Month: July 2021

Out of the Darkness Walk September 19, 2021

Join me for the Out of Darkness Community Walk  on Sunday, September 19 from 11:30am – 3:00pm in Lake Placid, NY. The event is one of many initiatives by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).  I plan to sell jewelry and other art from the Adirondacks at the walk. All proceeds to benefit AFSP. I’ll also be on hand to share information about my Grief & Growth Notebook class that’s slated for October 23rd at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. That’s a free event for adults. More on that in a future post. Can’t make the event? Donate here: AFSP Donation Page

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Graduate School of Grief

I’ve always been a straight-A student. Ok, well, there was that ONE time I got a 79 on my New York State Chemistry Regents exam. I’d worked hard with my eleventh grade teacher to study for that end-of-the-year torture. He was a wonderful tutor. We were both relieved that I’d passed. Other than that, though, there’s only one other poor mark on my record. I earned a “C” in a class on religious studies in college.  Death, grief, and loss had entered my life prior to the death of my teen son, but not on the same scale. The intensity and exhaustion I felt losing my beloved boy was overpowering. I knew I needed to  study everything I could about how to get back up after that devastating and complex blow. I was drowning. I needed to practice new skills and tools so I could reach the surface and stay afloat. I also knew I had it “easy” or could be considered “lucky”: my trauma was limited to a single event, not a compilation of horrible things up to that dramatic point in my life. I have other protective factors that make my grief process ripe for resilience: a loving partner, freedom from elder and child care responsibilities, a supportive working environment, and I live in a beautiful, peaceful place.  I want to be clear, though, that I wasn’t looking to wipe away or fix my sorrow and sadness. I was searching for ways to file down the jagged edges,…

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Published: What a Children’s Book Taught Me (and My Students) About Grief

Michelle Cuevas’s powerful children’s book, The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole, features prominently in my essay about navigating grief while preparing for my new role as an English teacher at North Country School.  Independent School Magazine passed on my work with a personalized rejection and a website for school counselors ignored me altogether, so I pitched the piece to the Greater Good Science Center based at UC Berkeley.  I’d been a huge fan of Greater Good for years before I attended their weeklong Summer Institute for Educators in 2015. Shout out to Family #11!! That experience transformed my personal and professional life. The organization’s articles, courses, and resources continue to help me shape my goals inside and outside the classroom. You can read the essay here: What a Children’s Book Taught Me (and My Students) DECEMBER 2021: Yay for me! I made GGSC’s list (#4!!) of Best Education Articles of 2021

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Published: What’s Your Grief – Books & Broken Hearts

The website What’s Your Grief published a piece I wrote this summer. It highlights three contemporary middle-grade books that are ideal for facilitating meaningful conversations and classroom activities about trauma, grief, and loss with students. I’ll admit I was drawn to Rob Harrell’s book, Wink, because of the cover. The orange pops and the simple illustration is eye-catching (pun intended). The fictional story of Ross Maloy is based on Harrell’s real-life trials of going through middle school with a rare eye cancer. As I do with most books I preview for sharing with students, I listened to this book and then checked out the physical copy from my school’s library. One of Harrell’s masterful lines resonated with me each time: Eventually, the day got dark and ran out the way even the worst days do.     Rajani LaRocca’s debut is all about duality: family traditions and fitting in, gains and losses, life and death. An art teacher at North Country School recommended the work to me and its lyrical prose did not disappoint. Reha is the main character, an Indian-American teen in the mid-1980s, who tells her story in one powerful stanza after another. In addition to working as a writer, LaRocca is also a medical doctor. I can’t say enough about Michelle Cuevas’s sweet book, complete with whimsical illustrations, about young Stella and her black hole, Larry. This story includes so much about grief (Stella’s dad died) and growth (navigating out of the black hole) in real and…

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Bottoms Up

When I was in grad school, I wore what I thought was a wide variety of outfits; however, a classmate made an observation that gave me pause (sketch 1). Not long after that, I worked at The Crisis Center and the executive director smiled cheerfully when I walked in after the weekend (sketch 2).  I ditched a lot of vests and miss some of them now. Once I started knitting, I became a fan of scarves and wear them pretty religiously. Students have pointed out that I have a lot of scarves, but I no longer feel embarrassed or weird about my clothing choices. I’ve aged into a comfortable style that’s all my own. My younger son and I shared lots of clothing and footwear for a short period of time. That crossover was special. He loved vibrant colors and patterns, but didn’t really like to shop. I scoured thrift stores and retail outlets for the rich hues and textures he requested. I embraced those missions with gusto, knowing whatever fit me well would likely work on him, and I loved sharing the treasures I’d discovered. While I was away at a conference, I found purple pull-on shoes on the sale rack at a sporting goods store downtown. He happily donned them to complement his pink and red attire for the school’s Valentine’s Day dance that year. One winter vacation, we all piled into the car to spend a day in Burlington, Vermont together. We hunted for the pale green…

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