Libbie the Lobster

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Why standardized test scores are virtually useless to teachers


I couldn’t agree more!

Originally posted on closetheachievementgap:

I spent the better part of the morning on Friday reviewing my student’s standardized test scores and here is what I learned:

  • My 2013/14 8th graders scored generally better than my 2012/13 8th graders in English Language Arts
  • My deep analysis of interim assessment data and focus on reader response writing seemed to pay off in 2013/14
  • Some students made great gains
  • Some students scores dropped from 7th grade to 8th grade
  • 69% of my students were proficient while only 44% of the 8th graders at the school were proficient
  • 79% of 8th graders in the state were proficient; while I’m narrowing the gap in my school, my students are still falling behind when compared to the state

Now, none of this really matters at this point.  These students are off in high school with some other teacher looking at their scores who knows very little about them at this…

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The 7th Coolest Small Town in America

Yep, that’s us–Flagler Beach, Florida! We were voted the 7th Coolest Small Town in America! And even more importantly we are the town that made Libbie the Rare Yellow Lobster a star. So what makes us so awesomely cool, you might ask?

We are a beach town community of 4,660 humans on 4.1 square miles,aerial_pier located about halfway between St. Augustine to our North and Daytona to our South.  We have no buildings over three stories (by city ordinance) and no chain stores are allowed. Surprising to most of us, there is a Seven Eleven and one condo building that is several stories high. Mmmmmm…I wonder how that happened.

But here are some of the reasons we are so darn cool–we have bikers, and surfers (although bikers don’t surf and surfers aren’t bikers generally). And we have writers galore and artists, screen play writers, radio personalities, and musicians. Cozy cafes, gift shops, and restaurants abound. We even have a museum and art galleries. Small motels dot the road along the ocean for the tourists who love to visit Flagler Beach. The population ebbs and flows each year as the “snowbirds” come and go. All ages live here in harmony. Some people call us Mayberry By The Sea, but we like knowing what everyone is doing and we come together in amazing ways to help each other in a time of need.

And we have events–big events. The Tommy Tant Memorial Surf Classic55 was started in Flagler Beach and is now an International event. Tattoos for Pink was started by the owners of Inflicting Beauty Tattoo shop that is helping women with breast cancer receive medical tattooing. The 4th of July fireworks are the best around and every First Friday is a festival in the center of town. Hundreds of motorcycles rumble through our town and stop off at popular places on their way to Daytona for Bike WeekIMG_20141018_143406_201 and Biketoberfest.

Then late at night while the moon is rising over the ocean, or the early morning when the sunset showers the sky with shades of red and orange, the roar of the ocean waves can be heard. IMG_178502026443750The sound is a reminder of the peaceful power of the sea and all of its wonder. Below the surface is an alien world of such spender, it is hard to fathom. Whales, sea turtles, osprey and sea gulls rule here. A walk on our beach is a touch of heaven.

No wonder we are the 7th coolest town in America, but shhhhhhhh…don’t tell anyone. Then everyone will want to live here.

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15 Simple Ways to Make an Impact


Thank you Nicholas. As usual, you speak of things that are important and touch my heart.

Originally posted on Nicholas C. Rossis:

Zig Ziglar quoteAccording to an ancient Chinese legend, there is a huge feast in hell, laid out on the table, but everybody’s knives and forks are so long that they can’t get the food to their own mouths. Struggle as they may, in the face of all this food, they starve.

In heaven, the story is almost exactly the same. There is a wonderful feast laid out and the knives and forks are so long that you can’t get your food to your own mouth. The difference is that the people in heaven stop trying to feed themselves and use their long knives and forks to feed each other instead.

I was reminded of this story while reading a blog post on Your Writer Platform by Kimberley Grabas titled “Your Path to Influence”, in the context of promoting one’s books.  You can read those points of hers that mostly resonated with me, but…

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Why Write?

I stood behind an eight year old girl at our first book signing event as she read our book, Saving Libbie the Lobster, to her friend. As I heard her gentle voice read the pages and saw her look lovingly at the illustrations, my eyes filled with tears. I had only heard myself and Heather Chalmers, my co-author read it aloud. My whole being became sure that the book we have created would be enjoyed by the very people for whom it was written–children.

Time stood still in that moment. I no longer heard the band, the lights seem to dim and I no longer heard the crowd around me. With my hands on my young friend Blue’s shoulders, I felt a childlike joy that has stayed with me since. Her little friend looked up at me with wide-eyed wonder and said pointing to the illustration of me with my dreadlocks, “Is that you?” I smiled and nodded. I knew in those precious moments that I was meant to write this children’s book.  861b203dcb17081df49ba1f2675719c0

I had been writing a literary fiction for over a year and was not far from completion of the first draft, when I found Libbie the rare yellow lobster in the supermarket that began the incredible journey of co-authoring a children’s book. Never had I imagined writing a children’s book. My novel is dark. It is the story of a young woman who suffers from mental illness and addiction. After several stays in a psychiatric hospital for attempted suicide she marries and has a child only to leave her husband and son in search of meaning and purpose. She finds herself even deeper into a dark, drug addicted world from which she barely escapes with any semblance of sanity. So how did this happen that I have co-authored a children’s book that is bright and happy and fun? What a dichotomy!

Perhaps my own incessant search for meaning and purpose is culminating in the incorporation of these two extremes of writing–one for children and the other releasing the dark side of myself which craves to be heard.

I wonder, do most writers experience themselves through their writing as I am doing?

Comments are welcome. What do you think? Why do you write?

And thank you for reading.




Achieving Co-author Balance

We saved a rare yellow lobster from a local supermarket and within a week decided to write a children’s book about the adventure. We barely knew each other, Heather Chalmers and me, having met only briefly a couple of times at functions for writers. Two very different people, 070_pp we came together because we have compassion for all living things which led to the liberation of Libbie the lobster. Leaping into a co-authorship of a children’s book was exciting but even more, it was a process of achieving a balance whereby we could work together efficiently and effectively to create a work of art.

Achieving that balance was not always easy. Now that our book has gone to print, I look back over the last couple of months in amazement at how well we blended each other’s strengths and overcame our weaknesses. Moving beyond the difficulties that arose served to strengthened our resolve to produce a book we could both be proud of.

In my practice as a psychotherapist, I facilitated many groups. My education had prepared me for the common stages through which groups evolve. They are as follows: and roles

  1. Forming
  2. Storming
  3. Performing
  4. Adjourning


I have considered that even two individuals coming together for a common purpose often develop through these stages as well. Heather and I certainly did. This is how I see the process:

In the beginning, Heather and I would often be distracted from brainstorming ideas for you book and have “getting to know you” conversations (Forming Stage). We found that we have many things in common. We both love writing, reading, children, nature, beach living, spirituality, healthy living, and having fun. We laughed often at our differences too.

As our book began to take shape, important decisions needed to be made. As is the case in groups, where people begin to vie for position and take on roles, i.e. leader, rescuer, agitator, distractor, etc., we began to disagree (Storming Stage). We each dug our heels in about a couple of things and stood ready to fight albeit Heather in her quiet way while I was not so quiet. Many people and groups give up at this stage, but Heather and I made it through and the experience made us better.

We entered into a working relationship whereby we communicated freely and openly (Performing Stage). Each of us seemed to naturally gravitate to things we each were best at doing. Heather coordinated the people involved in the production of our book and I got the word out though social media marketing. We were both learning tremendous skills for future writing projects.

Whether it is a group or two individuals who have found a way to perform effectively, when the relationships end, there is a sense of sadness and loss (Adjourning Stage). For now however, Heather and I are a long way from adjourning. We are brainstorming ideas for our second children’s book! We have achieved a balance in our working relationship (our labor of love) and have become great friends meanwhile.

I would love to hear your thoughts about what I have written here. And thanks for reading!



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About Us Part Two–Marybeth

Just yesterday a young woman, pregnant with her fist child, standing beside her mother, my good friend, said to me in all earnest, “You are pretty wild, aren’t you?” How interesting, I thought and replied, “Well, I think I’m just me.”

What people see is that I am an older woman with tattoos and dreadlocks who appears to be confident and outgoing. People who know me describe me as passionate, intelligent, self-expressive, helpful, friendly and kind. I think they are just being kind. Those same qualities can often be detrimental. I tend to be over-zealous about things such as animal rights, the environment, and personal responsibility for choices and I want everyone to feel the same way.  I have no tolerance for apathy. And I sometimes I can be too smart for my own good.

What I know about me is that I have learned much about life the hard way. I am a hippie still, a rebel, a fighter for a cause. I care little what people think of me because I know that I have compassion for all life and strive to do no harm to people or to nature. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the life I live. I don’t fear death and rarely fear anything.

The things that really turn me on are good science fiction and many areas hard science. Quantum physics is a passion of mine. I read about it just for fun. I am a retired psychotherapist so behavior and the mind are also fascinating to me. I could watch a lizard go about her business of catching bugs at super-fast speed for hours. I marvel at clouds and the stars. The very thought of traveling into space excites me. I love seeing what Hubble sees and watching a rocket launch. I live for the beach, the waves and the warmth1537590_661955843855916_166414328_o of the sun on my skin. But mostly now I love to write. Time stops, nothing else matters, and ideas flow as though I have been taken over by some other being.

There are some things I must do before I die. I want to hang-glide in Costa Rica, zipline in Colorado, visit my son and daughter-in-law in Japan, and to leave a positive mark on people’s lives where I can. My greatest hope is to write awesome books to leave as my legacy.

To some I suppose I am a “wild woman” and to others I may be weird, crazy, or strange, but I am who I have created myself to be and I am a work in progress still.




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