Songs In The Key Of Summer


It's me.....just dropping in to update an old post from 2015 with life details from 2018!

It's a quiet Saturday morning here in the Zen Den of Jen.

 Todd Rundgren's classic Hello, It's Me  just cued up on my playlist.

The opening lyrics seemed appropriate in helping me re-introduce myself to this long-neglected writing space.

It's been a whirlwind month of May for me, but my progress reports are DONE and in ONE more day my school year will be over. Two-and-a-half months of rest, reflection, and rejuvenation are ahead of me, and I have vowed for the first time in years to spend most of it NOT DOING SCHOOL-RELATED WORK!

This year and last have probably been one of the most difficult in my career.  One where some mornings were spent sitting in my car taking deep, calming breaths (or crying) before heading into my classroom.  My lymphoma diagnosis back in October literally rocked my world, but last week my doctor proclaimed me CANCER FREE, so I am feeling grateful and liberated!

Thank goodness for empathetic friends and family members, supportive colleagues, and a group of children who were often the sunshine in days too full of graduate coursework, intervention deadlines, evidence binders, evaluation rubrics, and assessment data.  They reminded me that it is the people, not the required yet sometimes overwhelming piles of files and paperwork, that drew me to this profession in the first place.

This bird bath pictured in the collage below is a treasured gift created by a family of four children that I had the privilege of educating.    It stands just inside the door of Room #2, ready to be filled with notes from home and other important mail every morning.  The quote in the middle reads....

The best teachers teach
from the heart,
not from books.

It reminds me daily of what my students need most....warm hugs, listening ears, looking eyes, ready laughter, a shoulder to cry on, respect, a silly song to sing, a favorite story to share, and a welcoming smile.

It reminds me that I am the lighthouse in their often stormy lives....a calm and steady presence....a trustworthy mentor and friend.

It reminds me that each and every child that I have been blessed to teach over the years owns a little piece of my heart and mind, and will forever remain there.

It reminds me that the work I do is important, and that in order to do it well.....I  must step away from it and focus on refreshing and rejuvenating my personal spirit this summer.

And so, that is what my bucket list for June and July 2018 will focus on.  Enjoying my favorite things and re-visiting what makes my heart happy.  Singing along to live music, possibly dancing in the aisles, sipping a sparkling glass of wine, lounging at pool side,  dipping chips in guacamole,
porch-sitting, snuggling under an afghan on a rainy night, sipping cinnamon coffee, staying up late and sleeping in, traveling, going out to breakfast, writing, reading.....

Sure, there will be  lessons to plan and materials to prep.  There will be picture books to buy and presentations to prepare.  There will be nametags to laminate and bulletin boards to design.  But not now.

Now is my time to decompress and revel in the simple pleasures that keep my life in tune.  To embark on road trips to visit old friends. To take rambling walks even though there are no Basset Hounds beside me, admire the roses that are blooming in the memory garden I planted in honor of my parents, hang out with people that "get" and appreciate me, stay in touch with my family, support my children as they reach new milestones, and eat ice cream with caramel syrup.

I hope that you will also indulge in essential ME time this summer.  I am not usually one to be selfish. My past history involves a lot of putting the needs of others first, but in this phase of my life I am learning to invest time in self-improvement and reflection.  I think it is making me a better person, parent, and teacher.  I know that it is helping me continue to be "a Phoenix rising."   Stay tuned for updates as the coming weeks unfold, and may you enjoy all of the things that make you happy!  Here is a picture collage of just some of my favorite things!

Teachers need to recognize the importance of refreshing and rejuvenating as your school year ends and your summer begins!

In closing, I'll leave you with a classic Seals & Croft tune that used to loop on my 8-track.  May the Summer Breeze make you feel fine, my friends!

As always, thanks for sharing my story.  Keep a song in your heart, continue to teach your children well, and take good care of yourself!

Peace out,


  1. What a wonderful wonderful post. So beautiful just like you. I hope to indulge in me time but we will see how it plays out. For the first time in a long time there will be no summer list. Just time and we will see where that takes us! It is one little step for me :)

    1. Small steps on an important journey, my friend! Thanks so much for your continued support and inspiration!

  2. Oh my goodness, I wish you lived closer to Em and me! I would love to share in your summer. This is such a powerful and important post!

    1. If I lived in Cinci, we would be at Book Bums OR Half-Price books every day! I am hoping to carve out some time this summer for a visit to see you and Em since I can't make the Blogger Meet-Up! Stay tuned for details! Meanwhile, take long walks with YOUR Rosie!

  3. Hi Jen, I know exactly where you're coming from. I had a terrible year last year. It seems like the world doesn't want to acknowledge that teachers are humans (and that the kids we teach are humans!) Whenever you post things like this it makes me wish we taught together. We have so many common interests! Take care!
    Not very fancy in 1st

    1. It is nice to know that I am not the only one who struggles sometimes to make it all work, Deb! May your summer be a rejuvenating one! Teaching across the hall from you would be a blast! What lucky students we would have!