Remembering Riley as a seventh-grader, during Teacher Appreciation Week

The thing I miss about teaching is human connection, being part of something bigger than myself. 

When I was in the classroom, I bemoaned the exhaustive red tape that is public education. It’s an antiquated system when it comes to encouraging teachers to do better, be better. 

A bucket list full of dreams

Late in life, my mom created a bucket list. It wasn’t in response to her cancer diagnosis, but once she passed away, the list became serendipitous. 

One item on her list said, “Take a trip to Africa.” 

You can’t please them all

I’ve learned it’s impossible to make everyone happy. 

This column has been a part of my life for a number of years. I remember my first meeting with Scott McLeod, the publisher of The Smoky Mountain News. We met for coffee to discuss how the column would manifest. There’d been only a handful of female columnists before me and he wanted a woman’s voice included in the Opinion section of the paper. 

A time of waiting and yearning

I’m sick of looking at a pair of stylish winter boots sitting beside my bedroom door. I have other cold-weather shoes, but these gray boots seem to go with almost every outfit and also stay dry in the wetness that has become the meteorological norm as of late. Each time I pull these boots over socked feet, I’m reminded that spring has still not quite sprung. 

Learning to live with intention

Ever had a life-changing book fall into your literal hands? This happened to me recently. 

I order my favorite rare, organic products through an online company called Thrive Market. I’m offered a free gift with each order. About five months ago, I received powdered collagen, which has since become all the rage with folks trying to preserve their skin, hair, bones and joints. Now, I’m hooked on it. 

Great schools, staff are community assets

Both my parents were teachers. My earliest memories are of my dad sitting at our dining room table grading papers or writing grants. Once I started school, my afternoon routine was to hang out in the media center at my mom’s school, munching on snacks from the vending machine, while she wrapped up for the day. 

Sandburg’s words are needed now more than ever

When my mom was living, she owned a tour company called Southern Comfort Tours. She opened the business in her 60s after retiring from 30 years in education. It was a lifelong dream and she made it happen. 

Along with extensive trips, she offered small day trips around Western North Carolina and other areas of the Southeast. One of her day trips was to Hendersonville where she would take guests to places like Flat Rock Playhouse, Highland Lake Inn and the Carl Sandburg home. She loved talking about her itineraries and chattering about this location or that venue.

First the boots, then the heavy lifting

“It is a cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.” 

I recently stumbled upon this quote by Martin Luther King Jr. It was from a video interview he did years ago. Dr. King, of course, was talking about African-Americans and how it was simply wrong and unfair to free them from slavery yet give them no land, no money, no food and no boots and still expect them to create a life for themselves. 

Far-reaching consequences of the shutdown

Last week my boys flew on an airplane for the first time without me. I was a nervous wreck to say the least. They went on a trip to Universal Studios with their dad and his girlfriend, so aside from already being sad about not being there to make memories with them, my stress was heightened by the fact they were in the air and I was on the ground. 

The hardest part about divorce is missing out on chunks of your children’s lives. As their mom, it feels disorienting to not be with my children all the time or for them to experience new adventures of which I’m not a part. 

My personal happiness project for 2019

What is a New Year’s resolution anyway? Just a statement we make aloud while toasting friends and family with a flute of champagne? Apparently, over 30 percent of Americans make resolutions with every intention of seeing them through, but only 8 percent actually succeed. A while back I gave up the tried and true ritual of resolutions. I rarely achieved mine, which always left me feeling guilty and defeated. 

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