Taking Flight


“I’m into butterflies now,” my 82-year-old mom told me this afternoon showing me her latest paintings.

People throughout the world are into butterflies, too.The symbols of the butterfly are many: hope, endurance, change, life, time, soul, grace, growth, elegance, resurrection, expansion, lightness, surrender, transition, expression, celebration, and vulnerability.


Today my favorite painting of the three is the butterfly on the left (and below), the one taking flight.

Look closely at this butterfly. I connect to her as she prepares for take off. She’s transitory yet grounded. She’s moving forward into her future. Her destination is elusive, and her desire to fly is apparent. She’s suspended in a moment of grace, a moment that may or may not last based on what happens and how she responds as she flies into the foggy green horizon.

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Taking Flight

Ah, the winged, transformative creature is no longer an awkward clunky caterpillar as she prepares to spread her wings. She is made anew. I loved this painting as soon as I saw it. In her newness preparing to take flight, she still appears a bit vulnerable as her legs are not firmly planted, her wings look fragile, and the horizon is elusive, yet this moment is still one of grace.

Sometimes at the age of 47,  I feel like this winged creature. Not too long ago, I pushed my way out of my cocoon-like walls and shed myself of my caterpillar clunkiness, and now I feel like I am becoming more butterfly.

Taking flight, shedding the old, and becoming anew–feeling a bit vulnerable in self-discovery of who I’ve been and who I’m becoming. No longer protected by the walls of my cocoon, no longer clunking around as a caterpillar, I am taking flight.



Perhaps on another day I will feel as if I have spread my wings in celebration of my true self without the vulnerability or elusiveness that I sometime feel now.

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Spreading my Wings



WINGS OF_____________

Day to day and moment to moment as I spread my wings, perhaps I will feel the wings of hope, change, endurance, and life. Who knows, but as long as I spread my wings and open myself to discovery of who I am and who others around me are, I will continue to grow and change and love in new ways.

I, too, am into butterflies.

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Wings of ___________________

Six Words +

Slice Daily for the Entire Month of March
March Slice of Life Challenge

Six word memoir and nothing more.

Innovation, a driving force that propels.

Passion is exhilarating, enlivening, and exhausting, .

Fill writer’s block with one liners.

Hamster running on wheel–stop now.

I fill my page and another.

Plate is full–pile up more.

Life is good but too busy.

Papers to grade–a fire made?

The biggest challenge yields greatest reward.

No break weekend: KMWP, soccer, schoolwork.

Slowing down,winding down,falling asleep.

Waking up, daughter in my face.

The weekend is here–time slows.

Time slows, never stops, constant motion.

Fine line between passion and obsession.

Noise never stops–long for silence.

Springing forward–lose an hour of sleep.

Springing forward, need to catch up.

Springing forward beckoning spring to come.


Slice Daily for the Entire Month of March
March Slice of Life Challenge
In my car,
I follow you.
We all follow you,
a caravan of cars
You are leading.
I follow.

Pausing to look to the sky,
lost in the moment of
dusky purple-hued streaks
a beauty captured only at twilight,
Immersed in the splendor–
Breathing in peace
for merely a second.

Remembering where I am,
I look through the windshield,
cut through the lot,
and catch up with the group.

I am right there
with the others,
but then you turn away.
My choice,
my diversion,
is not the right one.

I am

Sliding out of my car
to gain perspective
and get  my bearings,
looking to the intersection
for signs,
One lone sign atop a post
not enough for me to find
my way.

I am lost,
and unable
to find my way
back to the others.

a storm wind blows,
I am
into oncoming traffic.

Pulling myself
to safety
my cell rings.
I answer the phone,
distraught by the storm,
I yell,

But she will not wait
For me.
my older sister,
Tells me
one again
what I must do.
“Come now–
Dad is dying.”

(Wait–Dad is already dead)


She insists I need to come see him,
now before he dies.
But he is dead,
I think.

“I am on my way,”
I say.

Still I am

Looking for the others,
I call,
and ask you to find me,
but where was I going
in that caravan of followers.


Standing in the night.
Out of my car and in the open.
The night sky is darkening.

The phone summons me again,
Under amass of blankets,
Fighting my way out
Under the covers,
Relieved to
wake up
To the light
Of a new day.

The vividness of this dream was a little much in my head for a Monday morning, so it became a slice. Rarely do I remember my dreams much less capture a dream in words.


Slice on Tuesdays with TwoWritingTeachers
Slice on Tuesdays with TwoWritingTeachers

“Even if things don’t work out between you and my son, we will always be friends.” At 20-years-old, this sounded really bizarre coming from this eccentric Danish/Georgian/Floridian artist. I met Anni at the Shrimp Festival in Fernandina, Florida. I had been dating her son for awhile, and he and I had traveled down to Florida for the Shrimp Festival and for introductions to his Danish family. This was the beginning of my forever friendship with Anni.

Anni has been true to her friendship; even now 26 years later she and I are friends. She put up with me even when I left her son two months before the wedding. I even worked for her a time or two helping her sell her art while making a bit of money.

In my mid 20s when I told Anni I was going back to school to become a teacher, she was thrilled for me. Floundering as a bartender/waitress with a psych degree, she knew the world had better plans for me, and she wanted to help me make them happen. She paid my tuition. She said, “Maya, you will be a great teacher, and I want to help you.” With that she got out her checkbook and said, “I am not asking for you to pay me back. I want to help you out. The only string is that if one day, you can help someone out like this, do that.”  She saw who I could become, and she put her money on me. I just saw myself as a bartender with a degree in psychology.

She watched me go through relationships, and she was thrilled when I found Mike. Even now, she says Mike is an angel on earth, and she’s right–he is pretty amazing. She welcomed my children with little red wagons filled with goodies. “Every child needs a Red Rider,” she would say.

She really is part of my family, too. She is a Dane, and I am half Icelandic and a quarter Danish—we are Nordically connected you could say—perhaps all having horns and a conquering spirit. She helped my family when my dad was dying. When I could not imagine another trip to Emory’s Cancer Center for Dad’s radiation, she jumped in and took several trips with Dad and helped him enjoy life a little in those last days as they went on side trips to restaurants he liked. She supported my mom as a widow and encouraged my mom with her own art.

Yesterday I said goodbye to Anni, my forever friend. Her kidneys have failed and with dialysis as her only option, she is not interested in spending half of her days hooked up to a machine as she watches her body deteriorate, so she is refusing dialysis and has entered into hospice care.

She is like a second mom, a cheerleader, a confidant, a friend, and a person who has always been there when I need her. She listened as I told her about my recent opportunities at school and with KMWP. With her hand holding mine telling me that she knew she put her money on the right horse.

And so, now, I don’t want to say goodbye to Anni. I guess I don’t have to either. She may leave this earth soon, but her spirit will always be a part of me because she has helped me become the person I am today and helps me continue to seek the person I can become. I want her to always know that she put her money on the right horse.

Anni is still, and will always be, my forever friend.


Best Light



Slice on Tuesdays with TwoWritingTeachers
Slice on Tuesdays with TwoWritingTeachers

I am continuing to explore Mom’s art and my connection to it. I love the insight that is coming from analyzing her art and what she means to me through it. With each piece I write I love my mom more.  I love KMWP, and how it gives me time to look at the deeper meaning of things in my life.  Part of the power in the NWP Summer Institutes is how teachers are invigorated by writing, sharing, and inquiring as related to teaching; however, I think there is also power in how these practices help us as writers to explore our lives in a new way.  Here is a link to find a site near you: http://www.nwp.org/cs/public/print/doc/findasite/home.csp.


Here is another link to a video my brother made from my mom’s art exhibit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmfIXDTUF8E&hd=1. I am so proud of Mom’s art and her generativity.



Mom paints from photographs but not just any photographs. With each artwork she must have the perfect photo, so that she is able to capture an image in its best light; this is especially true when she paints her grandchildren.


Michael, a pensive toddler, inspects the water running across the sand. Suddenly he stops amazed as he watches his feet sink in the moist sand, disappearing underneath the water. The power of nature to transfix a toddler; he is at one with the water and sand. Michael continues to be transformed by the power of nature even today. When Michael is out of esteem because he is mad at his sister, a video game or some other external factor, nature transforms him to his best self. A born naturalist, the outdoors provides an instant elixir.


Sarah, a budding scientist with the cartoon character science teacher Mrs. Frizzle as her hero, recently proclaimed her intentions to be a scientist when she grows up. Maybe Mom saw the scientist in Sarah when she painted this portrait of Sarah, or maybe Mom just saw the beauty in stopping to appreciate the simplistic yet intricate dimensions of nature. Like her brother, this toddler stops to appreciate the natural world. I remember this moment; Sarah was frolicking down the trail, she picked up the flowering weed, jumped up on a rock and stared at the flower. For a moment, the scientist emerges as Sarah studies the design and form of the small flower, transfixed by a moment. When Sarah is angry at her brother or upset about something, she becomes her best self when she finds a sensory distraction—a song to hear, a picture to draw, or in this case a flower to examine. Sarah experiences the world with passion often moving quickly from one activity to another; however, Sarah becomes herself when she is able to use her senses to experience the world around her. Whether she is holding a flower or hugging someone she loves, Sarah is at her best self when her senses are engaged. To be held by her small arms is to know love. Mom captures Sarah’s ability to hold and love all that she holds dear.


I, a seasoned cynic, tend to focus on images in their darker light capturing the mistakes I have made, what I have left undone, and what others have done that grates my nerves. Perhaps I could transform myself approaching life as an artist painting her world. My world would be a blank canvas that I fill with images captured in their best light finding potentiality in each person and situation as I paint my way out of the cynic’s corner. Perhaps then, the debilitating obstacles that cloud my way would be outshined by my canvas of light.