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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Your Productivity Road Map

Are the disruptions of daily life getting in the way of your writing goals? These tips will help you reach your destination faster and happier...without sacrificing sleep or sanity.  By Sage Cohen

Most writers want more time. Yet many of us aren't making the most of the time we already have. What gets in our way? Anne Lamott famously said, "My mind is a bad neighborhood I try to not to go into alone." It's our attitudes and habits that can make the neighborhoods of our minds difficult to navigate.

There are 11 steps. 1. Know your destination When you know what matters most to you in your writing life, you can steer the time you have toward getting there.

2. Chart your course. In your writing life, understanding how side errands inform the path toward your goal can likewise help you chart your course. If you want to complete a short story collection and are also building a social media platform, it's important to recognize whether and how one goal informs the other in order to allocate your time in a that delivers the greatest value.

3. Tighten your leash. If you have a tendency to wander off into endless research when you need only a factor two, or you sink an hour into Facebook where you could've left a quick comment, the leash of intention can call you back. Try setting a timer when you need to use designated writing time to tackle an unrelated task.

4. Let your life inform your writing. Have a system for capturing ideas, a recorder for the drive, a bathtub marker for the shower, a notepad in your gym bag. Or I have a HUGE post-it pad on my computer room door, to jot down thoughts, ideas.

5. Put a squirrel on the wire. When a dog, who is old, who can barely move, sees a squirrel, they'll go after it. Discovering what your own irresistible motivations are will give you the most value from the time you invest in writing.

6. Plant in the parking strip. Are you overlooking any margins of time that could help your writing flourish? It's easy to pass up the sliver available as we yearn for the whole pie and yet, writers often panic, flounder and waste swaths of perfectly good writing time when we have them. A lot of my writing was found when my students were taking a test (PARCC, Star 360), or at a hockey game (really hard, but do-able), in the car or doctors waiting area.

7.Travel in the Off-hours. The less traffic on the road, the faster you'll get where you're going. Same is true for writing in the off-hours. What you can achieve between 5 and 6 a.m. while your family is sleeping and your mind is fresh may be twice what you could accomplish at the end of a long workday.

Leave yourself a trail of crumbs when you have a work-in-progress, particularly in the great, uncharted middle.

Friday, April 7, 2017


The demons, they keep a constant vigil. Their pointy heads and glaring eyes, stare at my face…beckoning.

Just one wrong move…

         One pointless and needless move...and I am dirt. Ready to be stomped on


                And again…

And though I keep on, with head held high, a smile on my face, inside I am shredded…

So much so that I am ill, weak and cry myself to sleep, for days on end.

 I am in need of solace.

I am singled out, tormented at best. These evil creatures who torture my will to no end have not met their fate, for in time, I will win out. I will be the victor and I will have…peace.

Thursday, March 2, 2017


It has come to my attention that not only do kids get bullied at school but so do teachers. Yes, you heard me correctly. Teachers are bullied. They, teachers, give so much of themselves to teach children to get a good education, to get their dreams started, to build characters that one day will be a great success later in life. They even go above and beyond just teaching. They give positive feedback, they help build their students to be their best, to DO their best, they make sure they have supplies, which they buy themselves. Do they have too? No. They do it because they care.  So where does the bullying come into play if this is how they treat their students?

There are some, not many, but some who, for whatever reason, need a lot of attention. They crave it and when they don't get the fix right away, they make bad choices. It's trying, especially when you have 29 other students to deal with.

I have dealt with many students, in varying ranges in behavior and disabilities. It has been stressful, so stressful that a few years ago after school had let out for summer vacation, I broke out with huge, itchy, welts all over my body...stress. There were other times where I had to have a walkie talkie with me at all times when I worked with one student because you'd never know when he would have a meltdown. Yes, I have been threatened.

I have left that school and I find myself in yet another school, but this one is different in so many ways. I love the teachers, more so than I did at my other school. They genuinely care, appreciate everything you do for them. It's been a great experience. The thing that is new for me is being bullied.

I am a forgiving person, I may get mad when pushed to my limits, but in seconds I will forgive that person and help them out as best as I can, but...

I have found good in a lot of students who are making bad choices, but have come to me for help and have behaved beautifully towards me and for them I am grateful. There is one who I have tried my best to see the good in him and still do, but it has gotten to the point where he is harassing me and talking about me in the classroom. It's done in front of me, smiling and laughing the whole time. He calls out my name and laughs when I come over to help him or so I thought, and starts to whisper to another student as he is looking at me. Oh, I know it's about me because I can hear him mention my name.

I've never in my 13+ years of being a paraprofessional, have come across a student who blatantly taunts me. I choose not to listen and ignore him, for I feel that if he can't respect me, why should I make the effort to help him. I know that sounds awful, not helping a student, but I can't and won't.
It's a two-way street, you respect me and I  will do the same.

I'm at my wit's end and I'm frustrated to the point where I wish to leave the school and go somewhere else. I can't deal with it anymore, but better judgment says, "no." I keep telling myself just four more years, four more then I can quit. Besides, he has one more year and he's off to High School. I CAN DO THIS.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

My Days Woes...

Words, though calm
have sharp edges
that cut...

Eyes that look
bore deep
and broken the shield
that is my strength.

You are not what I thought
the monster revealed
and now all is lost
I am forsaken.


Distrust is given
my strength lost.


It's an annoying beastie
that ruins my day
who shuts the light out
and dulls it gray.

Whose words are repeated
like an old folk song
grinding my nerves
as the day is long.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Sunshine Bunch

Hey guys! I'm back! Busy, busy me, but I've got great news to share and hope you will share along with me. My son, Bruce, is a talented graphic artist, as well as, illustrator. He is putting out his own comic book series, The Sunshine Bunch. Here's the deal, we are trying to get 100 likes on his page, and if he reaches it, he will post the first series tonight! Yes, tonight! So, come to his page, like it and then share with friends.

Here is his link:

The Sunshine Bunch

Friday, July 4, 2014

Children's Stories not for children #56, I Was An Accident

Did you know that Willodean Ferris has a sister? I had no idea! The only reason why I found this out was she introduced me to her . . .

I was in my kitchen making a cherry pie when someone knocked at my door. “Oh, now who is it? I swear, every time I start a project, someone either calls me or stops me from preparing my dinner.” This, of course, was said under my breath, because the door was right off my kitchen, and I had my window opened as well.  So, I wiped off my hands, and plastered a smile on my face.

“Hey Charlese! I hope I didn’t disturb you!”

You always do, but don’t let that stop you. I thought to myself, still smiling though!

“No, no . . . you didn’t, come on in.” I held the door open for her and someone else that looked remotely similar to Willodean.  Could she be . . . no, Willodean would have said something to me about having a sister a long time ago.

As we stood in the kitchen, it was becoming sort of awkward. No one was saying or introducing, so I just jumped in.

“Hi there, my name is Charlese and you are?” I held out my hand toward her.

“Hi, um, my name is Raylene, Raylene Ferris.” And she shook my hand. Now when you shake a person’s hand, mean it. Don’t be passive about it. Lord, Gran would moan and complain after church if someone greeted her with a dead fish. That is a hand shake where someone doesn’t grab your hand back, just holds it out there for you to squeeze. It’s the worst feeling ever! Almost if their saying I’ll go along with the action, just don’t expect me to mean it.

I had to stop for a moment. Think what she just said, Raylene Ferris.  “You . . . are you Willodean’s sister by any chance?” Please don’t let there be two of them, please God.

“Why, yes, how did you know?” Sweet, sweet, Jesus . . . she is exactly like Willodean. Proceed with caution.

“Because your last name is Ferris.” Ring a bell yet?

“Oh, sure, sure. I’m so dumb!” Then she snorted. Charming.

Now, Raylene , in what I just saw, is like her sister.  She’s dumber than a box of rocks, but I will say, she has her own fashion statement. Yes she did, and it screamed for help. She wore a pair of jeans, slightly baggie, and they were clean, neatly pressed too, but had chartreuse whales all over them. Now her top was the same color as the whales, long sleeved, and she buttoned all the buttons . . . up to her neck.  It was eighty-nine degrees outside! Now her hair was like Willodean’s, in that it was brown, but short and wispy. She also wore glasses, black ones. Big black ones, she looked like a bug in heat. What struck me was that she wore no shoes, just bare feet. It’s gonna be a long day, I can just tell.

I gave Willodean a look that said, why didn’t you tell me you had a sister? And Willodean played back the same look I gave her. Yeah, a real long day.

“Sit down here at the table, would you like something to drink, maybe have some cookies, and while we’re at it, why you never told me you had a sister?” I just blurted it out. When it comes to Willodean, you sometimes have to be that way if you want to stay sane.

“Oh, I don’t know, you never asked! I’d like some lemonade if you have some! Ray Ray would you like some too?” Ray Ray?

“Why would I ask such a question when you gave me no reason to ask it?” I took out three tall glasses and got the lemonade out of the fridge and poured.  “Here.” As I sat them down on the table a tad bit forcefully.

“You alright Charlese? You look a bit tense. Something bothering you?” She really didn’t have a clue in that pea size brain of hers.

“Sorry, I’m fine, just tired, and hot. So what brings you here?”

“I came to introduce you to my sister of course! You are silly today. I don’t think you’re fine at all. I mean, you never met my sister, so I brought her over here, and, well, it’s like you don’t even have a clue! It’s real simple, especially when you never saw her before and . . .”

I grabbed her hand just then. I couldn’t take it anymore, it was like one long run on sentence, with too much repetition, that it didn’t know when to stop, and I had to stop it!

“Fine. Thank you for the introduction. Is there anything else you’d like to tell me? Like what are your . . .”
“I was an accident.” Houston we have lift off!

I looked at her, then Willodean, who wasn’t shocked at all. In fact, she had a big smile on her face, as if; she just farted and was pleased with the after effect.

I had to say something; this was too rich for words to ignore. “I beg your pardon?”

“I was an accident! You know, not planned. I guess Mama and Daddy in their lust for one another wasn’t careful and, well, here I am!” Well, she was pleased as punch, so was Willodean! I on the other hand was in shock!

I wanted to be a Psychologist just then and say, “And this doesn’t upset you? You’re ok with knowing this?” So I did!

“Your parents just came out and told you, you were an accident, just like that? I mean, I’m sorry and all, but I’d be somewhat upset if I were told that I was an accident. You seem to ok with it, are you?” I couldn’t imagine the thoughts that were trailing in her tiny mind, well, I had somewhat of a clue, which wasn’t telling me much, but still.

 I didn’t wait for her reply, couldn’t wait for her reply.“Well . . . “and took a long slug of my lemonade, “. . . I guess that’s just great. Yup . . . great! Gosh, I’m tired; I think I’ll go to bed. Thanks for coming over and it was a real pleasure meeting you!” I rushed them out so fast, neither of them had a chance to say anything, not even kiss my foot.  I didn’t know what else to do!  I really didn’t! How does one continue with this topic?

They must have thought I had lost it, rushing them out like that, wanting to go to bed. I mean, shoot, it was still morning! Well now, I guess that evens us up! With that thought in mind, I sat back down at my table and finished my lemonade with a smile.

Moon Doggies Apocalypse

It was one of those hot days, the kind where you don’t want to do anything but lay around, and that’s what I did, only on a beach. I had on my white bikini with the red polka dots, which looked really good next to my tan, and I was wearing my Foster Grants.

The beach was packed full of families, lovers walking hand in hand, and of course, those that love to play volleyball.  It was a great day to be had by all, until . . .

“Well, look what the lake washed up. I was wondering what smelled so bad.” The voice was nasally, cringing on irksome. Lydia Hankshaw.

I opened my eyes and got the shock of my life. Not only did Lydia have on a swimsuit, I’d say the swimsuit had Lydia. It was bright green, with netting that covered her cleavage, not by much though. It snug in places that couldn’t be snugged, which then jutted out other body parts. It was a mess no doubt about that. She also wore one of those beach hats, with the wide brim and rainbow sunglasses. Look out Tara Banks Lydia is on the runway!

“Why, good morning yourself.” I said sweetly.

“I didn’t say that!”

“I know, but that’s the difference between you and I. I have class, you don’t.  Now, if you don’t mind, you’re blocking the sun.” I was beaming from within.  I finally told that bitch what for.

She took off with her big butt swaying in the sun.  Whoever came up with the line, “Put it where the sun don’t shine” got it all wrong, because the sun sure found itself on her behind.

After she had gone, I went back to sun bathing, while the noise of those having fun calmed my frazzled nerves.  It’s very rare for me to be here, I mean, I’m always working and when I’m not, I’m working at home. If you got time to lean, you got time to clean my Gran always told me.

An hour had gone by without a scuffle, and I was starting to get a bit warm.  Sitting up, I noticed the water was mighty inviting. So, I got up and started to walk on down when I ended up running toward the water.  The sand, from baking in the sun was so hot, my feet were burning! I ran right in, forget the inching in style, I needed cooling off in a big way!

Ah . . . the cool water bathed my sore feet, and the deeper I got the more refreshed I became. It was truly satisfying. I was now up to my waist when I sunk the rest of me under, it almost took my breath away, but boy oh boy, it was doing wonders for my soul.  I just stayed there, my head the only visible part of me, and I watched while others were playing games, swimming with their inflatables, or just doing what I was doing . . . people watching.

Just as I thought things couldn’t be better, they weren’t. A scream out of nowhere filled the air. Was someone drowning, was there a shark attack? Shark attack . . .

“Excuse me, pardon me, excuse me . . .” I wadded back to shore as fast as my little legs would carry me, but you can’t move fast while in the water. It was like trying to run in a bog, and it’s next to impossible to run in them things. I’ve tried it. Yup, Chester and me were hunting alligators with his Uncle Jimmy Nell when we caught one. It was 400 pounds and talk about your thrashing! It was twirling and twirling and they had a terrible time with it. Well, I got up to get out of their way, when I tripped over the wire.  I lost my balance and fell overboard! Man, you never saw anyone try to get back into that boat like I did. I felt like I was moving in slow motion.  The thought of that alligator coming at me was enough to give me a heart attack.  Anyway, I did make it back in and Chester, along with his Uncle, killed it and ended up getting paid a mightly big sum.

Back to the screaming─

I got back to the shore just in time to see people scrambling all over the place, screaming and yelling to beat the band. It was like a wild animal was loose or something, and everyone was trying to get away from it ─ it wasn’t an animal, but something was coming after people. It was person, I think, but nobody ever looked like this one.  He was tall, well built, ugly as sin, and smelled just as bad, if sin had an odor. His swimming trucks were not altogether there. Parts of him were hanging out and I must admit, he did have something worth smiling about. What was wrong with me? Here I am, watching a true life Zombie Apocalypse right before my very eyes, and I’m getting heated over some stinking guys junk. Where are my scruples?

As I stood, motionless, I hadn’t noticed that Zombie ‘Moon Doggie’ had spotted me, and decided to make my acquaintance.  That was my exit cue, so I took off, but again, have you ever tried to run in the sand, fast? And did you know that Zombies could run fast? All the Zombies I ever saw, walked like they had dookie in their pants, but not my Moon Doggie, his were . . . enough. I tried as best as I could, but it wasn’t enough.  Next thing I knew he had grabbed hold of my ─ bikini bottom, that’s when I stopped.  No way, no how was I gonna keep on running only to have my panties torn off of me. Seeing how his were almost off, I didn’t want to give him any ideas.

What do you say to a Zombie, other than scream? So I swatted his hand. “Get your damn hand off my swimsuit.  Bottom just didn’t sound right, again, didn’t want to give him any ideas. He just gave me that dead stare, but he drooled. Charming ain’t he? “I said; get your hand off my swimsuit, now!”  He then smiled. 
When he opened his mouth to speak, I swore a fly came out.  Now, that’s just gross.

He coughed, didn’t know they could, and said, “Annette?”

Did I hear him correctly, or did he just call me Annette? “I beg your pardon?”

“A-Annette?” And pulled me in closer.

I thought so. “Hunny, I ain’t your Funicello, my name is Charlese.” Why am I introducing myself?

“No, you Annette, come . . .”

I almost got him loose when behind him came a group of other charming fellows.  All of them beefed up to the max, not a one looked like the zombies I’ve seen on TV. These were masculine, beefy guys, hunkered up for battle and like my Moon Doggie, half dressed.

“Uh, you’ve got company.” I motioned for him to look, which he did, but then looked at me in fear. I had to ask myself this, but why would anyone be afraid of his own kind?

“Trouble!” Was all he said.

“Yeah, I know, why are you telling me that? Aren’t they your buds?” Damn, if I’m not dealing with a two year old.

“No! We fight! My girl!” Then started to drag me toward them.

Then it hit me, Blanket Beach Bingo, are these zombies reenacting the 1965 movie? I’ve got to be having a nightmare. Must have been that Fish Taco I ate last night, looked good, but tasted like it should have stayed in the ocean.

“Stop. Stop! Stop! I ain’t fighting no zombies, and I sure ain’t your girl either. God . . . or whoever may have endowed you handsomely, but that don’t mean I love you. Besides, this ain’t a movie that’s going on here, more like a nightmare if you ask me! I don’t know where you guys came from, but I’m leaving, and take your stinking hands off me!” I jerked my hand out of his so forcefully his own hand came off. I screamed.

“Sugar! Come back!”

I just kept on running all the way back to my blanket, got my stuff, and headed for my car. As the engine came to life, I noticed all the zombie guys waving at me. This is so weird! I waved back as I high-tailed it out of the parking lot.

A mile down the road, I felt better, but not completely. It was a complete nightmare; I never, ever dreamed that something like that could ever happen, on TV yes, real life, no. I needed some noise to take my mind off what had just happened. When I switched on my radio the song, These Are The Good Times, by Frankie Avalon came on . . . it was from the movie Beach Party Bingo ─ deja vou.