A Reflection

Nietjuh / Pixabay

This year begins my 26th year of teaching.  My school has been in session now for nearly four weeks.  My goodness! We are almost to midterm already.  As I reflect on this school year and my other twenty-five school year beginnings, I realize that despite the frustrations and realities of the teaching world, I deep down passionately love what I do.  I can’t imagine my life without teaching.

So, what do I love about it?

  • I know and love the people of the community in which I teach.  I have reached the point of having taught parents and their children.  There is something special about that.  I cherish the relationships I have developed with families over the years.
  • My students teach me so much about learning and growing and resilience.
  • I love helping my learners realize and grow their potential.  I truly believe that they will change the world and make it better.
  • Teaching never gets stale.  It evolves from year to year as I learn new things.  I enjoy self-directed professional development.
  • I can share my passion for writing with my students and watch them with wonder as they discover their writing voices.

I do truly love what I do.  Admittedly, there are great days and not so great days, but overall, teaching is a positive and rewarding experience.  I know this is where I am meant to be.

Silence #SOL19

As my Spring Break comes to a close, I pay tribute to those instances of quiet and solitude I’ve enjoyed this week.  Those magical, fleeting moments ground me, restore peace, encourage joy, and help me remember my humanity.



I seek it daily

so elusive, my soul’s treasure.

When received, a healing balm.


As stolen moments

or gifted bliss,

daily stillness is needed, valued.


Too much crushes me;

too little and I thirst.

When balanced, I thrive.


It’s my Divine connection

where truth and reality dwell.

A centering force, a refuge.



2019 Tracy Vogelgesang

A Sweet Remembrance, Part 2 #SOL19

Aprons on, buttered hands at the ready.  The wax paper squares are cut and stacked neatly.  My sisters in law and I move into position around Grandma’s kitchen table.  We are ready.  Bring it on!

A true labor of love, Grandma spends a lot of time over her stove to create these tasty morsels of heavenly goodness.  Standing at a height of under 5 feet, she literally has to stand on a wooden stool to reach over the deep, heavy pot and stir the bubbling confection as it cooks.  It is a lot of work, but she insists on doing it.  That candy contains so much more than sugar, cream, butter, etc., it contains love and lots of it!  That knowledge makes each morsel even more delicious.

After it has cooked to perfection, my mother in law helps Grandma handle the deep, heavy pot to pour the mouthwatering golden brown thick syrup onto the buttered cookie sheets.  Grandma then puts the cookie sheets on the steps leading upstairs where they will cool at just the right speed.  After a significant amount of time, she deems them ready to be cut and wrapped.

That is where the rest of us spring into action.  Grandma plops down cookie sheet after cookie sheet of the cooled, ooey, gooey, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness.  She has them cut and ready.  We simply need to roll each piece carefully and wrap them in wax paper.

We all dig in.  Roll, wrap, twist, repeat.  The sequence goes on and on.  As the old saying goes, “Many hands make light work.”  Before we know it, we have several large bowls heaped high with wrapped candies.  Grandma takes the bowls and begins filling plastic bags with their contents.  These will go to various family members and friends.  Some she puts into decorative bowls to sit around the house.  Family members will enjoy these nuggets of love and goodness throughout the holiday season.  Thank you, Grandma, for your labor of love and this sweet, sweet remembrance.

A Sweet Remembrance #SOL19

Note: Thank you, Christine, for the idea to write about Grandma’s caramels.  Your suggestion really got me thinking and remembering!   

We open the back door and step inside the kitchen.  Immediately the mouthwatering scent of Grandma’s homemade caramels greets us.  It is nearing the holidays.  She will make seemingly endless batches of these delicious nuggets of goodness.  Grandma is there next to the stove with her beautiful warm smile and petite arms outstretched to give everyone hugs and kisses on the cheek.

“Are you hungry?” she asks.  Grandma always asks that question and always has food (most likely her famous spaghetti and meatballs) ready to serve.  We had eaten earlier, so we decline.  She puts a bowl of fresh caramels on the table.  “Take a few of those as you walk by,” she says.  Her caramels are as famous as her meatballs.  We all take some of the wrapped candy as we pass by the table and go into the living room.

“What are you up to today?” my husband, her grandson, asks.  They discuss the many things she has accomplished so far.  She is whirlwind of energy and can do spirit.  I love listening to her talk about her day.  She is a faith-filled woman with such enthusiasm and zeal for life, and she approaches every problem with a positive and resourceful attitude.  Her deep, enduring faith is a beautiful example for all of us.

During our visit, my husband pulls caramel after caramel out of his shirt pocket.  He always has a handful of caramels in his shirt pocket this time of the year.  He carefully untwists each end of the wax paper wrapper and pops the sweet confection into his mouth.  I can tell that he is savoring each sweet, creamy, and buttery morsel as they melt in his mouth.  I smile.  My heart warms to see him enjoy the company and the candy so much.

When our visit ends, she walks to the kitchen and promptly reappears, producing a quart-sized plastic bag full of caramels.  She hands them to my husband.  He bends over to give her a hug and she reminds him to share.   For a moment, I see a little boy and his grandma.  The vision makes me smile.  Another round of hugs and kisses commence as we make our way to the back door.  Another sweet memory made to tuck away for future reminiscing.

Monumentally Tired #SOL19

“There is no tired like teacher tired.”

I’ve seen this incredibly true quote on social media many times.  Each school year I try to find better ways to care for myself in hopes that when school breaks occur, I won’t be completely and utterly exhausted.

By taking care of myself, I mean doing all of the basics: attempting to eat more nutritious foods, going to bed at a decent hour, sleeping an extra 20 minutes in the morning, trying to get in extra movement each day, and taking a multivitamin.  I work on managing stress through yoga and breath, and I am learning to be more efficient and leave the stress at school, thanks to listening to podcasts and reading books by Angela Watson and Dan Tricarico.

Even with all my efforts, I find that when the breaks occur, I am absolutely beat.  It takes a good couple of days for me to settle in and feel rested.  At the beginning of summer break, it takes up to two weeks to feel more rested.  All day today I found myself yawning and struggling to stay awake.  Today was a day with my grandchildren, so taking a nap was not an option.

In full disclosure, I do feel a little better than I have in the past.  I think the effort to live more healthfully has made a small difference.  However, I will continue my quest to keep improving in this area in hopes that school will not wear me to such a frazzle during these times of the year.

What tips/self-care habits do you have to combat teacher tiredness?  I would love to know!

The End of a Season #SOL19

Today is the day. The last day of basketball games for this season. My son’s Special Olympics team has played well this year and earned their spot on the state bracket.  Whether they win today’s games or not, just getting here is quite an achievement.

So here we are, traveling toward the state’s capital city on a bright, hopeful Saturday morning. Each of us quiet, lost in our own thoughts while gazing out the window at the scenery as we pass by.  If my son is nervous, he doesn’t show it.

I will miss basketball season.  The games, the people, and the celebration of achievements great and small.  My son has been involved with Special Olympics for 29 years.  Each year I learn and grow from experiencing the commitment, determination, work ethic, sportsmanship, and joyful attitude the athletes, coaches, and family members bring to the sport.  Yes, I will definitely miss Saturdays in this supportive and caring community and definitely look forward to next season when we get to do it all over again.

When Old Schools Die #SOL19

The center of the community in its day

generations gracing its halls

all learning




Memories from each generation stay

like old photos on the walls

of sports




The community meets one last time this day

before the swing of the ball

to relive




Saying goodbye can be so hard.

In A Day #SOL19

Once again this weekend my husband and I were on the road.  This time we were taking our son to his first archery practice, and once again my eyes were on the sky and the snowflakes falling out of it.  What a change from Saturday when the sky was dotted with beautiful white, fluffy clouds (see the top photo)!  Today the sky was dull gray with the only white being the huge, wet, heavy flakes falling steadily and beginning to stick to everything.  Ugh.

After archery, we emerged all bundled up to once again find a beautiful blue sky, a much warmer temperature, and absolutely no evidence that it ever snowed.  As we walked to the car, we were taking off the hats, scarves, and gloves we had just donned to go outside.  I wonder as we turn the car toward home what weather we will experience before this day is done.

I did not have to wait long!  About 25 minutes into the 45-minute drive, the blue changed to gray again and we drove right into a rain shower.  Ah, such is the weather where I live!  Who knows what it will be like tomorrow!

Saturday Morning Clouds and Dreams #SOL19

The road stretches out before us as my husband and I drive to my son’s 11 a.m. basketball game.  The sky is full of white, fluffy cotton ball clouds. As I watch them drift so slowly across the bright morning sky, I notice that some clouds drift more slowly than others, some seem not to move at all, and some completely disappear before my eyes.  I entertain the notion that each cloud is like a dream moving across the expanse of time that makes up my life.

Some dreams hang around for awhile, slowly changing as life’s circumstances change, some dreams remain unaltered for years (for example, reaching my ideal weight 😞), and some dreams are shortlived and disappear almost as quickly as they arrive.

Those dreams that have been or are being realized are perhaps like clouds heavy with moisture. Once everything is just right, the moisture falls as rain, providing life-giving water to nurture and sustain that which has been realized. Realized dreams often only become that way due to time, hard work, and grit (a similar process to a cloud growing heavy with rain).

“A penny for your thoughts,” my husband says, bringing me back to the present.

“Just noticing the clouds. Aren’t they dreamy?” I reply.  He raises a puzzled eyebrow, says nothing, and drives on. I smile and go back to my daydreaming.