performing arts + diverse learning styles = enhanced social studies lessons

I’m writing an essay for my Social Science Pedagogy course. It’s about how the introduction of visual and performing arts into social studies curriculum can impact and/or enhance the diverse learning styles of students.
This directly links to Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligence(s).

Truthfully, I’m fascinated by the theory of multiple intelligence(s), and I knew I’m an intrapersonal, linguistic, and spatial learner even before I understood this concept.
As a mom, and teacher, by simply paying attention, I discovered and studied the way children learn. Meeting a child where they are is one of the most critical aspects of teaching, and if you understand they way a child learns based on their unique intelligence/learning style, you can provide information in a way they can readily and eagerly receive it.

Social studies educators have the unique task of making geographical, chronological, and cultural content from the past relevant and meaningful to students. There is absolutely nothing simple about this process. History can be nothing but the dullest list events and dates. Finding a way to make it interesting takes mad skills. Therefore, it seems only natural to me that visual and performing art can be incorporated into curriculum to impact so many diverse learning types.
Especially when you consider that in 2015 Lin-Manuel Miranda gave every USH teacher in America one of the most diverse and extraordinary teaching aids in the history of, well, American History.

How does a Broadway hit in a social studies classroom impact diverse young learners perhaps musical and linguistic?
(My sad attempt to mimic the beginning of ‘Alexander Hamilton’ clearly I’m not a musical learner.)

But did you see what I did there?
I used my obsession with the Hamilton soundtrack to make a valid pop culture – education connection.

Y’all! This freaking musical was born to be a social studies aid.
By incorporating Hamilton into a social science curriculum, you’re directly impacting at least five of the nine intelligence(s) straight away. Not to mention presenting to young people one of the most important times in American history in an entirely modern and relevant way. There is no end to how using this show in social studies is applicable!

I have nothing to prove to y’all, but I’m enthusiastic.
I’m also sick of writing this essay, and instead of getting sucked into something ridiculous and random, (for example: youtube or social media) I chose to channel my excitement into something somewhat constructive in a place I can use my regular voice instead of my boring paper writing voice.

Thanks for indulging me, here’s a little something to stimulate whatever kind of learner you are.
It’s time I get back to work, cause I am not throwing away my shot!

Please listen responsibly.

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Categories: education | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

I don’t give a f**k who judges me

The post I wrote the other day about managing my expectations seemed to elicit a great deal of response.
And what I love most about that is each one of those thoughts or opinions had kindness at the root.

Most of you were sympathetic but not judgey. I thank you for that.
This blog is filled with my thoughts. My perceptions of my life. I’m never ever going to point a finger and decree that I’m a billion percent right and the other person is a billion percent wrong. That’s not how life works.
I know I’m difficult.
I can be a real dick when I get frustrated.
I have been known to make bad choices in how I behave or react, however the underlying stuff is real.

I want to thank you for your kindness in choosing your words when you shared your thoughts with me. Your words were sympathetic, they came from a place of knowledge of circumstance. For the most part they were not blaming, and some even shared great ideas about how to circumvent the food drama!
I appreciate the positive feedback.

That morning, I got a message from Thing 1 in our group chat saying she’d read the post and wanted to know how I was. It was right as I was getting to work. I thanked her and promised to talk later.
She texted me in the afternoon that the post concerned her and asking how I was.
I assured her I was fine then explained that I was frustrated and being a dick but didn’t feel like I was terribly wrong.
Her response:
“I’m sure you are. And I’m sure you were a dick, but I still feel like Thing G shouldn’t be running the freaking show.”

We talked a great deal about how much growth there’s been.

About how most of the way he behaves isn’t really his fault. He’s adapted to it. I don’t believe there is purpose or malice in his actions. I believe he’s been insulated from being engaged in his life since his diagnosis, and simply doesn’t have the tools.

This is not to say I blame his parents. They did what they had to do to function as a family. They did what they had to do to make sure he was safe to himself and other children. Every family functions differently. And they did what worked for them.
Only now it doesn’t work.
The kid flat refuses to engage in his own life. He simply puts forth the least amount of effort to get by. Sure, that’s teenage behavior, but this is different. Most teens desire to GTFO of their parent’s house. They desire to be in control of their own choices, etc. (As adults we see the ironic hilarity, but we’ve all been there.)
This kid literally wants to eat crackers or ramen, drink soda, and play video games all day every day. My interpretation of that behavior is this is someone who is not engaged in his own life.
That’s cool if that’s your choice. And if you can find a way to eat and drink trash and play video games all day and remain solvent I say, bravo!
But I refuse to sacrifice my own comfort so that he can continue to live the life of Riley.

This kid isn’t actually the problem. The kid is simply the lightning rod of focus for the problem.
As I see it, the problem is that his family sacrificed their own personal comfort for his.
And y’all I get that! What parent or older sibling hasn’t done it!?!?
Though in most families as children age and develop that behavior changes. We expect kids to learn that we all have feelings. Needs. Things that make us comfortable or uncomfortable.
We expect them to respect these things in others.
I know I’m guilty of behaving as though the world revolves around my girls, especially Thing 2.
I own it. I know I do it. I admit I do it.
There are two huge differences.
The first is I don’t expect anyone else to do it.
The second is they’re engaged, and however they struggle, they’re actively participating in their own lives.

Every parent makes sacrifices for their children. That’s part of being a parent.
Older siblings sometimes make sacrifices for their younger siblings, that makes sense, but still doesn’t seem all that acceptable. But I’m the big sister, so I know it just sometimes is.
This becomes a problem when everyone else is expected to behave in the same manner. It’s not other people’s job to put the comfort of someone else’s child, sibling, etc. above their own. And in all honesty, I don’t believe YBW and his family ever consciously expected that behavior from others, and they certainly never verbalized it. I feel like it was and remains very obvious by the way everyone functions.

I don’t think YBW is wrong for wanting to sacrifice for his kid.
I don’t think he’s an an idiot or stupid.
And I will own the fact that I’m judgey as fuck.
Judgey. As. Fuck.
But I don’t judge him for doing what he believes is best for his son. I’ve done what I believed best for my girls, sometimes it worked perfectly, sometimes I cocked it right up.
No one else has been in our hearts, in our families, it isn’t for another to tell anyone how to raise their children.
I’m guilty of pointing out what his kids don’t know. That doesn’t mean I think he failed. It means I don’t understand why they don’t know how to do X. And instead of examining that, YBW thinks I’m saying he failed as a parent.
Dude. We all fail as parents. I just want people to bring in the mail and trash can when they walk right past it every damn day.

What bothers me so much is that he continues to put the desires of that particular kid above everyone else’s. He doesn’t even know he’s doing it. And he sacrifices so much of himself for that kid.
The difference between YBW and me is that I refuse to do it. I will not choose Thing G’s comfort or happiness over my own.
Because I don’t want to. And because it’s not what’s best for any one.
I’m choosing to do what’s best for me.
Just because I don’t like it, or I won’t do it, doesn’t mean I’m judging him for doing it. It just means I won’t make the same behavior choices he makes. My emotional and physical comfort are important in their own right. No more no less than anyone else’s.
And when I see him sacrifice his, I don’t like it because I believe he deserves more. But I can’t make that decision for him. I can only make that decision for myself.

I spent a long time talking with a friend who also has a child diagnosed with autism. Here’s what I see, in their family, it’s just a thing. It means some tweaking here and there. It means she’s (the mom) working hard to meet everyone’s individual needs. But she’s not letting that diagnosis run their lives.
In this family it is everything. And because it is everything all the tweaking must be done around the diagnosed. It means everyone should work hard to meet the diagnosed’s needs. The diagnosis runs all our lives.
This is not the fault of the kid with the diagnosis. It’s not even the fault of his parents. It is simply the way it is.
I don’t choose to function that way.
I don’t choose for my children to be expected to function that way.
I don’t choose people who enter this house to be expected to function that way.

I don’t believe the desires of one should rule the many.
I mean come on! There were revolutions about shit like that.

I love my husband.
Like, in ways that sometimes have no words! I want to be with him in the life we build. And I want to get old with him.
I want him to feel loved. To feel understood. To feel like I’m in it with all I’ve got, not that he’s something I have to endure.
Right now, I think the best way to do that is to be quiet. Just be quiet and do my thing. Just be quiet and let him do his thing. Because clearly talking about it makes me a dick and him a failure.
I want to stop putting each of us through that.

Only this is a conversation worth having, and because we’re in it for the long haul, we have to figure it out how to have it successfully. Last night we talked a little and seemed to get to a place that’s better. So good for us!

I will be the first to admit I want what I want.
But not at the expense of others.
And that is the little nugget of truth I cling to.
Therefore, it seems just that I expect the same from others.

I choose not to live my life for anyone but me.
I believe YBW judges me for it.
I accept that.
I am not ashamed.
I feel no guilt.

I did the hard work of raising my children. I do the hard work of being the mother of adult women.
I did and continue to do the hard work of keeping myself safe and sane.
I do the hard work of marriage to a man I love all the way to Pluto and back.

I’m doing the best I can to live my intention.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians: Do everything in love.
I’m over here working to do everything in love and still have a sense of self.
I own my truth.
I don’t give a fuck who judges me.

Categories: love, me, peace and wellbeing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

I’m gonna to miss you, Mr Spinney

Yesterday I read an article in the New York Times that simultaneously broke and brought joy to my heart.

Caroll Spinney is retiring.
I feel like another little bit of my childhood died.

For those of you that don’t know, Mr Spinney is on Sesame Street.
We never actually see him because he’s

and

Oscar is my spirit muppet. He taught me it was OK to be grumpy sometimes.
Big Bird is every six year old we’ve known. Full of love and wonder.
I know that whoever takes up the mantle will be wonderful. But he won’t be Mr Spinney.

I’m reminded of when Mr Hooper died. Big Bird was sad, he didn’t like it. The Sesame Street grown ups reminded him that he had his memories of Mr Hooper.
(start watching at 4:10)

Well, I’m sad, and I don’t like it. But I have my Carol Spinney Big Bird and Oscar memories. And what a treasure trove they are! It’s been fifty years since he first donned that giant bird suit. Fifty years since he first maneuvered that grouch in the trash can. We’re so lucky we had him on our televisions and in our lives.
Whoever’s up next has some great big feet and a trash can to fill.

Thanks, Mr Spinney for teaching and learning with us for all these years!

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

managing expectations

Y’all ever get pissy about something and know you’re in the wrong but for whatever reason you can’t let it go and get more and more pissy?

No?
So it’s just me then?
Yeah, that’s what I figured.

I got all bent out of shape because YBW told Thing G he’d make him a different dinner than the one we were having. (same food, just prepared differently)
This did not sit well with me.
Maybe it’s because I grew up poor, or didn’t have much when my girls were kids, but the idea of making more than one meal makes no sense to me.
It turns out that loads of people do it.
And though that’s the thing that set me off, it’s not actually the point.

The point is that if I had known Thing G wouldn’t eat what I suggested, I would have made something else. The kid is only home for dinner two nights a week, I want to feed him what he likes.

So I just got more and more frustrated.
YBW kept saying I thought he was an idiot.
Which infuriated me.
And there we are in the kitchen shouting at each other because I’m mad and he feels stupid.

He said something that truly shocked me.
He suggested that we go through life and I simply tolerate him. That he’s something I have to endure.

I don’t know if it was just that something was triggered in him or he really believes that.
I don’t believe that.

We function differently. That’s cool.
I need more information before executing plans.
He doesn’t want feel like I think he’s an idiot.

I absolutely overreacted.
I can be irritated by something and not become a screaming shrew. I’m not exactly sure how, but I’m all for figuring it out.

But when I’m frustrated or angry about something it makes me even more frustrated or angry when he starts telling me I think he’s stupid. That I think he’s a failure.
That was honestly the last thing in my mind.

The first thing was I’m so sick of our lives revolving around a young man who refuses to take responsibility for his own life.
The second thing was that I would never offer to make a second meal for literally anyone. That level of accommodation exceeds my level of tolerance.
The third and most important thought was if I had known he didn’t like this food prepared this way, I would have made something else. Why serve someone something they don’t like?

The food situation had been solved previously by having the boys decide the menus when they were here. That way they ate what they wanted. I was happy to prepare the meals as long as I didn’t have to plan them.
That went out the window when Thing C moved out.
Thing G can’t be bothered.
YBW expressed that he doesn’t think it matters all that much.

Y’all, it’s not about food.
It’s about family members functioning together to run a household.
It’s about people who can’t care enough to engage in their own lives creating a black hole in a household.
It’s about blending two families that function in completely different ways.

It isn’t YBW that I can’t endure.
It’s his kid.

And the worst part is that I actually love that kid!
I love the stuffing out of him and want every wonderful thing for him and his life.

I know I’m ridiculous for being angry about what I can’t do anything about. But I am.
I know I should apologize for being ridiculous. But I didn’t.

I made a commitment to YBW and his kid. To get him through college.
I will honor that commitment.
I will do my best not to become angry or irrational.

I shouldn’t make YBW miserable just because I’m frustrated.
I shouldn’t be miserable just because I’m frustrated.

The reality is it’s a no win situation.
Because Thing G frustrates me I’ll be miserable.
Because I’m miserable I’ll be angry.
Because I’m angry, YBW will be miserable.

I need to get over myself.
Truly, it is the simplest solution.

I’m not really sure what set me off.
I just know I’m so sick of it.
The feeling this way, I mean. It’s exhausting. But more than that, it’s not good for me to be so frustrated what the kid does and does not do. The kid doesn’t give any f**ks, why do I?
Um…because someone has to?
(le sigh, le really big sigh)

As long as Thing G is comfortable, YBW is willing to sacrifice his own comfort.
I’m not willing to sacrifice comfort. Mine or YBW’s.
So I act like a dick and cause more discomfort…?

It’s my life too!
I have to live in this house too!
Why does the comfort of the kid matter more than anyone else’s?
What does that teach the kid?
What does that teach other family members?

Why does what I expect or want or need get trumped by those of the kid?

What I really want is a little peace.
When the kid is in the house there isn’t any. It’s not because he actively breaks the peace. It’s that everything about him matters more than everything about everyone else. I have a hard time finding the peace in that. And not because I think I should matter more. But because as a family unit or humans in a shared household, there should be more balance in who and what matters.

What I really want is a little peace. (I know I already said it)
I want to be myself.
That is not to say I want to always get what I want. Just to be me. Without fear of upsetting the kid. Without fear of upsetting my husband.
I’m equal parts lovely and wretched.
I’m opinionated.
I’m impatient.
I’m quick tempered.
But I’m also kind.
I’m loyal.
And I’m the most fiercely loving person you’re likely to come across.
I understand that being in a relationship with me isn’t always sunshine and lollipops.
I am actively working on being a better me.
I have a willingness to become more.
I have a willingness to embrace change. What I do not have a willingness to do is change who I am to fit into a life someone else built. Neither do I expect that of the people I love.

Square peg – round hole is a realistic situation.
Neither the peg nor the hole should be expected to make all the changes. This is a delicate situation in which it takes time, and patience, and practice working together to change the environment so it’s a better fit for everyone equally.

Expectations.
Am I expected to do all the compromise? All the changing?
Do I expect YBW to do all the compromise? All the changing?
Do I expect Thing G to do all the compromise? All the changing?
Any one of those expectations is unrealistic. The expectation that every person can compromise a little, can change a little will create an environment in which each member is more comfortable.
I’d like to better manage my expectations.

I just want to be comfortable in my environment.
I want the others to also be comfortable in the environment.

Thing is, I believe I’m the only one that’s uncomfortable.
So is it a me problem as opposed to a we problem?

I honestly don’t know.
What I do know is that I need to stop being a dick.
I need to pay attention to how what I say and do impacts the people around me.
I need to have courage and be kind.
I need to do everything in love.

I’m tired of this same old song.
I think I’m the only one singing it.
I must stop singing it.
It’s the only way I’ll find peace.

Categories: me, peace and wellbeing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

a tune for Tuesday vol 2

Am currently obsessed with this song!
Every single time it comes on the radio, I restart it at least once. (thanks Hyundai, Alt Nation, and XMU)

It has a lovely melody, catchy chorus, and I absolutely adore Alexander O’Connor’s voice!
This is Loving is Easy by Rex Orange County with Benny Sings.

Please listen responsibly.

Categories: music | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Girlie Hotel Weekend

Columbus Day.
Seems such a sham now we have a much more detailed history of his actions.
But I got a day off school, so I’m not complaining.

Three day weekends are a blessing no matter what your day job.
I took mine and went to see Thing 2.

I left school at 2:oo Friday afternoon and pulled into the driveway here just before 5:00 Monday afternoon.
It was fast and furious, but it was worth it!

We tried to plan one of these weekends last year, but could never quite make it work. And in 2017-2018 I actually saw Thing 2 more times in one ‘year’ than I have the entire five years we’ve lived apart.
Thanksgiving 2017 we were all at Thing 1 and Husband N’s.
Christmas 2017 Thing 2 and Boyfriend J were here.
In March when Thing 1 lost her baby, both Thing 2 and I were there to help pick up the pieces.
Both Thing 1 and Thing 2 were here in June for Thing G’s graduation. (and mother-daughter tattooing)

Anyway, we planned this visit so we could see each other more frequently without her always having to come here.
She called it “Girlie Hotel Weekend” and she was right!

Because it took me four hours to get out of Virginia instead of the normal 2 hours and 20 – 30 minutes, I was much later arriving in Columbia than either of us expected. She got dropped off by friends about ten minutes after I checked us in.
So! Much! Giggling!

We started our Saturday with pedicures and mimosas.
Did a little Devine Street shopping before moving on to Target where my daughter said, “Nobody likes to Target the way I do but you.” (It’s genetic)
Roads were closed all over downtown because it was Parents Weekend at USC. What a pain in the ass. But, because we had to take Blossom, I remembered a place I loved to eat when I lived down there.
We had a great lunch, and a pitcher of mimosas, and some of the most delicious cheesecake at Di Prato’s.
We shopped and piddled around Columbia all day Saturday.
Then popped some bubbly and snuggled up in the hotel beds and watched Hocus Pocus. We love us some Sanderson Sisters!

Sunday saw us at our beloved Waffle House. I know. It’s just awful, but we love it. Nowhere else makes egg sandwiches like that. Not to mention, the guy who checked us out used to be the theater teacher at the high school.
Thing 2 was like, Was that Mr W? It sounded like him.
I actually had one of those lightbulb over the head moments! It was!
She wondered if he freaked out when he saw me after I ripped him a new one Thing 1’s senior year.
We laughed and laughed. We’re mean like that.

After breakfast, we made a return to Target and went shoe shopping.
Because I wanted to see the restaurant where she works, we went over and sat in the bar for a few hours. She drank sake and I let her bartending co-worker surprise me. We ate dumplings and noodles and drank and talked and laughed and hung out. I even got to meet one of the “regulars” a Rod Stewart-esque hair dresser that reminded me so much of my dad I could hardly believe it. Thing 2 had her own lightbulb over the head moment when she realized I was right that he seemed so like her beloved Pap.

Monday morning we shared breakfast, grabbed coffee and said goodbye.
She drove to work and I got on the interstate to come home.
I was sad, and even though it was a good kind of sadness, I didn’t want to feel it all the way home so I gave myself until I got out of South Carolina to be sad.
And you know what? It worked. I was only a bit sad, but I sat with it and honored it while we were still in the same state.
Then the Hamilton Soundtrack got me through North Carolina and when I arrived safely in Virginia I called YBW to report the news. It took me just less than seven hours to reach my exit on 95. Another twenty or so minutes to the house and the return trip was over. As I was unloading the car, YBW pulled into the driveway home from work.
Now that’s great timing!

I’m grateful for the time off from school, the financial ability to do a weekend trip, and a new car that made the trip a breeze. I’m grateful for that sacred time with my Thing 2. I’m grateful for our open and honest communication, our ability to laugh at similar things. I’m grateful I’m her Momma and she’s my baby.
We needed that time together, and it was good for us!
My heart is overflowing with love.

Categories: love, me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

a tune for Tuesday

Thing 2 turned me on to this artist, and I’m so grateful she did. I love his voice!

He lives in Philly and Sundance’s nieces play with his kids at the playground.
How cool is that?!?

This morning I want to play his new song for you.

This is Kurt Vile with Loading Zones.
Please listen responsibly.

Categories: me | Tags: , | 6 Comments

September gratitude

September was a difficult month.
That wretched therapy appointment started it off.
YBW and I spent a great deal of time focused on the lack of effort Thing G spends on being responsible for his own life.
I didn’t realize how disappointed I would be when the time came for us to be holding a new baby and there was not one to hold.

That said, there’s much to be grateful for!

Boyfriend J’s birthday.
My therapist.
Our therapist.
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company’s production of Gloria.

All three of my alternative healthcare providers.
Fall decorations!
Amber. (She does my hair, and it looks GOOD!)
Meaningful conversations with Sally.
The sun finally showed up!
Ridiculously fun meme sharing with Sundance.
The easiest blood draw I’ve ever experienced! (my veins roll and that makes for bad times)
Double date at the art festival with M and J.
Phone calls with Jessica.
Being in the park for the last home game of the season. (Nats won 9-3!!)
Sirius XM Broadway.
Cocktails with YBW.
Sitting in the sun at the Naval Academy watching our nephew play Rugby.
Spending time with great friends-as-family in Annapolis!
Talking with my girls.
Cooler temperatures. (Only by a smitch, but I’ll take it!)
Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Comedy of Errors.

Finishing a successful school term.
Did I mention the sun finally showed up?

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

you should see me in a crown

Currently obsessed with this song by sixteen year old Billie Eilish.
you should see me in a crown

Please listen responsibly.

Every single time I hear it, it makes me think of this guy:

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

art festival day

The Alexandria King Street Art Festival was this weekend.

It just happened to coincide with our monthly date with friends. So the four of us went in to Old Town, had brunch at Union Street Public House. I ate some mediocre shrimp and grits and had two French 75 cocktails!

After a quick visit with, and a whimsical art purchase from Patti Ballard, we left Alexandria for dessert and coffee in Vienna.
Of course while we were in Vienna, I had to take our friends to Bards Alley.

Cocktails, art, coffee and dessert, and books. So many of my most-loved things squeezed into one day. And date days/nights with our friends are some of my favorite days, but on this gorgeously sunny, first Saturday in Autumn, I was content to simply walk down the street holding the hand of my precious husband.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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