Monthly Archives: February 2016

Say Your Name


Say Your Name

Mel at Helm

MEL at the HELM

One is constantly barraged with requests to “SAY YOUR NAME”. The problem is that some of us have had a few name changes over the years, and on a distracted day, one could inadvertently blurt out one of those previous names… I’m saving those stories for another post!

My first “change of name” experience happened on the first day of school.  The teacher was confronted with 2 MARY LYNNE students.  She made an on the spot judgement call, announcing that I would be MARY from that day forth, and the other little girl would be LYNNE.  It stuck.  I lost my dual name that day and never looked back. Albeit, my mom continued to refer to me as MARY LYNNE, but no one else paid a lick of attention to the fact that my identity had been altered that day.

The second occurrence occurred on my first wedding day.  I mistakenly (just kidding) married a French Canadian man and my first name was constantly being assimilated with my new French last name.  Let’s just say, the French side of the family preferred to refer to me as MARIE, NOT MARY, and certainly NOT MARY LYNNE! My English side of the family were not amused by the new “Frenchisized” version!

Many, many years later, after the divorce, I was ready to escape my French last name- desperate is more like it! However, having sons with the French last name, it seemed somewhat wrong for me to revert back to my original maiden name. (And anyways, I wasn’t too keen about that one, either!)

And many, many, many years later, after just becoming a principal for the first time and having my new school community adjust to my French last name, I eloped at Spring Break and returned to school with yet another last name.  Of course, everyone kept making mistakes and continued to require prompting to use the new one. Unfortunately, the new last name (pronounced Lawdeen) actually is German, but people continued to pronounce it as a French name (Leau-di-en).  For some reason, everyone persisted in their belief that somehow I was FRENCH, married to another FRENCH man! Talk about confusion! Let’s just say, Mr. Laudien wasn’t amused!

And now, many, many, many, many years later, I have grown weary of my first name, MARY.  I feel that this name doesn’t fit the person of whom I’ve evolved.  My dissatisfaction came to the forefront as I created my three Middle Grade novels (the Frenchie Series). MEL, (divorced with a 13 year old son and striving to become a principal in the novels) made me realize that I perceive myself as a MEL; not a MARY.  MEL actually suits me and my husband grabbed onto the name and ran with it.  He confuses all of our family members and friends by referring to me as, MEL. (No one else gets it, but him!) You might want to read the FRENCHIE series to figure out why I’m more of a MEL than a MARY….

Mel with French bulldogs


When I’m asked to introduce myself these days, like on a Cruise Ship, I do all the right things… after all, I know all the techniques for remembering names – I had 350 students with families each year, didn’t I? And did you know that the Cruise Lines actually offer expert refresher courses to passengers to develop the skill of introducing yourself and remembering the names of the people you meet? It’s hilarious to watch in action, as everyone tries to make their name unique. So when someone meets me, I remind them to think of the song, “Proud Mary” and if they really want to get fancy and know my last name, I tell them to think of the “dean of law”.  You’re going to remember my name out in cyber land, aren’t you?  It works, I know it does!

You have stories to tell associated with “SAY YOUR NAME“; I know you do!  My readers and I would love you to share some of your’s with us.  Please leave a comment.  And if you want to read about why I think MEL should be my actual name… you’ll have to click on my books in the sidebar…







Check out my new ABOUT PAGE of my blog.  I’d love to hear any feedback from my readers, so please leave a comment: The GOOD, The BAD, or The UGLY!!  Source: About

Accepting Mindfulness


There’s a lot of discussion about “mindfulness” in the self-help and educational sectors these days.  It’s something that started to develop within me through journal writing after an unexpected divorce in the early 90’s.  Smacked with the realization that I was in complete control of myself and life’s choices, the written reflections enabled me to focus on my goals and well-being. It became apparent, early in the days when “mindfulness” wasn’t actually a common term, that one had to seize the day and try to make the most of it through one’s choices. It’s not a skill one masters.  Often times, one’s “mindfulness” is contradictory and completely messy! I have taught myself to wake up each day and look forward to what the day holds. Although I’m focused and positive about making the most of each day, I also know that it can go “off the rails” and that I may have to be forgiving and gentle with myself.

After reading a reflection post, entitled, The truth about being kind to yourself, it compelled me to share a mantra that was posted on Emma’s blog.

Say it out loud

Today I will do my best!

Today, I will try my best

to make choices that are

healthy and make me

feel good.


I’ll work on my goal!

Say It Everyday (Inspirational Quote, Health Fitness)

This quote was intended for fitness and lifestyle motivation.  I think it  translates to all areas of our lives.  (I say this, as I help myself to a Lindt Dark Chocolate square… or 2 or 3)  Seriously, though, if one actively embraces “mindfulness” on a daily basis, the benefits to life satisfaction are immeasurable.  The message of Emma’s post was, be kind to yourself. Continue to be actively “mindful” and be forgiving with yourself when you make a few slips along the way. And you will… oops… the rest of that Lindt chocolate bar just disappeared!



A Book Review:


               -written by Don Watmough

                     -illustrations by Dave Alavoine


Learn_to_Sail_ Image


Anyone who is a boater will get a kick out of Evergreen Pacific’s latest release. The book is a chaotic and hilarious tale of a novice sailor who bungles his way through purchasing the perfect boat (NOT!), learning to sail it through numerous mishaps, while simultaneously entertaining the “sea gods” above with the mayhem in his wake. Dave Alavoine’s illustrations, (the cartoonist for Pacific Yachting Magazine’s, COCKPIT CONFESSIONS), capture the humor of the nautical follies experienced by Skip and his mate, Muffy. The final part of LEARN to SAIL the HARD WAY addresses the mistakes made by rookie boaters (and those more experienced …), encouraging one to avoid these pitfalls.

Who would enjoy this fun read? Boaters and especially sailors! What a perfect entrance point for Power Squadron meetings or sailing lessons to get things warmed up in a humorous way. Yacht Clubs will have a blast with the book and will want to book Don Watmough for a reading. (Yacht Clubs, no doubt, have many tales amongst it’s own members that would rival Skip’s.) It’s the perfect novelty gift for any boater.

If you’ve taken up sailing and have a humorous story to share regarding your novice mistake/mishap, please leave a comment below.  I know we’ll all delight in hearing your amusing nautical tale!

regatta 6


Since I’m recommending this book, I should let you know where one can purchase it. Please refer to the links below:

Why Enrol in Blogging 101?


Why Did I Start Blogging?

Everyone enrolled in BLOGGING 101 will have different reasons for getting a blog underway. I am a purposeful retired educator/administrator who found that I was unprepared for “retirement”.  What did I do?  I wrote a middle years series of  3 humorous novels, entitled the Frenchie Series (Frenchie referring to French Bulldogs). Interesting, the MG novels are about a 13 year old boy who blogs each night to all the Frenchie lovers… Most of all, the writing kept me engaged and excited about creating something that I hoped families would get some chuckles from reading.  As well, it kept me learning new skills, such as setting up an author platform and coordinating one’s promotion and marketing plan.  I hired a genius high school student four years ago and set up a state of the art website for my titles.(Fortunately/Unfortunately he is now a second year student in Harvard and completely unavailable to update this lovely website!)

Blogging was the next step.  I used it, initially, to run contests, have students send in feedback after making school/library visits and advertised each new book. What I didn’t do is set it up as strictly an author’s blog.  There were so many other things going on in one’s life with which to have some fun!  I enjoy recognizing family, friends, neighbors, etc. who touch my life and I feel compelled to write my blog posts for them. I know that blogging about experiences involving them makes them feel important to me and I want them to have that. We have many laughs over the crazy everyday experiences that bring us such delight when it is blogged.

Why Enroll in Blogging 101?

Now that I am enrolled in Blogging 101, I realize that this will give me the opportunity/skills to start up a second blog. One will be for selling my published books, advertising my workshops/ author visits, and providing writing advice to readers, etc. And the other will be to add some personal humor and fun  into the lives of my readers, who care about many of the same things I encounter as I move through this journey of post career.  I was an innovative and dedicated teacher/ principal and blogging provides me with the challenge I need to reach people and maybe even touch their lives.

Am I a techno whiz? Hardly!  Do I need a little support setting up my new blog site?  Absolutely!  Will Blogging 101 provide the support and tools I need to succeed? I’m certainly hopeful and appreciative!

Consider Subscribing to

Keep checking in readers, as I feel my progress could be your incentive to take some risks and try to perfect something that is important to you.  If you have some words of advice or just a story to share that may inspire others to get out there and become engaged with their world, please leave a comment. We’d all love to hear from you.