New Year’s Change and Resolutions

Maintain health, friendships, and enjoyment of life to the best of one’s ability . . . goals for 2015.

** On New Year’s Day the Y will have an open house.  I’ll do a short tai chi class at 11, open to all who would like to come by.  Early arrivals have been known to receive free t-shirts and there will probably be snacks.

(but not probably as fancy as these cakes  ❤


Change?  A rambling remembrance of change and decisions . . .

I don’t leap into change, tending to hold onto the known and comfortable until nudged toward the brink of a new decision.  Generally, after the leap I find myself in a place I like . . . and settle into a new, comfortable routine.

A story once made the rounds about a man praying vociferously, “Please, Lord, just let me win the lottery.  It would really make a difference in my life.  Please, just let me win once.”  From above, a booming voice, “Meet me halfway.  Buy a ticket.”

I bought one lottery ticket when I heard that story, just in case there was a Plan and I needed to do my half.  I didn’t win, I hadn’t really expected to, and there went my dreams of travel and hiring a chauffeur . . . I couldn’t think of much else I’d like to change.

I bought another lottery ticket when I was trying to decide whether or not to retire.  Winning would be a sure sign.  Instead, I received a much more clear sign; sarcoidosis, probably from the mold in our school, impeded my breathing and made it clear that I needed to leave.

I had also expressed a desire that year to “meet some nice men in the coming year.”  Mom used to warn us to be careful what we wished for.  I hadn’t specified “men to whom I won’t owe co-pays.”  To be fair, all the “ologists” were very nice men, and they did get my health back on track after I left that building.  I did also give myself a trip to Hawaii as a retirement present . . . no chauffeur yet, though.


Retirement was foreshadowed if I’d paid attention.  A couple of years earlier, my doctor made me stay home for the whole month of November (pneumonia). Much as I loved my students, and teaching, I found it surprisingly easy to stay home reading and resting (and lesson planning and grading), and my students appreciated me when I decided to “come back and save (us) from this horrible sub.”  As a preview of retirement, I discovered it was rather pleasant and relaxing to have fewer responsibilities.  I’m feeling the same way now about retirement . . . once I got over the guilt of not “reinventing myself” with a new work load . . .

Lessons in dreams . . .  while still teaching, I had a recurring dream that I couldn’t find my classroom and it was time to teach a class.  I’d end up in an office building and then a park . . . as I neared retirement, my dreaming self decided to stay in the park, “They’ll be okay.”  Thanks to lovely new teachers, they really are.

A student who expressed dismay at my plans to leave was just fine once I reminded her that she would be graduating at the same time as I retired . . . graduating forever.

I recently came across my official Certificate of Credibility, issued after a student, denied some concession, told me that was “why you have no credibility with your students.” Colleagues signed it, and then most of that class asked to also sign.  Take that, ornery student!



One more memory:  I taught one of my high school students to knit during lunch.  I had brought in my knitting as a visual for our reading of “House Taken Over.” Afterward, she had wistfully shared that she hadn’t wanted to learn to knit when her grandmother offered, too young to be interested, “and now I want to learn and my grandma is gone.”  I said I could fill in for her grandma, and she learned quickly!


May your new year be filled with love and laughter, health and happiness, the familiar and some new, all in pleasing proportions.  Hugs!

Wopila, a Give-Away

Story Musings

Wopila, a Give-Away

Dovie Thomason titled one of her storytelling tapes “Wopila, a Give-Away” but asked us not to take that literally and just take the tapes, as she did need to make a living.

Wopila is a lovely custom, and fits my preference for giving things away rather than selling them.

I have happily given away dozens of “apple” and “blueberry” baby hats, including one finished in my dentist’s waiting room for his baby boy.

(He donated a checkup to the Y auction, so he understands Wopila, too).
I always seem to finish one just as a new baby comes into view.

Once, a teaching colleague’s baby came early and had to spend a week in the neonatal unit.  I hurried to finish a hat for him by Friday’s “going home” date, and on Friday showed the finished hat to my students.  One healthy, beautiful young lady said that she had been exactly that small and fragile at birth. We sent her to deliver the hat and, even more important, the message of hope!  These are gifts of love.

Knitting lessons available as well . . .   








I was happy that my friend, who wanted to ride with her children, could use the bicycle I hadn’t ridden in years.

When a student told me that she was hoping her father would be able to afford a typewriter for her for Christmas, I remembered my own longing for a typewriter when I was her age.  I dusted my once “state of the art” electric typewriter, set aside when I learned computer word processing, and made her a very happy girl!

When I was preparing to retire from teaching I announced a Wopila to my students and fellow teachers.  Some were reluctant to take things, but not after the custom was explained.  Those items could continue to make a difference in our school, and other schools, even after I left.  Jim and Deb Wallen took books and bookshelves for their grandchildren’s school in Kansas City.  That school closed, and they gave the books to a school that had lost its library to a tornado.

Last May in Ohio for the O.O.P.S. conference, Dovie added the explanation that Wopila is not just giving away what you don’t want anymore.  Sometimes Wopila means giving away favorite things so that others can have a turn enjoying them.

I saw my friend Maria’s silver card case and realized that it matched a silver flask sitting in my curio cabinet.  I had thought before that the flask would be a good addition to Maria’s Swords and Roses pirate garb, so I presented it to her.  She will also be using it in a “Roaring 20’s” show . . . carrying my good wishes as she does so.










My great-niece Moriah loves green, and this lovely necklace, a gift from a student, suits her perfectly.  It was time to let her enjoy it.    








My young friend Hannah helped me with my move from the condo to my little eco-home.  She took home many “treasures” including the hand-made heavy leather briefcase I had used when I sold insurance (not sure how she could even carry it).  She also spotted and coveted my Shel Silverstein books, and rather than have them just stay on a shelf at my house, I happily passed them on to one who would appreciate them more.

Brendan at Borders remarked that his son has become fascinated by Turkish things.  I had an inexpensive top purchased from a young street vendor in Istanbul.  I never managed to make it work; perhaps his son can . . .

My friend Stephen Hollen wrote a wonderful story “Memories of Lone” about the ongoing trick he played with his mother’s NOEL elves.  I had a NOEL train, which I sent to my adopted cousin so he can continue making his special LONE Christmas magic.

Sometimes I give stories.   Next week  I’ll be telling to the cub scouts whose leader bid highest at the Y auction.

Last year  I told at Hannah’s class’s Christmas party.  I often give copies of my storytelling CDs to children I meet as I go on my merry way, including at rest stops on long trips, when the miles challenge the patience of even the best of children, and their parents.  The smiles and enthusiasm of young listeners is reward enough for that gift.

When we hold onto something, we lose the use of our hands, and letting go leaves room for the new to come into our lives.

I have also received, so many wonderful lovely gifts, tangible and in-
. . .  Jessica gave me a Wide Mouth Frog pin after my first public telling of that story, on an ETSU cruise.  It reminds me of the fun and friendship  each time I see it.  After my frog, Prince, moved into my home, many people gave me frog gifts in his honor, and as consolation after I let him return to the wild.









My niece Jillian made me a lovely storytelling logo.    

and Holly made a dream card, some of which has already come to pass . . .

Toni McGee Causey gave a gift card, which I used to buy copies of her books (it seemed the fair thing to do).

Better Life sent some of their wonderful cleaning products, half of which I gave to the Y auction.

Suzanne Beecher of the on-line book club just sent a vintage apron.

Comfort Suites gave us the use of their pool for our “Wet and Mild”  Aqua-aerobics!

Even the flask I gave Maria had been a gift, which I enjoyed for three decades . . . long enough, time for it to move on and be useful . . .

I had been thinking about this blog for a while, mulling it over (and procrastinating) but this seems the right season to reflect on giving . . . and receiving, which is just as important; both are part of the graceful sharing of the loveliness of our world . . .

May you give and receive in great joy!

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