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the hope chest.

It’s 8 bells,
Dad would announce.
Rob and I would run
as fast as we could
to the hope chest
sitting in the living room.  

The long, heavy wooden chest
stretched the length
of our picture window
and came up
to our chests.
We knew
it wouldn’t move.

We clasped our fingers
around the hardware.
We thought that if
we were able to hold on
long enough,
we wouldn’t have to
go to bed.  
It didn’t work.

Mom would quickly tickle us.
Our hands struggled
to hold on.
we would
lose our grip
and be taken off to bed

But it didn’t stop us
from trying again
the next night.

you would never know.

When I was a kid,
I didn’t realize
the treasures
that were inside.

To me,
it was just a big piece of
A place where
we kept
our fish bowl
and some
picture frames.

The hope chest
now rests
in my parent’s
It no longer has
such a prominent place
in the house.  

It sits in the furnace room,
usually covered
with newspapers
and flyers
that are used
to start the wood fire.  
Mittens and toques
are often scattered on top.  
You would never know
that it’s filled
with amazing things.

a treasure box.

Dad’s first pencil box.  
Mom’s baby book.
Their high school yearbooks.

Dad’s boy scout sash with badges.
Newspaper clippings of Mom
on the high school curling team.

My first pair of shoes.  
My brother’s drawings.  
Our kindergarten scrapbooks.
My grade 2 writing journals
and the little vest
I wore for school photos
one year.  

Little artefacts
of our family,
tucked away
for safekeeping.

Mom and Dad
saved up to buy the hope chest
before they were married.  
Mom said she used it
to store her prizes
from curling bonspiels.  

Back in the day,
hope chests were meant
to store items
that women would need
when they became wives –   
bedding, tea towels,
and things they made.  
A makers version
of a dowry.  

For our family,
it became a place
to hold our keepsakes.  
My dad is sentimental.  
Mom is too.  
I think Eric and I
are the same way.  
We keep first birthday candles
and pieces of the kids art work.  

It’s a tradition
that will keep going.

Gram’s recipes.

After Grandma Lainie passed away, I made Mom a recipe book one Christmas through

I scanned some of gram’s favourite recipes and included family photos. Some recipes were scribbled onto scraps of paper or envelopes, along with her doodles. I included them all. I loved seeing her writing.

Grandma used to make us blueberry sauce to put on ice cream.

Mom loved her fudge.
Gram always had little notepads like this lying around the house.
She loved these coconut tarts. I remember them being a favourite of hers
in the years before she passed away.
I love this recipe because it shows the outdoors side of her and when they used to live on the lake.
Every year, Grandma Lainie would make a christmas cake. She would wrap it in tinfoil and tie ribbons around it. Her cake always had a white icing with sprinkles.
Mom and I would help it slowly disappear with our cups of tea.
One of my favourite recipes. Gram used to make these bars and tuck them into care packages for me when I was
away at university.
Gram liked making these at Christmas time. Something to snack on.

Mom’s recipes.

When I went away to university,
my mom gave me a box of recipe cards.

She wrote out favourite family recipes
and included family photos
from our albums.

my career story. part 3.

I Don’t Regret It.

When I look back
on my career,
I don’t see it
as a waste of my time.
I don’t wish
that I would have gone
a different path.

From teaching,
I met incredible people.
I formed friendships
with smart,
hardworking people.

I learned how to design good instruction,
and how to make people feel like a part of a group.
I learned about web design and how to create online courses.
And I experienced leadership
(styles I admired and the leader I don’t want to be.)

And I realized that I need to do my own thing.
To be free to create what I want
and to work with others
who have similar values.

It’s going to be great.

my dream.

an actual dream I had one morning. I wrote it down on March 25, 2018.

I just had the ultimate dream for a book nerd.
I was in a library.
It was majestic.
Dim lighting,
grand shelves,
and arched ceilings
towering above my head.

There was one section
that featured some of the best authors.
Books had been carefully curated
and selected
by Her.

I can’t remember her name now
her initials were M.M.
And she was the who’s who
of the writing world.
If she liked your book,
you were golden.

I hovered around the display.
It felt warm and illuminated.
It had its own presence within
the space.

She flitted back and forth behind the counter
moving books around
and talking to patrons.

I remember wishing
to be a part of it all.

I remember someone telling me
that She,
had groomed writers herself.
Telling them
to get their writing out
to as many people
as possible.

Give your writing to others,
get their feedback
and over time
your writing will evolve
and take its shape,
as You.

It was soon closing time.
Everything was being packed up
and I needed to use the washroom.
I went into a separate section
where it seemed that
all of the staff
had settled to have their dinners.

Table after table
of employees
sitting at long beautiful wooden tables.
One person per table
with the warmth of a table light,
old school library style.

They all gave me looks
of not belonging.

Why is she here?
She shouldn’t be back here.

But I didn’t care.
I was hopeful.
I thought that one day I would.
I would figure it out.
I walked out
with my head held high.

I went out to the parking lot.
Eric was waiting for me.
He had been there the entire time,
patiently waiting.
We went home.

Note from Lainie:

I woke up from this dream as Eric and I were driving away in the car.  

I immediately rolled over in bed and told Eric that I needed to write down the dream I just had.

But at that moment, the kids woke up and the writing would need to wait.

Three bowls of oatmeal with raisins and cinnamon put together.  A sink full of dishes done. Life jackets put on kids (long story). Eating eggs benedict with Eric as the kids played “Charlie Shark.” Then time to write.  

I wrote at the table for 5 minutes and then tried to read it to Eric over the kids playing and yelling out.

Eric: “So we need to find M.M.”

what I want for your childhood.

I want your childhood
to feel like great stories told
and ice cream cones with sprinkles
for no reason at all.

The magic of playing in the water sprinkler
lapping up cold droplets
with your tongue.
Of stories not rushed at nap time
and extra cuddles when the lights go out.

I want your childhood
to feel like you are the most special thing
in the world
(without making you feel like
it revolves around you.  
You need to think of others.)

To have a mom who says yes,
more than no.
A mom who watches you
do that thing with your car
for the hundredth time.
To sit and cuddle
To read stories
and make things.

I want you to feel
like I notice you,
that I have time for you,
that I love you.

I want you to learn good things,
like how to care for others,
to say sorry when you hurt someone,
to learn how to identify and work through
your emotions.

And I want you
to have a Mom
who goes after her dreams
and isn’t afraid
of what
might happen.

I want you to be
the incredible human being
that you already are.
Because really,
you are
the greatest thing
I will ever make
in my life.
Even more so,
than that book
I really, really want to write.

I can do both.

my career story. part 2.

The Move to York Region

After teaching in Welland
for three years,
I wanted to be with Eric.

He was living and working
in Toronto.
We were traveling back and forth
on the weekends,
and I hated saying goodbye
on Sunday nights.  
I wanted to live with him.
I was also scared.
I was never one
to follow a guy.

I did it anyways.

I applied to the
York Region District School Board
and got an interview
at Reesor Park Public School.
Janet Porter offered me the choice
of a kindergarten class
or grade 8.

I said kindergarten,
I got grade 8.

I was worried
that I would butt heads with them.
I had heard about
the hormones and attitudes
of grade 8 students.
And I loved it.

I taught grade 8
for five years at Reesor.
The kids were funny.
They were smart
and thoughtful.

I helped plan graduations
and went on year end trips
to Quebec City and Ottawa
with 70 teenagers.
We went camping in the winter
and helped organize
the Terry Fox Run
for the school.

There was no hesitation
when I told people
that I loved my job.
I felt like I was making
a difference.

I also thought about school
which wasn’t healthy
for me.
Weekends and evenings
were spent lesson planning
or assessing student work.
If I wasn’t doing school work,
I felt like I should be.
I couldn’t go to the grocery store
without seeing an idea
for my next lesson.
I had a hard time
turning it off.

I continued to learn
about math.
I signed up
for every math workshop
being offered.
I eventually got to know
the math consultants
in our school board.
One day they asked
if I would like to have
a math coach
pop by my classroom
every week or so
to co-teach with me.

That’s when I met Janine.
This blonde stranger
who came into my classroom
with a Starbucks tea.
As a teacher,
this was everything.
To drink a hot tea
during the day,  
it didn’t happen.
It felt like such a treat.

I learned so much
from Janine.
She was so skilled
at crafting math problems
in a way to get kids thinking
and talking.
At my side, she would share
her observations of students’ thinking
and together we would question
and prompt when needed.

Janine was (and is) someone
who sees the good in others,
even if they don’t see it
in themselves.

She helped me
feel more confident
in my teaching abilities
which eventually led me
to opening up my classroom
for other teachers, superintendents,
and international visitors
to observe my math lessons.

I enjoyed feeling like
I was helping other teachers
with their practice.
I knew how much Janine’s support
had done for me.

Eventually, being in the classroom
started to feel like
groundhog day.
The same schedule
and routine
every. day.
The same staff members
and the same issues.
I was ready
for a change.

I decided to apply
for a math consultant position
in our board.

For over 5,000
elementary school teachers,
there was a small team
of math consultants.
I didn’t feel qualified
or skilled enough
for the position,
but I tried anyways.
I became the 6th member of the team.

I became a curriculum consultant.

My first week as a consultant
was so difficult.
Going in, my friends told me
that I would hate the politics.
I didn’t even know
what that meant.
I eventually learned.

But for me,
I hated feeling like
I wasn’t making a difference.
I know it sounds cheesy,
but when you see changes
in students every day,
it just felt different.

Each day I wondered
what I had accomplished
outside of being in a meeting
and eating my lunch.
Don’t get me wrong,
it wasn’t all meetings
and lunch.

Once schools were settled
into their beginning of the year
and funding came in
from the province
to support professional learning
for teachers,
our small math team
was scrambling
to keep up.

We were driving across the region
visiting multiple schools a day.
And it was so out of my comfort zone.

Instead of standing in front of
34 grade 8 students,
I was presenting information
to a room of 100 strangers
or more.

I was facilitating learning sessions
for school teams
I had never met.
Planning math lessons
with teachers
and then going into the classroom
a few hours later
to teach the lesson
There was the pressure of time
to get things together
and the pressure to think
on the spot.
It felt like the ultimate
improv act
every day.

I never felt
like I did a good enough job.

After the fact
I would kick myself,
wishing I would have said
or done something differently.
I should have prompted with this…
I should have pulled in this resource…

I worried that the teachers
and principals
weren’t getting the best experience
because of me.
And for my colleagues,
who might be reading this,
you will likely disagree.
I know I was being hard on myself.

But where I did find
a good fit
was in e-prof.

Janine encouraged me
to be the representative
for our math team.
Eprof was made up
of a group of curriculum consultants
who met regularly
to do web work
on behalf of the teams
they represented.

A team leader,
Jane Paterson,
would plan learning sessions for us,
so we could learn more
about writing and designing
for the web.

I fell in love.
Yes, you read that right.

I was learning how
to create websites
and how to write for the web.
I learned about
the inverted triangle
for web copy
and how eye tracking technology
could calculate exactly how long
we attend to information
that’s online.
It was all new to me
and it was so interesting.

I got to attend
a Nielsen Norman conference
and learned about user testing,
mega menus,
and the importance of
I became fascinated with
Design Thinking.
I wrote scripts for video
and designed
learning modules
for teachers to access,
on their own time,
for professional learning.
I created web pages
and kept multiple pathways
in mind.

Eprof changed
the path of my career.

So when an opening came up
on Jane’s team,
Learning Design and Development,
I decided to apply.

Although it was hard to leave
the math team,
I knew the work
was a better fit
for me.
I could work quietly
behind the scenes,
instead of being front and centre.
I had time to think
things through and create,
instead on thinking and acting
in the moment.

I became an instructional design consultant.

I worked with a team
of web developers,
a graphic designer,
and media threes.
It was exciting.

I got to learn
more about writing script,
I helped facilitate projects,
and coached consultants
in the creation of their web resources
for teachers and principals.

I partnered with other departments
in the school board,
creating resources for Leadership Development
and working on webcasts
to be viewed

But it still wasn’t me.

As much as I loved the creation part,
I wanted to do more of it.
I loved being a part of the planning,
but I wanted to get my hands into it more.
I also spent a lot of time at the office,
at my desk.
I needed my days to look different
and the opportunity to interact
with people more.

Then we found out I was pregnant.

A new position had just been posted:
Curriculum Coordinator of Digital Literacy.
It wasn’t my love.
Yes, I loved technology
and always trying something new.
Yes, I wanted to be a part
of the coordinator meetings
to have some input
into the decision making
(it was a team that met separately
from the consultant group of 60+ people).

But something didn’t feel right to me.

I decided not to apply.
I didn’t think it would be fair
to the team to move into the role
for only three months
(before my mat leave started).
I wasn’t sure
if it was a good fit for me.
I ended up applying.

My gram had passed away
a few weeks before
I started in the new role.
I was a mess.
I was also 6 months pregnant
and moving into a role
I was uncertain about.

I’m glad that I did apply
because I quickly learned that
planning team meetings
and spending a lot of time
on email
was not for me.
I learned that I need to:
make things,
interact with different people,
and spend time with kids.
I was even further away from it all
in this new role.

Then Tate was born.

I felt so relieved
to be on mat leave.
I did not miss work.

I was often asked
to come into the office
for a visit.
I wasn’t interested.
I was loving my time

In the middle of my mat leave,
we found out that we were expecting
a second.
I decided to go back to work
for two weeks in December –
to help a little financially.
Since I hadn’t been back to work
after my first mat leave,
I wasn’t eligible
for unemployment.

With the help of friends
and many doctors appointments,
either myself or friends took care of Tate
over the two week span.

I hated being away from him.
I knew that I was done.

In December 2015,
I walked out the front doors
of the office,
walked down the ramp
and turned to look back
at the tall glass building
that I had once
been so proud
to work in.
I turned around
and haven’t been back since.

Then came Charlie.
Another year of mat leave.
Then an extension of my leave.
Then a second extension of my leave,
until I finally knew and trusted
that I never wanted to go back
to teaching.

As much as I loved my time
in the classroom,
I knew that I was ready
for something else.
The thought of 10 more years
until retirement,
10 years is a long time.
Even though it would mean more money,
I couldn’t do it.

And so here I am.
Writing my career story
after my resignation
has been finalized.
I’m awaiting the paperwork
to move forward with
for my pension.

I’m planning creative workshops
for fun.
I have no idea what I’ll do,
but I’ll figure it out.

As Tate said to Eric one day,
I can do it. I just don’t know how.

Wise little bum.

I don’t regret it.

my career story. part 1.

I never wanted to be a teacher.

I never spent my childhood
playing school
with stuffed animals
or dolls.

I loved to draw
and make things.
I loved to read.

In grade 3,
I can vividly remember
wanting to write my own book.
We had a guest
visit our classroom
to show us how to bind stories
that we had written.

She showed us
how to cut a cardboard cover and back,
and how to fold wallpaper
of our choosing
carefully around the corners.

I remember being taught
how to write a dedication page
and how to leave a blank page
at the front.

I was 7 years old.

I never wanted to be a teacher.
I wanted to be a writer.

But I’m not good at drawing.
I won’t be able to illustrate it.
I’ll do something different.

I could be a pediatrician;
it’s related to kids.
I could be a journalist…

Or maybe my love of kids
and writing
meant that someday
I could have
a family of my own
and write a book.

I could be a teacher.

I grew up in a world
that felt small,
in a rural town
in Northwestern Ontario
surrounded by
rock, lakes and trees.
Population 1,200.

Our parents did so much
to expose us to more.
Trips to Winnipeg
Weekends in Thunder Bay,
and a family road trip out
to B.C. in grade 8.
Trips throughout
the U.S.

They gave so much.
Thank you,
Mom and Dad.

And in terms of career,
I think I only knew
what was around me.

Mill workers
Office staff


Family owned businesses
Police officers

I could be a teacher.

I liked kids and
I could go away
to school.

My mom worked at the CIBC in town.
My dad was a mechanic.
My Auntie Carolyn worked at a store in Dryden
and cleaned people’s houses.
My Uncle Bill worked with a paper/printing company.
My other Uncle Bill worked at a car dealership.
My grandparents were trappers.
My Grandma Beatrice was a stay-at-home mom.
My Uncle Brian worked at CN (Canadian National Railway).
My older cousin, Laurie, was a teacher.

I’ll do that.

Who offers the con-ed program?

York.  Toronto is really big.
Maybe too much of a change.
A town of 1,200 to a city of over 2 million?

I wanted to go to Queens.
I cried the day I got my letter
and wasn’t accepted.

Sure.  It looks nice from the pamphlet
I got from my guidance counsellor.

It was a 20 hour drive away from home.
It felt like I was going to a different country.


I was the only one
from my high school
who went to Brock
(minus one girl, who I think dropped out).

Our family drove for two days
in Dad’s extended cab truck
through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan,
and into southern Ontario.
When I arrived to residence,
we started to unpack my things.

Mom was taking her time.
She wasn’t ready to leave yet.
I remember her making my bed
and Dad saying,
Peg, she can make her own bed.  
And my mom’s shaky voice,
I just want it to look nice.
She said that she cried for most
of the 20 hour drive home.

I was 18 years old.  

It must have been so hard
for them to leave me there.

And yet I thrived.

I had new friends.
I was on my own.
I was learning new things
and finally felt like
I belonged.

My friends on the floor
went out to the bar,
and I stayed home and studied.
I needed to have a good average
to compete for a spot in the
Con-ed program.
Plus, I was only 18.
I wasn’t old enough
to get into the bars,
which was probably a good thing.

I was accepted into the program.

I sat in on lectures
about child development
and stages of growth.
Education Law
Children and Youth with Exceptionalities
Focus on Early Childhood Education…

I didn’t love my classes,
but I loved being at school.

I did a placement
at the Niagara Peninsula Children’s Centre.
I loved the kids.

There was a little guy
who was non-verbal.
I think he had down syndrome.
He had the greatest smile
and a sparkle in his eye.
He made a little grunt
to show his approval
and he was so affectionate.

If I was away one day,
he was not happy with me
the next time I was in.
He wanted me to know
that my absence was noticed.

I remember Miles and
the little guy
at Edith Cavell Public School
who had difficulties
connecting with others socially,
but picked a flower for me
from the school year.

I loved the kids
who were misunderstood
or underestimated.

I did throughout my career.

In my fourth year
of university,
I learned how to
design lesson plans
and units of study.
I went to music class,
phys-ed, and math.  
It was like I was in
elementary school again.

November brought
our first teaching blocks.
Our associate professors
stood at the front of the room
and announced our placements
in class one day.

I listened as Sharon and Val
called out names
and so nicely described
what a great experience
it would be,
for them.

you will be going to Grapeview Public School
in St.Catharines.
It’s a beautiful new school
and you will be working with

a lovely pair of teachers
who work really well as a team…

As for me, I got
you will be going to Plymouth Public School
and you will…
…learn a lot.

that was all.

What did that mean?
Where was I getting sent?

To an inner city school
in Welland.

A neighbourhood
with old couches
in front yards,
windows boarded up,
and buildings left vacant.

To a school
where the janitor scanned the school yard
for needles
before the kids arrived
in the morning.
Where the secretary
brought in
and toques
for kids
during the winter.

It was a school
with a breakfast program
and some colourful language
out on the school yard
(even in the primary area).

Where a supply teacher in the building
usually meant
that a few kids
would be crawling out
the windows.

I loved it.
It was the perfect placement for me.

I was placed in a grade 2/3 class
with Mrs. Gennings.
She was firm and fair.  
A woman that kept students in check,
and her big, mushy heart hidden.
She taught me classroom management.

There was the placement in Niagara Falls
where my host teacher
told me that I lacked creativity
and that he knew my lesson wouldn’t fly
from the moment I started.
I cried, but not in front of him.
He taught me
to not always believe
what others say.

I became a teacher.

After teacher’s college,
I stayed in southern Ontario
and found my own place
in Welland.

It was a basement
bachelor apartment
in a small two storey building,
where the lobby
made you think
it was a seniors’ home.

It had brown shag carpeting
plastic covered, orange floral couches
and 70s lamps and accents.
It also didn’t help
that most of the tenants
looked over the age of 60.

I couldn’t afford
an apartment on the main floor
with large windows and a balcony.
I took the stairs
to my little room
with windows that faced
the underbelly of cars
sitting in the parking lot.

I painted the walls
to brighten the space.
My furniture included
a lawn chair,
an old school desk
I used as a TV stand
a coffee table I bought
from Goodwill.  
I had a couch
that Connie found for me
and a computer desk and chair
she lent me.

I bought myself
my first bed,
two bookshelves from IKEA,
and a dresser
from Goodwill,
with drawers that didn’t close

My first apartment
at 26 Dauphine Place.

For September and October
I did supply work
in Grimsby and Welland.
Some days were bad,
so bad that I questioned
being a teacher.
When I had my own class,
I would teach them to be kind
to visitors.

I drove around the region
in my little white car
that I called, Albert.
It was a Sundance
that I bought For $800
from a girl back home.
It barely made it to Southern Ontario.

In November,
I was able to get an LTO
at Plymouth Public School,
which was less than a 10 minute drive
from my apartment.

I filled in for a friend
on maternity leave.
I was the school art teacher,
school librarian,
and did prep coverage
(kindergarten gym and grade 5 drama).

It was a great job
to have for my first year.
I had worked at the library
in our small town,
from grade 8 into high school.
Being a librarian was familiar.
I loved art;  
it didn’t feel like work.
And time with little ones
in the gym,
playing with a parachute
or playing graveyard,
was fun.

And the staff showed me
what it was like
to work as a team.
I felt like I was working with friends.

After school,
you’d often find
myself, Nellie, Brad,
Jenna, Connie, and Monique
hanging out in the office,
sitting on the counter
talking about our day
and laughing about something.

We had ‘poetry club’ every Friday night,
our code word
for meeting up after school
for a drink and something to eat.
Reminders were announced
over the P.A. after school.
The kids thought we were nerds.

I loved my time at Plymouth.
We still talk about
how great that year was.

Once my LTO ended,
I was searching for a job again.

I got an interview at a nearby school,
Gordon Public School.
It was on the other side of the canal
and teaching there
was a completely different experience.

Where at Plymouth,
I spent recesses
breaking up fights
and telling kids
not to swear.
At Gordon,
I didn’t know what to do
during yard duty.

The kids were playing,
and everyone was getting along.
I was basically standing there
to watch them play.
It was surreal.

At Gordon,
I also learned how to communicate
and partner with parents.
They were very involved
in their children’s education,
which was a new experience for me.

I worked on improving
my teaching practice.
I had my own homeroom.
I was now responsible
for planning
social studies
and art
and kindergarten music.

A double Raffi CD
kept the kids and I
singing all year long.
I tried learning how to
play the guitar
(I thought the kids would like it),
but I didn’t get past
learning a few chords.

I got artsy at Gordon.
I wrote a play for my class
to perform for the school
Christmas concert.
I co-planned
An Evening with the Arts
with a colleague.
We planned a trip to Toronto
so our classes could see
the musical, Hairspray.  

I started to learn more about
math practice.
I questioned how I taught the subject
and wanted to improve.  
My principal, Linda,
loved math and invited me
to attend a provincial math conference
with her in Niagara Falls.
It changed the path of my career.

It was the first time in my life
I actually felt good at math.
That’s a whole other story
in itself.

The Move to York Region

an obituary to my career.

Teacher.  Curriculum Consultant.  Curriculum Coordinator.

On Tuesday, January 9th, 2019 Lainie Beth Holmes finally hit submit on her resignation e-form.  The date of Tuesday, January 15th, 2019 was chosen as her last day. To some, the decision felt like a surprise. To Lainie, it was 10 years in the making.  

This is where it all started…

In 2002, Lainie Johnson proudly received her Bachelor of Arts degree and Bachelor of Education degree from Brock University.  She was a graduate of the concurrent education program and the first member of her family to graduate with a post-secondary degree.  

After graduation, Lainie was a supply teacher for a few months before accepting an LTO position at Plymouth Public School in the District School Board of Niagara.  She was the school librarian and art teacher; she also did prep coverage for kindergarten phys-ed and grade 5 drama. She was 21 years old

It was a busy year.  She taught during the day and did her Masters of Education degree in the evenings – driving to St. Catharines for night classes.

When her LTO position ended, she secured her first contract position at Gordon Public School with a grade 6/7 class.  She taught at Gordon P.S. for two years before she transferred to York Region District School Board.

In York Region, Lainie taught grade 8 at Reesor Park Public School.  After teaching at Reesor for five years, she accepted a position within the school board’s curriculum department as a mathematics consultant.

During her four years in the curriculum department, Lainie moved into three different roles.  She began as a mathematics consultant, then became an instructional design consultant with the Learning Design and Development team, and in her final position, was the Curriculum Coordinator of Digital Literacy.  

After the birth of her first child, Lainie went on maternity leave from the coordinator role and never returned (with the exception of a two week stint in December 2015).  She then walked out of the building and said out loud, goodbye.

Lainie leaves behind an amazing group of colleagues in the profession, many of whom she calls her friends. She describes them as caring, intelligent, and hardworking. They inspire her to keep learning and to stay curious. She’s so thankful to have met them.

In lieu of flowers or donations, Lainie is accepting emails and notes of encouragement. They can be sent to

For the story behind this very sterile and resume-like obituary, watch for Lainie’s Career Story (coming soon).  There’s a lot more to it.

people need pruning too.

Did you know that winter is a good time for pruning trees?

They enter a state called dormancy and take a rest until the warm spring temperatures arrive. And for some trees, like fruit trees, major pruning work should only be done during the winter to maximize fruit production.

Okay, Lainie, but why the random tree pruning facts?

Maybe we could learn something from this too…

(The following information is from

1. Easier to Evaluate Tree Structure

After the leaves have dropped in fall, it’s easier to see the structure of your trees and, for a trained arborist, it’s easier to identify dead or dangerous branches. This lets us determine whether or not pruning is needed to keep your trees safe and looking their best.

Could our lives use a good evaluation during the quiet months of winter? What habits aren’t serving us? What could we let go of or delegate to release some weight?

2. Looks Better in Spring

Late winter is a great time to prune, contain or rejuvenate overgrown shrubs and trees as they’ll be able to recover quickly in spring with new growth. This will also minimize the amount of time you’ll spend looking at a plant that looks like a bunch of sticks after rejuvenation pruning.

Maybe we do our letting go closer to spring because we can feel the excitement of a new season on the brink. Warmer weather will inspire us to be active, to meet new people, and try new things.

3. Avoids Spreading Disease

Winter pruning can also avoid spreading some serious diseases that are active and spread easily during the spring and summer growing seasons, such as Dutch elm disease, oak wilt, cedar hawthorn rust and fire blight. During winter, the bacteria, fungi, parasites and insects that cause and/or spread disease are either dead or dormant, so diseases are less likely to be transmitted by pruning.

What isn’t healthy for you? It might be habits, your mindset, relationships… How does it spread into other areas of your life? How might you remove it or reshape it to allow for new and healthy growth?

4. More Efficient

If the ground freezes in winter, heavy equipment can be brought in without damaging your landscape, resulting in lower costs, faster work and better outcomes. This is especially true for large pruning jobs and tree removals.

What equipment do you need to bring in, to get the job done? Equipment might include personal learning you need to do, support, resources, etc.

5. Less Stress on Trees

Winter pruning doesn’t stimulate new growth that can be killed by cold weather, damaging and disfiguring the tree (this is why fall pruning isn’t generally a good idea). Plus, research shows that pruning before buds break in spring leads to “optimum wound closure”, letting trees heal from pruning cuts before warmer weather brings out destructive insects and pathogens.

What wound(s) need healing? How has it changed your structure? How might you begin the process of new growth?

6. Prevents Winter Damage

Damaged, dead or dying trees can be dangerous in winter, particularly when we get significant amounts of ice or snow. Dormant pruning makes them safer and can also rejuvenate weaker trees by removing dead and diseased wood.

How might you be dangerous to yourself or those around you? (dangerous is a pretty intense word. Think of it more as, how might you negatively impact yourself and others).

“Listen to me, your body is not a temple. Temples can be destroyed and desecrated. Your body is a forest — thick canopies of maple trees and sweet scented wildflowers sprouting in the underwood. You will grow back, over and over, no matter how badly you are devastated.”

– Beau Taplin

This piece of writing was inspired by an arborist truck parked outside of our house at 8 a.m. this morning. As I sat with the kids at the window, watching the branches fall to the ground, I wondered to myself, I wonder what the health benefits are for the tree? I bet it’s true for people too.

the graveyard told stories of everyone’s lives.

by the Strumbellas

The window looked out to the lake
The walls smelled of a 100 years of hard days
The windsurfer stayed in my mind
Watching them surf as the hours passed by
Who would have thought I’d be hoping to get back now
Who would have thought I’d be hoping to get back no

We walked in the night past the pines
The graveyard told stories of everyone’s lives
We walked in the night past the pines
And every day I still go back to that time

The library smelled of old books
A closet was filled with the things that we took
The roads were all covered in stone
We wear our bare feet when we made our way home
And who would have thought I’d be hoping to get back now
Who would have thought I’d be hoping to get back no

We walked in the night past the pines
The graveyard told stories of everyone’s lives
We walked in the night past the pines
And every day I still go back to that time

My brother looked out to the city and he smiled
My brother looked out to the city and he smile

We walked in the night past the pines
The graveyard told stories of everyone’s lives
We walked in the night past the pines
And every day I still go back to that time
And every day I still go back to that time


Windsurfers lyrics © Domino Publishing Co. Ltd., Domino Publishing Company Usa, Isabel Ritchie Music, S. WARD LTD., DGJJ INC., JONATHAN HEMBREY MUSIC, UNGUARDED MOMENT PUBLISHING, HOME STATE PUBLISHING, JEREMY DRURY MUSIC INC.

The graveyard told stories of everyone’s lives…

This line reminded me of another – in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic. We are all walking repositories of buried treasure. I think it was her that also talked about cemeteries being the most valuable land because they are filled with dreams left unfulfilled.

It all makes me think about the number of stories that go to the grave. And how important it is for us to write them down.