Holy Ground

I close my eyes and recall
that we found a dead field mouse
lying In the fountain grass
by the railroad tracks where we often walked.
She bent forward to retrieve it,
and I told her not to pick it up.

“But Mom, he needs a funeral.”

I stopped her hand,
pulled a used tissue
from my hip pocket,
and wrapped it around
the mouse’s body.
Its hair was half gone.
“Where should we bury him, sweetheart?”

She cocked her head, considering.
“I don’t think we should put him
under the dirt. I think
he should have a funeral like Daddy’s.”

We made a little fire in the back yard.
The field mouse, resting on some cotton balls
in an old Thom McCann shoebox,
was placed on a firepit pyre with great reverence
by my six-year-old.
Her beautiful hair –
the hair I once wove ribbons into –
was falling out in clumps.
Chemo ravaged her from the inside,
making itself known on her outside.
My eyes burned.

“Are you crying, Mom?”

“It’s just the smoke from the fire.”

We watched the orange flames
consume the box, the cotton, the mouse.
She stood silent for a long time,
Then turned to face me.

“Don’t put me under the dirt, Mom.
Let me have a funeral like Daddy’s.”

She knew.

She hugged me around the legs
not letting go for a long time.
Neither did I loosen my grip on her.


Now, her head rests on cotton –
a bleach-bright pillowcase stamped
with this hospital’s name.
Her eyes are closed,
But a smile slips her lips…

I’m sure she’s walking through
the fountain grass by the railroad tracks.
This time, she must walk alone.
Where she goes, I cannot travel.
At least not now.

And as I contemplate whether it would be
better to drink the desperate poison
or humbly fall on my knees,
she breathes her last.

The smile is still in place.
A glow surrounds her.
Even now, she is
love not bound
by the finality of death.

I make my decision
and bend the knee.
I am on holy ground.

Shelter Dogs


Shelter Dogs
Theresa Konwinski

Once, I adopted a rescue dog.
There was something in her
frightened face…
She had been overbred,
starved and beaten.
At first she was timid,
trembling at the smallest sound.
Later, she clung to me.
Everywhere I went, she followed,
the click of her toenails on the hard wood floor
a constant accompaniment
as I went about my work.
I understood her.

So many souls are stuck in cages
where the bars are not seen,
but felt.
People walk by,
pausing long enough to smile-
beneficent, and at the same time
full of pity.
When someone finally opens the door,
it’s hard to know whether to step forward
or cower.
In the cage for so long,
shelter dogs can barely trust
being free.

A review of Seven Secrets and what the heck am I up to now???


This review comes from one of the judges for the 27th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.

I enjoyed reading Seven Secrets by Theresa Konwinski. The setting in rural Ohio was relatable. The depiction of the relationships between the boys was pretty spot on. I did feel the initial dialogue was a bit heavy handed, and while things were maybe more formal in that time, some of the dialogue felt a little too mature for 12 year old kids. The dialogue did however establish the nuanced relationships between the kids, and set the stage for some of the tension in the story.
I felt the mystery of the accidental death of James was woven well through the balance of the book. The impact it had on the characters’ lives was realistically approached.
The plot was strong, the resolution was kind of expected in some way, and the pace, though slow and steady, did keep my attention throughout.
This is a solid coming of age story.

So there you  have it. I know I have a long way to go when it comes to writing. I hope that everything I do shows improvement. So what am I working on now?

I am writing a book about my grandparents who lived in Wyandot County. It starts in the 1920s and follow them through the mid-late 1940s. It’s a story about resilience and holding onto faith in the midst of some pretty terrible situations. I’m hoping that when it’s ready, you’ll like it and that you’ll be able to relate it to the tales from your own family’s history. I have another 20-25,000 words before it is complete, and I haven’t been doing any writing at all lately because I’ve been so busy this semester at Lourdes. That’s soon done, though, and Christmas break will allow me some time to delve back into a story that I think is worth telling.

Speaking of Christmas, I hope everyone who reads this is planning for a fun holiday. Spread kindness out there, okay?






It’s been a while…

Been busy as all get out taking care of my health, taking care of my family, getting ready to teach Evidence-Based Practice to MSN students, getting all my harvest activities accomplished. Just wait till you taste my salsa!

Working on book #4 – it’s based on the life of my grandparents and their ten children and will span the early 1900s till my grandma went to work outside the home around 1946. It’s been fun writing it, but it’s on the back burner till I get school organized, and that’s been no small feat.

In the meantime, I penned a little poem that I think is kind of funny, and I hope it will make you chuckle. Peace, all.


Old Peoples’ Exercise Class

We’re all here just trying
to stay one step ahead
of the Grim Reaper.
He waits,
eyes shrouded,
peering out from his cloak.
Cold, bony fingers reach for us
as we do bicep curls
and squats.

We look to each other
and shout, “Keep going!”
loud enough to startle him
and force him to
shrink back into hell.

We sweat, but we smile.
Not today, Reaper.
Not today.

Start Your Engines 05-25-19 “The Revolution Outside Your Door”

Hope you’ll enjoy this poem I’ve written.


The Revolution Outside Your Door

Nothing stops the march of the violets.
They erupt in purple profusion,
Relentless in their quest for victory over the emerald grass.

Battling against a warm southwest wind,
The trees spread a protective canopy
In defiance of that flame-thrower, the sun.

Tulips explode in vivid red, yellow and pink—
Over hill, over vale—
Resilient and prolific in rebellion.

Spring arrives in the nick of time,
and nature carries the day.
Joyful birds sing their freedom.


Start Your Engines 05-17-19 : Finally Friday

yellow red tulip 2019

When you’re retired (or mostly retired), what used to be “Finally Friday!” is now “Already Friday?!?”

If you’re worried about life slowing down once you hit retirement, fuhgetaboutit. If you’re creative, imaginative, and not slothful, you’ll wonder when in the heck you had time to work.

Retirement: I highly recommend it. Enjoy your freedom.

Have a great weekend, everyone.


Start Your Engines 05-12-19: Mother’s Day

white flowers

We’re all here because some woman somewhere wanted to bring us into this world. And if you are lucky enough to have a mom who cared to bring you here, raise you, and try to get you on your own two feet, remember to say thank you to her today. Happy Mother’s Day to all the ladies out there who cared then and care now.

Start Your Engines 05-08-19: Mad World

people brasil guys avpaulista

Photo by Kaique Rocha on Pexels.com

It’s crazy out there, people. In the midst of political dramatics, murder and mayhem, and general life stressors, don’t forget to take care of your heart and nurture your soul. And today, that’s all I have to say about that.

Start Your Engines 05-07-19: A Few Thoughts on Teaching Nurses

kid dressed up like nurse

Once, they were baby nurses. They came to class with their eyes open (for the most part, wink wink) and with slight trepidation about what exactly they had gotten themselves into. They politely sat through Evidence-Based Practice and wondered to themselves, “When am I going to learn to start an IV? I don’t want to do research.” They worked through concepts like p values and null hypothesis. They learned the difference between a randomized controlled trial and quasi-experimental research. They learned the Hierarchy of Evidence and how to assess the quality of a peer-reviewed scholarly article. But it wasn’t what they wanted to do. They wanted to learn how to start an IV and make a nursing diagnosis and run a code. They wanted to plan and organize and implement the care for a patient or group of patients. Research? Wasn’t that for the PhD nurses?

But they soon recognized that EBP was so much more than research. It was about engaging one’s own sense of natural curiosity. It was about listening to the patient and beginning to understand their values, beliefs and preferences. It was about no longer doing things in the same old way just because that was the way it had always been done. It was about improving the quality of patient care and the experience of patients encountering a bewildering healthcare system.

Last night, one of my former EBP students stood up to deliver her Master’s presentation, and one of the first points she made was, “You must create a spirit of inquiry among the nursing staff.” I could have cried. When I talked to her afterwards, she said, “It’s one of the first things I remember from your class.”

Nursing at the bedside was a rewarding profession. Nursing education is no less rewarding. I thank my students for helping keep this old nurse’s heart pumping. If Lourdes will have me, I’ll be back next fall.


Start Your Engines 05-06-19 A Few Thoughts On Nurses Week

nurses capThe hardest job you’ll ever love…that’s what I have told multiple classes of nursing students…it’s the hardest job you’ll ever love.

My guess is that many other professions feel that way about their work, too. But I just want to mention one thing that encourages my heart every year…the placement of nurses at the top of the list of most trusted professions in the U.S.

Nurses, you should be proud of this ranking. On the days you come home with a uniform ruined by poop or vomit or Betadine…on the days you come home deflated and humiliated by a physician’s belittling comments…on the days you work without a break or lunch because the unit was understaffed…on the day your favorite patient coded and died, or the day the patient’s family reminded you how much smarter WebMD is than you…

We have chosen a profession in which the hardships are great, but the rewards are greater, and that is where our focus must remain if we’re to make a difference in the world of healthcare. The first and final advocate for the patient is often the nurse. The eyes that see subtle changes usually belong to the nurse. Hold on to those ideas on the crummy days. Remember to always use every brain cell to assess, plan, implement, and then evaluate evidence-based practices. Remember the importance of touch. Remember to LISTEN to your patient. They look at us as the fail-safe and guardian of their healthcare experience. And we can be that when we make sure we are well-educated, observant, and dedicated.

Happy Nurses Week. I salute you.