Hi! My name is Sarah and I like warm hugs!

I am literally on a high after a little delivery I made today. The Girls on the Run team at Bearden decided on not 1, not 2, but 3 community service projects this fall. One of those was collecting warm winter coats for children in need. I suggested Pond Gap, a school in which I used to work. It’s a Title-1 school, and the needs are high. The kids are colorful, a little nutty, but also so sweet! So, as we awoke to 20 degree weather and I bundled my kids up just to walk from the car into school, I imagined many little people waiting in the cold at dark bus stops this morning.  So,  what a better day to deliver these coats, hats, and gloves than today.

Since I hadn’t stepped inside those old school doors since August (when I went to sadly say goodbye to some students I had grown really close with), I drove there with a few butterflies imagining what it would be like to see some of their surprised faces. Sure enough, as soon as I entered the same, old building, I immediately saw familiar faces. Hugs were spontaneous and tight.

More and more classes began taking bathroom breaks and coming by the front stairs where I stood. And, I was greeted with more and more love and surprised smiles. A 5th grade girl whom I knew very well, hugged me and leaned in to whisper, “My aunt died. And, my dad is back in jail.”

Then, I went down to the lunchroom. The jumps out of their seats, the squeals, and more hugs made me know my time there was worthwhile. Even children whose names I didn’t remember stopped to give me a hug (and, yes, they did ask if I remembered their name!).

For a part-time School Counselor, we don’t spend every day with the same kids like a classroom teacher. We don’t get those “best teacher ever” coffee mugs, and really much confirmation that we are indeed worthwhile. Aims web data doesn’t measure it. And, sometimes, teachers don’t really even know what we do.

But, like my School Counselor colleagues, what I DO know is that we love our students. We spend time making a child feel like they are the most important person on this earth, knowing they might not get that love elsewhere. And, sometimes, if you’re lucky, that genuine, pure love is returned.

Today, I got a great gift. Those tight squeezes we exchanged are proof that meaningful relationships do matter (man, I miss those crazy kids!). Today, those awesome kids made me feel like I was an important person to them. Or, maybe I just really needed some bear-hugs! Either way, wow… hugs are healing and what a joy it is to exchange the same genuine feeling at the same time!



#warm hugs

#Love what you do. Do what you love!



“out”- moving or appearing to move away from a particular place, especially one that is enclosed or hidden

“let”-not prevent or forbid

“outlet”-a means of expressing one’s talents, energy, or emotions

I am fascinated by this word, outlet, a word that’s been speaking to me lately for some reason. While I’m stopped at red lights, daydreaming, or sneaking some quiet time, the idea keeps coming back to me. OUTLET.

Organizing a race and fundraising event is not simple task. There is a lot more that goes into a one-day event than I ever imagined, and the jury’s still out on whether Starry Night Knoxville will be profitable. My gut feeling is that it’s worth it , though, either way.


Recently, I have had a few friends ask me how I’m doing it, or make statements like, “I don’t know how you’re doing it.” With a new school for me, back to work as a counselor, and trying to juggle the demands of motherhood, it does feel busy at times. Not a bad-busy, but a good-busy. I enjoy doing it. This brings me back to ‘outlet’: a means of expressing one’s talents, energy, and emotions. Organizing this race is my most current outlet, the choosing of where to express my energy and time. This outlet has felt like a calling, or just what I needed to do as I have considered it since last fall. It just feels good to be attempting to do something good.

Regardless of the outcome, it’s my means of not getting stuck. It’s my way of moving away from bad feelings or times of hurt. It’s my way of forbidding negativity to overtake my world. It is the way I express my energy. Because we all have time, and we all choose what to do with it. Right now, I choose to keep focusing on positive outcomes.

Not only does the word and action, ‘outlet’, work for me, I see it work for others too. When I counsel kids who are stressed, upset, or hurting, I have discovered those who hurt the worst are those without outlets. Kids who lack true hobbies seem less resilient, and overall, less happy and less likely to get over stressors. Without ‘fun’ or positive things to do and think about, what are we left with?

It’s easy to get depressed or stuck when we have nothing to look forward to. The daily grind, for children or adults, can just get old. The most successful or positive people I know, both young and old, are those with hobbies or ‘outlets’. We have to have channels for our energy, our physical and mental energy. Without a distraction from the challenges of life, these outlets may show up in negative channels: depression, hateful actions, gossip, hurt, abuse, and apathy. Our energies will go somewhere. We need direction, and sometimes we have to create this for ourselves  and choose the best outlet so it doesn’t choose us.

Exercising, writing, reading, helping, volunteering, coaching, adventuring, traveling, praying, loving. Choose an -ing, and do something! Don’t fold and allow the let-downs to take you down. Choose to move away, or get out of your head. An outlet will motivate and stimulate us. Outlets are what keep us moving ahead instead of getting bogged down and stuck.

We need to urge our children to have an outlet, something they’re passionate about.           (* And, something besides video games, Brody! We need an -ing!) We need to choose our outlets and keep ourselves healthy so that we can give positive energy back to the world. Even if it only appears to benefit us, positive outlets impact those around us to. Making ourselves happy, and not just expecting it to happen automatically, takes some work. But, with the right outlet, it just might be done!








The sun will come out tomorrow…

Brody, age 10, was just belting this out on an early Saturday morning out of the blue. While playing on the iPad and hanging in the kitchen, he just started singing.

This song brings such hope, but also such powerful memories for me. When this movie was first released, we loved it. The kids and I would belt out the songs as we had the dvd. It’s just a great movie. Brody was eight and Anna was six. This was just before Brody was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

There’s a moment in time that I wonder if I’ll ever forget. The Sunday before he was to admitted to the hospital, not knowing what was about to take place or the seriousness of the situation, we took the kids to Barnes and Noble so Brody could get a new Harry Potter wand to bring him special powers. We knew he’d need some magic, and a little distraction the next day.

As we rode home together, the anxiety we had as parents was mounting. I could hardly keep it together. I wanted a happy song in the car so I pulled this up on my phone, on Youtube. Anna and Brody sang at the top of their lungs,

‘the sun will come out tomorrow’ ……

At first, I was singing along too. But, I had to stop, fighting tears, and just focus on calmly taking in their hopeful, happy words.

This message radiates with me. HOPE.

What a miracle that I can sit here in my p.j.’s  with my favorite boy in the world as still hear him belt out those same words. It doesn’t stop amazing me.

Whatever you’re facing, whatever struggles or battles, however dark it gets , you have to believe that things will get better. Have hope that you get to try again tomorrow.  And, just keep singing.

‘There will be sun!’



Add some sprinkles and you’ve got a party!

Add some sprinkles and you’ve got a party!

My roomie at school, Mrs. Alton, suggested I make this a bumper sticker when we were reflecting today over the joy of sharing Christmas cookies. You see, sprinkles and sugar cookies go a long way!

Aldi helped me out with a tasty, festive platter of cookies today that I brought to share at the celebration of our last friendship group. That’s a little tradition I have, to throw in some special treats on the last day of the group to make it a celebration. It’s amazing what a little, cute cookie will do!

It’s not only the cookies, though. The joy comes in being sprinkled with love too. The kids receive their certificate for completing the group and I cover the certificate with compliments that their peers shout out. The words must be genuine and uplifting, and they always are.

It is a pleasure to witness their faces light up as they hear the minute of compliments that’s just about them. Kids are really good at giving compliments, too.

So, today, I think about being someone’s sprinkle. It doesn’t take much time or effort to really bring a little sweetness into someone’s day!



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Gratitude is not something we have to store up until Thanksgiving day. It’s not a feeling we need to recognize for a couple weeks in November. And, it’s not just written on cute little turkey feathers.

“thankful”- glad that something has happened or not happened, that someone or something exists

“gratitude”-readiness to show appreciation for and return kindness

Those definitions are quite different. One implies a feeling that may come to pass. It’s often used as an adjective. The latter is a verb, more powerful and significant. Gratitude is a way of living, a more meaningful and fulfilling way to show appreciation daily. It fills our day with feelings of thankfulness, yes. But, gratitude also gives us peace. It focusing on what we have instead of what we have not. Gratitude welcomes challenges because we know it will give us a deeper fulfillment, peace, and love. Gratitude accepts disappointment because it knows the joys will be better appreciated.

Gratitude gives us more than a  fleeting feeling; it leaves us satisfied. Gratitude may come to us or we may invite it in. We may choose to let it live with us, reminding ourselves everyday that someone else near or far has far greater struggles. Gratitude helps us remember. Gratitude helps us celebrate. Gratitude helps us heal. Gratitude helps motivate us. When the cup is half-full, we can feel thankful. When we have gratitude, we are just grateful to have a cup!

grateful heart.jpg


Thank you, Gratitude. I sure am thankful for you! Let me remember to recognize and use you each and every day.




         brotherlove                         luckycouple



One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

Normally, I don’t get emotional at work but today was an exception. I do hear sad news, sometimes heartbreaking, news daily. Today was really no different except that what moved me, what made me emotional, was actually something so happy.

You see, I work with one amazing woman who deeply cares and does all she can for her English-learning students. So, this love and enthusiasm has spread to me and whenever I can, I try to do my tiny part and take in used clothes and shoes for these students to take home. She basically has one corner of her classroom as a mini-Goodwill, with shirts, pants, and sometimes shoes too.

Last week, I took in my children’s used shoes and clothes and within no time, they were all gone. I saw a young African boy proudly wearing his ‘new’ black North Face fleece all zipped up sitting in his classroom. (My son smiled when I told him about this yesterday). Then today, I really was moved.

While picking up students in the cafeteria, I saw a new African refugee student, who happens to share my daughter’s name, waiting in the lunch line. She must be at least 9, and there she was wearing my 7-year old’s too-small purple shirt. The shirt that my 1st grader had outgrown was now being worn by a 4th grader. The long-sleeves were not so long, and I began tearing up when she sweetly (and always sweetly) smiled at me.

When I looked again, I then noticed her shoes. They were my son’s old, black Nike basketball shoes. He had outgrown those too, and he’s in third grade. And, there she was, smiling widely, having gone through who-knows-what to get here, to America. And she is just happy as can be, wearing clothes and shoes that don’t fit.

Reality check. I took my deep breathes to keep from crying.

Why did this move me so much? It’s not sad; she wasn’t sad. In fact, she is showing the world how happy she is. She is proud, just like the other African boy I saw today wearing a girl’s pink coat. Like the other new boy who wears worn girl’s pink tennis shoes.  Like her little bother wearing his ‘new’ fleece zipped up tight inside.

And, I think that’s why it moved me. Because that’s gratitude. It’s simply inspiring. It is reminder of what we can and cannot live without. We are so very fortunate in this country. It’s a reminder that every day we have the opportunity to help others. (I have 2 friends that routinely help me out and start this chain of clothing kindness by passing down cute girl’s clothing to my Anna. Thank you, Jennifer and Chantelle! Another friend went out of her way to sort and deliver boy’s clothing and shoes to my school today to also help these children. Thanks, Libby!) It’s a reminder that living here in America and having a safe school is simply something to be happy about. (Thank you, God.)nike-basketball-shoes-jcpenney-450x239

‘Who’s the One Who Likes to Play!?’

Bing Bong! Bing Bong!

This is my ‘guidance’ class response this year. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you haven’t seen Inside Out, a Disney film by Pixar. It is great! But, I’m not here to give a movie review. You’ll have to see for yourself how it helps us understand that Joy, the character and emotion, is intertwined with the other emotions in her life as they work together as a team. Like in real life, you can’t have joy without also experiencing the other challenging and real emotions as well. This movie is a great avenue to talk to your kids about their feelings and handling problems.

Not only does it make you stop and think about your own emotions and voices going on inside your heard, but it’s pretty deep and opens up your mind to exploring your imagination. The imagination in the movie is named “Bing Bong”! A colorful elephant, both inside and out, he helps joy with his magic rocket ship. They travel through Imagination land complete with french fry island, cloud town, lava pits, and even the boyfriend maker!…So fun!

Ok, ok….I want to tell you about the entire movie but you’re better off seeing it yourself. Back to my class response, my intention in grabbing students’ attention in guidance class is #1: to have fun and keep them engaged. But it’s no coincidence that I chose this call and response attention-grabber. I’m all about encouraging silly imaginations and inviting kids to play along! Life is too short to always be so serious and this is a little reminder (reason #2!). So, I say, “Who’s the one who likes to play?”. And, the class responds with, “BING BONG! BING BONG!”.

We are always so hyper focused on the tangible in school, and at an early age. School is demanding and ridged, and it’s squashing our kids’ (and teacher’s) imaginations. Just like in the movie, the imagination can be left behind. And if we don’t encourage self-exploration and silliness, then how is one to find their passion in life? How does one find happiness and joy if there’s no room for fun and play?

There needs to be room for imagination, fun, silliness, and play (both inside and out of school). Kids need to dance around, talk to their imaginary friend, sing out loud, make a new game, play dress-up, come up with an invention, create an art project or craft, jump over lava pits!….The possibilities are endless if you open up your imagination. Kids who are creative and smart will become our innovators of the future. Or, they might just have fun and feel happy, and that’s good too!

Bing Bong- on!1923_BingBong_InsideOut_501_copie

Goodbye Summer….

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Time flies when you’re having fun, and summer is coming to an end. Sad, just sad. We aren’t quite ready for rushed mornings, exhausted mama-counselor, homework, and having to remember what day of the week it is!

“Did you have a good summer?”, people may ask. Have I ever had a bad summer!? When you work in the school system, every summer and break is good…and necessary! Everyone needs that mental break. And this summer couldn’t have come at a better time for us. We needed slow times together, simple laziness, lots of time with friends, the beach and salty air, treats and more treats, and slow starts and easy ends to the day.

I’ll miss you, summer. You always go too fast.

But, I thank you. I thank you for precious time with my growing children. I thank you for the spontaneity. I thank you for nature and exploration. I thank you for new adventures. I thank you for our trips. I thank you for time to read. (All 7 Harry Potter books finished by Bo and Brody, too!) I thank you for time to be my child’s teacher. I thank you for providing me the energy to have a conversation and dates with my husband! I thank you for staying in pjs as long as we like. I thank you for time with our furry babies who prefer being inside anyway! I thank you for swimming (and everyone who shared their pools!). I thank you for time for time for exercise when I want. I thank you for a glass of wine any night of the week! I thank you for movies. I thank you for sunshine, and rain storms too. I thank you for healing.

You will be missed but I look forward to seeing you again next year!

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Singing in the Rain

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This afternoon was one of those sweet, innocent, impromptu fun moments. While talking to my mom on the phone, I heard the front door open. It wasn’t until I heard a distant screaming and singing that I realized my two crazy kids were skipping down our street in the pouring rain. No shoes. Pouring rain. All the while singing and laughing like crazy.

I stood there with the front door open, listening, watching this simple act of joy. Soaking wet clothes, jumping in puddles, barefoot, dancing, even laying on their bellies in the road. So fun to watch. (I guess I was the dud because they tried to coax me out as I watched!). It was just a simple joy for me to watch. The sound of heavy rain and a flood of giggles.

Seeing your children experience simple joys, hearing laughter, and seeing love….Remind myself that these are the moments.

Now that makes a mama happy.

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