Conversations with Kids · Education · Family life · Mom is Doing Her Best

Finding Nuggets of Hope

Sunrise on Casco Bay, Maine

One of my students asked me today why I hadn’t written anything in a while– a while meaning nine days not six months.  “Cut me some slack,” I requested, “sometimes there is just too much to write and you don’t know where to start.” One, I love that he was looking forward to my next blog; two, I didn’t like the pressure of this expectation–it’s better just to surprise people; three, in my defense, there was a lot going on in the last nine days.  I sat down to write about Harvey, and then North Korea detonated a hydrogen bomb; I sat down to write about North Korea and then Irma swooped in; I sat down to write about Irma and then Donald Trump rescinded DACA; I sat down to write about what would happen to those dreamers when a local hero, Dave Dovholuk, passed away in his sleep at only 55 years of age.  This morning, I may or may not have poured laundry detergent (liquid not crystals) into the filter of our coffee pot.

But here are my nuggets of hope, or the pink nuggets of goodness I highlight while helping my AP Language students find what they really want to say in their college essays.  Every essay draft, no matter how terrible- feeling in the beginning, contains at least one nugget of hope to build from.  They may have to scratch 90% and begin anew, but they at least have that one nugget of hope to suggest survival.

In the beginning of the process, some kids pour every single thought and action into a 1200 word essay, which we then narrow down to a nice “600 worder”– but of those 600 words, 590 won’t mean anything unless you have that roughly 10 word nugget of hope.  The nugget of goodness is essential in assisting college admissions counselors everywhere to say, “Okay, here’s something worth reading, someone worth accepting, and, well, a bit of hope to believe in.”

We watched the news footage of rescues in Texas, entire towns under water, but when the message was shared, “Houston students will return to school on September 11,” communities and parents breathed a silent sigh (or maybe not so silent) of relief; the return to school symbolizes that nugget of hope, that life will go on despite the tragedy, loss and complete devastation of a region.   Can you imagine those college essays?  Late in August, I lost my village.  Or, late in August, my family lost our home, our car, our grandmother, our jobs, and our ability to pay anything toward my college education.  Or, Harvey stole everything from me at the start of senior year.

Yet we read in our news feeds about the miracle workers, the ones bridging the tragedy, the human effort to get food, supplies, water, and help to wherever it is needed.  We read stories of man rushing to help man, regardless of his creed, color, or citizen status.  We read stories of children in other places holding lemonade stands and canned food drives.  These are our nuggets of goodness, our bookmarks of hope.

Dave Dovholuk was one of the kindest humans I’ve ever met– would be there in a heartbeat, especially if “there” was our local ski slope.  His big heart filled that classic rope tow with every kid in a world full of gondolas and high speed quads.  When Carver was 1 and 2 and 3 and 4, we would drive to the Kanc just to watch him “groom it up right” for the day’s visitors.  Eyes always smiling no matter the cold, he always asked if Carver wanted a ride.   He found the nugget of goodness every day in the place that has truly become invaluable to the youth and families of this community.  The Kanc is a precious gem, and Dave was its beloved caretaker; he will be missed by all, especially on winter days.  Dave gave so much of his life to the surface of snow, building a level playing field, complete with jumps, for local families.   Christie and Josh, thank you for sharing him with us– as if you had a choice.  For more about the Kanc and Dave, please check out

These nuggets of hope come in human form, sometimes in the shapes of words on a page, or in an early morning sunrise; nuggets of goodness can be hidden in dark places, and so it’s important that we not stop searching, especially when we are tired or the world is too much with us.   For Dave Dovholuk, for the Dreamers, for those people praying for hope in the paths of Harvey, Irma, and North Korea, along with countless other areas of conflict, we believe our nuggets of hope and goodness are on their way to you– STAT.

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