posted by Ethan Nichtern on beliefnet

(Something to contemplate while basting turkey or tofurkey)

A Precious Human Life

Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am
alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it, I am
going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out
to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, I am
going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry
or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with family and friends and shared good times.




Opportunity is knocking

Will you speak friend and answer?

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien



Happy Halloween ideas for tactile learners

Tomorrow’s Halloween and here’s a couple of ideas for activities that can allow tactile learners to join in classroom celebrations.

Tactual tracking is a necessary skill for braille readers to learn.  This week in honor of the upcoming Halloween my students will be tracking pumpkins, and exploring textures.  Wikki Stix paths and wiki stix pumpkins,  soft pompom pumpkins  and hard and scratchy styrofoam pumpkins. They’ll be getting in some counting too.

IMG_1426                  img_1428.jpg


And in one of my student’s classroom’s they will be reading The Big Green Monster which is a very visual book that I adapted to give it some tactual features.


Another popular book for braille readers and in the younger grades is The Littlest Pumpkin. Two textured puzzles that can be purchase with the book are fun for the kids as well.


Have a fun and happy Halloween!



What inspires you to create a story about one thing and not the other?  What conditions if any are necessary for you say, “that’s a good idea for a story”?

Most of my ideas have come from personal interactions.  The inspiration for my published picture book, Off Go Their Engines, Off Go Their Lights was my son, his love of cars and his difficulty going to sleep.



Another story idea came from my daughter’s love of walruses.Attachment-1







Other,picture book manuscript ideas have come from activities I’ve created to teach my students, or discussions we’ve had.

To teach the discrimination of colors for one student who liked anything with a smiley face, I made up a story about colors and how they came about to form a rainbow.


Another story came from one of my students who always brought her monster to school.

Where do  you get most of your ideas? Do they come to you through interactions, or just out of the blue?  Does something trigger them?  Do you do anything to get the idea engine revving?  I’m curious to know.

Til soon,

Here’s hoping inspiration finds you,



Today’s my 28th wedding anniversary. Memories of that day make my heart brim with smiles.  It was a beautiful sunshine filled fall day.  My parents, who have both since passed on, were by my side, and my family was filled with love and happiness.

I’ve been blessed to have found a love to share life’s journey with.   Life hasn’t been so easy and I’ve often found myself in conversations with God expressing my feelings that I’ve/we’ve reached our quota of  trials, obstacles, difficulties. After which I’d rationalize, with the higher being in our one sided conversation, that therefore it was time for us to have a little luck.  Today as I looked back at the memories we made, I realized we’ve had more luck than many. We’ve had happiness every day that we’ve been in love.

Anniversaries are collectors of and often celebrations of memories. There are so many kinds of anniversaries: birth, death, wedding, work, etc.  Today I started to think about a writing anniversary. I’ve never heard any one mention that. I think that’s because when you’re a writer, its almost as automatic as waking, or eating, you’ve just always done it. Its hard to pinpoint when you started. But I think it would be a good idea to have a writing anniversary. It would help to keep alive the memories of your creative journey, and bolster you up when you’re at low points.

So, I’ve decided to think on it and choose a date that for me will be the day I have a yearly celebration of my writing.  It’ll be cause to treat myself to a fancy cup of coffee, a cookie, and maybe even give myself a present, a new pen, notebook, or book to commemorate the day and celebrate my efforts.

Will you join me?  After all, we all could use something to celebrate.

Til soon,



This was the comic attached to the October 4th Publishers Weekly Children’s Bookshelf.


I read it and related to both characters. I’m in the middle of revisions on an early chapter book that my publisher is interested in. I’m about ready to submit a picture book manuscript to an agent. Both of those are good, positive things. I’m in a good place writerly speaking, yet the last panel of the comic is what struck me. It took the wind right out of my sails, because it hit on my self-doubts.   What if the publisher doesn’t like the revisions?  Well it could be either into The ABYSS or off to the realm of ABANDONED IDEAS. Same thing with the picture book manuscript that I’m almost done with as well as the one that is at an agency.

Reading that comic was definitely a downer. Still I captured the image thinking I’d share it in a blog post because it is a very writer relatable feeling.

Then I read a blog I follow, Pointless Overthinking, and saw a more positive outlook offered by none other than J.K. Rowling. The youtube video was done by Evan Carmichael.

I know some writers aren’t fans of  hers but I am. She’s an excellent storyteller who captured each of my children’s reading minds.  I’ve read her series aloud to each of my three children and watched the subsequent movies multiple times. Just last week her books once again have been taken off our shelves to be re-read by my son, now 16, and my oldest daughter used to re-read the series every summer until her junior year in college.


I appreciated her openness and empathized with her emotions, and so I thought others might too. Her attitudes reflect on the last panel of the SLUSH PILE comic but they oppose it as well.

My favorite rules of hers are #2 Take action on your ideas, #8 Persevere.

What are yours?


Changing Seasons

As of tomorrow, October is here! Its one of my favorite months of the year. Weather allowing, it fosters transition, which not only includes seasonal changes, but also a change in mindset.  I think this is especially so for me because I’m a teacher and the beginning of the year, for me, corresponds with the start of the school term.  Now that the organizing of September is out of the way, we can get down to learning, exploring, creating!

And here in the northeast, the blending of beautiful sun-filled days, seemingly like summer, warm enough for the beach . . .



yet mixed with the vividness of autumn,


img_1400.jpg         IMG_0989 IMG_0412       IMG_1378

and swirled with slightly cooler temperatures is just plain deliciousness.

I hope you have a chance to enjoy!


‘Til soon,