For me retreat means to take my own time to breathe, slow down, find myself, create, laugh, appreciate the beauty of nature, and share meals with new friends and old friends and one sister.

I am heading out today for a Women's Retreat at Field Springs State Park. I am trying to figure out what I want to take with me on this retreat. Do I want to write? Perhaps I should practice my new art skiils. Maybe learn more about photography? Sleep? Read? Appreciate poetry?

I will make a decision soon and as always will take so much more than I need. I am relieved the wildfire smoke has cleared a bi and the weather is supposed to be beautiful. When I return.... photos as always.

Kindness and Compassion

Today a presenter from Rachel's Challenge came to visit our school. Rachel was the first student killed outside the school building at Columbine High School in 1999. Her challenge was explained to us today.
What I loved about the lessons learned today is that it is about moving toward the light, not focusing on the darkness. She felt that if all students and staff and community members of a school would move toward the light and focus on kindness and compassion we may start a chain reaction.

It made sense to me. Before I had even thought about Rachel's Challenge I had a sign up at the front of my room that says "Be Kind". It is a simple rule that carries a big message. Every day my responsibility is to demonstrate kindness and compassion. Some days it is hard. Some days I go overboard and show too much compassion. Other days kindness erupts from every corner of the classroom. The chain reaction is recognizing those acts of kindness. I try to model that, but I want my students to recognize it in others also. That will be part of our challenge.

Rachel admired and respected Martin Luther King Jr. One quote that was written in one of her journals and shared today was this: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

These are words I will remember and repeat over and over.
Kindness, compassion, light, love.

Home Away from Home

I have always struggled with which place to call home. When I am going to my mom's house I always say, "I am going home." Where I grew up does seem like home. So does the place I call home right now. Confusing.
I stayed at my mom's house last week-end. We arrived Friday night to help with end-of-summer garden chores. It felt like home to have Mom's cold fried chicken, pasta salad, and good conversation. It was fun to sample a new sweet red wine together. I enjoyed getting caught up on family news.

It felt like home when I got up the next morning to enjoy Mom's hot, fresh coffee and see her with the Spokesman Review all sprawled around her as she greeted me with news of the day. Deadheading her flowers, comparing green thumb stories of plants we could and couldn't grow, and marveling over the Seven Sisters Rose felt like home. Seeing her solar lights as I watered her pots felt like home.
Losing stuff from the freezer to the upstairs felt like home for both of us. So did spilling coffee, dumping ash, and finding dog droppings.  Later the smell of her Weber barbecue cooking a London Broil reminded me of so many meals on the deck. As more family gathered for dinner, new drinks, laughs, and more laughs it felt like home.

We got a lot done in Mom's yard. I enjoyed the company, food, Saturday nap, flower picking, and much more.

When we arrived home yesterday the first thing I said after saying hello to the cats and checking the mail was, "There is no place like home." Last night as we enjoyed a pizza and a new wine with our animals surrounding us, it was home.

It is nice to have two homes.

The Beauty of Art

I knew when I was asked to teach Fine Arts this year I would be in heaven. My middle school elective is part drama, part art which go hand in hand. I hadn't taught either for quite a few years, but it was like riding a bicycle. I just got back on and have never turned back. Here are some images of what my students have created so far.