ABC's of Life: 26 Ways to Live Our Lives More Deeply

I’m not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions, but I was recently inspired by this post on the Art of Learning’s Facebook Page. This year, I want to focus on these 26 very simple words that have such great impact.

Letters (Atwater Park)
  • APPRECIATE: Just yesterday, a colleague gave me a gratitude journal as a thank you gift. Her thank you will help me to be even more thankful. I love the idea of consciously expressing appreciation for the little things (see Sunday’s post ).

  • BUILD SOMETHING: Late last year, I built this website. What can I build this year?

  • CONNECT: I do a pretty good job of staying connected with family, friends, and my PLN on social media, but how can I connect on a more personal level — handwritten notes, phone calls, time together…?

  • DO WHAT IS DIFFICULT: Difficult intellectual challenges fuel me — bring them on!

  • EXPLORE: I love Paris (OK, now you’re singing, aren’t you?), but maybe it’s time to discover someplace new.

  • FORGIVE: Forgiving isn’t a problem for me, but forgetting is hard. I need to work on forgetting.

  • GATHER: I want to find a way to balance time alone and time together.

  • HONOR: Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout: “On my honor, I will try: To serve God and my country, to help people at all times, and to live by the Girl Scout Law.”

  • IGNORE THE SKEPTICS: This is especially difficult when you are your own worst critic. I really need to work on this.

  • JUST BE — enough said!

  • KNOW YOU’RE LOVED: I only need to look into Piper’s eyes ♡

  • LISTEN: As a coach, I really practice “active listening.” I try to calm my thoughts, to truly hear what others have to say without thinking about my own next response. It’s so hard and so important! On a lighter note, I’d also like to start listening to more podcasts. Any suggestions?

  • MAKE: I’m not crafty (mostly because I don’t like clutter), yet I do love art. I choose to channel my own creativity into photography and writing.

  • NOURISH BODY AND SOUL: I need more water and sleep, more fresh air and healthy recipes. I need more time to think and reflect. I need to take more time for myself and to make more time for others.

  • OBSERVE: Six years of Project 365 have taught me to slow down and notice things. I may not take a picture everyday this year, but I will certainly capture 365 moments of beauty and wonder. William Blake said it best: “To see a world in a grain of sand and Heaven in a wild flower, to hold Infinity in the palm of your hand and Eternity in an hour.”

  • PLANT A SEED: Voltaire was right — « Il faut cultiver notre jardin. » Metaphorically, I hope that I cultivate new ideas, and I’m literally eager for my garden to bloom again.

  • QUESTION: My work is rooted in inquiry. Asking better questions leads to better solutions.

  • READ: Last year, I read 40 books. We’re only 10 days into 2019 and I’ve already read three — I’ve got this!

  • STRETCH: I need to stretch in the morning, get up and walk even more at work. I think that I might also like to try yoga.

  • TRY SOMETHING NEW: What else should I try this year?

  • UNPLUG: OK, for how long — an hour, a day, a weekend? I’m not sure I can commit to more than that.

  • VOTE: I always vote regardless of sometimes terrible options.

  • WONDER: Years ago when charged with choosing a word around which to focus my work, I chose wonder — “a feeling of amazement and admiration, caused by something beautiful, remarkable, or unfamiliar; to ask yourself questions or express a wish for more.” I still love this word!

  • XPRESS GRATITUDE: Gratitude is always a priority (see Appreciate).

  • YES TO ADVENTURE: As I get older, I become more and more cautious, but I hope to always be thrilled by travel and sailing as well as new experiences.

  • ZZZZZZ (GET ENOUGH SLEEP): I have never been a good sleeper, but I did get a pound of lavender for Christmas!


“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” - John Milton

Vines - St. Joan of Arc Chapel

Tonight, I am grateful for this weekend’s unseasonably warm weather, for some very successful bargain hunting, for precious time with family, for the squeaky clean, snoozy pup on my lap, and for continued inspiration.

Giving Thanks

(326/365) Thanksgiving


"If the only prayer you said was 'Thank you,' that would suffice."

The Difference

May 9, 2018 (129/365)

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! Today I salute the wonderful educators who made a difference in my own life. Too many of them are gone, but their legacies live on in the hearts and minds of thousands of students, like me, who were transformed by their teaching. 

Thank you | Merci:

  • to Carol Pluta who first taught me to count, to sing songs, and to say simple phrases en français. She fostered a love of French and travel that changed my life both personally and professionally.

  • to Sisters Nivard, Rosemarie, Theresa, Odilla, Prosper, Frances, and Berna. They were strict but always kind. They taught me to respect and trust God, authority, my peers, and myself.

  • to Mrs. Lippert who impressed me with her love of literature as she read aloud in her lilting Scottish brogue. This passion for reading that she inspired would eventually lead me to a double major and a twenty-year career as a French and English teacher.

  • to Mrs. G, my high school yearbook adviser, who cultivated my creativity. She taught me to take and develop interesting photographs and to design attractive layouts. She encouraged me to continue writing and to carefully edit my work. (I do need to be more diligent about this!)

  • aux Professeurs Brigitte Coste, Steven Taylor, Jean-Pierre LaFouge, Béatrice Ness, and Jeannette Kraemer qui m'ont enseignée à communiquer en français et à aimer la littérature française du Moyen Âge au XXe siècle. They encouraged me to travel and immerse myself in the French language and culture. They inspired me to go to graduate school to become a teacher.

  • to Father John Naus who personified Marquette's motto, "Be the Difference!" Father Naus taught me that we rarely succeed at anything unless we have fun doing it, to see written on the forehead of everyone you meet "make me feel important," that laughter is one of God's greatest gifts, to lip-sync "watermelon" if you can't remember the words to a song, that miniature carnations will brighten your room for a week, and that the Godspell soundtrack will stick in your head like an endless, looping prayer. He inspired me to teach with passion and to show my own students and the teachers whom I coach how much I truly care about them and their work. Some of the lovely inserts included in over 25 years of Father Naus' Christmas cards still hang in my office reminding me to value wonder, to have faith, to be kind, and to enjoy life.

These amazing teachers changed my life and I am humbled and blessed to walk in their footsteps. I am also grateful and honored to work side-by-side with equally dedicated educators who teach, who inspire, who challenge, who encourage, who care, who make a difference. 

Sunday Morning

March 11, 2018 (070/365)

"When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living." - Tecumseh


February 28, 2018 (059/365)

"Life is such a gift, I just say thank you all day." - Natalie Cole

I am so thankful for all of the birthday wishes and for the opportunity to celebrate in Paris! 

Thanks a Latte

December 7, 2017 (341/365)

“Coffee -- the drink that comforteth the brain and heart” - Sir Francis Bacon

To "Saint Nick" who left Panera treats in my mailbox today, thanks a latte!

Blue Sky

January 30, 2017 (030/365) "I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes." - e. e. cummings