Cares ~ Elisabeth Barrett Browning

The little cares that fretted me,
    I lost them yesterday
  Among the fields above the sea,
    Among the winds at play;
  Among the lowing of the herds,
    The rustling of the trees,
  Among the singing of the birds,
    The humming of the bees.

  The foolish fears of what may happen,
    I cast them all away
  Among the clover-scented grass,
    Among the new-mown hay;
  Among the husking of the corn
    Where drowsy poppies nod,
  Where ill thoughts die and good are born
    Out in the fields with God.

Elisabeth Barrett Browning


Vinnie’s Mom says, “Is There No Bottom?”


Five hours and six stops later, the SUV pulls into a motel parking lot in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Vinnie’s dad walks out of the lobby toward the SUV, beaming, holding two room pass keys in his hand and a map showing the room’s location.

Vinnie’s dad opens the driver’s side door and slides into his seat. “They take dogs and grizzly bears.” Vinnie’s dad thinks he made a cool joke. 

Vinnie’s mom disagrees. She says, “Are you sure you couldn’t get closer to the airport? Oh my God, the plane is going to land on us.”

Vinnie hollers, “Wow. Was that cool. I could see the wheels. I could read everything on the plane. I could see the pilot’s face. I changed my mind, I don’t want to be a cowboy, I want to be pilot. Rupert can be my copilot. And, Dexter can bark and warn me if planes get too close. Here comes another one. I think it’s a military jet.”

“My ear drums. I think they’re perforated,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie’s dad attempts a good spin, “The desk clerk said not to worry about the planes, they stop landing at midnight and don’t start again until five in the morning.”

“You’re kidding, right?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie interrupts, “Why don’t the fly all night, Dad? This is the best part of the trip so far. I can smell the jet fuel.”

Vinnie’s dad reaches into his pants pocket. “Here’s some good news and it shows we’re staying at a classy place. They gave us three sets of earplugs.”

“What is your definition of classy, Dear? The first thing I’m checking for is bed bugs. The second thing I’m checking is to see if the sheets are clean. The third thing I’m checking is to see if there are locks on the windows,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“You forgot the fourth and fifth things, Mom,” says Vinnie.

Vinnie’s mom turns toward Vinnie, “What are the fourth and fifth things, Vinnie?”

“You need to check to see if the cable TV is working and if you can get delivery pizza,” says Vinnie.

Vinnie’s mom puts her right hand on her forehead and gently rubs it. She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. When she opens her eyes, she says, “Where did we take a wrong turn?”

Vinnie’s dad unsure of what response he’s to make, says, “Do you want me to answer or is this a rhetorical question?”

From the backseat, “I know, Mom.”

Vinnie’s mom glances at Vinnie, “You know what?”

“I know where Dad made a wrong turn? Rupert tried to tell him, but Dad wouldn’t listen.”

“Oh? Tell me where Dad made a wrong turn.”

Vinnie’s dad is now thinking it would have been better to drive through the night across the New Mexican and Arizona deserts to Flagstaff, Arizona, where there are no major airports.

“It was way back in Texas, Mom. There was a sign that said 60 miles to the Palo Duro State Park. The sign said it was like the Grand Canyon. We’d already be there, Mom. Why do we have to go to the Grand Canyon when Texas already has one, Mom? Why doesn’t Dad listen to Rupert, Mom?”

Vinnie’s dad says, “Let’s get to our room, then we’ll go out and find a nice restaurant and have a relaxing dinner.”

“Dad? Dad? Dad?”

“Yes, Vinnie?” says Vinnie’s dad.

“Can I have all the earplugs? I’ll have a set. Rupert will have a set and Dexter will have a set. Thanks for getting them for us, Dad. Make sure we go to a restaurant that allows dogs and grizzly bears to come in. After we eat can we go to the pool?”

Vinnie’s mom says to Vinnie’s dad, “Is there no bottom?”

Grieving is Tough, I Was Becoming Stronger

M told me she could see me becoming stronger each day. She asked me to write four letters to Babe. I was to write each letter in the present tense as if Babe were still alive. I frequently paused while I wrote these letters to compose myself. It was a very emotional experience, but, it was a liberating experience that strengthened my will to go on. Here is an excerpt from my love letter to Babe in Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again:

“Dear Babe,

You’re my first thought when I awaken and the last thought before I fall asleep. When I awaken in the middle of the night and I whisper, “Babe, I love you. I’ll love you forever.” Did you know, I trace the sign of the cross on your shoulder while you are sleeping? I do it every time I wake up in the night. When I trace it, I ask God to bless you and watch over you. The first words you utter after you open your eyes are, “I love you, Bun.” I touch you and say, “I love you, too.”

Each day, your joy of life lights a fire within me. When you open your eyes and turn to me in bed, I see the sparks of joy, life, and love. I know in that moment all is right, all is good, and it will be a great day. You ignite the flames of love, hope, and joy within me. You teach me to lighten up, have fun, and enjoy life’s gifts. “It’s not all serious and it’s not all work,” you tell me.”

Ordering information for the paperback or ebook version of Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again may be found at

Excerpt From: Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again by Ray Calabrese. This material is protected by copyright

Vinnie’s Mom Tells Vinnie It’s for His Own Good


Vinnie’s dad tosses a glance at Vinnie’s mom and says, “We can do this. We can beat Dexter and Rupert.”

“I don’t think so, Dad. Did you know Rupert’s IQ is higher than a genius. It’s even higher than Einstein’s IQ.”

Vinnie’s mom says, “I am not going to let a stuffed animal and beagle beat me. What is Rupert’s IQ. I’m a Mensa member.”

Vinnie’s dad slowly counts to ten, he has a feeling the Mensa member next to him is not going to like the answer.

Vinnie’s mom is not to be bested by a stuffed grizzly bear. She says, “Well, for Rupert’s information, Mensa is the oldest society in the world for high IQ people. You have to have a very high IQ to be included in Mensa. If Rupert’s IQ is so high he would be in Mensa with me.”

Vinnie’s dad is wondering why Vinnie’s mom is sparring with an eight-year-old and a stuffed grizzly bear. He decides not ask.

Vinnie puts Rupert next to his ear. He gently shakes Rupert causing Rupert’s head to bounce. Vinnie nods his head while he’s shaking Rupert. He sets Rupert on his lap and says, “Mom, Rupert told me he is too smart to be in Mensa. He has an IQ of one-thousand twenty-five. He thinks it’s higher but the IQ test can’t go any higher. What is Mensa anyway?”

Vinnie’s mom rolls her eyes and says, “Never mind. Rupert, would I recognize whatever this thing is if I saw it? And, you can’t make up something Dad and I don’t know.” 

Rupert says, “Of course, Mom. Everybody in the world knows the answer. It’s obvious.”

“I am not your mother, Rupert. I am only Vinnie’s mother,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Rupert answers in a sad falsetto voice, “But, you’re the only mom I know.”

“Please, Mom. Will you be Rupert’s mom. He’s starting to cry. Everybody needs a mom and you’re the second best mom I know,” says Vinnie. He adds, “You’d be the best mom I know if I could eat unhealthy snacks once in a while. Joey’s mom lets Joey eat anything he wants and stay up as late as he wants and …”

“I don’t care what Joey’s mom does with Joey. I only care about you. Everything I do for you is for your good.”

“That’s what Mrs. Navis says all the time when she corrects me. Did she tell you to say that to me at one of your conferences?” asks Vinnie.

Vinnie’s dad says softly, “Just tell him you want to be Rupert’s mom so we can go ahead with the game.”

“Do you know what you just asked me to do?” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Uh huh. It’s the only way through, Dear.”

“Rupert, I am your mom. Do you feel better? That does not count as a question,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Thank you, Mom. Does this make Vinnie and me brothers?” asks Rupert in his falsetto voice. “BTW, Mom, you’re down to fourteen questions.”

Vinnie’s dad interrupts the conversation, “Does the answer begin with a vowel?”

Rupert says, “Once in a while, but most of the time, no?”

“What kind of answer is that, Rupert?” asks Vinnie’s mom. “It doesn’t make sense.”

Vinnie raises his hand, “Oooh. Oooh. Oooh. I know. I know.”

Vinnie turns Rupert to face him. Rupert speaks to Vinnie, “It’s Mom’s turn. Do you mind if I call you Bro sometimes, since we’re brothers?”

Vinnie’s dad covers his mouth to stop from laughing. Vinnie’s mom is deciding whether to be angry or to laugh. She’s walking a tightrope high above the ground with gusty winds swirling around her. She makes a mental note to find a different child psychologist.

“You can be my Bro, Rupert.”

“Thanks, Bro. Fist bump,” says Rupert. Vinnie raises Rupert’s paw and fists bumps. He turns Rupert around to face Vinnie’s mom.

Rupert says, “Mom, do you have any more questions or do you want to guess. If you don’t, it’s Vinnie’s turn and I’m sure he will win.”

“Is this thing imaginary or real?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

“It’s real,” answers Rupert. 

“You said it wasn’t grass. Does it have anything to do with a volcano? Sometimes volcanos come to life and most of the time they are quiet.”

“It could and then it couldn’t, Mom,” says Rupert.

“I can’t take anymore. What is the answer?”

“I can’t tell you, Mom. It’s Vinnie’s turn,” says Rupert as Vinnie turns Rupert around to face him.

“I can’t wait,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie and Rupert look at each other. Rupert says, “Bro, do you want to ask me a question before you answer?”

Vinnie’s dad can’t hold back, he starts laughing.

“Don’t encourage him, Dear,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“I don’t need to ask a question, Bro. Can I give you the answer?” asks Vinnie.

Vinnie shakes Rupert’s head. Rupert says, “Un huh.”

“Is it a Zombie?”

“Bing, buzz, ding ding, we have a winner,” says Rupert.

“A Zombie? A Zombie? says Vinnie’s mom. “It does not begin with a vowel.”

“Sometimes they are known as the undead, mom. All the kids know about zombies. How come you don’t know about zombies, Mom? I thought you were smart. Rupert knows all about zombies. Now you know he has a higher IQ than you.”

“Are we almost there?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

Writer’s Wisdom ~ Isaac Asimov on Rejection

Rejections don’t really hurt after you stop bleeding, and even a rejection serves to introduce the writer’s name to an editor, particularly if a rejected story is competently written. ~ Isaac Asimov

Resolve ~ Charlotte Perkins Gilman

To keep my health!
  To do my work!
  To live!
  To see to it I grow and gain and give!
  Never to look behind me for an hour!
  To wait in weakness, and to walk in power;
  But always fronting onward to the light,
  Always and always facing towards the right.
  Robbed, starved, defeated, fallen, wide astray—
  On, with what strength I have!
  Back to the way!

Charlotte Perkins Gilman