The Lost Art of Critical Thinking

The Lost Art of Critical Thinking

I very rarely, if ever post anything that might be construed as political in nature. I find that those thoughts and opinions are usually best kept to oneself. However, in the current climate of chaos and noise and the constant barrage of talking heads and talking over one another, I was reminded of the numerous [...]

Let Freedom Ring!

Let Freedom Ring!

I taught American History for fifteen years, but have loved and studied history all my life. Some days I get discouraged when I watch the news and see how much of what was fought for by past generations is now being diluted and distilled in modern times. Yes, I do believe in progress. But not [...]

Has the Electoral College Outlived its Purpose?

Has the Electoral College Outlived its Purpose?

Perhaps the Electoral College is a victim of its own success. Most of the time it shapes American politics in ways that are beneficial but hard to see. Its effects become newsworthy only when a candidate and his or her political party lose a hard-fought and narrowly decided election.Trent England | Imprimis, June 2019 In [...]

Grace is Enough

Grace is Enough

"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind, but now I see."John Newton, 1725 - 1807 Grace. In society, it simply means a state of elegance or refinement. I always think of Audrey Hepburn when I think of grace in this [...]

No Escape

Working on the sequel to In the Eye of the Storm, there are so many images around me that continually inspire words. So many of the stories I receive from contributors are hard to get through. The pain is so raw. But then, so is the hope. I find that I am ever grateful that [...]

Timeless Treasures

"I have lived a thousand lives and I have loved a thousand loves. I've walked on distant worlds and seen the end of time. Because I have read." ~ George R.R. Martin Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, has always been one of my favorite places to visit; especially, his library. Standing in the dim room, surrounded [...]

There’s Magic In You

Congratulations to my two beautiful nieces! I cannot wait to see where your journeys take you next! It’s graduation season. And like every year, the excitement, the promise, the energy of new beginnings is in the air. I’ve always loved this time of year. Especially when I was still teaching. Watching my students embrace their [...]

Raindrops and Buttons

Raindrops and Buttons

I love the sound of rain. However, the sound of rain on a tin or metal roof is something else altogether. It brings to mind childhood afternoons with my Nana. My Nana, Mary Murphy Chaknis, was born in 1911 in County Cork, Ireland. Her family was poor, and by the time Nana had reached her [...]

If I Could Talk to the Girl I Was

If I Could Talk to the Girl I Was

If I could go back twenty years, and talk to the girl I was, I would tell her these three things. First, control is an illusion. You don’t have it. You never will. The harder you grip that wheel, the more out of control you’ll spin. You’ll spend so much of your time and strength [...]

What It’s Like to Live in the Aftermath of a Category 5 Hurricane

What It’s Like to Live in the Aftermath of a Category 5 Hurricane

Keep your head up Panama City. A feat that has proven much harder as the weeks since Michael have turned into months. Image by Sharon Owens There have only been four. Only four recorded Atlantic storms have maintained category five strength as they barreled inland. The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, with its maximum sustained [...]

Teaching: A Two-way Path to Lifelong Learning

Teaching: A Two-way Path to Lifelong Learning

Teachers are expected to reach unattainable goals with inadequate tools. The miracle is that at times they accomplish this impossible task. Haim Ginott I left teaching in 2008. As the years pass, I realize that I left a bit of myself there too. In the lives of all the students I taught and in all [...]

A Story of Strength

A Story of Strength

Over and over again, I have learned where my strength truly lies. I thought surviving alcohol addiction and overcoming a lifelong eating disorder made me strong. I thought witnessing my child win her battle with cancer made me strong. I thought surviving the death of my father, my beautiful niece, my sister-in-law, and the murder [...]

The Dangerous Pursuit of Rewriting History

The Dangerous Pursuit of Rewriting History

Washington, Jefferson, T. Roosevelt, and Lincoln; the unwavering image of Mount Rushmore. “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. [...]

Logophile Life

Logophile Life

"The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library."~ Albert Einstein. My students used to tell me I was a nerd. I’d laugh and thank them, taking it as a compliment. I wasn’t ashamed of the fact that I loved books, and words, and writing and research, and well, [...]

Partisan Politics Have Left Us to Wonder “Is Anybody Out There?”

Partisan Politics Have Left Us to Wonder “Is Anybody Out There?”

“Six months since Michael, much of the Florida Panhandle is still a shambles. And residents of the most affected areas feel largely forgotten by the public and the federal government, which has not yet passed a federal disaster relief bill for areas affected by Hurricane Michael.”Emily Atkin, The New Republic | April 19, 2019 Six [...]

Redeeming Rain

Redeeming Rain

Redeemed by His blood, That pours down like rain. Cleansing my soul, Removing its stains. Showering me in Grace, For all I have done. With the promise of eternity, My chains are undone. Shattering the darkness, Restoring the light. Lifting my blindness, Returning my sight. Bearing the scars, Taking my shame. Setting me free, Through [...]

Category 5

Category 5

We didn’t need the confirmation. We already knew. We felt the devastating winds. Saw with our own eyes, all the storm surge swept away. We’ve lived in the aftermath. Without help. Without relief. Relentlessly. Since that day. We’ve keenly felt the deaths. The catastrophic devastation. The destruction to our homes and cities. Our livelihoods. Our [...]

I Thought I Knew

I Thought I Knew

Image by Cindy K. Sickle The evening after, the sun set,with a resounding orange,that set fire to what remained.Broken trees. Barren roads.The shattering complete.I thought I was strong.Until I saw the young boy,standing before what used to be his home.“It’s gone, he said, but we’re still here.”That’s when I knew. I knew nothing of strength [...]

The Scarlet Ibis

The Scarlet Ibis

When I was a young girl, my Dad introduced me to The Scarlet Ibis by James Hurst. A beautifully haunting short story about two brothers and the wonderful, terrible truth about pride. It was something Dad and I talked of often. I shared it with my girls. When Dad passed in 2010, I had a [...]

This New World

This New World

In this new world. we are shattered, hopeful souls. Bearing losses of unimaginable depth. Shouldering the burden of staggering, debilitating grief. In this new world, we are determined warriors. Maintaining our faith in the face of insurmountable odds. Believing still, that even alone, we will rise again. In this new world, we press onward. Without [...]

Six Months

Six Months

26 weeks.That’s how long it’s been,since our world was broken,our lives stripped and shattered.183 days.That’s how long it’s been,since we prayed for deliverance,as the angry winds gathered.4,380 hours.That’s how long it’s been,since we rode out the storm,that left us trembling and tattered.262,800 minutes.That’s how long it’s been,since we witnessed the destruction,crushing everything that mattered.15,768,017 seconds.That’s [...]

Hurricane Michael: Five Things the World Should Know

Hurricane Michael: Five Things the World Should Know

“Everyone here has a story of loss they struggle to describe and recovery they cannot yet comprehend.” 1. There was no way to adequately prepare. We'd done this before, many of us, more than once; prepared for the possibility of a hurricane visiting us during the Season. We were used to Summer ushering in, not [...]

Reflection

Reflection

We don't always see ourselves the way others do. But that's the beauty of reflection. Through the eyes of others, we get a glimpse of who we truly are. An Extraordinary State of Being | Jennifer N. and Nichole Fenwick

Imperfectly Perfect

Imperfectly Perfect

My niece's essay on the pitfalls of blindly seeking perfection is as timely today as when the short stories on which it is based were written.Based on The Cathedral, by Raymond Carver and The Birthmark, by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Physical perfection is something our society places great value in. There are multi-billion dollar industries devoted to [...]

Soul Words

Soul Words

Sometimes the words don't come. And then there are times they do, but in their fragility, they fail to capture the essence of the soul. For how can mere words ever describe something so profoundly eternal?An Extraordinary State of Being | Jennifer N. and Nichole Fenwick

In the Aftermath. We said Goodbye

In the Aftermath. We said Goodbye

The Poetry of Michael. In the Aftermath. © 2019 Jennifer N. Fenwick In the Eye of the Storm: Stories of Survival and Hope from the Florida Panhandle. Available now on Amazon. All money earned from book sales goes directly to the United Way of Northwest Florida Hurricane Micheal Relief Fund. 100% of donations to the [...]

Celebrating Recovery

Celebrating Recovery

My story, Four Weeks: A Journey from Darkness, is available on Amazon. One year ago today, I walked into the doors of the Orlando Recovery Center, beaten, battered and bruised. By my own hand. By my own fears. It may come as a surprise to some, not so much to others, but I had suffered [...]

Goodbye in the Aftermath

Goodbye in the Aftermath

Downtown Marianna, FL following Hurricane Michael on October 10, 2018. The entire Florida Panhandle suffered catastrophic damage with property losses to date at a staggering $5 billion and growing. In the aftermath we said goodbyeTo so many thingsThe treesOur homesOur landmarks Our citiesWe grieved for these lossesFor ourselvesFor each otherFor our shattered livesWe promised to rebuildTo [...]

The Pain of Goodbye

The Pain of Goodbye

Image by John Fenwick There was that awful momentwhen my heart finally understood,I’d never see you again. Not in this life.The breaking, overwhelming. The goodbye, forever. The shattering, excruciating.The absence, so agonizingly complete.Nothing can ever prepare youfor the goodbye you never thoughtyou’d have to say. For the loss you never thought you’d have to feel.For the emptiness you never thoughtyou’d [...]

Faith Stands

As the winds roar, As the waves rise higher, As fear overcomes, Faith stands. As destruction grows, As devastation overpowers, As the broken cry out, Faith stands. As the world transforms, As the road ahead darkens, As we become weary, Faith stands. As we stumble forward, As the shattering continues, As our broken hearts grieve, [...]

The Strength to Soar

Though I would gladly take her pain. I knew that it would be her own strength that would give her the wings she'd need to soar. An Extraordinary State of Being | Jennifer N. and Nichole Fenwick

Just Breathe

Just Breathe

In the past few months, we've found it difficult to breathe. We've shed many tears. There's grief. But there's also hope. So much hope. #850strong An Extraordinary State of Being | by Jennifer N. and Nichole Fenwick

There’s Just No Escape

There’s Just No Escape

Traveling home each day, there are reminders everywhere... Miles of piles, and shattered lives. Places that were, but exist no more. Broken soldiers, lining tattered streets. All that’s left, of our once green trees. Snapped into, these soldiers fell. Swept away, within the gale. I used to love, to drive these roads. Where beside the [...]

There are Some Things You Just Can’t Prepare For

There are Some Things You Just Can’t Prepare For

Nothing could've prepared us. Not for this. Though we did prepare. We boarded up our windows. Stocked up on supplies. Safeguarded our valuables. But this time would be so much different than those that had come before. Pretty soon, all we had left were our prayers. And our fervent hope that we'd still be alive [...]

In the Silent Aftermath

October 10,2018 changed us forever. Surrounded by destruction, it was hard to imagine coming back from this. But at heart, the people of the Florida Panhandle are strong. They are the heroes in this story. The ones who inspire hope and wield inexhaustible strength. This is their story. Told in their own words. In their [...]

Inked: The Indelible Draw of Tattoos

Inked: The Indelible Draw of Tattoos

I got my first tattoo at 35. My husband took me. It was small. Just the Japanese symbol for courage. Inked in black on my back. Cliche really. But that one tattoo started me on a journey that I doubt will ever truly end. What can I say? I'm enthralled by ink. That first tattoo [...]

Poetry. Pain. Beauty.

There's pain in poetry. Every poet knows this. But there's beauty too. So much beauty. An Extraordinary State of Being | Jennifer N. and Nichole Fenwick

Your Silence Speaks Volumes

Your Silence Speaks Volumes

You ask me what it’s like to live in such a strange world. It wasn’t like this before, I say. Before that day. The one where the winds raged ceaselessly, roaring over and through neighborhoods, communities,miles and miles of our home. Taking so much, leaving so little. It wasn’t like this before the surging waters [...]

I am Spirit not Skin

I am Spirit not Skin

For years I struggled with an eating disorder that controlled my life. It wasn’t until I realized that the perfection I so desperately sought was nothing more than a destructive illusion that I sought help and in surrender found peace.