Monday, August 14, 2017

Where Were You When. . . ?

Memories: Where were you when...?

I’m shopping in Lincoln, Nebraska, in the middle of our annual Christmas shopping tradition.  The mall is decorated in glitter and red and green.  The air is crisp and festive.  My sister has been inside a store, and I am waiting for her.  I see her now.  Her face is serious, much different from when she went in.  John Lennon is dead, she tells me.
My heart stops.  No.  This can’t be true.  My whole childhood flashes before my eyes.  Beatles notebooks.  Beatles lunch boxes.  Beatles posters.  Beatles magazines.  Beatles dolls.  Beatles 45s.  Beatles albums.  Beatles.
All I can do is hug my sister and try to breathe.  John Lennon is dead.  Shot by a deranged fan.  Our shopping day has come to an abrupt end.  I don’t even want to continue with our plans, but somehow I need to go to the . . .
Grove.  I meet my college girlfriends at our favorite hangout, The Grove.  I need to be with them and to see familiar faces of Grove regulars.  The mood is somber tonight, not the usual loud rock and roll feel.  Everyone is talking about John—favorite songs, favorite albums.  John Lennon songs are softly playing from the stage.  Give Peace a Chance.  Starting Over.  Mind Games.  Instant Karma.
Nothing will ever be the same.

Everything has changed.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A Simple Journal

Right before my last year of teaching started I received the most incredible gift from my friend Kari.  We did our annual back to school happy hour, and over summer cocktails, she handed me a gift bag containing a simple journal.  I soon learned, however, that there was absolutely nothing simple about it.  Kari's gift became a lifeline to my past, bringing back memories from my thirty-two years as a teacher.

so very Kari (and Cheryl!)
Each month Kari mailed me an envelope containing three journal prompts.  These prompts were meant to elicit memories from my years of teaching, and that is exactly what they did. Starting in August and each month after, I reflected on my career.  Memories, many long forgotten, flooded my mind.  I smiled, laughed out loud, gasped, and shed tears as students, colleagues, parents, classrooms, and schools appeared in my mind and heart.

The prompts ran the gamut, from




all the way to

As each month approached, I found myself anxiously awaiting Kari's handwritten envelope containing inspiring quotes, the journal prompts, and Kari's love and energy.  The year flew by as I poured myself into this journal project.  

Kari put each prompt in a library-style book envelope.
I'm forever grateful to Kari for engaging me in this nine-month journal exercise.  I hope I captured everyone who joined me on my thirty-two year journey and every miracle that sparkled along this English teacher's path.

pages and pages of love and gratitude