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Winston, the Smiling Dog
Meet Winston, a Border collie mix who has enriched Sonja and her family’s life. Winston, who loves to go for walks, play ball, and fetch Frisbees, brings energy to their home. He’s sensitive, intelligent, and keeps the family laughing. “He can smile,” Sonja reports, with a hint of pride. “Winston loves attention, and he’ll lie on top of my son’s computer or knock the phone out of my daughter’s hand if they’re on them too long.” Winston’s family enjoys his antics, especially how he pulls his toys out of his kennel, plays with them, and then puts them back. They…
Gertie the Extraordinary Goose
Think about those extraordinary moments of your life. You might recall a milestone celebration or something unplanned, such as the gift of a perfect spring day when you fished a stream and caught a brook trout or the warm night you strolled outdoors under a star-filled night. Or it could be the day you got an unexpected phone call that changed your life.
Getting Through Dark Times
I was merrily strolling along the sidewalk in my lavender Crocs when the toe of my right shoe buffed against the cement and BAM! I was down on the sidewalk, blood oozing from my knee. What just happened? Double that minor scraped knee. Now triple it and keep escalating it for the major tragedies we encounter in life. Consider current events such as the Texas, Colorado, and Georgia mass shootings. Or think back to your reaction when you saw the footage of the twin towers tumbling during the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. My first thought was, What just…
Thoughts From an Old Pine
A lifetime ago, a young married couple carted me to a clearing in their new backyard. I was tall and strong and it took both of them to lift me. As they patted the soil around my roots, settling me into a comfortable hole and giving me plenty of water, they smiled at one another. I knew by planting me, they were thinking about their future. I grew, and so did their family. When their daughter and two sons were old enough, the father hung a swing from my branches. The mother would stand in my cooling shade, pushing first…
We Rock
“I found mine in a tree,” a friend told me excitedly, while we visited in an Alabama restaurant. “I found mine hidden in some weeds,” her husband said, leaning toward me. “Someone had painted Mississippi on the top.” The delight in both seniors’ faces made them resemble kids on Christmas morning. They were talking about finding painted rocks, a kindness-spreading movement for people of all ages.  Maybe you’ve been the recipient of a similar random act of kindness and know how it can lift your spirits. Or maybe you’ve been the one to donate to a scholarship, buy a stranger’s…
Connecting to Those Who Came Before
Discussions about online fatigue and the value of face-to-face experiences are prevalent these days. I’m sure we’ll have more virtual options in the future, but engaging with a screen can’t compete with being on site and physically being with others. I receive many emails from places like Road Scholar advertising a virtual tour to countries like Ireland or Italy. I delete them. The value of traveling for me is to experience the culture and make emotional connections. A virtual tour just doesn’t make it. I’m returning from my first long-distance trip in a year, which included a tour of a…
Tennis Life Lessons
“Stop bouncing around so much,” Jean, a master tennis instructor, had coached me. “Plant those feet when you’re hitting the ball. And relax!” No more acting like a Jack-in-the-box, I tell myself later, when facing my opponents. If my partner and I can win this next game, we’ll have the doubles match. “No pressure,” my male opponent, whom I’ve secretly nicknamed The Intimidator, calls out. He grins as he hands me two balls. He likes to mess with my head, I’ve noticed. “Love all,” I call out. As I prepare to serve, every muscle in my body is as tight…
Laughter–the Language Everyone Understands
Yesterday I had the chance to share my latest picture book (virtually) with two bilingual classes in New Jersey. The second graders were enthusiastic, especially when I held up a snakeskin and the shell of a snapping turtle, my storytelling props. Still, it was hard to connect with the large number of kids, especially those who weren’t fluent in English. Then, I read the page where Paris, a girl from the city, is afraid of the rat-a-tat sounds and the sight of a pileated woodpecker. She calls it a kid-eating pterodactyl. I paused to talk about dinosaurs and one of…
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