Sunday, October 21, 2012

Called to Heaven

**This is the eulogy I wrote for my mom.
On October 9th, 2012 God sent out a call . . . a call for an angel. “This angel must have a soul that shines so bright it can shed light through the darkest of nights,” he said, “and a heart so pure that it overflows with love.”
And though they surely scoured the earth from end to end, only one person could they find who met these strictest of requirements. Convinced, they had found the best possible candidate for the job, the angels gathered back together to give their report.
The first one said, “Dorrie Herring has lived a good life and she will surely be missed. She touched many lives in her lifetime. Though she had but only four children by birth, she had three stepchildren she loved, numerous godchildren she nurtured with faith, and even more children of the heart. She was a good sister, always harassing her siblings to stay in touch with one another. She was a good wife, in both sickness and in health. She was a friend to everyone she met and was only a phone call, email, or crazy text away. Her heart had a never-ending supply of love to give.”  
The second angel agreed and then added, “When times were tough, she put the needs of her children before her own needs. Give her a little string, a blanket, and a television, and VOILA! instant drive-in movie theater. Even when the pantry was bare except for a handful of potatoes, she could make a feast fit for a king. Sometimes, she’d stop by her young daughters homes with a bagful of groceries, a simple dinner at the ready, so that they too could understand the many virtues of the crockpot. And later in life, when she had money to spare, she still thought of others first, sharing her good fortune, her wisdom, and her faith with all those who needed a helping hand. She even supported her local businesses, especially the flower shops, determined to help her town thrive. She truly understood that she was blessed and did what she could to bless those around her.”
The third angel nodded his head. “She was a good girl scout. In fact, I think she might have been one of the best. She took preparedness to a whole new level. When she found out her signature nail polish color was being discontinued, she purchased 4 bottles, and always kept 1 stashed away in her purse. And good gosh almighty, have you seen her stash of purses? Step away from the QVC card, Dorrie, step away.”
“But her foresight went much further than that. A while back, she helped her daughter create a family cookbook so she could pass on her knowledge and memories. She even prepared and paid for all her own funeral arrangements so that her family wouldn’t be burdened.”
A fourth angel, quiet until this point, spoke up. “You are all right. Dorrie had a heart of gold, and a shiny spirit to match but she had a gift, a gift that will surely live on in the hearts of her loved ones.”
The angels looked confused. “What gift is more powerful than love?”
“Let me explain. You see, Dorrie saw the potential in everyone she met but more importantly, she help others see the possibilities in themselves. She gave advice freely to anyone who wanted it and tough love was never in short supply. She encouraged her children to follow their dreams, and was usually a willing accomplice in all sorts of crazy schemes. And she nudged and supported, and chided when necessary, until each had found their own path in life. Without her, surely a hole will be left in their hearts. I fear they may lose their way.”
The first angel thought for a moment, perplexed by this possible dilemma. After much debate, the angels took their predicament to God. He listened patiently while they each spoke, weighing their words carefully.
“Was her faith strong?”
“The strongest,” they agreed. “She led by example, loved unconditionally, and guided others to Jesus.”
“Was her heart pure?”
“Yes!” they unanimously cried.
“Was her spirit bright?”
Again, a resounding, “yes!”
And God gathered his angels before him. “Fear not, my children. Though the body may die, the spirit lives on. Each person she met, each child she loved, carries with them a piece of her, her thumbprint on their hearts. And when the way is lost, and the light dim, the lessons she taught, the love she gave, will shine bright, lighting the way. Fear not, my children. You have chosen well.”
And with that, the decision was made final. Across the heavens, the bells tolled, and an angel was born again in Christ, having finally earned her wings.
On that day, October 9th of 2012, our mother, our friend, Doris Jean Herring, was called to heaven.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

What legacy will you leave when you die? Make it a good one.

Steve Jobs, though gone, will never be forgotten. He’s left his indelible imprint on our daily lives in the way we communicate and connect with the world around us. How many of us can say we’ve been as influential?

One of my favorite posters I keep in my classroom talks about making footprints on the world. Wherever you go, you always leave a footprint. Make it a good one. Usually I use it to talk about leaving the environment in better condition than we found it but it holds true for our daily lives as well. Each day we come into contact with people, we have to chance to leave a lasting impression. Sometimes we’re tired, cranky, and overwhelmed with our own problems and rather than help a stranger, we choose to do nothing, or worse, we lash out and share out anger.

I teach. It’s who I am. I have 37 fragile 5th grade souls that I am expected to nurture each day. They have cranky days. I have cranky days. But the lessons I choose to teach them, go far beyond reading, writing, and math. How I respond to their mistakes, might leave an indelible impression on their hearts that lasts a lifetime.

So do I always respond with a smile? HECK NO! If nothing else, I want my students to learn to act responsibly, even when they don’t want to. I hold them accountable for their actions. Every action. And that means consequences and lots of apology notes and community service.

I want them to think for themselves, not just raise their hands and wait for the teacher to give them the answer or explain how to do the problem. Really think.

And I want them to love whatever they do. I teach with passion, every day. I discipline with passion, every day. I include them in our successes and failures and share with them the things I am passionate about: writing, photography, and dancing. I do all this knowing that my students, and the lives they will lead, will be my legacy.

So whatever you do with your life, be it teaching, writing, or taking fantastic photographs, you will leave a legacy of some sort. Make it a good one.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Dandelion Dreams

Just thought I would share this photo of Taya I'm entering in a contest. I took this shot last summer while we were camping. I literally got down on  the ground and aimed my lens up at my daughter who was having a grand ol' time blowing dandelion seeds everywhere. With the light behind her, she was nicely backlit. When I got back home, I edited this in Lightroom by toying with the contrast and colors. Upping the level of black shown in the photo resulted in a high contrast silhouette. This type of shot works best when the background is the blue sky, so get down low and shoot up at your subject. The end result was this really fun photo! Enjoy!

Rock the Shot

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Author Interview & Critique Contest

Most aspiring writers I know stalk agent blogs faithfully. We live for getting one tiny morsel of inside information about publishing. But what is it like to actually be a writer who has snagged an agent or publishing contract? Most of us may never know. has a great two part interview with writer Becky Wallace who gives us an inside view of her life as an aspiring writer. It is an eye-opening read. She also is giving away a free 10 page critique of a ms. To enter the contest, swing by and sign up.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Summer Woes

It’s mid-summer already and the panic is beginning to set in. On crap! Summer break is almost over! While parents are thrilled to death with the impending return of school, teachers everywhere are rushing about trying to finish everything on their summer To-Do list. Who knew that 8 weeks could be so short? Here is what my summer list looks like:

• Keep the house clean every single day – no excuses
• Exercise for 1 hour each day
• Lose 10 pounds by the end of summer
• Finish editing my completed manuscript
• Catch an agent’s eye
• Write the first 3 chapters of my current work in progress
• Plan for next school year
• Have a work party to plan for next school year

So how much of this list did I manage to accomplish?

• Keep the house clean every single day – no excuses - The house only managed to get clean after my darling hubby planned a b-day party for me. It stayed clean for 1 day.
• Exercise for 1 hour each day - Does hula dancing for 1 ½ hours a week count?
• Lose 10 pounds by the end of summer - Nope – They’re still there, viciously hanging around my body, refusing the budge.
• Finish editing my completed manuscript - Still editing but making progress.
• Catch an agent’s eye - Still waiting. All I’m hearing from my query letters is a whole orchestra of crickets.
• Write the first 3 chapters of my current work in progress - I’ve managed to squeak out half of a couple scenes. Neither scene is finished but hey, it’s a start!
• Plan for next school year - Not so much.
• Have a work party to plan for next school year - We wound up spending more time drinking mimosas than we did planning but damn, who knew a mimosa would taste so great?

So how about you? What were your summer plans and did you manage to accomplish anything?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Home Alone with Too Much to Do

As I write this, I'm still in my nighttime attire (don't judge me), plopped down on my bed typing away on my laptop. It's 11:16 in  the morning. Am I working on editing my completed manuscript? Heck no. I edited one chapter and then lost focus, watched a couple hours of Charmed reruns while I surfed the web, and talked to my sister. Am I writing the next chapter of my WIP? Nope. I started to, but got more involved in trying to import my music into ITunes. I did write a few lines but then realized what I really needed to do was outline the entire book. I made it as far as outlining the first part of the book. Now I'm updating my blog and pondering how high the pile of laundry will get before someone (probably me) runs out of clothes to wear and out of desperation, throws a load into the washer.

No kids at home means no arguing, no whining, and no one to force Mom to get up and be productive. With photos to edit, a novel to edit, a story to write, lesson plans to design, school events to plan, housekeeping to attend to, and weight that won't lose itself without a bit of sweat equity, you'd think I would be hustling about taking advantage of my day home alone. Not so, my friends. I think I'll kill time by creating new ways to procratinate. Anyone with me? How do you procrastinate? Better yet, how do you stop procrastinating?

Monday, May 2, 2011

I'm a Contest Finalist!

Got this really cryptic email this evening. Just a photo and a one line message saying that I could add this to my website or blog! I'll take it!

Now, my first chapter of REDEMPTION FOR LIARS will be judged by an editor for Harlequin Intrigue. I am excited beyond words! Who cares if I win . . . wait . . . scratch that . . . winning would still be uber cool.

More importantly, I really can write better than a 5th grader. Or so I tell my students.

UPDATE: The scores were tallied and I came in 2nd place in my category! Not a win but it counts as legitimate fiction writing credit. Maybe an agent will look at my new and improved bio and realize that at least a few people out there think I have skills. Probably not, but it's worth a shot!