H2O: The one molecule that is common to all life here on Earth.  Water. We drink it. We exhale it. Our very blood is made of it.  When it is near we are calmed. The sight of river, pool, sea, or rivulet turns furrowed brows into softened gazes. The sound of liquid water quiets the chatter of worried voices, soothing din strained ears. The taste of the cool liquid on tongues renews ones strength. Its touch cleanses, exhilarates, and revives.

If I were a single molecule of this amazing compound where might I journey? What wonders might I behold? Who might I become a part of? What life might I sustain? Or inspire?

As I follow this path

from cloud

To droplet

To rivulet

To  pool


From rivers large and small. Frozen in ice and snow. Traveling from sky to mountain to valley. And finally colliding with oceans and seas in an endless cycle of constantly change.

Wander along with me in these pages. Become the nomad. Drift over the Rocky Mountains.  Roam the falls of Yosemite. Trek across the Pacific to the Hawaiian Islands. Feel the sulfuric mist of lava meeting salty sea. Or join in the warm humid breeze of a tropical night.

Then turn back. A hitchhiker on a trade wind. Blow north. Rest in the frozen tundra of Alaska. Or bob on a glacial ice floe. Bring life to the forest there. Smile at the good works you have done.

Sail across the world. Find another continent. Join in the changes of the centuries. From rings of stone to castles to the modern.  River Thames, Arno, and Tiber fueling the growth of European industry.  Stretch out your arms and touch the past.

Return home. See the small pools and fountains minds have designed. To bring peace to a park or a field. Or a home. Dip your hands in. Let the water fall between your fingers. Cleansing you. Renewing your spirit. Making you ever thankful for this wonder, this life-giving compound. H2O.


Standing in Silence for the Seventeen

Yesterday our entire elementary school joined thousands of others around the nation in a 17 minute walkout.  And the children’s response inspired me.

Like many, The February 14, 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, cut me to the core. Shock. Disbelief. Grief.

And a lot of anger.

But I was heartened by the children’s response. The survivors were demanding action, and when they didn’t see it in adults, they organized a “walkout” for 17 minutes–one minute for each life lost in Parkland.

On Monday I was surprised to receive a letter from our superintendent stating that we would support these efforts. The entire Santa Maria-Bonita School District of 17,123 students would participate. We received instructions that we should embrace the differences in opinion, views, and perspective and thus lead  organized options for our students to participate, or not, in the walkout.

Our administrators drafted several age appropriate letters for teachers to recite before the event. I fought back tears as I read,  “You might have heard about the tragic incident that happened at a high school in Florida a few weeks ago. There was a troubled young man, who entered the school with the intent to hurt as many students as he could. On this day, 17 students lost their lives. Many schools across the country are deeply saddened and frustrated that something like this could happen. The students at the high school where this happened have been working hard to change laws in their state that would make it more difficult to purchase a gun, along with asking that those who can buy guns be screened carefully for mental illness.
The students are also saying that people who might be unstable or have the desire to hurt others, should not be allowed to purchase guns. While we all may have different ideas about what should happen, we all agree that our schools should be a safe place.

In order to support this message we asked that everyone wear  the color orange today, and we are also going to participate in the 17 Minute National School Walkout. During our school’s walkout we are going to give you three options to express your feelings. (1)
You may stand quietly in the amphitheater as a sign of silent protest. (2) You may march with your classmates around the perimeter of our playground. Organized marches have been held many times in our history to create awareness and change. Today, many students across our country are choosing to take the hand of someone who might be lonely, so that we all have someone to walk with. (3) Or, you may take his time to just be a kid, which is what we think every child should be able to do, and play on our playground for an extra 17 minutes today.
Regardless of your choice, please be especially mindful of why we are doing this today. This is about making a statement, that schools should be safe from violence.”

Then we went out to the playground. Some children wore self-affirming signs. Others marched. Most played.

Then there was a  group in the amphitheater standing in silence. I joined them. Around me were bowed heads and pained faces A single chain of hands linked teachers and students. I gave gentle hugs and exchanged looks acknowledging the tragedy with our eyes. The crowd grew.

As more of my students came up by my side, feelings of pride joined the sadness of the event. They could be playing yet kids as young as six were standing to remember the fallen seventeen. At the same time, I couldn’t help but imagine these shining faces falling before the horrific gunfire like those beautiful souls in Parkland.

Those seventeen minutes moved me to a place I cannot completely describe. A place where I was one with those around me. One with the community and one with our nation.

Praying for change.


Sugar Purge: Week 2

Okay, I’ll admit it, I fell off the wagon this last week. There were all of these maple-topped, fluffy, deep-fried donuts in the break room. For free! So I ate one.  Or two. Or…

But that wasn’t where my cheat began, oh no. It started during recess when that one pound Dove Valentine heart began to call to me. She kept saying, “Come on. I’m the finest chocolate. You won’t gain a pound. Or feel any effect. I promise.”

So I cracked open the box, unwrapped the foil, and took a bite. Feeling, well,  heaven. My heart slowed, the world looked prettier, and my breathing calmed as the creamy milk chocolate slid down my throat. Then another. Yum! And a third. A fourth. Before I knew it, half the heart was gone.


And my gut was killing me.

But did I stop there? Oh no. The next day I did the same thing. During recess. At lunch. And after school. Until all I had was an empty wrapper.


And more joint pain. Lethargy. Stomach aches.  Depression.

Friday I decided to go cold turkey again, and have avoided sugar for two days now. Feeling better, I’ll try to say no, but when it’s right in front of you and work is stressing you out, man oh man, is it hard.

But my health is worth it.


They Will Save the Planet

Young filmmaker Dylan D’Haeze has produced a series of documentaries, Kids Can Save the Planet, which explores plastic pollution, climate change, zero waste and sustainability. At the age of 13, Dylan D’Haeze had a simple question: “What happens when we throw plastic away?” The more he learned about the issues, the more he realised how big […]

via Kids Can Save the Planet: Teen filmmaker examines the issues from a kids perspective — Life & Soul Magazine

A School Lockdown: Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

“We are in a lockdown,” the intercom blared throughout our school.

This was not a drill. The police had surrounded a house in the neighborhood and were in some sort of stand-off. Exchanging glances with the other teachers in the lounge, my first reaction was to run toward my students who were out on the playground for recess. But the doors were already being locked and the lights doused. With Parkland, Florida fresh in my mind, my heart pounded and a lump rose in my throat.

Were my babies okay?

One teacher pulled out her phone and put it on speaker as we listened in on the radio chatter of dispatch calling numbers I didn’t know the meaning of  on the police channel. Whatever was happening was two blocks away.

That was a relief.

It was Dr. Seuss’s birthday and many of the kids had worn their P. J’s and carried stuffed animals with them in anticipation of the readers and the Cat in the Hat that were scheduled to visit our class. We were still waiting for our turn when we went into lockdown.  So instead of  hearing the dreams of Oh The Places You’ll Go  our students huddled under desks listening to teachers trying to calm their fears.



The stand-off ended with non-lethal gunfire exchanged and the perpetrator’s arrest. We continued on with our day as normally as we could. I returned to class, heaving a sigh of relief when I reunited with all of my students. Then I fielded questions from the white-faced fifth-graders.

“Yes, it was real, but far away. It was just a precaution. The police always call for a lockdown if they are trying to catch somebody within a mile of a school. Don’t worry. You were safe inside. We are here to protect you.”

While I spoke, images of  Parkland, Sandy Hook, Marshall County, Columbine, Red Lake, and  Virginia Tech flashed through my mind. These kids were safe but our school’s name could just as easily been added to the list.

Welcome to an American elementary school.



Laugh as Motivator of Change

Environmental economist and climate change comedian Matt Winning is trying to get people to take climate change more seriously by taking it less seriously. The comedian, who has a PhD in climate change policy and now works at UCL doing research on climate change, has written a stand-up comedy show about climate change, Filibuster, in an effort to engage people […]

via Matt Winning: Raising awareness of climate change through comedy — Life & Soul Magazine