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Mother. English Instructor. Runner. I love the New York Mets, bridges terrify me, and I hate cottage cheese.

My dream world includes sunshine, boats, and endless chocolate

In my dream world, I’m surrounded by people — family, friends, loved ones I’ve lost, and trustworthy strangers. We play trivia and board games, share stories, laugh, and dance to a steady stream of 90s music.

I run in the mornings, near a beautiful body of water, where I take my son to swim. Some days are for adventure; others are for reading and writing. I enjoy vodka and club or a glass of Valpolicella while eating my nonna’s meatballs and gnocchi. Dessert always includes chocolate and peanut butter.

There are no bad hair days. It’s always summertime. …

Nikki Hart lost her life to domestic violence, but her soul lives on in her story

One can’t build little white fences to keep nightmares out. — Anne Sexton

Coming from a divorced family, Nikki Hart dreamed of a white picket fence life: steady job, nice house, happy children raised by parents under the same roof. In 2004, at just 25 years old, Nikki became owner and principal broker of Hart Real Estate. In 2006, she began dating Jason. In 2010 and 2011, she gave birth to their daughters, Olivia and Addison.

Nikki loved being a mom, and she made balancing work with home life seem easy. She often walked her daughters in their little red…

RoseMarie lost 220 pounds, but her story is not about weight loss

Her story is about trauma, survival, transformation, and success.


RoseMarie’s family tree was rooted in dysfunction — its branches twisting around drugs, alcohol, poverty, and sexual abuse as it grew.

RoseMarie cared for her mentally ill mother and younger siblings from a young age while her father spent time in prison. Her family often didn’t have electricity or running water. The first time she witnessed her father beat her mother, she was only five years old. The first time she assumed responsibilities as the head of the household, she was 11. …

Understanding mental health trends and how educators can offer support

During the first month of the semester, I Zoomed with a student who was overwhelmed with anxiety and had fallen behind on her classwork. We created a plan to get her caught up in the course, and she began submitting past assignments. Weeks later, when I went to enter midterm grades, she was gone — her grading column stating “course withdrawal.”

A few weeks ago, after my 11 am Zoom class, a young man remained logged on to explain that his parents had both recently lost their jobs, so he and his brother had started working full-time to help pay…


And what I learned from the experience

This post is an entry in Modern Parent’s “Am I Doing This Right?” writing contest.

My son, Vincent, potty trained early and quickly. One day, about a month before he turned two, I was changing his diaper when he got up, walked over to the small potty we kept in the living room, sat down, and began peeing. I was shocked. We left the potty there so he would be curious about it; I had no idea he knew how to use it.

But this isn’t the story of how my son succeeded…

For sure! I know it's cliche, but there truly is no manual for parenting. Also, every child is different!

What my first race taught me about running

Running is not about being better than someone else. It’s about being better than you used to be.

On June 5th, 2010, I ran my first public race: The Freihofer’s Run for Women in Albany, NY. That morning, my mother dropped me off across from the New York State Museum. I told her I would text her when I finished, then I walked up the hill toward the starting line.

Approximately 5,000 women participated in the race that year. Groups of women lined the street, stretching, chatting, and fixing their earbuds. I didn’t know any of them.

I had chosen…

On April 20th, 1999, Columbine High School became synonymous with tragedy. Here are the lessons we should remember today.

A couple of months before I graduated from high school, some seniors had a water balloon fight outside the cafeteria. The cops showed up, ending the fun and confiscating the balloons.

When I got home that day, I lamented to my mother: “they were just water balloons. Don’t the cops have anything more important to do?” She looked at me, incredulous. “You should be happy they have nothing more important to do,” she said.

Two years later, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School armed with pipe bombs, guns, and other weapons. …

(Do you see what I did there?)

Imagine a picture of a rainbow in black and white. The shape of it remains, likely with varying shades of gray, but it’s not nearly as pleasing to look at without all the contrasting colors. Think of writing as a rainbow: even if we begin with a solid concept, without varying sentence structure or using different forms of punctuation, we take the color out of our work.

Though often misunderstood and underused, the colon and the dash represent the boldest colors of the rainbow — each emphasizing our brilliant ideas in different ways. …

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