I have decided that I will recognize Heaven when I get there! (Yes, I am assuming I will be getting there someday!). I actually believe I found it this morning!

Yesterday, Barb and Christine took the girls blueberry picking. It was at a little farm not far from our home in Plymouth, CT. I could not go though. So when I saw them return to the house with those delicious “Nature’s Orbs of Goodness” as my brother refers to them, I knew I had to get up and go on Sunday morning. So I went and found the little farm all by myself and picked away!

I have been blueberry picking before, apple picking before, pumpkin and strawberry picking before. In Italy, I have picked lemons, figs, peaches and neshpoli (spelling!!!!??) right off the tree. Growing up my mom had a garden and we picked all kinds of vegetables and in Italy, with my father-in-law, we picked different vegetables from his garden. In my own gardens, the only thing I have ever picked is WEEDS!!

On this beautiful morning at about 10am, though, I picked alone.  I have never done that, and I have to admit, I loved it!

The gentleman at the counter asked, “Ever been here before?”

I had answered, “No. Tell me how it works.”

“The rules are simple. Fill the bucket for $24 or any part of it for whatever it says on this little chart”, he said as he pointed. The prices were all spelled out. He went on to say, “Pick from anywhere you want. The flags simply identify where there are some full bushes, but whatever bush you pick from, please try to pick all the good ones off it. It is good for the trees.”.

OK….simple enough! And off I went with my orange bucket.

I took three steps into the blueberry fields, and had to stop, catch my breath and take it all in. The mist was lingering just for a few minutes longer as the new sun forced it’s way through. Just below the low lying mist cloud, the bushes spread out in random rows in three directions….to my left, my right, and straight ahead. The sun’s rays just barely skimmed the tops of the bushes making the leaves shimmer just a bit. And there they were, big blue ORBS OF GOODNESS , on every bush. Soon, the mist said good-bye to the sun’s advances and hundreds of blueberry bushes revealed their products. They were there for the taking!

I began to wander through the bushes, picking the biggest ones and plopping them into my bucket. I have to be honest though. It went something like this in my head…..Ten for the bucket and one for me, ten for the bucket and one for me! This rhythm added a whole new meaning to “Breakfast on the go!”

As I silently picked, the world just steps away from me became more and more awake. The birds chirped and two women nearby chatted about the daily highs and lows they were going through. Two other women were clearly on summer vacation from working as teachers and were discussing their upcoming year’s schedule. I walked away from them and back into my own space. Another woman was describing the vanilla ice cream she had last night at 10pm that was drowning in strawberry syrup, chocolate fudge and walnuts. This almost sounded better than my blueberries until I popped another one into my mouth!! And finally on my way back with my almost full bucket, a grandmother and granddaughter were debating the likelihood that poison ivy was growing around one of the bushes. A very sweet and innocent conversation was being overheard, and nobody cared. We were all there for the berries on a peaceful Sunday morning!

As I approached the counter again with my $24 worth of blueberries, I said a little prayer of thanks for such a peaceful way to start my day. And then I said a big prayer of hope. My hope is that Heaven is just one huge Blueberry Farm when I finally get there!!

Saturday, July 8, 2017 – MATTHEW 11:25-30

Saturday, July 8, 2017 – MATTHEW 11:25-30

Saturday marked the 6th week of being “bindered” for our house that we have been trying to sell for 27 months!! We are so close and yet it felt so far away. Just the night before, our lawyer suggested we write one more final time to him, and then it would be forwarded to the prospective buyers, in order to move in a direction of a closing. We wrote it, hit “send”, and then waited. We were on hour number 23.5 when I suggested to Vinnie that we go to church for one last ditch effort of prayer…..I think I called it begging!!

So we did. We went to St. Thomas in Thomaston and to our surprise Fr. Thomas from St. Casmir in Plymouth was saying the Mass. The three surrounding churches were combined into one parish! I have enjoyed his homilies in the past, but this church is closer to our home, so we typically don’t go to the other church. ANYWAYS…..I was happy!

As I sat there making deals with God (I know we are not supposed to do that, but I do!) and praying that “HIS TIME” would fit into my tight schedule for the summer (I know God’s time is not the same as  OUR time, but my life needs to be scheduled! Hey, I have a lot going on!), and waiting for my cell phone to buzz (I KNOW…it is supposed to be OFF in church, but it was not) with a word from our lawyer, I prayed that the buyer’s would not back out!!

I was pretty preoccupied with my own stuff until Fr. Thomas began to put Matthew Chapter 11 verses 25–30 into prospective and I felt like he was talking only to me (and Vinnie, of course!). He talked about the challenges, questions, and burdens we all have. He acknowledged that we all want to believe that Jesus is with us on the journey, but we often forget that!  And then he offered an explanation of this reading in the context of the Jewish people back in the time it was written for.  I had never heard it explained this way before….”For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”.

A yoke ties two creatures together. It is a tool that can not physically work alone. It is a tool or device that actually makes the work easier for both animals when it is functioning in the way it was created for. Together the creatures connected by the yoke actually serve as one. You can not tell which is doing more work than the other and when combined, their work makes the burden lighter. He went on to remind us that Jesus is asking to share the yoke with each of us so that our burdens will feel lighter since he is walking right next to us, sharing the load. Physically, the connection between Jesus and the person sharing the yoke are acting as one force that can not be separated. KIND OF A LOVELY IMAGE!!!!

So….by sitting there, hearing this at the right time and place, my burden in that moment felt a little lighter. I suddenly didn’t feel as alone in the process as I had felt when I first walked into church. I felt like my prayers were being answered in some small way.

Mass continued, then ended, and with the image of Christ sharing a yoke with each of us,  and us being asked to recognize that we never need to carry our burdens alone, we were now asked to go in peace… we did.

As we got into the car, my phone dinged! I looked down and it was a text from our lawyer saying, “Check your email. CHEERS!!”.

Our final offer had been accepted. The buyers were not walking away.

I have to admit heading home from Mass to look at our email, our journey felt a little easier and our burdens a little lighter.

Thank you Fr. Thomas.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017 – Horseback Riding!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017 – Horseback Riding.

Over the years as a special education teacher, 7th and 8th grade teacher, assistant principal, and principal, I have made hundreds of deals with students.

I have brought in donuts on a Friday for a boy who finally did all of his homework for a week. I have brought in lunch for a student and 3 friends when we made it through 3 weeks of NO DRAMA amongst them. I have given a “get out of jail card” to a boy for when a disliked sub was in for a beloved teacher just so he wouldn’t get kicked out of the class the minute he walked in. I have given extra gym time for the girl who came to the detentions I assigned her. I have played Chess with a few boys during lunch time if they did NOT get kicked out of class. I have given free ice cream for a week of no tardies to several students! AND…I did a cartwheel in the main office (IT WAS NOT PRETTY) for the boy who promised he would come to school for a whole week….and he did!

So, in November, when I made a deal with a girl whose grades could be better, I took it seriously ….and so did she and her mom! She wants to be a veterinarian and LOVES animals but had never been on a horse. SO, I made a deal. If her grades consistently went up from the 1st quarter through the 4th quarter, I would take her horseback riding….and her mom too!!

Throughout the year, we would check in with each other. She brought her report card to me the 2nd and 3rd quarter, and I told her, the grades had to get better. Mom was fully on board and would check in with me and her to see how things were going. By the 4th quarter, we agreed that  I would take them both horseback riding!  Her grades were considerably better!!

This is where a GREAT friend come in!! I called Wendy, who owns horses, to see if 1. She might be willing to have us come to her horse or 2. Did she know a farm that did horseback riding nearby?  Of course, she said, “COME ON OVER!” Because….that is what good friends do!!

We set up the date, I packed a lunch for the three of us, Wendy, her son and her mom and off we went to Newtown!

What a day it was!! The joy on my student’s face was priceless. The joy on her mom’s face as she watched her daughter’s face was even better!!!

My student fed Jack, brushed him, pet him, rode him and thanked him!!  Absolutely beautiful!!

She, her mom, and I all had a chance to ride Jack and then spent the rest of the afternoon eating lunch and chatting with Wendy, her son and her mom. For my student, the bonus of the day was that she was able to play in the backyard with Wendy’s 6 year old, brush the two dogs, have a race with the two turtles, feed and pet all 3 horses, and ask a million questions about the location of the 3 cats we never saw! What an action packed day! She felt like she was in a far away land where only dreams come true! It was such a special sight to see.

So now…she and I have a new deal. Straight A’s by the end of 8th grade and she can name the follow up activity. I have 3 years to save up and see what she wants to do next!  I know she will do it. She is a beautiful and smart young lady with a very special mom!!!

Although I have been on a horse before (a  very long time ago), I have never taken a student (and her mom!) to go on a horse for the first time! It was awesome!!

Thank you Wendy for your generosity of love!  Jack and you have made this young lady’s summer. It was truly a moment in time she will never forget and it has the potential to change her life forever!