Who can relate to the excitement to a visit to the local dollar store? What is it about the dollar store, not any particular store? They all have their special deals and personalities. It can bring one generation to another together just like last Saturday. My mother, Peggy, is eighty-three years old.Our usual Saturday visits include a quick trip to Wal-Mart for about eight items if she is willing to get out. Well, this past Saturday was a beautiful sunny day and I was determined to find something different than our usual grocery stop. We were definitely getting into a rut. Well, the passengers for the day started with my teenage son (15), then next stop Mom (83), my brother (62) and myself (47). Wow, what could we all find a little pleasure from all together? Who knew we could find some common ground at the local dollar store. At first, we weren’t all on board, but we all gave it a try. My son resisted as one foot slowly went in front of the other one as we all walked through the door with the ringing bell. I whispered quietly in his ear, “C’mon, let’s do this for grandma!” My mom couldn’t hear over the bell and all the customers crossing the street. I helped my mom inside, cane and all. My brother headed to the shelves overflowing with books, Alex to the area with the lastest shipment of Cardinal gear, and I accompanied my mother to her favorite spot, the perfume for one dollar. It was a find this Saturday…Jordache and Passion. She started to laugh and say, “You just can’t beat one dollar, even if it doesn’t last long, it is worth it.” Well, I had to find something, so I headed to the office supply area and found two lanyards I could use in my classroom. The dollar deal store contained something for everyone and it brought a smile to everyone’s face, well, maybe not the teenager. But hey, I don’t think he was frowning. Thanks dollar store for bringing all of us together last Saturday. It is in the simple things, even dollar deals!!!
I never knew a love so strong…yes, I am referring to my dog crush – her name is Bailey. She is small with black curly hair and those adorable bangs…you know tufts of black curls jetting out from above her eyes. She walks around like she is looking for a spare headband, barrette, or even a bobby pin. Bailey has taught me more lessons about love, giving, and companionship than any of my other human relationships. It is the weirdest thing. It is different than any other pet relationship I have ever encountered. Maybe it is because she is an inside dog, and my other dogs have always been outside. It just didn’t seem like a huge commitment with my other dogs. With an inside dog, it feels real. She is in our space and observing as a family all of the time. Bailey has seen me at my best and worst times with family members, when I am relaxing and chillin’, and when I am running late, stressed, or extremely sick, she has always been there.
I remember the sick moments when I had to rest for two days after I returned from the hospital with chest pain. She knew how serious it was, she laid by my side for those two whole days. When I slept, she slept. When I got up to go to the bathroom, yes, she did go to the bathroom (on her pad). When I ate, she ate. It was amazing and comforting. I remember the exciting times like coming home after a vacation and seeing her rush to the door like I was the most important person in the world. AHHHH, dog love can be good!
All day long, it was a nagging, but exhilarating feeling and then, suddenly an unusual word popped into my head…rusty. That’s how I felt – rusty with my thinking just a few days ago. I had been feeling overwhelmed, overworked, and underappreciated before we left for the conference. This energy was being transferred to my students. It was the perfect day to get away, last week Wednesday. We slipped out just before the students were leaving for the day and it felt good to pull away, the school memories floating farther and farther away.
Just a few days ago, I returned from that writing conference with four colleagues. I returned with four renewed and new friendships. We cried, told stories, and more importantly laughed. Today I felt the energy after a return from an amazing writing conference, my students were feeling the same excitement with our renewed writing workshop time in the classroom, but as I sit down to write for a few quiet moments, it was almost as if I was the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. My brain seemed slow and my hands did feel timid to start thinking and creating words on a page. What did they do to the Tin Man or what about that old door that creaks every time you open it, or my mom’s joints after a painful day of sitting on a cold wintery day? Lubrication, practice, a change in viewpoint. That is what I needed literally for my writing to take off again, and figuratively with my career. As students, parents, teachers, we all feel rusty at times in our lives.
When I was six, I left my bike out over a six week period in the dead of winter. It was leaned up against dad’s machine shed behind the house. When the first few warm days of spring came along, it had those pesky little brown spots. I ran into to tell my mom and she tried to explain the science behind it. I didn’t care, I just wanted my bike to look normal again. A few little wipes and it started to look new again. As I think about my 47 year old self and my teaching career,not just my time to write, the word rusty seems to fit. I need someone to lubricate (an oil of sorts) to rejuvenate my thinking and give me back that renewed energy that somehow went away over the past few weeks. You know all the deadlines, paperwork, meetings that seem to cover up some of those enjoyable teaching moments. Well, I got that magic oil while listening to some amazing educators at the Write to Learn conference. Now as I sit here and start to get back in the groove of writing, clearing any rust from my mind, body, and spirit.