You should’ve acted better!


How I write:

I start out with something on my mind. As I type, the words take shape. They meander, but somehow they all meet up in the end.

When I’m finished, I read back what I wrote and I often cannot believe that I was the person who strung those words together, the one who had those thoughts.

Not because I think they’re anything incredible, but because I’m not always sure where they came from. It’s a weird feeling, as though my brain is telling my fingertips what to do, but leaving the rest of me out of the process.

I’ve lately really wished that my strength in writing wasn’t so personal. That my voice didn’t ring out the best when I am writing about the often mundane things that happen to me. I’m so glad to help people, but I’m also acutely aware that I’ve hurt people along the way (and that’s with being very careful).

At a writing workshop recently, I was with a bunch of memoirists and we talked about this quote by author Anne Lamott who said,

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.”

For whatever reason, during this workshop all sorts of stuff about my father started coming up. This is difficult for me, as it would be for most anyone who has a strained or non-existent relationship with an immediate family member.

The guilt of it is sometimes crippling, the wonder and the worry and the (at least perception of) judgment.

And, I want to write about it. I’m pretty sure I’m ready. I want to help other people who are making similar decisions and having to live with them.

But, in order to do this, I’d have to share personal things about my family. Personal things that are from MY perception only, and to them might not be their truth. I’d have to tell things that could cause more hurt and pain, even though that is not my intention. I actually don’t blame anyone. Dysfunction is just that–dysfunction.

My life is just a compilation of stories. Stories that I can make interesting. Stories that I can weave into something that comments on our humanity, or our choices, or helps us feel less alone.

Yet, I hesitate. Although I swear I am not a hateful person, but I’m sure I do end up hurting people by telling my stories. I just want to help lift people up, but not at the expense of others. I am definitely not as confident as Anne Lamott, as you can see. 🙂  Also, I make mistakes ALL THE TIME. We all do. I certainly wouldn’t want to be called out in print (which I have done before, to people I love, in a very general way but still-boy, did I mess up).

What do you think? For writers to tell about their lives, it seems they end up throwing some people under the proverbial bus. Do we keep going? Is it worth it?

I’d love your comments!



When Life Gives You Whiplash

Life is giving me whiplash lately.

Every time I think I have something figured out, I realize I’m completely wrong.

But, wait-am I?

I am more convinced than ever that there is so little that we actually know for sure. We spend our time arguing and convincing and then coming to a conclusion that this is what we believe and this is what we know and that is that.

People have this perception of each other that is shaped on so many things. Ways we have been treated in the past by others, our assumptions, pet peeves that cause us to dig in our feet and decide that what we believe is what is real and true.

Up until recently, I truly believed that WHO I am could stand up on its own. That if I just led my life trying to be the best person I could be and if I used kindness and gratitude that people who love me would believe that.

I listened to a podcast on my drive this weekend (I’m at a writing retreat a few hours away from home) about a woman, a real estate agent, who suddenly found a viral post about her online. In the post, someone claimed that she and her husband hired this woman to help them buy a home. She couldn’t go to a showing one day, so she sent her husband, but then ended up being able to make it at the last minute. When she got there, she found the realtor and her husband in a … let’s say, precarious position.

This was untrue, and the realtor began searching to figure out who would say this. Her business and reputation were ruined, and in the end it turned out that a total stranger had written a post on a website called “Homewrecker.” The reason? She had seen a comment that the realtor made on an online news article and assumed she was a racist, and decided she deserved to have her life ruined.

It turns out that the comment was sticking up for a teenager, saying we should show her some grace since she is a kid.

This = she is a neonazi, according to the woman who decided to tell a story about her being a home-wrecker.

The quote that got me in this podcast was that she said (I’m paraphrasing), “I always just thought if I was good, if I tried my best, that I would be ok.”


If I had to pick one thing in life that I feel I’m really good at (besides singing the theme song to the Fresh Prince of BelAir) it is getting to know people. I share my innermost thoughts and feelings and I admit things that I’m not proud of to show others that they’re not alone. I have a way of getting people to share things, and I love to learn about them. I truly LOVE human beings. I love their good and their bad.

With my friends, I share my worst traits. I share that sometimes my anxiety causes me to look like a giant grump or like I’m stuck up, when in reality, I panic and I just want to be alone. I share that I feel like I am never enough, that I can never be enough, that no matter what I do, I fall short. I fail. I share that when someone yells or snaps at me, I cry. I can’t help it (definitely more therapy on the way, don’t worry) and it’s just ingrained in me. It’s part of who I am. For now.

The other day I said to my husband, “I know my heart. Why doesn’t anybody else?”

And I guess that’s because it’s my job to know me. It’s my job to stay confident in the fact that I don’t hurt people on purpose. I have to stay strong in the knowledge that I am doing my best, setting goals to become a better person, to learn and to change, and to grow. It’s my job to let that shit go.

I. Am. Enough.

This is what I will whisper to myself, 20 times a day if I have to.


I believe this, and that has to be the only thing that matters. Oh, and hey–you are enough, too.






10 tips for teachers for a great first week (from a veteran teacher).

10 tips for a great first week of school

  1.  Don’t spend the entire first week just talking about rules and routines and regulations. Sure, there are things you absolutely need to do on the first day, but I think it’s SO important to actually get INTO the routine instead of TALK about the routine.
  2. Make positive contact home as quickly as you can. Parents are nervous about their kids, especially if they’ve had behavior struggles in the past. If they know you’re looking for positive things, it starts everyone off on the right foot.
  3. Put yourself in their shoes. Remember how hard it was to sit through inservice these last few days? They are struggling, too. Many of your students have just had to majorly change their sleeping routines and are used to having a lot more activity and now suddenly have to sit. Get them up and moving! Be patient and kind.
  4. Smile. Don’t forget to have fun! Do a Mad Libs, or play a quick game. Sing and clap and dance. Have a dance party the last 5 minutes of the day on Friday. If anyone ever told you, “Don’t smile until November,” they’re dead wrong.
  5. Acknowledgments. At the end of the week, circle up your class. Teach them how to do acknowledgments and tell them you’ll be doing them often. The phrase they’ll use is, “I’d like to acknowledge (person’s name) for (something they did/said/etc). Be very clear on what is acceptable and what is not. In my class, they have to be specific (Joe is a good friend is too broad, Joe is a good friend because he makes sure I have someone to sit with is better) and they have to be about their inside not their outside (Joe has cool shoes is not ok). The person they acknowledge says, “Thank you.” Give a lot of wait time. Remind them not to only notice their friends.
  6. Have high expectations and stick to them. Remember not to threaten, but if you say something Love and Logic-y like, “Oh, it sounds like some of us are chatting instead of working and may have to find time in their day to finish this up,” you have to remember to follow through. Remind your students that no matter what, your top priority is kindness, over everything else.
  7. Don’t take away recess. It’s not a privilege that is earned. Recess is a scheduled part of the day that is a much-needed movement break. In rare cases of physical danger to other students, sure, but otherwise-if a student isn’t finishing their work, do your best to get to the bottom of why.
  8. Check-in on your co-workers. See if you can help. Ask for help. Chat about your day. Laugh together. It’s the only way!
  9. Don’t send home homework. Especially if you teach elementary school, don’t send home homework ever if you can help it. You can find the research about this, but for real-just don’t do it. (Sidenote: some teachers don’t have a say in this because of their school districts).
  10. It’s so cliché, but take care of yourself. Go to bed early. Drink a lot of water. Meal prep ahead of time. Pack snacks and your fave drink for the day. Take a quick walk at lunchtime, if you can. Remember not to make plans for Friday night, you’re going to probably feel like you’ve been run over by a giant semi and then the semi backed up and rolled over you again.



We make fun of buzz words, I know, but trauma is something that’s really weighing on my mind as we head back to another school year.

Last summer, as a lot of you know, while my husband was traveling overseas with high schoolers, I got a call from a caring and kind family member, who mentioned that my mother-in-law hadn’t answered her phone. This has happened before, and I had just seen her the night before last, and she had a Life Alert, so I wasn’t worried at first.

But an hour later, when I used our spare key to open the door to her house, I had never been so grateful that I had called in emergency help to watch my kids while I went over to check.

My mother-in-law was in her bed, but she wasn’t alive any longer. She had had a massive stroke overnight. I crawled up in bed with her and kissed her face and then got back out and screamed, and, honestly, I haven’t been the same since.

Going back into that house made me so physically ill that I would shake. The first time I went back in, to get something for the funeral home, I came out and vomited in the front lawn. Then, I sat in my car, shaking and crying, and wishing I could call my husband and talk to him, or maybe just be beamed up out of there.

I think of what police officers and firefighters and EMTs and our armed forces see every day and I just close my eyes and feel my heart starting to physically hurt. I think of what therapists and psychiatrists and our school psychologist and guidance counselor hear and see and know.

I think about how I am an adult, with resources-I’ve read books, and talked and written about it, and seen a therapist, and I still have moments. This morning, for example, I woke up and looked over at my still-sleeping husband. There was something about the way he was lying across the bed that reminded me of that scene, and I had an “attack”. I had to put my head between my knees so I could breathe.

And then, I think about what some of our children have seen or lived through. And how they come to school and most of the time we don’t even know. When I was a kid in school, no one ever would have known how big the fights between my parents were, or that I had been called a “cry baby-bitch” the night before, and those things are MILD compared to what some children go through.

I’ve been through training with trauma informed care for education, and, like I said above, I’m glad it’s a “buzz word” and that people are talking about it, but I still feel lost. I still feel like I can’t accomplish enough. I still feel like I’m letting all these kids down.

Do any of you work with children/adults who have experienced trauma? What about when you expect they have, but don’t know? How do I love and care and be there, but keep my own emotions safe in a professional way?

I’d love your ideas, resources, and suggestions!

Thank you to ALL of you out there who help others–you are the true heroes, yo.