Once upon a time I won my third grade speech competition. Technically I think there was a four way tie, but that's besides the point. The point is that the topic of our speeches was "what you want to be when you grow up." That answer was easy for third grade me. I wanted to be an author. Ever since I stapled together a few pages about a family of tigers, I knew I wanted to have that feeling over and over again.
So, I gave my speech (heavy on the Roald Dahl quotes), collected my participation trophy, and went on my way. I wrote a lot when I was a kid. In journals, a few more stapled books, but as it too often happens, the habit fell by the wayside. High school and college happened and most of my time was consumed with sports, concerts, studying, and friends. Writing wasn't a real thing anyway.
I graduated with a degree in education and embarked out into the world of teaching. I love teaching. I get to teach young kids how to read and share so many cool things about our world. I wouldn't take that back.
But I wish I would have realized sooner that it's not one or the other. You do not have to be just one thing when you grow up. You do not just have to do the job because it pays the bills. Okay, maybe you have to do the bill-paying thing, but what I mean is that I should have been writing this whole time.
A few years ago I got back into it. I joined SCBWI and met up with local writing groups. I have approximately 10 works in progress and I never know if that's too many or not nearly enough. Some weeks I write a lot, some weeks have more of a Netflix vibe.
Last September a piece of my writing was published for the first time. I wrote a poem called IN MY YARD and submitted it to Root & Star Magazine. I still can't believe that I can open it up and see my piece in front of me. The feeling is just the same as it was when I stapled those notebook pages together. I hesitated to call myself an author until I had something in print. But, really, I've been one all along.
Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that The Story of Ferdinand was my favorite book as a kid. What was it about that bull who liked to sit just quietly beneath the cork tree and smell the flowers? I don't know, but I read it more times than I can count.
When I bought a house a few years back, it took me all of one week to also get a dog. "Oh I'll just go to this adoption event and look," were my famous last words. I already had dog food and a leash in the car. I was obviously coming home with a puppy. And I did. And she's awesome. Her name is Pigeon and I thought, "maybe I'll be a jogger now! I can go jogging with my dog!" She was not about that. Jogging is very much not her thing, which is one of the several reasons we're best friends. Friends don't let friends jog for no reason. She is the most chill dog ever. She is Ferdinand and now I have photographic evidence.
She doesn't like to fight (or jog), she lays down on the sidewalk if we happen to pass another dog, and she is content to sit just quietly and smell the flowers. And you know what? Me too.
I’ve had these boots for years. Ten? Maybe longer? I got them my senior year of college, so I guess that means they’re 12 years old. I still refuse to believe I left college more than a decade ago.
I love them. I found them on sale at a local boot store in Northern Michigan and it didn’t take much convincing after the words ‘on sale.’ They also have toggles and who doesn’t love a toggle? These boots trekked across my final year on campus, through countless days of outdoor recess, and in and out of two apartments and one home. They’ve walked the dog and are one of two pairs of shoes I wear during the winter. The other being very fluffy slippers.
These boots have gone through a lot and I probably should have replaced them several years ago, (again, I refuse to believe that I’m more than 5 years past graduation) but I haven’t. They’re seriously the comfiest and haven’t started to leak, so I’m good.
Why am I telling you about boots? Great question. My goal this winter is to spend more time outdoors. I love being outside, I just don’t love being cold. My winters usually consist of going to work and then promptly putting on giant sweatpants and drinking hot beverages until it’s time for bed.
This year, however, I am very much not looking forward to the next 6 months of winter being cooped up inside. I’ve been inside A LOT since March. We all have. I’m grateful for our pretty Michigan summers when I was able to safely enjoy the lake, but...winter is cold, you guys!
Last summer I was in Finland where it gets very cold and very dark for a good portion of the year. Living within the arctic circle is not for everyone, my friends. The general spirit of Finland, however, is to just keep on going. Cold? Bundle up. Winter swim? Why not. The harsh weather doesn’t seem to get in the way of how they live their life. We toured a school that had a mud room. A mud room! (If you’re reading this from outside the Midwest, this is not a room filled with mud. It’s a transitional room from outside to inside where you leave muddy boots, wet clothes, etc.) What a game changer. You’re telling me the kids can come in from recess and hang all of their wet clothes appropriately and not leave giant chunks of mud on my rug? This is the dream.
So, this winter I plan to take a page from their book. Put on the boots, deal with it, and get outside.
Boo! It's time for another #FallWritingFrenzy! Thank you to Kaitlyn Sanchez and Lydia Lukidis and all of the donors for running this contest for a second year. The challenge is to write a 200 word or less story based on the fall photo of your choice. Enjoy!
The Haunted House (151 Words)
“Let’s go to a haunted house.”
“We ARE the haunted house, Bob.”
“Yeah, I know, but don’t you ever get tired of being spooky?”
“I’m a skeleton. I’m very good at being spooky. Also, baking.”
“Come on, I know just the place. Verrrrry spooky. It got a five-star rating on Gulp.”
“Oh really, Bob?”
“Really. My bones are already shaking.”
“What could possibly scare us? We are professional skeletons. The best in the biz.”
“That’s true, but I promise this place will really rattle you, Frank!”
“Fine, but I need to be back in an hour. I have a pumpkin pie in the oven.”
“Here we are! Oh, I don’t think I can go in!”
“Bob, this was your idea. This place doesn’t look spooky at all!”
“Read the sign, Frank.”
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