Recycling brings a sigh of relief

A some of you may know, April 22 is Earth Day, and many communities  plan events for environmental awareness. In my town, today was a big recycling project. People brought electronics, scrap metal, clothing, textiles, housewares,  books and paper documents to the park where their items would then be sorted and taken to a recycling facility.

This year, in addition to several years worth of old bills and stacks of paper we no longer needed to save, I was able to finally let go of something that brought a great sigh of relief…

A week ago, my youngest made his decision on where he is going to college this fall! It seems like this process of searching colleges, visiting campuses, writing applications and the waiting…. oh the agonizing waiting for responses… has been going on forever. In actuality, it started just 6 years ago- which kind of is forever in a parent’s mind. My eldest spent hours reading about schools and sending away for brochures. She also worked hard at her preparation for college and took SATs and ACTs multiple times. There was a stack of practice test books on the shelf — more than a foot wide. Then there were the AP exam books- World History, Biology, Calculus- and the SAT II Subject practice tests- Math II and English. Again, all of these added up to at least another foot of space on the shelf.     IMG_3179



Lastly, there were the books ranking colleges, advising how to write a college essay and hundreds of pamphlets, brochures and other promotional material that both of my children had accumulated either in the mail or during campus visits. I probably should have taken a photo of the massive amount of paper these items took up, but, truthfully, I was so eager and ready to get rid of it. I never considered I would want to see it again. These collective items only symbolized the ongoing process of getting ready for college and the enormous amounts of stress that were heaped upon all members of the family.

Anyway, my husband and I loaded up our car and drove to the park this afternoon. The man who directed us to the paper recycling location was a friend. When I told him what we were bringing, he agreed that we must be very relieved to have this process -of prepping our kids for college and actually getting them both into a school of their choice- behind us.

As I carried the huge armload of practice test books to the table, a volunteer followed me with the heavy bag of brochures. I placed the pile on the table for the other students to deal with and watched as the one carrying the bag dumped its contents into the giant recycling dumpster. I breathed a sigh of relief as I walked back to my car. I looked at my husband and smiled, “Isn’t it great to have this behind us!” He smiled as we drove away. “Happy Earth Day!”



It’s All About the Word Count

When I write a new post, I rarely think about how many words I am typing. Today I have a new appreciation for how important each word is. I spent almost the entire day working with my daughter on her college application essay. She is an extremely talented and creative writer so she didn’t need any help getting her ideas on paper. Where my role came in was to help her take an amazingly well-told story of 840 words and pare it down to 650max- without losing the essence of how she expressed herself.


It actually became a very rewarding project. She took the day off of school in order to get this done before the deadline of Nov 1. Usually she tells me she has things under control, or rolls her eyes when I offer advice. Yesterday was different. She was able to listen to my suggestions with respect and gratitude and see them as constructive points which would help her, rather than negative comments that only proved I thought she was a terrible writer.

By  noon, she had a second draft edited and emailed to relatives on the west coast just as they were starting their days with a cup of coffee. One of them, her grandmother, was an English professor and had multiple suggestions on how to tighten things up effectively. Amazingly, my daughter was receptive to what was probably an overwhelming flood of ideas coming from three generations of writers in this family.

Somehow she managed to filter the good suggestions from the ones that didn’t seem to fit her style and reshape her essay into something that she could feel proud to submit. I grabbed my Roget’s Thesaurus from the shelf- I always keep it handy- and she opened up Merriam Webster’s dictionary on the computer. We spent half an hour looking up words, trying to find the best way to express what she meant in the most efficient way possible. When she typed up her final draft last night, the word count came in at 659. She is back in school today but tonight she will make a last effort to cut the unneccessy words and then she will hand it to her counselor to file with her applications.


As I type my post this morning, I am thankful that I can ramble freely without the word count restrictions that she had on a much more important piece of writing.