Setting Your Mind to It

Last week my grandson received something called a Growth Mindset award at his elementary school’s Friday morning assembly. He’s only been in kindergarten three weeks, and I’m not sure he quite understood the reason he’d been called to the front of the cafeteria to have his photograph taken with the other recipients. Nor did I, his 61 year old grandmother, have any idea what a Growth Mindset Award was about. Was this peculiar to his school, one known for its progressive ideas about education?

My daughter in law explained that growth mindset was a very important concept in schools, especially in their district. “It’s about believing you can learn new things,” she said, “and not being afraid to try."

Ordinary Days

A late summer morning, the grass thick with yesterdays rainfall. I’ve slept through the night for the first time in over a week, surprised to find myself wakened by the classical music radio station we’ve set as the alarm on our ancient Sony clock radio.  1:30 am, 2:30 am, 4:00 am. For days in a row, my eyes pop open and somehow I just know there will be no return to sleep. “What happened?” my husband always asks in the morning. “Why couldn’t you sleep?"

“If I knew, I’d do something about it,” I said, snapping at him because I truly have no answer, and I don’t like not having the answer.

My life is mercifully ordinary these days. There are no sick parents, no sick dogs. There are no deadlines, no imminent performances, no piles of unpaid bills. My mind has been filled with all these things at one time or another for the past decade, and they have often made sleep elusive.

But not now, not this minute. Right now, everything is quiet, calm. Peaceful. Ordinary.

Life Goes On

It’s almost September, and soon the inevitable school bells will ring. September always feels like a new year to me, even though I no longer work in school or have children in school. September heralds the start of something, a time to make plans, buckle down, get busy. A time to learn something new. No matter how old we are, there is much to learn. I got a new car last week, one with so many digital bells and whistles that I find myself spending quite a bit of time sitting in the driveway with the owners manual in my hand, studying and learning how to operate them all. 

Although there is no owner’s manual for life, we each find our ways to make it through. For me, writing has always been my way of figuring things out. Sometimes I don’t know what I think or feel until I write about it. For most of my life I did my writing in private, but the advent of the internet allowed me to share my thoughts through words. The connections I’ve made have become an integral and vital part of my life.


Next Monday, August 21, most of us here in the US will be able to see the effects of a solar eclipse, a rare occurrence, at least on such a wide scale. As the moon obscures the sun and the sky darkens for those few minutes during the middle of the day, we’ll be confronted with nature’s awesome and timeless power in an absolutely irrefutable way, for despite all our technologies and advances, we can not yet control the movement of the solar system.

It’s impossible to ignore the parallel between the impending solar eclipse and the current social and political events here in the United States. It feels like a shadow is moving across this country, a shadow born of intolerance and anger and unrest and dissatisfaction and fear surrounding the Trump Presidency.

A Dog’s Life

I hadn’t given much thought to having a dog when my friend Leigh offered me a puppy from the litter her dog sired in the fall of 2002. Nor did I know much about Shih Tzu’s as a breed, except for how cute they were. It had been almost 15 years since our cocker spaniel died, and we were accustomed to the freedom that life without dogs (and children) affords. After much discussion with everyone in the family, including my mother who would be our backup caretaker, we decided to bring Magic home.

And that’s just what we did. We brought magic into our house. He was lively, and energetic, and cute, and cuddly. We laughed until tears streamed down our faces at his antics, and all of us purred contentedly when he curled up between us on the sofa or in bed at night. He was such a good puppy in all the important ways. He potty trained easily, never chewed anything that wasn’t meant to be chewed, never minded being left alone. In fact, he was such a good dog - the Best Boy in the Whole Wide World - that 18 months later we brought home a baby sister, Molly Mei. And if one Shih Tzu was magic, two of them were pure joy.