Tuesday, March 28, 2023


Change...Only for the Better

It’s still March. March is a month of change. We move from the days of winter into the sunshine of spring. Though my grass here in Ohio is already emerald green and daffodils are blooming, I know the weather is fickle. It can pour down snow as easily as rain any given moment. It can be overcast or sunny. We have a saying in my neck of the woods: 


“If you don’t like the weather, give it a minute.”


That’s the tough part about those moments in our lives when we are transitioning from one reality to another. Dealing with unexpected change.


Someone gets a new job and the whole family moves. Children have to make new friends and attend new schools. Parents have to find their way in a new community and build new relationships.


I’ve faced many of those changes in my life. Some were made by choice; others by circumstance.


I am in the midst of a change of choice. In a couple of weeks, I’ll marry Michael Tyler. 

I embrace the newness of the relationship. 


Mike and I both lost the spouses of our youth. We’ve both made our way through years of “forging ahead.” We’ve both enjoyed the support our families have given us through these years.


Soon we will join hands, take vows, and establish our own home. We are both retired and look forward to new adventures. Some call it “doing life” together. And trust me, “doing life” with someone you love and someone who loves you back, is something to be treasured.


So yes, the relationship is new. The adventures we will have together will be exciting and new. But the best part isn’t the newness of it all. 


The best part is the sharing life’s good and bad. And though we feel young, I look forward to us growing old together. A major change in life is easier when you know there is someone who has your back. 

Mike demonstrating his care...
He cleared drawers in his dresser
 to make room for my clothes.

Trusting each other. 

Caring about each other. 

Serving one another. 

Isn’t that what a shared life is all about? 

And all that green grass and those beautiful daffodils? Those are simple reminders that even in our darkest times, the best is yet to come. 



Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Teacher of the Year

My Pick for Teacher of the Year

There is this woman I’ve known for over fifty years now. She is smart and funny. She’s talented and caring. She’s beautiful inside and out. She is, quite frankly one of my favorite people on the planet.


She’s a teacher. In fact, we taught in the same district for a year or two. I was teaching in an elementary school and she taught social studies at the high school. 

But that first year when she started teaching in the Fairfield district, we sat next to each other at the opening day speech offered by the school district’s superintendent. 


She proved to be an excellent teacher. I recognized that quality in her early on. She was caring and sensitive to her students. And fair. She worked hard to make sure every student had every opportunity to succeed. It doesn’t get any better than that.


Like me, she wanted to be a teacher since childhood. I knew in second grade I wanted to be a teacher. She knew even earlier. She would line her dolls and stuffed animals up and teach them to read. When asked if her teddy bear could really read, she said, “He can read but he can’t talk. His mouth is all sewed up!”


I wish all teachers could have such confidence and understanding for their students. 


Eventually, we both left the school district to teach teachers. I left to teach at the university. She eventually left to train teachers through in-service at the county educational service center.


We were kind of in different places but still connected. Always connected. 


Last Sunday, I was invited to her birthday party. It was a big deal. Her husband did the cooking and her kids, who now tower above her, openly demonstrated how much they value her. 


I hugged her when I walked in the door. I recounted the day I first met her fifty years ago. I’ve found a way to share that story with her every year on her birthday. Usually, it’s been face-to face, but sometimes I’ve had to share on the phone or through an email. One year I wrote it all out for her. 


Yep, I’ve known her for over fifty years. 

Fifty years ago on March 19th, she entered my world. 

Allison. My firstborn. 


She’s my daughter and my friend. She’s the mother of my two oldest grandchildren.


And she’s still the best teacher I know. 



Tuesday, March 14, 2023

If You Give a Girl a Closet

 If You Give a Girl a Closet


People who know me know I don’t like clutter. It makes me tired. Stresses me out. So this week has been particularly exhausting with clutter of my own making.


Yes, I said it. 

created the clutter.


It didn’t start out that way. It started with the simple notion of making some room for Mike’s clothes after we’re married. 


As a first grade teacher, I  read a story by Laura Joffe Numeroff  to my students called If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. It’s a wonderful book. Here’s the opening:


“If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk.”


It’s one of those “one thing leads to another” kinds of stories.


Which brings me back to my closet.


 I set out to complete one simple task: clean the closet. 


It was pretty easy to create a pile of “school teacher clothes” I haven’t worn since the eighties. I also tossed the “professor clothes” I haven’t donned since I retired from the university in 2012. 


I soon had a pile of donation-worthy skirts and tops on my bed. 


Then there were the square dance clothes and the comfortable but totally out of style clothes I keep for working in the yard, painting, or camping. 

And of course the collection of “when I lose ten pounds” clothes. You get the idea.


The pile grew. I boxed everything and hauled it out to the car to donate later.


I smiled at the progress I’d made. Still, as I studied the space, I wasn’t satisfied. 


This is where the mouse story comes in. 


You see, I decided the best way to create new space in the master closet was to divide the remaining clothes by season. I decided to put a collection of seasonal clothes in my guest bedroom closet. 


There was one problem. When I moved into this house, I stored boxes of family photos and memorabilia in the guest closet... Along with framed artwork, foam mattress pads (for when the grandkids needed more bed space on the floor), quilts, paintings, and …well…lots of “stuff.” 


It was time I cleaned out that closet. 

No problem. I was on a roll. 


But…when you give a girl a closet…and it’s filled with memories…well, you are soon swamped in a pile of clutter. 


On the bed. On the floor. On the chest. In the drawer. 

(See? It’s even starting to sound like a children’s picture book.)


Only the picture was terrible. If strangers had walked in, they would have condemned the house as one of those scary places where hoarders are found buried alive.


I’m not kidding! This was crazy! 

Total Mess Not Fit for a Guest!


I plowed my way through. I read every old birthday card before tossing it in the trash. I got rid of the school pictures of children I don’t know. (Why don’t people put names on the back?)


I sorted the rest and carefully boxed up the good stuff I wanted to keep. 


You don’t have to say it. I already know my three daughters will go through everything one day after I’m gone and wonder why in the world I treasured all that junk. 


But I also know they’ll want to keep some of it.

They’ll box it up, take it home and put it in a closet….and…


If you give a girl a closet…




Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Driving Rain

 The Downpour

If you follow my blog, you know that my mother and I spent the month of February in Florida. It was a treat. The weather in the Tampa Bay area is deliciously warm in the winter. We fudged a bit. We gave ourselves a couple of extra days, returning to Ohio the first weekend in March.


March in Ohio is tenuous. The grass can be green one day and have frost on the ground the next. We knew what to expect when we returned. 


It was the “in between” that got us.


The rain started in north Florida. Lightly at first. Then we started getting a heavier dose. 

That torrential, white knuckles kind of rain hit us north of Atlanta. We stopped for the night.


The next day looked a bit more promising so we forged ahead. Rain poured down all through Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio. I’m not talking about a drizzle here. I’m talking about a “can barely see in front of your car” kind of rain. 

Think “waterfall.”


When I was a teen and learning to drive, my dad always told me to keep moving in such weather. He told me most bad weather accidents were caused by people stopping alongside the road. Other drivers couldn’t see them. I heeded his advice then. 

And now. 


I turned on my lights, watched my speed, kept one eye on the rearview mirror, and continued moving forward.


My mom prayed.


We made it home late in the evening. I’m sure we both fell into bed that night with muscles tense and tired. Mine from driving and hers from clenching the seat of the car.


But isn’t that a lot like life? We start out with a plan…a map for where we want to go on our life’s journey. We sometimes have to stop and refuel. We have to deal with distractions and other people on the road of life. 


And, like it or not, as we make our way, we all face storms. 

We learn to push through them. To forge ahead. We pray and keep our eyes on our destination. It's the stuff "in between" that turns our knuckles white.

Life is a journey marked by challenges...those moments it would be easy to give up or give in... but we must press on.
I don't know about you, but every time I overcome a daunting challenge, I feel a little stronger. It made me think of the passage in the Bible where Paul wrote to the people in Philipi, "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead..."

How about you? Faced any challenges lately? Any storms crossing your path? 

As for me? I'm looking ahead...for the rainbow.