Tuesday, May 21, 2013


This past weekend, my girls and I walked.

They began Saturday morning by marching with the middle and high school band in our annual town parade as part of the Apple Blossom Festival. It’s a pretty short parade, not one of the grueling marches I’ve seen on some July 4ths, and the weather was pleasant. It is so much fun to see them passing by, concentrating on their instruments, clearly happy to be part of the event.

On Sunday, the girls and I joined two of my sisters, two nieces, and two of my cousins for the annual Lowell General hospital Team Walk for Cancer Care. This was Team Lamarre’s third year walking. Our first was the spring after my Dad died. While he didn’t live long enough to take advantage of the services offered to cancer patients through this center, we learned how important it was to have them. And really, that first year, we were looking for some way to publicly remember Dad. Team Lamarre chose the 6-mile route this year, my sisters and I wanting to push ourselves, feeling we needed to do something a little more. It felt good. 

I walk when I am upset. I walk when I feel reflective. My husband and I have some of our best talks while walking.  I walk to see the neighborhood and stay connected. “I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit.” (Henry David Thoreau, Walking) Walking in my neighborhood – or along the beach, or on a conservation trail, or through the city – brings me to the present. I see the world around me more clearly. I see the thoughts within me more clearly. As Thoreau says, I want to bring my spirit with me, present in the steps, and not carry around my worries. Walking helps me think by allowing me to leave my worries behind and be where I am, completely.

I woke up early this morning, and could have taken a short walk. The birds were certainly calling. But I opened the laptop instead and walked across the keyboard. In an ideal world, I would take both types of walks daily.

Lots of others are writing their Slice of Life this morning. You can read them all here.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mother's Day

So, the day before Mother’s Day I was something of a basket case. This is my first Mother’s Day without a mother and I was not handling it well. At all.
But, that’s weird, because this was never a big holiday in my family. As a kid, I remember my Dad responding to queries about what he was getting his wife with “She’s not my mother.” So, he didn’t go out of his way to make the day for her. And all I remember giving her were the crafts and cards we made at school.

As an adult, I would sometimes bring my Mom a plant she liked for the garden, and plant it for her since she did not like to garden herself, just admire the results. More often than not, I just volunteered to plant what my siblings brought over.

When I became a Mom, I didn’t get much better. While I appreciated my Mom more than ever, and told her several times, I have never been organized enough for more than a homemade card, hand written by the girls just before we headed over to Nana’s house (and, in the interest of complete honesty, sometimes scribbled in the driveway before we walking in).

So, why did I have a breakdown over such a second thought holiday?

I don’t know. Maybe because I was helping my own students create Mother’s Day crafts for their mothers. But I think really it was just that I miss my Mom and all the talk around this holiday made me think about how wonderfully she didn’t need holidays to show us love or give a gift. I missed my mother simply because it was a day in my life that she was not there.

So, I grumped and complained and could not be consoled or comforted on Saturday. My darling family gave me space.

But on Sunday, I woke to a lovely bouquet of dandelions – a flower, I’m not kidding you, that I love – and to hot coffee and cold cereal served with the Sunday paper on the porch. Later, I treated my girls to a trip to the bookstore where we got a stack of books and some delicious frozen drinks. I came home and read for an hour – fiction, nothing for school – then enjoyed take-out Chinese food with each of us on our favorite spot on the couch, watching a geeky Marvel Comics movie that we all enjoyed.

On Sunday, I still missed my Mom, but, for whatever reason – the dandelions, the Frappuccino, the scallion pancakes – I was able to also revel in being a Mom. 

This is my Slice of Life this week. Read slices from others here

Saturday, May 11, 2013

More silliness, honesty, kindness.

Be silly.
Be honest.
Be kind.

The above are just a few of the wise words that Ralph Waldo Emerson left us with. They have been my words for the week, posted on my white board to give me inspiration.

Usually, I leave a quote up for about a week, then erase and write something new, but I feel like I need to keep this one around for longer. Of all the philosophical and spiritual books I’ve ever read, no author has so completely captured the key to a wonderful life. Simple words, complicated admonition.

I love my life. My husband is romantic-comedy wonderful. Tom Hanks would play him in a movie (though Greg has better legs). And my daughters are spectacular: smart, funny, kind, creative, beautiful. I have a good job, a great place to live and an extended family and friends network that gets me through all of the struggles of life. Who could ask for more?

I could.

From myself.

I want to be more silly, more honest, more kind.

You’d think that working as a second grade teacher I’d have my full share of silly. But, as any public school teacher will tell you, there is no longer time for silly. I have benchmark reading assessments to get through which means the rest of the students need to work quietly while I test. I have a new Math unit to begin and make sure that the students are ready for the test in two and a half weeks so we can squeeze in one more unit before the end of the year. Through all this assessment, I need to maintain routines, oh yeah, and prepare materials for the move-up process to sort the second graders into third grade classrooms. There is no time for silly.

And honesty? If I were honest with myself I would have allowed for three days to curl up in a sobbing ball of grief this weekend because it’s Mother’s Day and I miss my Mom. I feel nauseous and sad and filled with amazing love – a ridiculous combination, but honestly my own.

Kindness has actually been my focus this month. I’m trying to approach all things with kindness – my restless second graders, my hormonal daughter, my disoriented neighbor, my . . .self. I’ve taken a few steps forward, stumbled a few steps back, but managed to keep kindness in many of my days. I am even learning to accept the kindness shown me.

In trying to be kind to myself, I took time away from work and chores to play in the garden. Growing in scattered spots throughout the yard are the remnants of my old neighbors Solomon’s Seal, which she shared with me after I giggled uncontrollably at them growing in her yard. They are like an illustration in a Dr. Seuss book the way they poke out of the soil in singular long stems. When they unfurl, they’ll hang like umbrellas and my neighbor had them planted behind her Buddha statue to shade him all summer long. It was wonderfully silly. I think of her, and that happy, round Buddha, every time I see this plant in my yard. So, maybe I don’t need Emerson’s