Friday, May 20, 2011

Ode to My Mother

A New Take on Robert Frost
I love the poem by Robert Frost, two roads diverged in a yellow wood. I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference. It reflects my life.

When I was a senior, my high school counselor advised me not to go to college. She said with a C/B average my grades were proof enough that I was not college material. My mother didn’t agree with that assessment and gave me two choices; be a waitress or go to college. I all ready had enough of waiting tables at a pancake house so I ignored my high school counselor and filled out college applications.

My mother took me to see the college counselor to plan my courses at the Wisconsin State University Eau Claire. I will never forget. During the interview I was asked what career I had chosen. Of course I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life...I only knew what I didn’t want to do. When I opened my mouth to say these words my mother piped up and answered for me, “She wants to be a teacher.”

‘Interesting’, I thought at the time as I nodded my head. And since the only class I had done well in was English, I suddenly had my major. And since I enjoyed Drama Club, I now had my minor. I was all set as I checked into my dorm room with an electric typewriter in one hand and my record player in the other.

Shakespeare held no interest for me and I was within a semester of graduating when everything changed for me. During my practicum, I was placed in a middle school special education classroom. I loved working with those students. We made clocks from paper plates to learn how to tell time, we told stories and then wrote them down, and the students learned about good nutrition by planning well balanced meals. Ah ha! Now I knew what I really wanted to be…a special education teacher. When I told my mother about this, she told me to continue with my laid out plans and wrap things up. I couldn’t do that when my heart was going in a different direction so I left school a semester short of graduating, much to my mother’s horror.

Back home again, in my old pink bedroom, I started working at a resort as a receptionist. For two years I did this thankless job, knowing my dream of teaching was slipping further and further away. I had to do something myself in order to change my destiny.

I stopped buying myself clothes, I rarely went anywhere with my friends and socked away nearly every dime I made until there was enough money to return to college. The first trip to college was on my mother’s money; going back I paid my own way. Now I enrolled at UW Whitewater. This time around I paid closer attention in class and took great pride in learning.

A year later I graduated with a double major in English and Special Education, with a minor in theater. Time hadn’t been wasted after all. I was able to use all my credits and apply them toward my goal. Since that time I have earned four teaching certificates and have taught every grade from kindergarten through high school. My career has spanned nearly twenty-five years. Presently I am the Special Education Coordinator at a state facility for at risk teens that have been expelled from their school or court ordered to be there. I also have three fictional books published because of my love of literature. My life is filled with meaning.

Way back in high school my school counselor predicted a constricted future for me based on past grades. Her vision was narrow. She never took the time to see what possibilities lay within me. I was blessed to have a mother who saw great things and pushed me in the right direction. Along the way I was able to catch my own vision. Two roads diverged, my mother’s insight and my determination, and that has made all the difference.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Come Join Me.....

I am so honored to be on this blog today talking about writing. Please drop by and leave your comments on writing advice, or anything else you would like to add. Please chime in!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I wore white on my wedding day. It rained all day long, and folks in that small town of Ottawa, Illinois told me it was a good omen of a long and happy marriage. In the seventies people put a lot of faith in a marriage lasting a lifetime. Me too. That was my full intention when I said my ‘I do’s.’

I loved hearing the stories with the characteristic fairy tale ending, “and they lived happily ever after.” But my happily ever after never showed up.

Now it’s been years. Thirty-two of them. It rained on my wedding day and the cloud never really lifted from my wedding day to the day I walked out of the house, a much older, hopefully wiser woman.

Now, in this new century, young’uns ask why I stayed so long when I should have left. I have all the right reasons; I loved him in spite of everything, I stayed for the children, I stayed waiting for the five minutes of wonderful that would make it all worthwhile, I stayed because I was a Christian, I stayed because I hid from the truth of what was really going on, I stayed because it was the right thing to do. But then one day, the reasons didn’t outweigh my total despair. I left.

It’s stunning to suddenly be living alone, but not be lonely anymore. I find myself talking to everyone when I was once too shy to do so. At night I lie in bed and think about how good the sheets feel. My hair has started to curl, I suddenly developed a craving for Dr. Pepper, and I don’t need my reading glasses anymore.
As God parted the Red Sea, He is parting the clouds for me. Now I am searching for a bit of sun. I will live the rest of my life in it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Robin Shope Jansen will be speaking to at the COURTHOUSE-ON-THE-SQUARE



Free • Open to the Public • Handicapped Accessible

For further information or directions contact the Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum

110 West Hickory • Denton, TX 76201 • 940-349-2850 •

Author Robin Jansen Shope will discuss her book Ruby Red, a fictionalized tale of a

true event connected to the Orphan Trains in the 1920s. Robin’s books will be available for

sale during the lecture.

Robin is an educator with four teaching certificates and twenty-five years of classroom

experience. Her day position is Special Education Coordinator at the Denton County Juvenile

Justice System for at-risk teens. By night she is an avid reader and a compulsive writer.

Ruby Red is Robin's first young adult

novel. Homeless children roamed the streets of

New York City from the late 1800s through the

1930s. Death and disease were heaped upon

poverty and overcrowding, causing thousands

of children to be abandoned and left to fend for

themselves. Eleven-year-old Ruby is taken in

as a maid. Believing life holds more for her

than washing someone’s clothes, she makes a

risky move by faking insanity. After being expelled

from the household, Ruby sneaks onto

the Orphan Train. Both an enigma and a young

teen, she is the perfect reflection of how life

once was in America. Ruby embodies goodness,

and simplicity of truth; a rare gem which

bespeaks her name.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Commissioners Courtroom


Orphan Trains

in the 1920s

by Robin Jansen Shope