would be happy to remind them to put up another poster in the hallway.

Here’s the thing. Just like wearing pink or purple doesn’t eradicate cancer. Wearing orange or blue doesn’t stop bullying.

Neither does a STOP BULLYING poster on the wall.

We have to do more.

The answer to bullying prevention is simple:

Be nice. Do nice things. Say nice words.

And stand up to those who don’t.

I heard a speaker once talk about positive psychology. He described it brilliantly, reflecting his lifetime of research and writing.

It spoke to me so much that I have made it my mission, my motto, my call to action in work and life.

I will now summarize it all in 35 words:

We are superheroes. We can choose our costumes and capes. If we choose red, we have the power to stop bad things.

If we choose green, we have the power to make good things happen.

I call this Green Cape Work. And it has really started to define so much of what I do.

When it comes to bullying, the majority of us have not been bullied in our lives.

When it comes to bullying, the majority of us have not bullied others.

But the vast majority of us have seen it happen. The vast majority of us have heard what it sounds like. The vast majority of us have stood by like helpless 13 year olds.

This is my Green Cape Work.

When I talk about bullying prevention, this is where I believe the power really is.  It is in the work of making good things happen. It is in the work of making nice things happen.

Encourage.  Compliment. Promote. Notice.


We have to teach this. We have to model this. We have to promote this.

We have to empower each other. We have to report to each other. We have to listen to each other.

We have to pay attention.

Because when we stand up. When we put on the green capes and become a force for good.

We can make good things happen.

We can prevent bullying and promote kindness.

But we have to be brave. We have to get help. We have to tell someone.

And then tell someone again. And again and then tell a different person.

We have to stand up. Not just stand by.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

Today’s challenge:  What is your Green Cape Work? What good things do you want to make happen?

What do you stand up for? What do you believe in? What moves you, calls you, to action?

Design your superhero cape. Give it a color and write all of the good things on it that you want to make happen.

green cape work

Let’s all, Go. Do that. 


Name. — Remember it. Don’t be lame.

MommyVerbs nametag

I have recently decided that I think it is pretty lame to say, “I’m terrible with names.”

I get it. We meet a lot of people over the course of our lives. Some we get to know better than others. Some we spend a lot of time with. Some are just passing through. Some we may never, ever see again.

But we all have this in common: We all love to hear our names. Hearing our names makes us feel important. Valued.

Whenever I have the opportunity to teach a class, I start with a greeting. When I am teaching young students, I remind them how to greet someone. We make eye contact. We give them our attention. We smile. We say their name. We shake their hand and give them a high five or fist bump. And we listen to hear our name.

And I also teach them what to do if they don’t know this person’s name. We still make eye contact. We still give them our attention. We still smile. And then we simply say, “Can you please tell me your name again?” Then we say their name, shake their hand and listen to hear our name.

This really isn’t just for young students. I know many adults who could use some practice with this, too. And I am including myself in that one.

Whether it is your child, your student, your best friend, a colleague or the young man that is taking your order at Panera.

We all love to hear our names.

And all we have to do is actively listen and put their name to memory.

Or at least try. Really try to connect with that person and remember their name.

Because when we don’t even try. When we use the lame excuse, “I’m terrible with names.” We may imply that this person is not important enough for me to know. Not important enough for me to try to put some effort into the remembering.

And I’m sure that is not the message we want to send.

No. We want to send the message of “You are important. I want to get to know you as a person.”

There is a teacher that attends some meetings that I facilitate. Every time I see him, he is wearing a “Hello. My name is ____” sticker on his shirt with his name written on it. I love this. And by love, I mean I want to do this. And sometimes, wish that everyone would. I have never asked him why he does this or how long he has been doing this. I imagine that he has a little box of stickers in his car with a Sharpie marker for just these occasions. But I know his name. I will always know his name. I learned his name faster than anyone else’s. And by knowing his name, I have learned other things about him and his life. His name was just the beginning of getting to know him as a person and being able to really value his contributions and talents.

I am going out to day to buy a little box of stickers and a Sharpie marker.

Each fall, I teach a class on Tuesday nights with 18 graduate students. I only see them for less than 3 hours a week. And I really, really struggle to learn their names and keep them straight from week to week.

It makes me crazy.

Absolutely crazy. I try so many things. I quiz myself as they come into the room. I make us all play silly greeting games, under the guise that these are good teaching practices, which they are. But mostly it is so I can practice their names. 🙂 Some of them I learn quickly, others take me weeks to match faces with names. I am close to making them wear nametags sometimes. I have even thought about taking their pictures, holding their nametags, so I can study names/faces before class. I haven’t yet. But I still might.

I hate when I feel like I have to avoid calling someone by name so I don’t get it wrong.

I never want to send the message that they are not important enough for me to know.  So I work on it. Every week, I keep working on putting their names and faces to memory.

Because it is lame to say, “I’m terrible with names.” I don’t want to be lame.

Sometimes I do get a name wrong. But usually only once. Brain-based research and learning principles suggest that we learn more, learn better from our mistakes. When we get it wrong, and then work to correct it, we build better, strong memory pathways.  It is kind of like going over a pencil line a few times to make it darker on a paper.

This also explains why I will never, ever misspell the word: Conscience. This is the word that kicked me out of the county-wide spelling bee in the 4th grade. And when my Dad heard the word that I missed, he said, “Sharon, how did you miss that one…it is just Con. Science.”

Crap. Why didn’t I see that before? Con. Science. Yep. I won’t get that one wrong again.

The point is: Make mistakes. Try again. But make it a priority to learn people’s names.

Be intentional about calling them by their name.

Quit using the lame excuse, “I’m terrible with names.”

It is lame. Don’t be lame. Don’t be that person.

Whether it is your child, your student, your best friend, a colleague or the young lady taking your order at Panera. (I may or may not have been to Panera a lot recently.)

Make people feel important. Because they are.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

Today’s Challenge: All about names.

What do you love about your name? Is there anything you don’t like about it?

What is the story of your name?

How did you (or will you) choose your children’s names?

What about your pets’ names? How did you pick those?

Where would you like to see your name someday? In lights? On a screen? On the cover of a book? On a diploma?

Name it.

Own it and be known for it.

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Lock. — This Is A Drill. It Is Only A Drill.

lockdown drill

I remember Columbine.

Ironically, on April 20, 1999, I was teaching 2nd grade and had taken a half day of personal leave to go over to Virginia Tech to interview at a job fair. My soon-to-be husband and I were getting ready to move to Charlotte, NC and it just so happened that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school division was there, looking for teachers.

I arrived on campus to see huddles of people looking at T.V. monitors. Everywhere I turned, huddles of people, staring, hands covering mouths wide open. They would watch for a few minutes, shake their heads and then walk away … heading to their next class or to catch the bus.

(Ironically, just 8 years later, almost to the day, eerily similar scenes would unfold just a few hundred yards from where we stood that day. This is not lost on me.)

I stopped and tried to take in what I was seeing. All I remember now is the footage of kids coming out of the building, running in lines, with their hands in the air or behind their heads. Trying to follow the directions of the many heavily-armed police men and women, no doubt in varying degrees of trauma for what they just saw and heard.

I know that I didn’t come close to grasping  the full tragedy of it all as I walked from T.V. to T.V. on my way to an interview.

An interview where I would volunteer to put myself in harm’s way, put myself in front of my 7 year old students if ever, in the craziest of craziest worlds, a gunman were to come in to my quaint little school.  Oh, that … and I would also teach them to read and write and add and subtract and investigate and inquire and listen and be a decent human being to others.

I was offered the job on the spot.

And then I went home and watched the news.

And like the rest of the nation, the rest of the universe, I was horrified by the stories. The first person accounts. The eyewitness’ tales.

That night, and many nights afterwards, I had nightmares. Vivid, sweating, calling out in my sleep nightmares.

Of frantically trying to hide my baby students, other Mother’s babies,  under desks, in the library, under computer tables, behind chairs. Anywhere to keep them safe.

That summer we moved to Charlotte and I was teaching 2nd grade again. One day, the local police department decided that it would be a good idea if we all started getting prepared for these sort of terrorist-like actions on elementary schools. In retrospect, he was probably right. But I will never forget the day that they pulled a full lock down drill.

During lunch.

Without telling the teachers anything.

I was sitting with my students, reminding them over and over … and … over to eat their lunch more and talk and socialize a little less, when I heard the announcement for the full lock down. I was surprised and shocked and all of a sudden very afraid. As nice as this little school was, I knew that there could be some that might be frustrated with others. Some that might ‘act out’. Some that had the ability to create violence.

I quickly scooped up my kiddos and led them into the nearby art room. I squished them into the corner and then counted again and again and again, making sure that I had everyone. I remember pulling the blinds, turning off the lights, trying to make them smaller, while trying to make myself bigger. Shushing and reassuring and listening…for anything. Everything.

And after what seemed like hours, but was probably just minutes, ‘they’ came over the PA system and announced that this was a drill. It was only a drill.

I don’t care what they said. My heart couldn’t tell the difference.

Complacency had turned to fear in an instant. Fear had turned to terror.

And now, I was just angry.

I led my students back to the cafeteria, trying not to let them see what I was feeling and thinking at the time.  We arrived at our table and suddenly all of the trays of half-eaten food looked the same. They couldn’t tell which tray was theirs and neither could I. I very clearly remember telling them, “Pick a tray. Sit down. Eat.”

But none of us had much of an appetite.

Fast forward a few years and I can tell a story about the shootings at Virginia Tech. Where I was. What I heard. How I still feel on campus today as I teach a class there one night a week.

And a few years later, a story about Sandy Hook Elementary.

And then later at a local community college.

And there are so many stories in between, that now our school system and local law enforcement are on first name basis, not out of an emergency relationship, but just by being proactive.

For the first time last week, my X and Y were going to be in school, when our brave local police and emergency response teams were going to do a full school division lockdown drill.

As a school employee, I knew this was going to happen. As a parent, I was told with a memo that this was going to happen. I know my colleagues in the classrooms knew this was going to happen. We all knew the day. Only they knew the time.

The teacher in me flashed back to that day many years before and my heart ached for my friends who would now have to huddle their kiddos in corners and in cubbies, in closets and even in bathrooms.

But the parent in me…Oh, my heart was broken for what MY kids, my babies, my beautiful X and Y, those innocent souls, would have to do that day.

I knew that my X would be in his Kindergarten classroom with the same awesome Kindergarten teacher that his sister had three years before him. I knew that he would be herded into a corner, behind her desk, where he would dutifully sit, perfectly quiet and still for 15 minutes.  I knew, in her way, she would make it all okay.

And I figured out, by piecing little clues together, that my beautiful and super-sensitive and intuitive Y, would be at lunch when they called this lock down drill. I wasn’t sure what their plan of action would be, but I shared my story with her the night before and I told her the kinda-funny part about the lunch trays. And we talked about how safe she was and if she just listened to her teacher and followed her directions, she would be fine.

I was so anxious on the day of the lock down drill. I kept thinking of my X and Y and hoping that they weren’t too scared. Knowing that they were with amazing teachers who work so hard to make themselves bigger when they have to.  I was never worried about their safety and I’m still not. I just hated the whole idea that they have to practice this.

Like a fire drill.

They have to get up and turn out the lights and huddle in corners and be quiet. Just in case. Just in case, a lunatic with a gun decides to open fire on six year olds and their teachers.

It is a crazy, crazy world we live in. A crazy world where my kids have to prepare for something that I can’t fully bring myself to discuss with them.

As it turns out, X didn’t blink an eye and I had to really pry to get any details out of him. That tells me that 1) he’s a boy and 2) his teacher made it so easy and non-chalant for him, that he didn’t pay much attention to it.

Which makes me 3) even more in love with his awesome Kindergarten teacher.

My Y.

My Y was at lunch with her friends. She says she figured it was going to happen at lunch, too, because her teacher spent some time talking about what they should do … just in case. See….what did I say about intuitive? Like mother, like daughter, a little walking, talking mirror, that one.

She and her classmates did have to leave their lunchboxes and trays and head into the serving lines where they were locked in and had to sit in the floor without talking for 15 minutes.  She has just enough of her Daddy in her, that she didn’t like where she was because there was some water on the floor, so she moved and she can’t be quiet for more than 5 minutes so she actually got in trouble for the first time of her 4 year academic career and lost five minutes of her recess for talking to her friend. (Which, by the way, I’m fine with because the teacher had to do that to make the point about following directions, so I have no problem with this at all…I’m a teacher fan, does it show?)

This… she didn’t tell me until the very last minute as I was tucking her in for bed, worried that I would be disappointed with her.

I smiled. I kissed her repeatedly. And told her that 15 minutes was a long time to be quiet and if she was talking to her friends in order to keep a sense of normalcy during an incredibly absurd activity, then I could not be more proud of her.

For not being afraid. For not settling for sitting in fear in silence (in water) on the floor of a serving line.

For being an 8-year-old kid.

I am proud of them both. For being normal kids in such an abnormal time.

I hate everything about these lock down drills.

While being a little thankful for them at the same time.

A crazy world, indeed.

Full of amazing and awesome young people… (guided by amazing and awesome educators, putting up with an amazing amount of pressure and crap) ... who will grow up to make it a better world.


Remember. — My Unremarkable 9/11 Story

My 9/11 story is not that remarkable. In the big scheme of events that day.
I don’t live in New York City.
I don’t have close family that live there.
I didn’t lose anyone in the towers or in the Pentagon or in that field in Pennsylvania.
Instead, I was at my little elementary school, teaching 5th graders.
Seemingly safe.
500 miles away.
I didn’t spend hours trudging down a stairwell or walking across a bridge.
I never, not once, had to run from falling debris and dust.
I didn’t get frustrated on the phone, trying to get a hold of loved ones, praying and worrying about their well being.
Instead, I did what I did every day. I did my job. I taught my students. I kept going with my unremarkable tasks of the day.
The only difference was…that everything was different.
That morning, I was walking down to the copy room, while my students were in Art class, when I noticed that several teachers had their TV on,  which I thought was very odd.
I stopped by a colleague’s room and she shared that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers.
I thought…
Oh my goodness, what a horrible accident! Oh my goodness, I was JUST THERE a two months before. I had spent my dream vacation in New York City. My Soul Vacation. A week in the beautiful New York, seeing Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, sunbathing in Central Park, exploring places by myself, pretending to be a New Yorker. I had met Katie Couric on the Today Show.
photo (5)
I had sprained my ankle so bad that it was swollen like a softball and still I managed to make it to the top of the Empire State Building to get my picture taken with the Twin Towers in the background. (All with a sad, severely sprained ankle, pouty face.)
photo (4)
And as I was thinking about my week in NYC, just as we were standing there chatting and watching the images of smoke and flames, we heard that another plane had hit. I couldn’t believe it…I couldn’t make sense of it. I couldn’t breathe.

But I also couldn’t stand around and try to figure it out or even begin to process it right then. Because I had 19 ten year olds waiting for me. I went down the hall and collected them, leading them back to our classroom. During that three minute walk, I’m sure that I experienced the full range of emotions from terror to pretending to be calm.

I remember that I just wanted to hold them all so close. Every one of them. I was scared. But I didn’t want them to know I was scared. I didn’t want them to be scared. So, I did what we did. Everyday.

We sat together in our little classroom “island” corner with the palm tree shower curtain on the wall, as we did every day by the rocking chair, and read a book. I couldn’t tell them anything, because I didn’t know what to tell them. So then I just told them how proud I was of them and talked about their amazing potential to change the world and make it all a better place.

I’m sure that they were thinking, “What is up with Mrs. Z. and her mushiness today?!”

Throughout the day, as information came out, our principal would type up a memo and show up at our door to hand us a piece of paper with the latest updates. I remember reading each one, fighting back tears, and then passing it to my colleague who worked in my room.

photo (3)   photo (6)

We would exchange looks of fear and concern and then try to shake it off and teach our … Math lesson, like we did every day.

We kept going. All day long. We made the day safe and normal for our students even when we were terrified and worried and shaking. And at the end of the day, when we got them all on their buses, sent them home to be with their parents and families, we turned on the news and watched the images and tried to comprehend a world that now included these pictures for our students.

And ourselves.

Like you. Like everyone. I will never forget.

Not because my September 11, 2001 story is all that remarkable at all.

But because I did what I did everyday.

I kept going.

Like everyone tried to dothat day.

Like I do every day.

And I keep trying to make my little corner of the world just a little bit of a better place.


Let’s All, Go. Do that.

Especially today.


Ask. — Hangin’ out with the coach!

Hey Everybody!! I am so excited that I recently met a new friend!!

And even more excited that this new friend is super awesome.

And even even MORE excited that this new friend full of awesome sauce asked lil’ ol’ me to guest blog over at his space today.

It is the first day of school and I have been in Kindergarten all day long…so I am JUST getting the time to get on here to send you all over there to my new friend, CoachDaddy!

And since he is a Coach and a cool kind of Dad who teaches his daughters about Metallica and ColdPlay and The Beatles, I thought it was appropriate that I share a lil’ story about another cool Dad I know. You know him as the best friend, partner, hubby, aka T. aka Fix it Felix … also known as … ZEN DADDY.  You need to know just how lucky my kids are that their Dad was in charge of staying home with them this summer, instead of me.  🙂

So, head on over to and learn more about the super awesome fun summer they all enjoyed. Be sure to like his page and drop him a note over there.  I want all of my friends to meet each other.

Because you know I think you all full of awesome sauce and it is fun to have you all marinate together!

Go, Do that!  Meet a new friend.

P.S. Since today is the first day of school, Felix says he is officially on vacation. He has plans to go to the lake tomorrow and rent a jet ski for the day.  He should totally do that. He deserves it!

Not Felix.

Not Felix.

Here’s the link:

Go check it out!

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Wish. — First Day Verbs.

To my X. The boy-child. Lover of superheroes and now camouflage. Terrible Knock Knock Joke teller. Collector of quarters and all things money. Who has the ability to get lost in his play and imagination. With a dimpled smile and ‘cool’ (not handsome) hair…we are so proud of you.

To my Y. The girl-child. First base playing, sleep-fighting, fashionista. Leader of the boys.  Easily distractable mess-maker. Beautiful, green-eyed big sister. Type A fretter like her Momma. Smart. Sensitive. Full of Flair in all she does. We think you are so incredibly awesome.

Our wishes for your both… a few verbs for your  first day of Kindergarten and your first day of Third Grade.

Love learning.

Walk tall.

Listen carefully.

Talk honestly.

Share always.

Smile at your teachers.

Make a good first impression.

Laugh with your classmates.

Play with others.

Eat your lunch.

Use your manners.

Write neatly.

Walk quietly.






We love you both and could not be more proud of you both on this…

your first day of Kindergarten and your first day of Third grade.

x and y letters

Happy New (School) Year!


Back. — The day before … the first day of school.

They will get up tomorrow, maybe a little easier than they will, come October.

Because they will be excited.

The morning will go a little smoother than it will, say, come November.

Because their clothes are already picked out, they know where their shoes are and they won’t need their jackets.

They will try to eat breakfast, but might not be able to finish their pancake.

Because the butterflies are taking up too much room.

They will get to the bus stop early tomorrow.

Because they want to make sure they don’t miss it.

Mommas and Daddies will go into work a little late.

Because they want to make sure they get that first step on to the bus picture.

And then they will be off.

For the very first time. For the fourth time.

Back to School.

Back to bedtimes. Back to structure. Back to hearing “No, because you have school tomorrow.”

Back to backpacks. Back to lunch boxes. Back to tennis shoes because they can’t play on the playground in flip flops.

Back to bus stops. Back to yellow buses. Back to excited to find a seat with a friend for the short ride.

Back to pencils. Back to notebooks. Back to putting your name on your papers and walking in lines.

Back to folders. Back to desks.  Back to listening and following lots of new directions.

Back to classrooms. Back to lunchrooms. Back to sitting with and working with and eating with friends.

Back to learning. Back to adventures. Back to discovering new things you now know how to do.

Back to friendships. Back to teachers.

Back to wishes for a first day full of excitement and wonder and awe…for both the teachers and the students.

Back to School.

For the very first time. For the fourth time. (For the 18th time.)

first day bus

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