Monday, December 31, 2018

Bring it on.

As  the year 2018 dwindles from hours to minutes and 2019 arrives with many uncertainties, I wish you all a blessed New Year, prosperity, and good health. God bless each of you, those of faith who believe and those who don't. To look into a newborn baby's face is to witness God's handiwork. 

This quote spoke to me. Looking back over 2018, I would agree...

"There are years that ask questions and years that answer."

I was in the doctor's office last week and came across this quote by Zora Neale Hurston from
one of the most important and enduring books of the twentieth century, Their Eyes Were Watching God . 

This book brings to life a Southern love story with the wit and pathos found only in the writing of Zora Neale Hurston. Out of print for almost thirty years—due largely to initial audiences’ rejection of its strong black female protagonist—Hurston’s classic has since its 1978 reissue become perhaps the most widely read and highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature. It is 99 cents on Kindle. I have not read it yet, but hope to soon.

I am thankful for my followers and friends near and far. Happy New year 2019! May this be a year that provides opportunity and answers for you.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

There is no Minnesota Fats in our family, but we did play billiards with our feet!

 Looking for a little fun in the new year? Participants from Scouts, school groups, corporate team building events, fraternities, friends and family members all agree is WHERE THE FUN IS. 

Located in South St. Louis on Morganford Road a couple blocks south of Arsenal near Tower Grove Park,  housed in a store front, this family-owned small business offers personal fitness workshops and drop in rates for organized Human Foos Ball. They also have league play. 

In addition to the physical activity and great work out, there are a dozen or more life size games on tables, floors, and walls, such as Connect Four, Yahtzee, Checkers, Scrabble, Chess, but one of the most appealing games is FOOT POOL. 

Grand kids were in from college and both George and Morgan are sports enthusiasts who play league volleyball. Can you imagine how much fun it is to sink stripes or solids without scratching, by using your foot as a cue? There was a group of college kids competing with one another. Laughter galore.
Clayton, the coach and referee, offers encouragement and hugs; calls foul, signals yellow cards and you sure don't want him to hold up a red card when you mess up playing...

HUMAN FOOS BALL. Oh my gosh this was such a work out. Wish I could say Bill and I were participants, but we were actually spectators. We cheered family and friends as they kicked that ball up and down the court. Goalies used knees, legs and feet. Did I say sweaty-hot work out?

That's Bill's daughter Robin cheering a goal point, before she did the floss dance. LOL. We are planning an encore. If you live locally, check this place out. It is affordable and you won't be disappointed. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Where have I been? Or have you forgotten me already?

It has been one minor disaster after another here. Bill developed bronchitis which nearly went into pneumonia a couple weeks ago, so I took care of him. Then he had cataract surgery on his left eye. I am designated driver. Doctor visits required driving across town, and then next day follow up visit to the other end of town, all in rush hour traffic.

 Today he had a dense cataract removed from his right eye, and will have a follow up visit early in the morning. A physical the next day. Did I say in rush hour traffic?

He has also been going to physical therapy for a seriously painful knee, but it hasn't alleviated the pain. So he saw an orthopedist, who gave him a cortisone shot and removed 10 times the fluid that was supposed to be on his knee. He is still in pain and is going to request an MRI, but does not want knee replacement. YIKES!

We used to be avid dancers, and we both miss dancing. We wish you a happy holiday. We are grateful for family and friends, and especially each other. We can at least strike a dance pose.

Last week was my turn for boo-boos.
I was scooping frozen cookie dough when the plastic measuring spoon snapped and sliced my thumb to the bone. Using my thumb is something I take for granted, so the wound was forever reopening, but it's finally healing.

Then we were visiting a friend when I stepped on his dog's toy. When I screamed,  the mutt nipped me in the butt. I have a bruised cheek. Yeah that one!

And my left facial cheek looks like I have been tortured. I pulled a cookie tray from the oven at eye level, and turned suddenly to see what the cat was yowling about and burned my own cheek!  

Last night after a wonderful family Christmas, with much laughter and joy, from our babies young and old, I fell asleep on the couch, exhausted. I vaguely remember my honey calling my name, but I was too far gone and did not hear about his latest episode until we were sitting in the eye surgeon's office this morning. When he told me, I laughed so hard I cried.

Bill said he couldn't see out of his bad eye, and his good eye had no lens in his glasses last night. So he was having trouble seeing how badly he'd injured the toe next to his big toe when he conked it on the dresser. He placed his foot on the toilet seat and poured alcohol and peroxide over his toes, which colored the water bright red with blood. He couldn't rouse me from sleep, so with limited visibility, he proceeded to doctor his foot. He put triple antibiotic and a Bandaid on his toe. He hobbled into the living room and collapsed in his recliner. He propped up his feet, and THAT is when his vision cleared under direct lamp light. His toe was oozing blood through the ointment. He had bandaged the wrong toe!

I am also battling the bulge. Doctor has me on probation. She said, my cholesterol number hadn't changed in a year. I think that's a good thing (201), but I have three months to lower my LDLs or go on meds. I'm gobbling the last of the peanut butter cookies. In a few days I will be reforming my ways. Or Liam's dinosaur will get me!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Your words can be a gift

My sweet Liam did not have to share me with his brothers last Friday. They had to go to the pediatrician, so he spent the day with us, much to his delight. Papa Bill took us to McDonald's so Liam could play at the Play Place. 

Then it was home for a nap and afterwards some pre-reading activities, story telling, and phonics  using inventive spelling (writing the letters he hears.) 

This is Liam's precious story. Four and five year old children should be able to stay on topic using 4-5 related sentences.

I used to do these with my students, and some were so funny! I displayed them at our holiday program and explained why it is important to ask kids questions, such as who? what? why? where? when? what else? and can you tell me more?
There are many people who don't realize they are writers. You do not have to be published to say you are a writer.
 Liam loves books, alphabet, sounding out letters, and of course the praise I heap on him for being so eager to learn. He was in rare form being silly as we played Jenga.  As I was video taping him, I asked him his name. He replied, "LEO." Then he laughed and laughed, which resulted in bear hugs and tickles. I love the age he is!
Let this be a reminder to you if you are a writer, don't wait until you know all the rules of writing to get started. Look at an interesting picture and tell a story. That's a beginning.

This is a busy time, and it is easy to procrastinate, so be sure to get your words down, even if it is to complain about the hectic pace, the crazies you encountered, or the things that made you smile or say, Oh dear!" Don't let December slip by without your words. They may be a gift to someone. 

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Sweetness Overload

Liam at 6 months old.

And now at 4 1/2 years old.

Alex loved their noses!

I told the boys to stand by the snow people. Liam stood in front of Frosty, and Alex screamed in resistance until he saw the ball on the hat. Failed photo.

Alex, 15 1/2 months enjoys ripping his shoes open; he likes the sound of the Velcro. I made him a Christmas tree with Velcro attached ornaments.  He loves peeling them off. Liam can read the names on the ornaments.
Charlie has stolen my heart. He loves when Frosty sings to him.

Charlie loves when frosty 
 And Charlie is right, who needs Santa when your Nana is...
keep scrolling...

a gingerbread grandma with a narrow waist.

If you really want a good laugh, check out my latest holiday publication at

Happy holidays! 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Some people are too helpful, or keep your mitts off my plate!

Today is Thanksgiving. The big guy and I have achy knees, and a heart filled with love, because we have so much for which to be thankful. In a  few hours everyone will arrive, and our small house will be noisy. Everyone will fuss over the babies, and I will special-snuggle each of our grand kids, even those who tower over me.

The food is ample. the bird is plump, and  the young ones will inevitably be coaxed to eat something off their plates. "Just one more bite. A vegetable or no dessert."

In years past  I have insisted, pleaded, begged, my kids. Then when the grands came along, I sneakily devoured their food so their parents thought THEY ate it.

I have been known to add a bit extra off my plate to Bill's when I can't eat it all.

I don't mind if my honey puts something on my plate to taste, but by golly don't ladle food onto my plate if you don't know me!

Tuesday I was in a buffet line waiting for Asian chicken. A short guy with a thin white ponytail and a big mouth waited stood in front of me. The pan was empty. He asked, "You like this chicken, too?"

"I do."

"Well it's the best in town."

"I know."

That was the extent of our conversation.

 There was one crusty chicken chunk left in the pan, so I scooped it out and put it on my plate. When the chef put a new pan of chicken on the buffet, this guy loaded up a ladle and dumped it...
on my plate!

"Hey! Do not put food on my plate. That's yours!"

He looked offended. "I thought you said you liked it."

"I do, but I don't want fifteen chunks. I only wanted three," I said as I scooped the chicken (including that one crunchy piece I really wanted) onto HIS plate. He looked shocked.

Guess he didn't look at MY face.

If you are reading this, know I am thankful for YOU.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Rescue at sea

The sun trying to break through the clouds spotlighted an emergency and the intensity and urgency of an air lift at sea on board our cruise ship. This photo evokes feelings of hopefulness as well as hopelessness. 

Early in the morning there was an emergency call for a critically ill passenger. Rumors abounded, but the consensus was an elderly man had a massive heart attack about 6:30 a.m. A doctor, three doors down heard the man's wife screaming for help and assisted.

 As you can tell by the angle of the sun, it was about 1:30 p.m. when the helicopter finally arrived. Out of respect for the family, the captain asked no videos be taken. But there was a crowd of onlookers (including us) who did capture cell phone images. We were one deck below, close enough to witness the difficulties and frustration of trying to land in gale force winds. A half hour we listened to witness's comments, "That aircraft is fuel sensitive, they won't have enough to make it to shore." "Watch out if it crashes; shrapnel will fly."

I stood shoulder to shoulder with passengers in solemn silence. I watched and prayed as the chopper bounced on air currents, swayed left and right. Unable to hover, the pilot had to circle the ship time and again.

 I prayed, "Lord, you command the winds and seas, please help this rescue mission, and if it's thy will be done, allow this person to survive."

After many attempts, the ship's captain cut the engines and steered the ship as close as possible under the hovering chopper. Medical personnel dangled from a cable and made their way on board. Minutes ticked endlessly, and then a stretcher was lowered. Finally, the patient and medical team were airlifted. Out of respect, I did not photograph that part.

As the chopper zoomed off, a collective sigh, cheers, and rousing applause rang out. The doctor leaned out of the chopper and gave a thumbs up.

Even though I look elated to be on the beach, days later I was still concerned for the patient and family. The images and incident haunted me. I can only imagine how those with PTSD suffer from flashbacks.

My honey looks pensive as our cruise comes to a close. We enjoy gazing into the ruffled tail spray at the back of the ship.

Sun rises on the horizon streaming brilliant streaks of sunshine on the Caribbean turquoise blue (which you cannot see here)...  and the promise of a new day.

Make the most of yours! Nobody is promised tomorrow.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Dear... telling it like it is

Letters Never Meant to be Read Vol. III  (Marc D. Crepeaux, Rusty Wheels Media) is now LIVE on Amazon. My letter is included in this fantastic anthology. I started reading, and I could not put the book down. 

Consider contributing a letter of your own. The stories are diverse and include: Dear Me, To whom it may concern:, Dear Cookie Dough, Dear Jerk, Dear Counselor and so many more. These letters are relatable.

Here is the shortened link of the kindle version for your viewing pleasure:

And here is a shortened link to the paperback version:

Also, there are updated covers and interior for a 2nd edition re-release of Letters Never Meant to be Read Volumes I & II which can be found here:

If you're interested in getting a copy of one of these volumes, it supports other authors. And perhaps it will inspire you to pen a letter never meant to be read. 

Letters Never Project is always accepting submissions year round and can be submitted to:


Letters Volume IV contest is coming your way! 

This time, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place contest winners will receive a copy of the final publication signed by Marc D. Crepeaux, as well as a signed copy of Vol. III. This is in addition to cash prizes.

Do you love being in the loop on the latest and greatest reads? 

Then follow us on Twitter! @

This video highlights just what Rusty Wheels Media is doing. We offer (in most cases) zero upfront costs to our authors. So you get published for FREE.

Newest additions to the Rusty Wheels Media library:

In the Mist of Fire by Nathalie Grabinski :

Contractual Obligations (released as a new Audible Version):

Stop That Wedding by Melissa Klein:

Monday, November 12, 2018

SPARK... an idea that could lead to future publication

An image can spark an idea, a story, or a poem. Sometimes when I try to write I hit a dead end. When I merely write what I observe along the way, I sometimes spark a poem, essay or story.

Tropical sunrise tripped my trigger and made my heart ping. 

Florida sunset made me swoon but was gone too soon. Rained the next three days.

 We went on an enjoyable cruise with Bob and Peggy, a couple we have traveled with before. I enjoyed the Caribbean blast furnace heat. I would rather be hot than cold. But winter does not listen to me. Two inches of snow possibly today. I am trading one white (sand) for another (snow.)
I left behind my footprints, saw a few ocean critters, and took home memories to get me through winter. My honey has been in therapy for a sore leg so he sat, and I waddled a few worries away.
On the long drive home from New Orleans, I wrote random thoughts about things I observed along the way.

Brittle leaves line dancing across the black top.

Weathered row boat, wintering bottom up on a stump, in a cluster of barren trees, oars clinging to wooden ribs.

Spring growth will hide that little boat like a squealer in the witness protection program.

Empty dandelion colored bucket gaping on its side. Wire handle anxious for an encounter.

Flattened Mountain Dew case tossed and battered by hyped up winds.

Half dozen discarded quart plastic oil containers piled in a ditch, life blood for someone's jalopy.

My new scarf worn on Halloween night, transforming me into a butterfly. (my blog photo)

Your turn! Look around, out a window, or at the sky. Write a creative sentence or two about what you see. Will you share?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Are you hauling a big load?

The  truck driver was hauling a dump truck. Take a look and see.

Are you a hauler? Do you tow around other people's STUFF as well as your own?
Do you feel overloaded at times? Maybe the load isn't really as big as it seems.

We came upon this  transport truck in traffic ahead of us and had to laugh when the tail lights lit up like a Christmas tree and drew attention to the load. 

The driver had this toy dump truck strapped to the bed of his truck. 
Is it time for your to reassess? Unload some of the burden? Consider why you transport everything? Do you allow others to dump on you? Do you say yes or maybe when you should say, NO? If the weight of your load is a burden, lighten your load. If your circumstances are such that you must haul the whole load, be sure to take care of yourself, too.

Have you seen anything that made you do a double take?

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Writing about the NOTS

Did you ever keep going when you wanted to quit?

I have been discouraged many times, and even when I vow never to write again, I always return to writing. As I search markets, I discover more and more they are genre, gender, and geographically specific, or they have entry fees, all of which can be discouraging. 

I have been racking my brain to come up with a true story for Chicken Soup for the Soul for Runners book. The only time I have ever deliberately run was towards kids when they were heading for danger. 

I hated running in school as much as I despised throwing. That's another story.

My brother-in-law Bill runs marathons, and he is in his 70s. I admire his tenacity. But I just don't have what it takes to be a competitive runner. 

I have run to and away from things, but not for long distances, not for love, not for prize money, not for blue ribbons. Oh wait, a memory! And I just arrived at it by thinking in reverse... I'll be back. 

I began to write a stream of consciousness piece about NOT running. That sparked a memory from a running event that happened to a family member ten years ago... and I have now developed a true story about me NOT being a runner and what stemmed from that. I have woven my success into this story. Sound confusing? I'll share it with you privately or if and when it is accepted and published.

Sometimes writing reverse (con not pro) on topic can lead to a publishable essay. I will submit my story after my critique group gives it the once over. We are the WWWPs, Wild Women Wielding Pens. 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

How important is a title?

I met with a writer friend the other day. Seems great minds think alike. We are both working on personal collections. I am convinced readers will purchase his book before mine, simply because his title is a hoot. I am not at liberty to share the title at this time, but trust me, if you are a writer, you would laugh out loud.

Do titles sell you on a book?

Do you have a preference for long titles or short?
Do you like titles that sound like a newspaper headline?
Does a title capture the essence of what's to come? Does it entice? Evoke emotion?
Have you ever been impressed or misled by a title?

I am reading three books: Folly Beach, by Dorothea Benton Frank; We Are Water, by Wally Lamb; Save Me, by Lisa Scottoline. Three different genres, two I chose because I like the authors. One book has not lived up to my expectation, one surprised me, and the other is written in my preferred writing style.

One of my favorite books is, I Know This Much is True. I read the jacket flap but had already decided, based on the title, I wanted to read this book.

What is your opinion?

If you were going to write a collection of personal essays based on your own life, what would your title be? Come on give it a try. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

What are your triggers?

What are you allergic to?

You say you have no known food or prescription drug allergies?

Think about what you deliberately avoid and share a couple.

I used to teach at a school that served children with food allergies. A news crew came to film my class. You wouldn't believe the chatter among classmates who had no food allergies. When they were interviewed they named all sorts of things they were "allergic" to; bedtime, spinach etc.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Did you ever look back at your old stuff?

 Days drag, but years fly by. Wonder why. 

Happy birthday to my bright, grown up now, first grandchild who continues to bring me joy, sometimes annoy, and shares her little boys with me.

Did you ever look back on your own writing? Manuscripts, short stories, essays? 

Were you impressed and did you wonder, " Wow! Did I actually write this? Not bad."

Or did you cringe and wonder how you could have written such fodder?

Both have happened to me. Going through old files, I couldn't believe I made such strong verb choices and how swell I turned a phrase.

I've also cringed while reading some of my earlier writing. I couldn't believe how many unnecessary words I used. 

An example in overwriting: 
I enjoy walking early in the morning when the bright sun rises seemingly from the earth, into the vast sky, climbs the horizon, and lingers until late evening, when it slides back down and makes me equally happy.

An example in cutting unnecessary words:
Sunrise walks and sunset strolls bring me joy.  

An example in creative rewriting:
I'm thrilled at the first glint of sunlight as I stroll in stillness. Twilight holds the promise of a brisk walk and good night's sleep.

Now it is your turn:
If you have a few rotten nuggets on file, go back and rewrite. It is okay to use as many words as you need to get your point across. 

But THEN pare down. 

Does your reader not know that the sun is bright? Seems to rise from the earth or ocean? The sky is vast? The sun seems to slide back down?  

Tight writing makes for good reading. Now, pull up one of your own pieces of writing and slice and dice. If you want to run it by me, I will take a look privately. Let me know.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

It's the great pumpkin Charlie

Last Saturday I joined these and other poets in the park to read at Manchester Arts Fest. The day was cool and breezy, and the poetry was as diverse as the readers. An enjoyable event that included music, a variety of arts, and campfire story telling. 

Wednesday, I spent the day with this cute little two month old doll boy. Charlie is such a jabberer. I wish I could say he was this sweet the entire day, but ...

he wailed when I laid him down to take his picture.
After I picked him up and showed him around the pumpkin patch, he calmed down.

Once he realized he was the star of the day, he chilled and enjoyed himself.

 I am so in love with this little guy and his brothers. Alex is walking, Liam is always running, and I am enjoying my retirement.

How about you? What have you been up to?

Thursday, September 27, 2018

How a wink and smile prefaced Mom's words of wisdom

Read all about how Mom's advice was always accompanied with a wink and a smile.

All of us harbor thoughts of yesteryear, and have lived full lives. Submit your story to Julia, and perhaps your story will be accepted for publication. I enjoyed reading the other stories, and I am sure you will, too.


Music, Literary and Art
I will be one of the poets reading from 12-2 pm 
I read at 1:40 (outdoors event)

Saturday at Manchester Parks and Recreation
358 Old Meramec Station Road
Manchester, MO 63021

Near Hy 141 and Manchester

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Take a peek

 Nature in our backyard provides science lessons for Liam. We have flowering sedum which attracts insects of all sizes. Bees and butterflies coexist peacefully and share the nectar.

This is what Liam experienced:

 A yellow butterfly (his favorite color) landed on a flower and thrilled him.

A cricket hopped by and he chased it until it hopped away. 

He crept up on a fly, ran away from a bumble bee, and expressed empathy for a dying ladybug.

When an odd-shaped bug landed on me, I told him it was a stink bug. He got down on his hands and knees and tried to sniff it. Oh yes he did! 

Life is good for this four year old and his old nana.

He is becoming such a gentleman. Paw paw Bill surprised him and took us to breakfast at McDonald's. Liam was by himself in the Play Place for quite a while. Then two husky boys, 7 and 10 joined him. Liam is a people person. 

When the boys had to leave, Liam stuck his head out of the playroom door and called them back. He shook each one's hand and said, "Thank you for playing with me. It was nice to meet you."

Their mom, a limited-English-speaking Hispanic woman smiled at him, turned and beamed at us. 

I captured that moment in my mind to remind me that children have no racial biases.

He likes to watch cartoon Daniel Tiger on PBS Kids. I am pretty sure gentle and kind Daniel (based on one of Mr. Roger's characters) taught him how to shake hands and express emotion. I am proud of this little rascal who has too much energy and is too mouthy for his parents, but he's my little angel.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Up, Up and Away!

Friday afternoon I took Liam to the Hot Air Balloon Glow (which was to take place at dusk) in Forest Park. We arrived at 3:30 p.m. to beat the crowds, but parking close was impossible.  It was a very long, hot (90 degrees) walk along winding, gravel paths, that all looked the same. I couldn't imagine how I would find my way back to my car in the dark.

By evening there were thousands of people on Art Hill and throughout the park relaxing on lawn chairs, blankets, and having picnics. But Liam never relaxes!

 He also has never met a stranger. He thinks everyone is his friend, and he asked the kids next to us to play tag and hide and seek with him. I am old and experienced. I brought food, beverages, bug spray, and I packed a wet wash cloth in a zip loc bag. We sure put that to good use.
 About 5:00 p.m. the balloon owners started pulling in and unloading their balloons onto sloping Art Hill, in front of the St. Louis Art Museum, where generations of kids have sledded in winter.

 We went right up to the fence so he could watch the balloons slowly inflate bigger than a house. Liam was so excited and exhausted from running all around. At 6:30 he asked to leave. So we headed back down the gravel paths and across foot bridges. I told him he would miss seeing the balloons glow when they illuminated them all at one time. He said he was too tired.

As we crossed the last bridge, one of the balloons lit up. He was as thrilled as I was. It took us an hour to get out of the park, because at 7:00 people were still arriving enmasse. When we pulled out into traffic we caught a glimpse through the trees of all the balloons glowing. Even though we did not stay until 9:30 for the fireworks display, we still had a thrill!

I told him the balloons would lay flat on the ground overnight, and on Saturday afternoon at 4:15 they would have the fox and hound race. All balloons would inflate again. One balloon would lift off, then fifteen minutes later, all the others would fill the sky as they chased it. He so wanted to watch them, but unfortunately I told him we would not be able to go, because his parents were picking him up at 5:00 p.m.

Liam woke me up at 6:30 talking to himself about the Balloon Glow. When his mom and dad came to pick him up, he was excited to tell them all about it. As they put him into the car seat, I yelled for them to let him out of the car. Off in the distance, the hot air balloons were drifting directly toward us. Liam was one happy little boy. Wind changed their predicted route and they came East instead of West... just for Liam.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Compelled to do SOMEthing

The Feelings Flag by Linda O'Connell

published in Chicken Soup for the Soul The Spirit of America, 2016

I stood in my living room and cringed at the sight of the first plane hitting the first of the Twin Towers. I thought, what an horrific accident. I felt terrible for the people on that plane, and for those in the World Trade Center building. I did not realize that the horror had only just begun.
I turned on my car radio on my way to work and listened intently to the reports. Then, I heard that another plane had made impact.

I arrived at school a few minutes later. No one was quite sure what was going on. Teachers were asking one another, "Did you hear about the plane crashes in NY?"
The gravity of the situation -America was under attack- was like a punch in the gut. We all felt winded, worried, and wounded.

My preschool classroom was in the lower level of an inner city middle school. What I remember most is the panicked young man in the hall who shouted at me, "America is at war!"

"Calm down," I said. "Don't jump to conclusions. Nobody knows for sure what's going on. This does not mean WAR."

They insisted they saw it on TV and that military jets were intercepting other planes.

I walked into my classroom, and watched as my students went about their school day, unaware of the attacks, I knew they were okay. My aide, Amy, was capable, so I left her in charge.

I felt compelled to do something patriotic to relieve the mounting tension and confusion the middle school students were feeling, although I was not in charge of any of them. I cut twelve-inch by two-inch strips of red, white and blue construction paper into strips, the kinds  kids use to create paper chains. I did not consult the principal or counselor. I acted on impulse. I visited each classroom and intruded on each classroom teacher. I asked each if might have a moment, then I said, "Nobody knows exactly what is going on. We've all heard rumors and news reports. It's a frightening time for all of us."

 I passed out strips of paper to the students and asked them to write what they were feeling at the moment. Any fears, any words— anything would be acceptable. Some asked about spelling, and some asked if they should sign it.

"If you want to," I said.

I collected more than 200 strips and rolled them into  loops, then I stapled them to the bulletin board in the cafeteria. I read an outpouring of emotional comments. "I am afraid." "I want to kick their behinds." "Bomb them." "Why did this happen?" "What now?" "I want to go home."

I posted one after another, row after row, until an American flag took shape. Some of the comments were laced with misspelled words and profanity; some were smeared with tears. I did not censor. I stapled every single one. I stood back and admired that "feelings flag".

At lunch I stood against the wall and observed teens and preteens, who were usually destructive with bulletin board displays, as they searched for their piece of that flag. I listened to them read their words aloud, owning their emotions, giving voice to their fears and frustrations, initiating conversations.

On that horrible day, when America came under attack, I didn't know if my actions would do any good. It just felt good to do something. 

My friend Tammy said, "With that spontaneous action, you gave children a voice when no one knew what to say."

The bulletin board flag stayed up for more than  a week. Then the strips began disappearing as individuals claimed their sections... and their feelings.