Vitamin D

I got a touch of sun yesterday. It was nice. I’m not talking about the brush of sun you get walking from work to your car. I mean an honest to goodness pinkness of the skin. A little sunburn. There are not many days left to sit outside and soak in the Vitamin D.

Seasons change. Days grow shorter. Tank tops are replaced by sweaters. Time in the sun is replaced by time in front of a fire.

I’ve often wondered what it would be like to live somewhere that is always warm, always sunny. I’ve imagined waking up on Thanksgiving to a 78 degree day. I know there are people in shorts on Christmas (and not just the middle school boys who wear shorts even in the snow).

But I like seasons. I like when the air cools and the leaves change and the sweatshirts come out of hiding. I like needing sandals AND boots. Sometimes in the same day. It is no secret that October is my favorite month and that Halloween is my holiday. Always has been.

But November, with its wild swings from heat to snow, has a special place as well. How could we not love a month most known for all things pumpkin?

I made a decision last year to enjoy the cold. I bought new sweaters and a coat and a really cute hat. I bought some boots. I’m ready to get then back out. I’m ready to embrace the time inside doing puzzles and watching movies.

And I will keep in mind what my friend Amy says about Vitamin D. It doesn’t matter how cold it gets. We can put on a coat and spend a little time in the sun.

It shines in the winter as well.

I hope everyone got out last night to see the trick-or-treaters. The costumes were amazing. I hope everyone enjoyed the bonus hour of sleep. Say what you will about the archaic nature of changing the clocks. I like that extra hour once a year.

Embrace November. Embrace the chill in the air and the smells of the season. Embrace the chance to wear those fuzzy socks to bed and the chance to wrap up in blanket while you read a good book.

And embrace the sun. It isn’t gone. We just have to work a little harder to get that Vitamin D.

Looking in the Mirror

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

No, it’s not Christmas. It’s October. Pumpkin spice, rustic leaves, sweatshirt and shorts weather.

I’ve written every year about October. There is this feeling of warmth and of settling in to cozy things. Hot drinks replace lemonade, and the leaves catch fire.

But there has also been a stress in schools every year at this time. Wrapping up a quarter, conferences, and an end to the honeymoon that comes at the start of every year adds stress. I’ve written about it so many times.

But this year is different.

This year we are mired down by a virus and an election and unrest. This year has been hard…

and I went quiet.

I have not posted a blog since June. Honestly I have been nervous to post. I’ve been worried that my voice in the world would just add to the sometimes angry discourse happening on social media. But writing is how I process the world. This blog is where I am my most vulnerable and my most transparent. Without it, I’ve lost a little piece of myself.

No more.

Has this year been a challenge? Without question. But it has also been filled with weddings and babies and music and laughter.  I have watched Netflix and camped and even saw a play outside with my parents.  I will no longer quiet my voice.

Every single day is a gift…even in 2020.  If we spend our time focused on what we can’t do or what we have to do or what has changed or what we’re missing because of COVID, then we will miss all of the good happening around us.  None of us are guaranteed tomorrow.  We need to live today to its fullest!

For me, that has always meant a pumpkin pie blizzard in my favorite month of the year…and this blog.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” Anne of Green Gables

 

Embracing the Cold


Fall is my favorite season. As the temperatures cool and the leaves start to turn, my heart is happy. Pumpkin pie blizzards and high school football. Shorts and sweatshirts. Light jackets and hoodies. Halloween. It’s the best time of the year.

But this week I watched the last games of the season at Buell Stadium. I started planning for Thanksgiving. I drove through snow.

Winter is coming.

This year I am trying something new. Instead of complaining about the cold, I am working hard to embrace the new season. I bought a new hat. I broke out all of those tiny bottles of hand lotion as the air turns dry.

I read this week that if you choose not to enjoy the snow you will have less joy and the same amount of snow.

It’s a good point.

Winter is for curling up on the couch with a fire roaring binging Netflix. It’s for reading those books that have been piling up on the nightstand. It’s for going to bed early and taking naps.

If the sun is out for fewer hours, maybe we should be too. Maybe nature is telling us this is our time to rest and to recharge.

This year I am trying very hard to embrace the cold.

Time moves fast enough. There is no reason to wish away a single season.

October Again

Last week I made a decision. I was not going to write about October for the 4th year in a row. I posted a past blog and was going to take the month off. But all week October was on my mind, and all week I felt like I wanted to write. Writing is something I truly enjoy, and it has become one of the ways I process the world.

During the week when fun things happen and when hard things happen, I listen for a blog.

I long ago stopped looking at the stats. I write for myself, and I write in the hope that in any given week there may be a message that resonates with someone else the way it has resonated with me.

So once again I am writing about October. I am writing about how I am overcome by the beauty. I visited my sister this week. She lives in the house where we grew up. As soon as I pulled into her driveway, I was reminded why Halloween is my favorite holiday. Her house is amazing. Images of the season are everywhere. It was that way growing up as well.

There is always a week in October when the leaves suddenly shift and begin to change color and fall to the ground. This was that week. It was cold and rainy for much of the week, but yesterday was beautiful. I started writing this outside in our backyard.

Of course today is a different story. Such is October. Such is life.

This month is busy. Always has been in our schools, so it always has been for me. But this month is also state championships and concerts and pumpkin patches and campfires. It is warm and cool and colorful and full of transitions. Embrace them.

It’s conference week. Teachers are finalizing grades and making preparations. There will be staff development, and there will be a long and well-deserved weekend.

This week when I noticed the leaves and when I noticed the stress, I listened for a blog.

And I heard the reminder that the earth is beautiful and that life is good and that while I know that stress and sadness are real, I also know that hope and help are real. October is my month, and I am once again happy to share that in a blog.

Embracing October 

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  October has returned, and in its usual fashion it is equal parts glorious and hard.  No, that is far from accurate.  It is mostly beautiful weather and trips to the pumpkin patch and football and concerts and plays.  It is mostly vanilla-flavored candles and fun decorations on the mantle.  I love October!

But it can also be hard.  My children have been busy with school and clinical and jobs.  My work family has been busy as well.  It’s been amazing and important work, but it’s been a lot.  A few of us got pretty sick, and I have to admit that I have not been as patient or gracious or kind as I would like to be.  This can be a challenging time.

Something I have learned through the years though is that spending too much time focused on the negative serves no value.

October has returned, and I am thrilled.

This has always been my favorite time of the year.

Halloween is big in my family.  What’s not to love?  Costumes and candy and pumpkin-spiced everything.  This year my daughter is going all-out in a “cubicle decorating contest” at work.  It is becoming epic.  I’ve got pumpkins in the entryway and gourds at work.  It’s beginning to look a lot like Halloween.

The weather changed this week.  A more sudden shift from warm to cold than last year.  The leaves are turning, and the fall rain has settled in.  It is finally jacket and sweatshirt weather.  There is comfort in thick socks and a soft sweater.  There is comfort in wrapping up on the couch in a blanket reading a book.  I spent hours doing that this weekend.

In the sweltering heat of July and in the frigid cold of January, I sometimes wonder why we live here.  October reminds me!   Autumn in the Midwest is spectacular.  Nebraska is at her best when the rustic colors fill the trees and the gentle rain coats the streets.  This is my favorite time of the year, and I know I am not alone.

This will be a busy week in our district.  Conferences are in full swing, grades are finalized and being shared with families, and there are professional development and teacher work days next week.  There will be some long days.

I encourage you to pause in the midst of the crazy this week and savor the season.  It goes much too fast.

Focus less on the negative and more on the positive.

When someone says, “How are you?”  Answer, “Fantastic!”

Positivity is contagious.  Spread it around.

October has returned, and I am thrilled.

Rusty

img_2558I spent a few days in Huntington, West Virginia this month.  It sits on the southern bank of the Ohio River, minutes from both Kentucky and Ohio.  Although we flew in on the edge of a hurricane, it was the perfect time of year to visit this beautiful part of our country.  The city is nestled inside lush hills, and the leaves had all turned gold and burgundy and burnt orange.  Picturesque is the only accurate description.

The highlight of the trip was a complete surprise.  It was one of those magical moments that seem almost too good to be true.  We met a man who left an impression.  His name is Rusty.

We had a little time to walk over to Marshall University.  You can’t visit Huntington and not visit the Marshall University stadium.  The Thundering Herd suffered a tragedy in 1970 memorialized in the movie We Are Marshall.  The school has done a remarkable job of honoring the past and celebrating the future.  The stadium was closed, but Rusty was cleaning the parking lot.  We asked him if he would take our picture.  Almost immediately he started sharing stories about Marshall.  Rusty has worked there for 50 years.  He grew up in a house that sat where the Marshall practice field sits now.  Rusty has some stories.

img_2569He took us up to the private boxes for a tour.  He showed us the press box.  He shared stories of Huntington community members and the history of the school.  It was riveting.

img_2589But Rusty shared more than the story of Marshall.  He shared his thoughts on life.  He shared his wisdom.  He told us that if he were rich (and after spending time with him- trust me that he is rich in all the ways that matter), he would give $25,000 to a young couple.  “Can you imagine how much it would have helped to have someone get you started when you were young?”   He also shared that he would sit down with the couple and their parents to make sure they had a good life plan.  When Rusty imagines being rich, his thoughts do not go to what he could do for himself, but what he could do for others.  And he recognizes that what we all really need is just a little help.  “Imagine if everyone could just help one other person.”

Imagine.

Mother Teresa said, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, feed one.”

I watched one of my favorite episodes of The West Wing this weekend.  Two West Wing staffers met a man in a bar who was taking his daughter on a college visit.  He was talking about how hard it can be to provide for your family.  “It should be hard.  I like that it’s hard.  Putting your daughter through college, that’s a man’s job, a man’s accomplishment.  But it should be a little easier, just a little easier.  And that difference…is everything.”

As I watched it, I thought about Rusty. And I realized that we already have the capacity to make it a little easier. Imagine if everyone would help make one person’s life better, one situation a little easier.  One person at a time we would make the difference for everyone.

Pumpkin Patches and Bobbing for Apples

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October has returned, and I am thrilled.

I grew up on one of those streets you see in the movies, blacktop not pavement, lined with tall oaks older than the people who lived in the houses.  Autumn was magical.  As a child, I would rake leaves into complex mazes in the backyard with my friends.  At the end of the maze would always be a pile of leaves large enough to jump into and be totally hidden from view.  Hot chocolate with marshmallows was the reward when we’d finally get the leaves into the bags and hauled up to the street.  Half a dozen of us would trick-or-treat together for hours in the dark venturing further and further from our block each year.  A particularly good memory is when my parents would take me over to my grandma and grandpa’s neighborhood to trick-or-treat.  The house up the hill had this huge bell in the front yard, and all of the kids got to ring it for Halloween…better than any piece of candy would ever have been.

This has always been my favorite time of the year.

I hope I was able to make some of those same kind of memories for my children.  Halloween is big in my family.  What’s not to love?  Dressing up in costumes, seeing your neighbors, getting candy just for asking.  Many, many years as my own children were growing up, we’d host Halloween parties.  We would bob for apples and mummy-wrap the kids in toilet paper.  I’d make ghosts in the graveyard cakes and ooey-gooey things out of jello.  One year (and only one year) I even sewed their costumes from scratch.

Some years, when the weather is just right, October is absolute perfection in the Midwest.  The temperatures cool slowly which in turn allows the leaves to turn slowly, and we get the chance to truly appreciate the beauty of a Nebraska fall.

This has been one of those years.  And I have been particularly nostalgic.

The seasons have always been such a powerful literary device.  The analogy of new life each spring has always rung true for me.  But this year I am taken by the fleeting nature of fall.  Many times the leaves go from lush and green, to rustic colors of gold, to falling to the ground much too quickly.  Some years, when I am busy and distracted, I almost miss it.  This will not be one of those years.  I will work on appreciating the moment.

My children have grown up too quickly.

My career in education is passing too quickly.

Time itself goes too quickly.

This is not melancholy.  I am overjoyed at the season.  I am blessed beyond measure, and I am working hard to take it all in.  I’ve written before about the crazy nature of October for those of us in education.  This year is no exception.  I know it will slow down, but I am in the middle of busy.

I guess I am just reminding myself that fall is short.  My favorite month will pass too quickly.

Slow down.

Watch the sunset.

Take a picture in a pumpkin patch.

Winter is coming.