What’s good for educators and their communities is good for the nation

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Photo by kyo azuma on Unsplash

It was 5:58 pm on a Friday. I had been working since a little before 8:00 that morning, and I finally got to a point where I knew I could leave things until Monday.

Of course, I wouldn’t. There would be little flurries of work here and there, emails answered, plans tweaked, but for the most part, I’d managed to shoehorn grading, planning, paperwork, everything into my work week and I was ready for the weekend.

I closed my laptop and picked up my phone, flipping through notifications as I left the room, my thoughts already planning out the steps for getting dinner ready for my family, when I saw something that literally froze me in my tracks. …

The catharsis a little distance can bring

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Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

I ran away from home this morning.

Well. Walked away.

It’s the “away” part that matters.

The sun was bright, low in the sky, making me squint. It was kind of annoying. Gave me a headache.

But I didn’t care. “Away” was calling to me. With a bullhorn.

I had to go.

As I put distance between myself and my house, my family, my life one hurried, a desperate step at a time, I kept wondering: Who am I? …

It is all unmapped territory

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Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash

We are sold the idea that cause and effect grant us predictability and control over our lives, enabling us to get desired results from planned actions, meet our goals, create the life we desire.

If we work hard, we’ll get ahead: better jobs, more money, more comfort, luxury and free time.

If we exercise, we’ll stay healthy and look good.

If we mind our own business and take care of our obligations, the world will treat us kindly and all will be well.

But it’s not true.

It’s less true for some than others, of course. Because of privilege, luck, culture, and any number of factors (all of which may change in different contexts), some are more able to see measurable results from their efforts to craft a life they love. …

How to find respite and renewal in this mad, mad, mad, mad world

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Photo by Dan Freeman on Unsplash

Learn to meditate.

What? No list of all the things haranguing you on a daily basis, the noise in the world and the uncertainty and the fear that assault us day in, day out right now? No tantalizing promises of waterfalls and transcendence to draw you in? No effort to convince you that this is what you need?


You know all that — I don’t need to remind you of all the stuff eating away at your peace of mind, your ability to concentrate, to relax, to sleep well, to feel just plain old okay.

There is no refuge from it, folks. We can’t escape this world — well, most of us can’t. There are a few with their own private islands, households of servants, enough resources to construct a completely artificial shell around…

Bringing a story teller’s eye to daily life

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Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

My childhood was gilded by the stories I read. The magic that spooled out of tales about other worlds, other people, other times and places filled me with delight, wonder, and a yearning for a share of it in my own life.

Along with Thoreau, I wanted to “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” Like Anne, I wanted to savor and “drink in” the world around me, steep myself in the alchemy of life.

I still want that, still crave the bewitching profundity that can be found in the pages of a book. I reread old favorites, I seek out new ones. …

The transformative experience of writing by hand

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

2020 has brought so many changes, adjustments, work-arounds and reinventions. Many include technological solutions, and it seems that remote everything is King.

With this technological take-over of our daily existence, I never expected one are of my life would move in the opposite direction.

But that’s what’s happened to my writing practice.

As a teacher I have had a computer in front of me, a keyboard at my fingertips, daily for a couple of decades now. …

Beginning a journey to reshape myself from the inside out

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Photo by Milivoj Kuhar on Unsplash

The half-century mark has been on my radar for a while now. Halfway to 100 is a hard one to overlook.

More and more I feel driven to sort through my self, clear out the cobwebs, free up space by discarding the things that don’t matter, but that I’ve carried with me all these years.

Some of that energy is turned toward my professional life: getting rid of the unnecessary, redundant, box-checking tasks to make room for what’s really important. Not only do I enjoy my work more, but I get more time for everything else: writing, family, self. Win-win!

But my biggest project, the one that murmurs quietly at the back of my mind beckoning me to open new doors while I board up old ones, is in the category of “self:” I am a woman, a product of Western society and culture, and I struggled for a decade with an eating disorder. …

In the midst of a pandemic, what really counts for our children?

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Photo by Trym Nilsen on Unsplash

I was at the hospital yesterday getting some routine labs done. The nurse who called me back to get my blood drawn looked frazzled. I asked her how she was, and a few sentences into telling me how tired and busy she was, she started tearing up.

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” she sniffled as she prepped my elbow and deftly, painlessly inserted the needle.

“If you can be this tired and do that without hurting me, you have nothing to be sorry for,” I told her.

She smiled.

Then she asked me how I was.

Thinking that I had nothing to compare to what she, a nurse in a hospital during a pandemic, is dealing with right now, I waived the question off. …

Life’s journey may be one-way, but it isn’t one-speed

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Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

I’m thinking a lot about time these days.

There are many reasons for this — too many for a comfortable, contemplative ramble through my own thoughts, in fact. It’s more like being on a roller coaster: swooping up and down, sometimes seeing things upside down, with sudden and jarring leaps sideways and free-fall moments following on the heels of frozen seconds, suspended at the highest point imaginable, looking out over everything.

So: why?

A kaleidoscope of perspectives

The pandemic, for starters. The bizarre amalgam of constant end-of-the-world headlines and slow, syrupy hours at home with no social contact telescopes my days, stretching them into long corridors of time: a weird, frantic emptiness. …


Lisa Wathen

Teacher, writer, musician, dedicated to story telling and connecting with people.

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