It was four years ago that I made the decision to move away from home, to follow a dream, to leave everything that I knew behind, to spread my wings and trust that I would fly.  And so I packed up my bags and headed to the tropics. A good family friend told my mom that I would get tired of the heat and the temperature staying the same every day. Boy, was he correct? I know, things are always greener on the other side. I am in the snow and I want sunny days on the beach and then when I  have hot, sunny days on the beach, I want cool evenings in the mountains.

I have learned a lot about myself in these four years, and one of those things is that there is nothing like a cool evening to clear my brain, to cleanse my soul. Combine that with beautiful scenery, amazing people, good music, and laughter…well, that is good for the heart, my heart. Being away from home, I miss things, I miss the people so much. So I  find little corners of the world that remind me of those things and those people. I found that little place this weekend in the hills of the Cameron Highlands. It is an emerald gem in a world of never-ending palm oil plantations. The rain forest is a wall of green and around the corner, these stunning tea plantations. I had no idea what to expect.  


It was easy to get lost just watching the wave of green.

There were multiple times throughout the weekend that I just found myself smiling, with my entire body. I was driving through the windy, mountain roads (the kind you must honk before you go around a corner as there is only room for one vehicle!) with the windows down and music blasting, when I realized my smile. I was reconnecting and it felt so good!

IMG_5297 I woke up with a shiver. There was no aircon, there was just the cool breeze from outside. I took another deep breath and smiled. I had found the mountains in the tropics!

And then as I was getting ready to go down and get a coffee, I noticed this sign by the elevator and smiled.IMG_5282

This time, it was a smile because I was reminded of where I was, in the tropics. Very far away from home, learning new, exciting things and letting my wings open up and trust that I will fly.  It is not always a smooth flight, but it is a beautiful and interesting one.



I have recently started a poetry unit with my students and have been inspired by all of the young poets in my life!DSCN1621


I sit and watch

In awe

You stand tall and proud


I come to you

To escape

            The sounds of the city

           The noise in my brain

           The chaos of life

I come to you

To escape.




I have always loved watching lightning storms, and I have so many fond memories of finding a quiet perch to look out over my sleepy little town admiring the lightning in the distance. Usually in the afternoon of an extremely hot summer day. A quick walk to a lookout that you could sit and look out around the valley and realize just how small you are as the lightning crashes in the distance, and then slowly counting until the sound of thunder would follow to figure out how many miles you are from the lightning.

I was raised in a small mountain town and when I moved to the tropics a few years ago, I realized I had no idea what kind of lightning storms I was getting into. I would sit out on my balcony overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and watch the storms arrive, and then because my apartment was on a high level, I would be engulfed in the storm. Watching lightning over the mountains was a bit more peaceful than watching it hit the lightning rod on top of the building next door. I would spend hours trying to get the perfect photo, but I always seemed to miss.

DSCN0395This was taken late at night, the lightning would light up the entire sky. It would start like this and within 30 minutes the buildings in the photo would disappear into the clouds. Even though it was not as peaceful, I still loved watching the storms.

However, after moving around to the other side of the world, still in the tropics, farther from the ocean, the lightning storms are on an entirely different level. The buildings shake, the thunder comes before the lightning has disappeared, and my heart jumps a little. I found myself looking out my windows looking for some sort of explosion.

Are the storms really more intense, or if it is because I can’t watch them?  I am not sure, but I will be looking for a new, safe perch to quietly watch from a distance.

Standing Together

I realize that I am posting this a day late, but it has been on my mind. Yesterday was International Women’s Day and has had me thinking about all of the most important women in my life and how I would not be the person I am today, without them and their presence in my life.


My beautiful sister, who pushes me to be better person. She is intelligent, beautiful, and 100% unique, always has been and I love her more for that. I have admired her my entire life. My friends all over the world, who stand up for what they believe in, no matter what the push back might entail. We encourage each other and I know that no matter how far apart we might be, the moment we get together and go hiking, fishing, or share a glass of wine it will be as if we haven’t skipped a beat. My beautiful nieces, who remind me to be kind, patient, silly, and love with my entire heart. I know the list continues and I can’t name you all, know that I stand with you.

But to the lady who loves me no matter what, the lady that gave me life…My mother. She has always been my biggest cheerleader and supporter, even when I am sure she worries and loses sleep. When I pointed out the fact that I didn’t want to add stress in her life, her response was simple. “It is part of being a mother.I want you to do what will make you happy.” Selfless and strong. The little things like sending that text message on a big day to calling at the exact moment that I need her, how does she do that every time?  I know that she stays strong every time we say good-bye at the airport. She puts on a huge smile, wishes me the best in my travels, and waves me through security. I, of course, am a blubbering mess and never say all of the things I would like to say. So I squeeze out a ‘thank you’ and  ‘I love you’ and off I go, trying to not let her see the tears in my eyes.

I look around my classroom today and hope that my female students have strong role models in their lives. I hope they know that they have all the same rights in this world, no matter where they are from. That they can stand up for what they believe in, and I will forever and always be on their side.

Scattered across the globe, I know we are all standing together.



Today was a blur, for all of us. Students finishing their agendas, conferring with me, reviewing their rubrics, and finally practicing for their first ever student-led-conferences. Emotions were high, stress was sinking in, and procrastination was in full force!  However, we worked hard and were ready to practice with a friend (acting as our parent) and the alarm goes off. A lockdown. The kids silently stopped what they were doing and found a quiet place to sit in the corner while I rushed to lock the doors and close the windows. We sat, and sat some more. At first, all I could think about were the conferences that we needed to practice for, this was the only time in the day to practice. And here we were, in a lockdown.

However, we worked hard and we were ready to practice with a friend (acting as our parent). Kids were anxious, getting all of their silliness out of them, and finally settling into their roles when the alarm goes off. A lockdown. The kids silently stopped what they were doing and found a quiet place to sit in the corner while I rushed to lock the doors and close the windows. We sat, and sat, and sat some more. At first, all I could think about were the conferences that we needed to practice for, this was the only time in the day to practice. And here we were, in a lockdown, sitting.

But as the alarm continued, my heart started to beat a little faster and all I could think about was how I was going to keep these little kids safe if we were in an actual lockdown situation. Were we in danger? Was this a drill? The alarm continued, it seemed like too long for a drill. The kids all remained calm and quiet. Looking around at all of these faces, I took the moment to just breathe. I think it was the first time we had stopped all day.  Perhaps, they could feel it too. A chance to stop and not think about all of their work. In the end, it was just a  drill.

In the craziness of the day, I am thankful for the alarm and the fact that it made us all stop. It always amazes me how life works. Sometimes our bodies tell us to stop with an injury or an illness, sometimes it is a train we get stuck behind or someone that is taking forever in the bathroom. All of these moments, there is a reason. If nothing else but as a reminder to stop, look around, and be grateful for what you have.

I am thankful for many things, but I feel so fortunate with my class of students this year. They are incredibly thoughtful, kind, patient, creative, respectful and reflective kids. I am positive they will impress me even more in their conferences tomorrow, I can’t wait. I also know that it will be a busy couple of days, but I will try to remind myself to stop, pause, look around, and be thankful.

Joy in the Mundane


As I sit down to write today, I am noticing a huge pattern in my life. I eat out, a lot. I find that in Kuala Lumpur it is less expensive and way more delicious place to eat out than cook at home. And I have a plethora of options right outside my door. The neighborhood I live in is a marvelous little nook in a giant concrete jungle. When I walk out the front door, if I turn right, this is where I can find as many little food spots, clubs, live music, and all of the best people watching a person could ask for. If I decide to go left out the front door and walk about a block, I have access to a huge green space. It is one of the last areas of protected natural rainforest in the city. Here I can escape from the chaos of KL for a brief moment, possibly spot a few monkeys if I get there early enough, or just walk around the multiple paths and enjoy the green. So, long story short, I enjoy my little space I have found in the city.

This evening, my friend Alex and I decided to exit the apartment and go right. We were excited about a dinner of catching up, wine, and yummy Indian food. Which is exactly what we got.  It was nearing the end of our meal, I noticed a man in the back of the restaurant prepping naan or roti canai in the most rhythmic way. He was making the dough and then quickly turning them into perfect balls. He obviously knew what he was doing! I  pointed it out to Alex, we were enthralled with how methodically he was working. It sparked a conversation about figuring out the process. How many balls will he make?  Does he get bored?  It was the place to be for the people working at the restaurant. Others would go and visit with him for awhile, share some laughs, ask questions, some would just take a break and watch. Admiring his work.  However, he didn’t stop once, he had a rhythm. And every one of his dough balls was perfect. He was smiling, joking with others and seemed to be enjoying himself. It was such small moment, but one that I continue to think about. Finding the joy in the smallest, sometimes routine, maybe mundane to others, this is something I know I want to work on. This man is an inspiration. 

Recurring Slices (solsc17-#3)


A small moment that causes the same reaction every time. I am going to call it the recurring slice. I am guessing there is already a code name for it, but as I am new to this challenge I am not sure.

At the beginning of the month, we all have things that we do. Pay bills, get ready for the upcoming birthdays in class and possibly check in with friends to schedule face time dates. But by far, my favorite thing to do is change my calendar. This may sound like an ordinary thing to do, flip a page right? But this is not an ordinary calendar, it is so special to me. Here I am welcomed by pictures of my favorite people in the whole wide world, my 3 beautiful nieces. My sister makes me a new calendar each year, and I eagerly look for it under the Christmas tree every year.

I got home on the first of March, pretty exhausted from the day, forgetting the date completely.  Walked in the door, dropped my bags on the floor and took a deep breath, kicked off my shoes, filled up my water glass and headed to the couch. Ready to sit down on and just relax. I decided to see if I had anything in my fridge, knowing I didn’t I closed it quickly. A magnet fell off and my calendar slipped a little. A huge smile filled my face. All of the exhaustion disappeared, it was that time again! I get to change the calendar. I quickly took it down and took an extra look at all of the pictures in February (movie nights, sleepovers, and playground fun)!

It was time. I flipped the calendar to March and the pages were full of my oldest niece. March is her birthday month! Her beautiful smile warmed my heart. Memories captured on that page. I immediately wonder what my nieces are doing, what moments they are having? I can hear their giggles, feel their hugs, and smell their hair after a fun bubble bath!   Living internationally has so many wonderful benefits to it, but it is difficult too. I realize all of the wonderful things, people, and moments I am missing. So, this recurring slice fills my heart with joy but it also causes tears to well up in my eyes. An internal conflict that will never go away.

What is your recurring slice?

SOLSC17- #1 Un-pho-gettable


My first “slicer” lunch was today and it was un-pho-gettable! My students eagerly came up to the classroom with their trays of food or lunch bags overflowing with food and tons of ideas for great slices, way more that any of us were expecting.  As we all settled into our space, almost immediately the stories started spilling out. One student was so excited to get up the classroom, he forgot his lunch! Another student across from me cautiously and quietly ate her traditional Japanese meal listening to others around her. Tales about recess, parents leaving town, games in PE, and the food we were eating immediately filled up our classroom.

This was the first time my students had eaten lunch with me this year and they were so intrigued with my food. I had brought in my first attempt at Vietnamese Pho, it was pretty good, especially for my first try but I couldn’t stop eating it. As they started asking me questions, my mind drifted to the most incredible pho soup that I was lucky enough to stumble upon in Ho Chi Minh City. It was the kind of place that you wake up thinking about and can’t seem to get there fast enough. A nondescript shop inside someone’s home. Locals sharing stories on the street, folks sipping on coffee, and right beyond our breakfast table was a pile of shoes that belonged to the family.


Ah, but the pho. The fresh herbs piled high, the peppers so spicy you only need one (maybe two) and the smell that engulfs your senses as soon as they place the giant bowl in front of you. As I was breathing in and smiling as I thought of this meal, a child in passing nonchalantly says, “My mom makes the best pho soup. We have to grind bones and stuff.”

“What?! Really?” Now, this shouldn’t shock me as his family is from Vietnam, but I had never shared my love for pho with him before so he probably figured it was no big deal. Now, this starts us on an incredible conversation about the HUGE container she uses for her soup, his family’s cafe in Vietnam, my experiences in Ho Chi Minh, and our shared love for pho.  It quickly became clear to my students and myself that stories are truly everywhere if we just take a moment to notice them, smell them, or taste them. I can only imagine the delicious soup his mother makes for his family and the stories she must have. Perhaps someday, we will all sit down together and share some stories over a bowl of homemade pho.