Archive | Hope & Wonder (Issue #8)

Through the Lens: on Woodworking by Keva Bartnick

Through the Lens

There has always been an artist that has lived inside of me. From the first moment I drew breath there has always been one. Maybe, it stems from past life experiences, maybe something else quite different. One can never be 100% certain where the muse comes from within.

Some chalk up creativity as the soul speaking magic out into the world. I hear it as a small voice inside my heart, whispering, “that’s it…that’s the one.”

I have found Pinterest to be of great help and influence to which project I’d like to tackle next. I find it a great repository for great ideas, and great projects a like.

My husband is a wonderful help as well. Where I lack, he is right there next to me offering up advice, thoughts, suggestions, and love. He is a muse all in of himself. Many a day he looks at me with a sideways grin, it’s like he knows…and says, “what’s next?”

I have a great board of projects, ideas, things I’d like to accomplish; small and large alike. I have heard many a suggestion that Pinterest makes people, woman especially, feel that they need to do more, be more. Perfection is something that they try hard to attain. I’ve never looked or wanted for perfection. Just something to sink my teeth into, to reach my muse, to touch that part inside my heart that speaks to my soul.

I have worked hard over my 40 years to try all the artistic outlets that have spoken to me. Pencil drawings, charcoals, paint, ceramics, printmaking, sewing, sculpture, metalsmithing, weaving, and paper mache.


Woodworking has become my newest passion. I find so much wonder in it. I’ve always wanted to make furniture. In college I took a black smithing class and made a papison chair out of half round mild steel. I had so much hope at the beginning of the project, and was overjoyed at its completion. There is something to be said for handmade pieces made from the heart.

We recently repainted our foyer. It reminded me of what it would be like to paint with liquid cheddar cheese. I’m a huge Packer fan so the coloring seemed to fit well with football season on the way. I’d also been looking at gallery walls as well. Seeing how everyone’s personal style gets reflected on a blank canvas like that of a long wall.

I find that looking at peoples personal style you can learn a lot about how eclectic their style can be. How far off the beaten path they like to walk, how much they like to express themselves out in the open.

I started this project with the idea that I could complete it from start to finish all by myself. With all things in life I have found that we are never alone. At least, I am never truly alone. I was mistaken to think that if I brought this project up to my husband he’d let me do it all on my own. It was even more foolish to show it to my wonderful father-in-law. Before I knew it this had become a group effort full of wonder and hope for what it would become.

My father-in-law with his woodworking shop in his basement took all the measurements. He cut all the pieces. He worked out everything I would need to put my puzzle together. To make my project work he did what he could to help; to be a part of it all. My husband offered support. Over the weeks our project slowly came together. In the end we were all the closer for it.

We now have a piece that we love, it hangs in our foyer. A testament to a group effort, to our fortitude to create something beautiful. Our wonder at what our project could become, and our budding hope that we’ll be building together again soon.

About the Author: Keva Bartnick

Keva Bartnick is an artist, writer, and lightworker. Happily married mother of three; she’s been inspiring people to be their most courageous selves since 2015.

She can be found at

Merry Christmas, Darling

You can’t help know that Christmas is nigh as you if  you have an email address or dare venture into any stores. Outside the commercial side of the season – and the religious ones – we dive into all the ways we can use our innate creativity to add an extra edge of wonder to the season – from decking our halls to baking cookies and creating beautiful meals. From watching holiday movies to humming along with the sounds of the season.

Today, my dear, is finally the day that Christmas has arrived and hopefully you can take a deep breath and honor the beauty of the season. How the edges of wonder invite us into our own lives, how the call for hope reminds us that we are always within reach of it.

No matter how you celebrate – or even if you ignore it all  – know that at the core of the day, it’s a call to dig into all the ways in which we can create the kind of life we desire to lead.  In celebration of this holiday, we won’t be offering you a new poem, story, or essay, but a collection of a dozen gems of wisdom Christmas and Holy Days – of the tenderness of sacred wonder in the air.

 “Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”
–Charles Dickens

“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”
― Calvin Coolidge

“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?”
― Bob Hope

“The smells of Christmas are the smells of childhood.”
― Richard Paul Evans

“A Christmas candle is a lovely thing; It makes no noise at all, But softly gives itself away; While quite unselfish, it grows small.”
― Eva K. Logue

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”
― Norman Vincent Peale

“Remember, if Christmas isn’t found in your heart, you won’t find it under a tree.”
― Charlotte Carpenter

“Christmas is the day that holds all time together.”
–Alexander Smith

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.”
― Hamilton Wright Mabie

“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.”
― Bob Hope

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

We hope find a reason to hope, a moment of wonder, and always return to the heart of your sacred creativity. We are so honored to witness the ways in which you you honor your beautiful heart, follow your desires, and celebrate your creative life.

With love from our creative table to yours.
The Staff of Modern Creative Life

Sunday Salon: The Gift of Art

It’s that time of year, the countdown to the holidays. People hustle and bustle, make lists, check them once, twice, thrice. Amazon’s server is on fire with orders flying in from around the world.  If you haven’t finished your shopping by now, well – you’re in a bit of pickle, aren’t you?

Photo Credit: Ben White for Upsplash

For quite a few years I’ve eschewed the whole holiday shopping enterprise. My husband and I are at the stage where we don’t need or want much of anything, and if we do, we get it for ourselves. We might treat ourselves to a concert or dinner out, maybe a little trip somewhere. But buying more “stuff” for each other has lost its charm. As one of my elderly friends put it: “If I can’t eat it, read it, or go to it, I don’t want it.”

But in these often troubled times, when materialism and greed run rampant throughout our society, there is one still one gift well worth investing time and money to give.

The Gift of Art.

Sadly, this gift is not valued highly in the modern world. Artists struggle for recognition, for funding, for space to do their work. When budgets need cutting, the arts are the first place to point the knife.

For the past three weekends, I’ve been out performing with my group, Classical Bells. We’ve watched our audiences come in tired and cold, stamping snow from their boots, looking weary and downhearted. If we do our job well, the music helps thaw those icy places in their lives and even provides a few moments of transcendence from the mundane problems of daily living so they go back into the world with a quieter, softer heart.

“Every piece of art, every performance, is a state-of-the soul address,” wrote poet Jane Kenyon. “The love of the absolute beauty of art, the longing for the well-being of the planet and all its creature, the awe we feel in the face of life and death, the delights of the inward eye and inward ear, the understanding and nurture of the soul – these are the gifts of art.”

And it’s not only the recipient but also the maker of art benefits from this gift. This has been a horrible week for me. Our little dog Molly died unexpectedly Monday, just five months after we lost her brother, Magic. I grieve mightily for these precious companions of my home and heart. But the hours I spend playing music are a balm for that ache, directing my focus away from sadness and toward the task of creating something beautiful.

“Artists report on the inner life,” Kenyon continues, and the inner life distinguishes us from centipedes.” The inner life – our imagination, our compassion, our spiritual awareness – these are the places art touches in us. Art allows us to glimpse something larger than ourselves, that “awe in the face of life and death” as Kenyon put it. We ignore our inner life at our peril, Kenyon warns, for when we do, we “become capable of extreme cruelty and destruction.”

The evidence of that abounds in the world right now, doesn’t it? So this holiday, commit yourself to making art and sharing it widely with young and old. If you’re a writer, volunteer at a local library to do a reading or host a workshop. If you paint, set up your easel in a public place and invite questions and comments. If you’re a musician, take your instrument or your voice to a hospital, a nursing home, your neighborhood coffee shop. If you knit, make scarves and socks to pass out to the homeless.

The possibilities for gifting are endless.

And the gift of art is PRICELESS.

About the Author: Becca Rowan

becca_rowan_bio_may2016Becca Rowan lives in Northville, Michigan. She is the author of the books Life in General, and Life Goes On, personal and inspirational essays about the ways women navigate the passage into midlife. She is also a musician, and performs as a pianist and as a member of Classical Bells, a professional handbell ensemble. If she’s not writing or playing music you’ll likely find her curled up on the couch reading with a cup of coffee (or glass of wine) close at hand. She loves to connect with readers at her blog, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.

A Quiet Thrill by Michelle GD

I am like a child again when the meteorologists call for snow.   Looking out the window frequently, watching the sky, holding my breath just the tiniest bit.  Did it start yet?  Is it coming?  I remember being thrilled by snow as a child.  I am still thrilled (perhaps more?) as an adult.

With snow come challenges of slippery roads and cancellations.  As I child, I cared only of the latter; as an adult, I must consider both.  Still, I eagerly await the first flakes.  Sometimes the birches blow in the wind; sometimes they stand like statues.  Sometimes the sky seems an even wash of grey; sometimes, if I look closely enough, I see darker greys and lighter greys and greys in between.  Always, I feel like the world at my feet is in the midst of some pause.  Or maybe it’s just me.

As I wait for the snow, I am surely in the pause.  I am present and attentive.  I feel alive.  I watch excitedly for changes in the sky and on the ground.  I am in awe once those changes arrive.  The blanket of white laid upon the ground, the hush accompanying the laying of that blanket.

I remember that hush as a child.  For a few years, we lived in upstate New York, just south of the Canadian border.  We got a lot of snow there; I had many opportunities to step into that hush.  Now, my family of four lives in Virginia, and we don’t experience the frequency or amount of snow I enjoyed in those childhood years.  But we do get snow; I do step into the hush.  And every time I step into the hush, my shoulders drop a little lower, and my eyes widen in wonder.

The beauty is not a surprise to me.  And yet, every time it snows…it surprises me.  It delights me, softens me.  Every time it snows, I step into the pause.  I am present and attentive and alive.  And isn’t this what I continually practice, no matter the season?  The presence, the attention, the alive-ness?

This time of year is busy for many of us.  We are celebrating and decorating and making merry.  Likely, we are also reflecting on a calendar year about to close, and preparing to open another.  It’s a time of year full with work outside ourselves (all that merry-making); it’s also full with work inside ourselves (all that reflecting).  It’s a time of year filled with so much.

Just the other day, it snowed.  I was grateful for Nature’s invitation; she called me in, and I responded.  I stepped into her pause, I felt her hush.  She beautified my world that was already beautiful, and I like that she didn’t out-do herself…she was humble and just-right.  I left the busyness and merry-making of the house, and walked through the falling snow with my kids.  We laughed, and we were silent.  I felt snowflakes on my eyelashes, and watched flakes rest but a moment on the lashes of my kids…each snowflake a gift.  Each one an invitation to pause, to notice, to be a little bit amazed.

There’s something in that pause, that being a little bit amazed.  There is a certain release I feel, as if I lie back and the world catches me and holds me.  Though I must do my part:  I must, on occasion, allow my shoulders to drop; I must allow my eyes to widen in wonder. I must anticipate, and I must receive.  I must allow myself to lie back and be held by the beauty of this world.

Now do you understand why a forecast of snow thrills me to my core?

About the Author: Michelle GD

Michelle GD is an artist living in Virginia.  Using writing and photography as forms of meditation, she explores the connections between the beautiful and messy bits of life.  You can find her at

The Puppies by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

Cleaning house in her nightgown
Donna spots me on my morning walk,
leans out the door and yells,
“Hey, wanna see the babies?”
I do, of course .

We stand over the nursery,
gaze at the ten huddled scraps
of multi-colored poodle puppyhood,
barely four days old,
wearing teeny collars.

First time mama Paris
is surprisingly cool, supplies faucets
as needed to ten seeking mouths,
tolerates giants looming
and fingers poking at her children.

Donna coos, I try hard not to,
and grandpa Shadow keeps an eye on us all.
As he nudges my hand, black and white
stuffed toy in his mouth, Donna says,
“He wanted his own baby
so I bought him one.”

She looks down at her flowered gown
and bare feet, grimaces then says,
“Forgive the mess.”
I don’t see anything
but beautiful babies.

About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones

PatriciaWellingham-JonesPatricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.

Instrumental: The Holiday Grieving Survival Kit by Jeanie Croope

It’s the season of hope and wonder, of parties and cookie and decking the halls. We are told to have a Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah and we say the same in return.

And sometimes we are neither Merry nor Happy.

The winter holidays can be stressful even for those who love them and “Martha to the Max.” But for those experiencing grief and loss, the first winter holidays without someone they love, they can be especially challenging.

This year there will be many who have lost loved ones in fires and hurricanes, through accidents and illness. Add to that the loss of a home or a job and the holidays don’t seem so merry and bright. For many years I volunteered at a family grief center and clearly the winter holidays were the hardest time. If you are dealing specifically with grief or loss issues, these tips on getting through the holidays might be helpful. And if you are not currently on that grief journey, you may see some ways you can help someone who is.

Sometimes Tradition, Sometimes Not

A dear friend facing a challenging holidays said recently, “I’m dreading the traditional this year. The new experiences I am looking forward to, but the old ones — I don’t know.”

Too much food, too much stress, too much pressure and too little time. Add to it a major life change and the old-familiar may be a little too tough.

So, give yourself a break. I’d never advocate changing traditions that work, but consider trying something new. Good grief, even if you’re happy as a clam, try something new, whether it’s a cookie recipe or a change of venue! It may become a new tradition or maybe it’s just an event for this year to help shake things up in a good way.

You may see your best (and most unexpected) holiday concert ever. Enjoy a walk through a dazzling winter wonderland on a zoo walk. Sample far too many treats as you stroll through a holiday gallery walk. Go caroling for the first time since college. Watch “The Nutcracker” live or on video.

Consider a road trip. If being home is too hard, venture to a new place or accept the holiday invitation to spend it at the home of friends or relatives. It doesn’t have to be a permanent tradition, but it might make the first year under new circumstances a little easier.

And if your friend is grieving? Help out with a surprise meal of pasta, salad (in a bag makes it easy, if not exciting!) and some crusty bread. And if you can, join them. Dinner alone can be tough for the newly widowed.

Be willing to listen — to sadness, to memories, to fears for the future. And remember, loss can be complicated. Not everyone is sad for a death — they may be sad for what was and now can never be. Don’t assume you know how they feel. You might know how you think you would feel but everyone’s experience with a person who died is unique.

Welcome the Person Who Is No Longer With Us by Remembering

You might light a candle in someone’s honor — whether it is at the dinner table or privately. Honor the light they brought to your life. Or stop by the cemetery to lay a pine bough or some holly.

I have the “Dad” Christmas tree (with ornaments that reflect things he loved) and the “Mom” tree, with ornaments that were some of her favorites along with new ones that I know she’s love.

Try a helium balloon flight — write a note to the loved one, tie it to the string of the balloon, then let it go high in the air. This is especially meaningful for children. When I was volunteering in the grief center, the annual balloon launch was the “event of the year” and the kids and adults alike valued sending up their thoughts to their loved one.

If stitching is your thing, consider making ornaments from one of their clothing garments or jewelry or use something that was part of them as part of your holiday decorating. Or ask your crafty friend if they can make you something in the year ahead — a stuffed bear or tree ornaments, for example. This year my friend Suzanne gave me several necklaces of her mother’s, whom I knew and liked very much. She thought I might pass them on to charity. They are costume jewelry but that long strand of pearls and another necklace are now a beautiful beaded garland on one of my trees. The others will be given away but these memories of Nolda will remain on my tree for years to come.)

Do Something that Might Make You Feel Like You Are Making a Difference. 

It can be hard to give back when you feel you have nothing left to give, but volunteering doesn’t mean just working at an organized activity with a major time commitment. You may have an elderly neighbor who might not easily be able to wrap gifts for the family. A couple of gift

bags, some tissue and you’re good to go — you’ll make that person’s day and you’ll feel pretty great yourself. Park yourself in the lobby of the nursing home or assisted living site or in a room at your church after Sunday services, loaded with wrapping paper.

Often I do what I call my “Random Acts of Christmas” — chipping in $5 at the grocery cashier to go toward the order of the old man behind me, anonymously of course. Priming the meter or parking attendant with another dollar’s worth for the next user. An anonymous gift to someone who needs a lift. Once you start, it is really hard to stop.

Most of All, Be Gentle with Yourself

Remember, holidays can be tough on a good day. There are parties when you don’t feel like partying, a whole lot of sugar and butter, things to do, like shopping and wrapping and mailing — presumably with a deadline, and so much more. Sometimes it’s good to

go out, see friends, make merry. Sometimes that’s even very healing.

But there are other times when you just can’t. Don’t beat yourself up over it. People will understand. If the cards don’t get out, it’s not a crisis. If you can’t bear to write the holiday letter that covers your year, skip it and just send a card or an e-card.

Pick a few things to do — not everything. Talk it over with your kids (young and older, too) and let them know where you stand, and learn where they do. You can probably come to consensus.

As a friend, if you are headed to the store or the post office, ask if you can pick up groceries or stamps. Bring a tray of crudites instead of cookies, maybe with a light dip or cold shrimp and sauce. There are loads of ways you can help someone take care.

Remember, There IS Hope. And There IS Wonder.

It may feel impossible to find hope when things dark and sad. But it’s the time we need it most. And seeing the wonder of the world may just be an important part of the antidote. The twinkling lights, whether on your own tree or in a shop window. The smile on a child’s face. The grateful appreciation for an act of kindness. The quiet snowfall on Christmas Eve. The blanket of stars in an inky night sky or the dazzling pinks and lavenders of the perfect sunset. There is wonder in the love we have known, that great gift that carries us through.


And there is wonder in the cycle of life, of knowing that flowers will bloom, leaves will change into a glorious array of colors and snow will fall. The sun will rise and set and the world will spin its orbit. And with it comes the hope that next year will be a little kinder, a little easier, a little more settled.

I will not wish you a Happy Holiday — I’ll leave that to you, and it may be hard. But I will offer my wishes for peace and healing and the hope that you will find even just a wee bit of wonder to help you in your journey this season. May that star shine brightly to lead you into a new year of hope.

About the Author: Jeanie Croope

Jeanie Croope bioAfter a long career in public broadcasting, Jeanie Croope is now doing all the things she loves — art, photography, writing, cooking, reading wonderful books and discovering a multitude of new creative passions. You can find her blogging about life and all the things she loves at The Marmelade Gypsy.

Pivot to Hope & Wonder by Keva Bartnick

When I saw the theme was “Hope & Wonder”, I wasn’t sure how to write about hope and wonder because lately it seems that I have been short on both. I don’t know if you believe in God, or Spirit, or the Universe stepping in with a helping hand every once in a while, but I sure do.

Though this sounds like the strangest gift ever, when my mother-in-law got me a subscription to ‘Prevention’ magazine, I was thrilled. I love this about her, she seems to know what people need in their lives. She reminds me of Spirit in this way.  I had received the December issue in the mail sometime last week and have been too busy to open it. Seems to be that my editor and Spirit were on the same page, not that that should surprise you.

Sometimes waiting for a serendipitous moment takes some patience and a little luck.

Today I want to talk about ”the pivot.” The Pivot can be described as a mental transformation from a desire into an expectation, and life will sometimes deliver what you hope for. As described, it’s the process of stopping destructive thoughts and consciously exchanging them for the best possible outlook. This outlook had been influenced by Esther Hicks, inspirational speaker and author. I ask myself:

“How can I use the Pivot to influence my outlook with the upcoming holiday season? To bring hope and wonder back into a season that has notoriously seemed to lack these sentiments for me?”

I have three young daughters. You’d think that these three minions would bring me all the hope and wonder that I could ever need in my life. They remind me of three hurricanes, smack dab in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle. Life is never boring. It feels like I meet myself coming and going. It’s always windy.

I’m always trying to find my “wanna.” My wanna to NOT do anything besides sitting on a beach somewhere with a drink in my hand, and my toes in the sand.

The last time I clearly remember feeling hope and wonder was the day they were born. Hoping that I don’t screw this up, and wondering if I was going to be the best mom for them. Every day after that has been a blur. But having to write about hope and wonder has got me thinking about how far I’ve come. How using the pivot in my everyday life would make my simple everyday experiences better.

More meaningful moments are the bees knees, right?!

I am a person that believes that when I set my mind to changing the direction I am going nothing will stop me. The universe hears me and conspires in my favor. I truly believe that with my heart and soul. Maybe, just like the Grinch, my heart can grow three sizes bigger this holiday season.

Maybe, I can look on every rough moment and embrace my inner child, sticky fingers and all.

I believe that God, Spirit, the Universe gave me our three beautiful daughters to help me FIND my hope and wonder. To help me embrace the moments fully, to help me work on my pivoting skills. To help me feel young again, to make me a better person. I am blessed beyond measure. I find my hope and wonder in the little moments, looking at them look at the world with such a big light in their eyes. They are my hope and wonder expressed in human form.

About the Author: Keva Bartnick

Keva Bartnick is an artist, writer, and lightworker. Happily married mother of three; she’s been inspiring people to be their most courageous selves since 2015.

She can be found at

Sunday Sensations: The First Christmas Without You

I’m slipping into the holidays sideways this year.

1986 Tabitha & Hannah02022015When you experience tremendous loss, the whole world functions differently for awhile. Grief is a weird sensation. It’s simultaneously universally known and deeply personal. If you’ve lost someone dear to you, you know how it feels, but you can’t know how someone else feels. Your own grief is picking through a town that you haven’t been to in years. It feels familiar, but the signs have changed. You never walk the same street twice.

So bring on the presents, hot chocolate and cheer. Let me touch things my mother touched. It’s all familiar, but foreign.

If my mom hadn’t been so great at Christmas it may be a bit easier on my heart. Everything I do echos her. There’s an echo here as we make cookies and my husband asks why I put the sugar on after bringing them out of the oven. “Because mom did it.” There’s a wisp of her as I hang ornaments she crafted years ago. If I close my eyes and listen I can hear her as I wrap gifts for my dad.

Mom is Christmas. It’s as if the holiday was made just for her — her creativity, her skills, her belief in Jesus, and her heart for others all came to life at the end of the year. From presents to tree to cookies and decorations, she was the event planner and we her happy elves. I ached every year to put out her Precious Moments nativity set. Every tradition cemented my love for Christmas and for our faith.

Christmas I’ve had the ache of loss at Christmas before. Losing my grandparents early and watching my friends travel from grandparent to grandparent was hard. Seeing a tree decorated in all blue still conjure up images of my Grandma Shirley singing “I’ll have a blue Christmas” over her petite live Christmas tree. I remember the story of my Grandpa’s favorite childhood Christmas. But this is different.

This is not to say that my life is full of despair. Loneliness is hemmed in by family and friends. Puppy kisses and kitten purrs sooth the rough spots. There are many happy moments of peace, kindness and love. There’s simply something about grief that’s so personal, and (at times) a bit selfish.

So here’s to all of us coming to the holidays sideways this year. Our journeys are different, but similar. The lights are a bit dimmer, but they still shine brightly. We drink deeply of the sweet and bitter. We will love. So cry. Rest. Love. Christmas may not be as magical as it has been, but they won’t always be like this.

About the author: Tabitha Grace Challis

Tabitha Grace ChallisTabitha is a social media strategist, writer, blogger, and professional geek. Among her published works are the children’s books Jack the Kitten is Very Brave and Machu the Cat is Very Hungry, both published under the name Tabitha Grace Smith. A California girl (always and forever) she now lives in Maryland with her husband, son, and a collection of cats, dogs, and chickens. Find out more about her on her Amazon author page or follow her on Twitter: @Tabz.

Snow Day by Molly Totoro

Let me set the scene.

It is a dark, cold Wednesday morning. The alarm rings for the second time. I dare not press the snooze option again for fear I will oversleep. I brace myself before turning back the warm flannel sheets – allowing the cold air to hit my legs as I swing them over the side of the bed. I’m partially awake now.

I grope for my glasses resting on the nightstand. I put them on and check my phone: 5:30am. Time to start the day.

I shuffle my way through the hall and down the steps. The pot of coffee I set to a timer the night before is ready. I pour myself a cup and head to my special seat in the family room. The Basset barely moves to make room, but I’m appreciative of his efforts to warm my spot. I find the remote and turn on the morning news.

… you will find a listing of school closings scrolling at the bottom of the screen.

I’m now fully awake. I watch the names of schools make their way across the television. Blue Valley… Bonner Springs… It will be a while before they reach the Os.

I try to keep my excitement under control. After all, these are the last weeks before the end of the semester. There is so much more work to do before finals. But…

Edgerton… Excelsior Springs…

I am prepared for class. All grading is complete. Lesson plans are in order. Photocopies made. The students are working on long-term writing projects. If we don’t have school, they will know what to do at home.

Kearny … Lee’s Summit…

 So many school districts are closed. There’s about three inches of snow on the ground now, making rush hour traffic slow and treacherous. News anchors are advising all to stay inside if possible. The forecast is for another six inches before nightfall.

Peculiar… Olathe…

 I let out an audible squeal. The basset gives me a look of disdain and returns to his slumber. A snow day!!

I’m not sure why I’m so fond of these special occasions. I am usually mature and reserved, but snow days bring out my inner child.

Perhaps it’s because I grew up in Texas. I never experienced snow until we moved to Connecticut when I was twelve. And that first snow was magical. Rather than hard, pelting raindrops, soft silent flakes floated around me. The drab gray ground transformed into an unblemished swirl of white. Rain told me to stay safe indoors while the snow beckoned me to come outside and experience winter joy.

Of course, I understand the scientific cause: cold temperatures and moisture in the clouds create ice crystals that stick together and form snow before falling to the ground. The valid explanation, however, does not diminish the magic.

While I no longer choose to spend my snow days outside building snowmen or engaging in friendly snowball fights, I do relish the joy of an unexpected day off.

I light a fire in the fireplace and enjoy sipping an extra cup of hot coffee. Because my school work is complete, the day belongs to me – to do as I see fit. I refuse to sully the hours with mundane chores like laundry or housekeeping. This day is reserved for spontaneous creativity.

A portion of the morning hours will be spent reading that novel I bought months ago but never found the time to open. Today is the day to escape to that literary world.

Around noon I will inspect the refrigerator to see what I can make for dinner. I find enough leftovers and vegetables for a nice pot of soup and some melted cheese biscuits.

The afternoon hours may be spent on a craft project, like catching up on family scrapbooks or creating greeting cards for the upcoming year. If I’m in a particular culinary mood, I may scour the cookbooks for a new dessert recipe to try.

The leisurely day is bound to pass quickly. Before I know it, the dinner dishes will be washed and put away, and I will begin thinking about school tomorrow.

The magic of a snow day, however, is not limited to one 24-hour time period. The spontaneous day off is simply the catalyst to re-awakening our creativity. Once we open that novel, take out those craft supplies, or delve deeper into a personal project, we look for ways to continue.

We discover a ten-minute pocket of time between cleaning the kitchen and starting the nighttime routine. We set the alarm thirty minutes earlier to give us some quiet uninterrupted space. We turn off the comedy re-runs in favor of me-time.

I’m not sure who enjoys a snow day more: students, teachers, or the basset.

About the Author: Molly Totoro

Molly Totoro is a Connecticut Yankee currently residing in the Midwest with her husband and trusty basset. While Molly retired from full-time teaching in 2014 to pursue her writing dreams, she continues to work with students to achieve their writing potential. Molly recently published her first book, Journaling Toward Wholeness: A 28-Day Plan to Develop a Journaling Practice with the hope of inspiring others to experience the health benefits of writing their inner thoughts.

Connect with Molly at her blog, My Cozy Book Nook and on social media: FaceBookTwitterInstagramPinterest

Him by Kolleen Harrison

I watch him as he talks to himself, laughs, and talks some more.

I watch him as he attempts to line up his glass just perfectly in the
cupboard – over and over and over again.

I watch him as he stares out the window with a big smile plastered upon
his face, wondering what it is that is making him smile so wide.

I watch him in his nervousness and anxiety as someone he doesn’t know
says “hello” to him.

I watch him with love.
I watch him with admiration.
I watch him with curiosity.
I watch him and wonder if he knows just how amazing he really is.
I watch him grateful he is mine.

About the Author: Kolleen Harrison

kolleenHarrisonbioKolleen Harrison is a creative living in the beautiful Central Coast of California. She is the Founder of LOVEwild and Founder/Maker of Mahabba Beads. Her passions lie in nurturing her relationship with God, loving on her happily dysfunctional family, flinging paint in her studio, dancing barefoot, making jewelry (that is so much more than “just jewelry”), and spreading love and kindness wherever and whenever she can. You can find her popping in and out at or

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