Facing Stress Without An Eraser

I have had a trying couple of weeks. That is, I am going through a rough patch. Nothing evil or insurmountable. But annoying. Stressful. I’m going through a rough patch that might cause a person to end the day with a well-deserved adult beverage. Or a sleeve of Donettes from the 7-Eleven down the street, chased with a wild cherry Slurpee. Or at least a Diet Coke and some pretzels. These things would erase my stress for a while. For me, avoiding alcohol and drugs is a habit that can certainly be tried, if not exactly tested by the sort of scrape…

Guest Post: A Moroccan Summer

In response to one of my posts earlier this month about my health and fitness, my former student Anna reached out to share her recent experience as an exchange student in Morocco. I was fascinated to read her story about the lack of freedom she experienced in day-to-day life as a woman in another country. I invited her to write a guest post to share her story with you. A Moroccan Summer For two months of summer 2016, I lived in Morocco. I was granted the opportunity to study abroad through the organization Project GO, a DOD scholarship program for ROTC…

Wheat Face

I finally went to the doctor six years ago for the painful breakouts I had been getting on my face. I requested to see a dermatologist. I never had serious acne on my face as a kid, but entering my mid-thirties meant almost daily inflamed skin. My doctor told me to put petroleum jelly on my pimples. I asked if I could please have that referral to a dermatologist. She went into the hall and came back a minute later with another doctor. This is a dermatologist, she said. He happened to be passing through. He looked at my face and told…

Back-To-School Issue

I used to be obsessed with magazines. My favorite? The Seventeen August issue. The Seventeen August issue was packed with advice on everything, gorgeous ads, and an East coast style sensibility that while super impractical for a California girl with no fashion budget, was the epitome of dreamy sophistication. As an adult, I’ve subscribed to Allure, Vogue, Poets and Writers, Writer’s Digest, Martha Stewart Living, Domino, Shape, Fitness, Oxygen, and Women’s Health. I love going to my mailbox and finding a shiny new magazine. It’s old-fashioned and cool. The problem is too much of the content doesn’t apply to me anymore. My…

Lenten Theme: Focus

I did not grow up in a church-going family. The Liturgical Calendar meant nothing to me until I began teaching at Catholic schools in my very early twenties. Since then, Ash Wednesday has special significance. I attended Mass with my students today. I received ashes on my forehead and made some private and public promises about what I would “give up.” Maybe it’s because I only participated as an adult, but now I think Lent is awesome. Today, an early morning message from a friend evoked the word “focus.” She is making choices about her time in order to maintain…

Work Hard

  I have a saying in my classroom: We work smarter not harder in Wanket World. (My name is Mrs. Wanket at work. I know. I know.)  That doesn’t mean we don’t work hard. It just means we work with purpose and focus on our collective and individual goals. We don’t flail around with busy work. We have goals. We do more in such a way that we get more. More skill, more pages written, more ideas explored. The classroom scene gets me to thinking. . . .I can do so much more in all areas of my life with just a…

Embrace the Healing Crisis

When I’m about five days into a habit of healthy eating (no sugar whatsoever, little or no wheat products), my skin clears, my clothes loosen, my head aches. My head aches so I can taste metal in the back of my mouth. My head aches so that nothing makes it stop all the way. Even with coffee and analgesics, the headache lurks in the shadow. Its eyes are yellow and they glow in the dark. My energy is low. The dimmer switch is turning lower. Everything is getting on my nerves. My sense of humor is missing. I am taking…

Get Up Early

Advice to myself: Get up early. Dumb early. Before five o’clock a.m. early. Avoid the snooze button. Drink a glass of water. Meditate while the coffee water boils. Then journal. Then screen. Then gym, or run and yoga. Start every day this way because when I do I ride a high of positive feeling that lasts through the evening. Start every day this way because I am a healthy person with time for everything and when people ask me how I am able to do all of the things, the answer rests in three numbers: 4:40. As in a.m. Most…

Read Books

At an interview today, a lovely journalist asked me if I read all the time. Answer: I do. I read every day. But reading isn’t a chore. This isn’t a blog for Puritans, despite the writer’s distaste for fun and compliments. When I was a kid, I loved the library. I spent hours there. I came home with piles of books. I read them with great pleasure. I love the library in the same way now, except that I can order books ahead of time and find them waiting for me there with my name tag attached. That’s like Christmas…

Just Say Thank You

This was me when Sue, the wonderful organizer of Sacramento Stories on Stage, first asked me to send her my work for consideration: “Oh, no.  Are you sure you really want it? I’m not that good.” My friend Valerie grabbed my arm. “When someone asks to see your work, always just say thank you.” Thanks, friend. I needed that. My first reaction to a compliment, a gift, a favor, or an offer, is some kind of waffle-mouthed “Oh no, surely you don’t mean it, I don’t want to be a bother, I couldn’t possibly accept.” Reader, it’s bullshit. I never…