It was a gut check moment. The kind of moment that happened a million times a day for Ashleigh. Where most people experienced these moments once in a season, for Ashleigh they happened so many times it was like a fire drill siren going off in the middle of a thunderstorm. Her emotions were running the show, and her desire to flee was unrelenting.

She rubbed her sweat soaked hands against her perfect new jeans and grabbing the pencil, she scrawled her name on the sign up sheet. “There,” she thought, “Ashleigh, 5th Grade, Ms. Nelsen’s class.” She shifted from her left foot to her right as she looked at the next column. “Talent?” She read quickly through the other entries. Laurie….singing. Tara and Audrey were doing a skit.

How on earth did she think she belonged in this show? When she had found out it was on Grandma’s birthday, and had mentioned she would like to go instead of attending the usual family gathering, Grandma had suggested maybe Ashleigh participate in the show.

“Why don’t you sing that song you love so much?” Grandma had suggested.

Of course she was referring to “High Hopes” by her favorite band Panic at the Disco. Ironic. She did feel panicked, but nowhere close to any kind of dancing.

She scrawled, “Song. Unknown.”

She shuffled away scraping her feet on the tile as she left.

“What have I gotten myself into?” Ashleigh sighed heavily as she stuck her still clammy hands into her pockets. One alarm turned off, as another took its place.


The first thing she heard was the distant call of the owl as it sat across from her bed in the dry tree. The paper thin leaves had left the tree long ago, and the sound that disturbed her the most tonight was that which came from the familiar bird. He was ALWAYS there every night. He guaranteed that tired exhaustion did not become the restful sleep that she needed. Ashleigh tossed and turned, as the moon rose in the sky. 

“Ugh,” she groaned, as she threw her tennis shoe close the window pane. The owl lit from the tree branch and Ashleigh got up, grabbed her robe, and put on her slippers. She crept downstairs, where she silently turned on her computer. Her restlessness had kept her from sleeping, but she knew that Hannah would be online to talk.

Ash2018: ZZZZzzz

Hlove: clearly you are not

Ash2018: i wish

Hlove: Sup

Ash2018: sisterfun

Hlove: tell me all about it

Ash2018: New car….

Hlove: NEW…like NEW NEW, and never been used…..WHY DOES SHE GET A CAR?

Ash2018: #favorite

The door creaked slightly and Ashleigh jumped from her seat. It was 12 am and she was due for swim practice at 5:30. She instantly dimmed the light on her monitor, as her Dad asked, “Sweetheat, why are you up at this hour? Did you take your medicine tonight.

Ashleigh nodded, hugged her father, and took the stairs up to her bed room. Everything in the room was loud. The digital numbers buzzed on the clock. The fan screamed a rhythmic hum. Her heart pounded relentlessly in her chest. She opened the drawer in the shabby chic nightstand by her bed, and shook loose the little white pill. She knew that this would help her sleep tonight, but they never removed the thoughts. Everything from the minor embarrassment of wearing her sweater inside out to first period, to the impending English exam this Friday. The thoughts danced and twirled in her head – the medication only slowed their tango until her solutions and apologies did not matter. The thoughts stripped her of happiness, creativity, and fun. The meds did not bring that back,



I can feel it brewing.

The storm outside. The wind beating on the window, knocking slowly, angrily at the remaining summer heat. Challenging it again for the season.

It craves the mild winter, but the relief from the sweltering and unrelenting Texas heat will not come. The storm barrels into town this Halloween night, as it has so many times in the past. The children in their costumes hurry, hurry, hurry around, collecting their candy before the rain claims their evening.

The tower climbs higher and higher in the sky as the darkness attempts the to build. Thunder sounds in the distance, and large drops plop, plop, plop. on the windshield. As the wiper blades glide along the rhythmic beat of the rain calms the rush of evening.

The thunderheads stand ready overhead, statues of darkness in a light that refuses to give way to the storm. The sky appears in bands of darkness and light, as daylight begins to fade away, and children settle back into their houses.

The thunderstorm is no more. It is a memory as the sun releases its’ grip on the day. There is no more heat. There is no more strength. The summer will yield to winter, as it always does. Today may not be the final thunderous symphony of the year, but soon the thunderstorm will fade.

The silence. The cool winter chill remains.

The Ocean

The waves lap the shore unearthing the pieces of earth only to deposit them some place far away. I wonder what it is like to be that piece of a sand, a lone drifter in an ocean with powerful volumes of liquid and sediment, the waves lifting and carrying you.

Alone. No control. Washed away. Inconsequential.

The waves again tug at the shore, but this time they have a gift. It is magnificent in its’ uniqueness, splendid in the way that it catches the light and sun. The surf slowly deposits this gift on the shore of a distant land, no longer in the struggle of the surf.

It is peaceful. It is beautiful. It is home.

Writing Goals

Today I shared with my writing class the writing goal for November. I accidentally told them 50000 pages instead of words! Aye caramba! So I told them I would try to write 50000 words.

I know the idea is to write a small novel, but I have all the characters floating in my head with no problem at all. They are happy characters, living somewhere near the west coast. Except for Ashleigh, her anxiety is out of control.

She does have one particular helper when she feels that “too anxious to go to bed” feeling – her sweet Bassett but, Roxie. Roxie has 2 types of fur – long outer coat that is impossible to control, and of course her undercoat. It is the biggest pain for Ashleigh, because though she liked her spaces clean, Roxie inadvertently deposits the plentiful fibers of her undercoat everywhere. Short and stubby, they float through the air, attaching to ceiling fans, collecting under furniture, and making a mockery of her black jeans, sweater, shirt….

Poor Roxie can’t help herself, so she nuzzles close to Ashleigh’s ankles, feeling her electric emotions. She doesn’t know why she feels this way tonight only that it is there. The panic lays in her chest like a boulder….a boulder that is rocking back and forth, threatening to tumble at any time.

Ashleigh sighs, rather high pitched, and Roxie snuggles closer. Ashleigh does the only think she can do. She keeps her mind and arms busy. Delicately grabbing the grooming kit, she removes the shiny silver comb, an implement she knows all too well. She begins tut o stroke Roxie’s back, as the comb creates exaggerated lines in the fur, and balls and balls of fluff.

“Where can all of this be hiding?” Ashleigh contemplates.

The Thought that Goes Bump In the Night

It was one of those dreams, the kind that linger all day, and begs you to address it. I had one of them a few months ago and it was the weirdest dream about a hurricane. I knew I had a tough year coming  up, but despite my dream research online, I was sure that I was wrong. This year will be great, despite my battle with depression. This silly hurricane in the dream was a wisp of wind, a short traveler that would only be passing through. In the dream, I was trying to get to higher ground, to get away from the fray.

This morning I woke with the same type of troubling dream, one that my psyche would not let go. In my dream, I was at my grandma’s funeral, a shell of an event with a sense of masked faces. There were hundreds of them, though I knew only a few. I was comforted by their presence and sensed the support and comfort emanating from their coming and going. Even though I don’t recall what they said, I felt loved. I was not alone. In the dream, I had strong sense of having boyfriend, and I saw people from my long ago high school past. My immediate family was there.

The reality is that I believe in the power of the mind to process, warn, and help me navigate my world. Not every single dream means something, but these types of dreams have held a reality to me that have helped me guide my emotions. So this morning, I wonder if the hurricane is over, and what type of support I will be need. Both dream archetypes are that of change. Although I am restless, my direction is one of which I am unsure. Hopefully the storm will bring a happy change, and the sun will shine as my friends and family support me in the change. I wonder what I want to process, but can’t in my waking hours.


Shark Tank

Tonight, I am watching the TV show Shark Tank. As I observe all of these people putting it ALL on the line – money, heart, soul – on products that may or may not be successful. At the tender age of 40+, I still don’t know what my Shark Tank moment is. Do you? I wonder, if given more time, and energy, what am I willing to dream about. I think a lot of time, in the middle of the daily march of time and responsibilities, we lose the power to dream. As I sit here, my to do list grows, my bills climb, and somehow I stop to write and wonder what the possibilities are. I love my life, with an amazing career and work that can only be verbalized as a calling. I teach kids. I’ve taught hundreds of them with more adventure and fulfillment than you could ever imagine. I know they love and appreciate me, but with the state of education, as parents and news agencies talk about disrespect of teachers, thinking that they are adding an awareness, they are actually perpetuating a sense of disrespect.

Think about it – 20 years ago, people thought – “Wow, you are choosing to be a saint. You will make no money, and work thankless hours, bless you.”

Now, with social media and the continuation of this discussion, it has become a very public and nasty debate. The facts are the same. You cannot raise a family, without a dual income as a teacher in many states. Many teachers pay for materials themselves, and work some of the longest and worst paid hours of any “profession.” Now it is all over the social network, and many people support the struggle. The pain is when people get on this no consequence media and say things about teacher and their choices. (They could be lawyers).

When did it become less noble and more stupid to be the change agents that we are. I was recently personally taken aback when teachers were on the cover of Time magazine, highlighting that they often take second jobs, third jobs, to be able to survive in the area of their “calling,” I sat in silent surprise as there were as many people posting to insult teachers as support them. They called teachers lazy, uneducated (havenon- proficient kids, so they must be). They are clearly uninformed in making their career choices. Then they called us whiners – whining because our retirement is being taken away, our futures are questionable with vouchers, accountability, and lower than cost of living raises of other professions, and ultimately a lack of respect.

I wonder if I went on Shark Tank and told them my dream, teaching without the disrespect of testing, more ability to learn myself, and the best tech and support for THEIR growing workforce, I wonder if I would have a “deal,” I like to think I would.