Tag Archives: Reading

May 10 – A Newfound Friend

by Patricia Roop Hollinger

“Who is this Lois Halley from Westminster?” I asked my husband as her name kept appearing in the Story Circle Journal with yet another writing. Since he was a former Westminster, Maryland resident I thought he might know. Her name did not appear in the local listings so, I virtually gave up on ever finding her.

“Oh, but I just might run into her at the check out line at Safeway if I am brave enough to ask the females in line with me what their names are.” No luck though with this strategy.

During the weekly Chair Yoga event at Carroll Lutheran Village, the Retirement Community where I now reside, the instructor called out our names. “Patricia Hollinger, so I have that right?” She asked. “That’s me,” I responded. When all our names were called, our bodies age 70 and over began to twist their bodies in positions that were just not familiar, but downright foreign.

Ah! the hour was finally over and I must say so myself, my body and that of the woman adjacent to me performed better than most. She approached me, saying, “I am Lois Halley and are you the Patricia Roop Hollinger that writes for Story Circle?”

“Why yes, I am she,” I exclaimed with surprise!

Lois then shared with me the recent death of her husband and that she was also now a resident at Carroll Lutheran Village Retirement Community. Since that serendipitous meeting, we have shared gatherings in the local Pub and just a week ago a meal at the local Gypsy Tea Room. Since we are both lovers of words, we attend local library events that feature current writers. The most recent one being with Judith Viorst, whose most recent book is “NEARING 90 AND OTHER COMEDIES OF LATE LIFE.” Her book has given us both a more lighthearted approach to our advancing years that also include more writings to Story Circle Journal.

“Pat” was raised on a farm, and thus developed an imagination pondering the nature of the universe. Words held the magic of stories. Other cultures intrigued her. She is a retired Chaplain/Pastoral Counselor/Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who lives in a retirement community with her husband and their cat “Spunky.” 

April 22 – Inside and Out: Women’s Truths, Women’s Stories

Inside and Out Book CoverIf you enjoy the writing in this blog, we have something special to share with you!

Inside and Out: Women’s Truth, Women’s Stories is the newest book from Story Circle Network. It’s a 250-page soft-cover anthology of women’s life writing, drawn from SCN’s annual collections of work by its members.

Edited by Susan Schoch, with a foreword by acclaimed author Susan Wittig Albert, this is a book you won’t want to miss, whether you prefer e-book version or print version.

Story Circle Network has something for everyone! 

Simply click the book cover image or the title link to find out more about Inside and Out: Women’s Truth, Women’s Stories and consider joining Story Circle Network for opportunities to write, share your truth and stories with other women who care, and find a community who will appreciate your participation.

We can’t wait to meet you!

Story Circle Network Logo



September 29 — Reading with Rachel

by Kali’ P. Rourke

“Hi, my name is Rachel.”

She looked down and protectively wrapped her arms around herself. Then she looked straight at me with big, brown eyes.

I introduced myself and asked if she would like to find a place to sit. We were in the library of her middle school, and there were long tables with incredibly uncomfortable little plastic chairs grouped around them.

The smell of books, children and an occasional whiff of whatever the cafeteria was serving that day filled the air. I let her lead the way to a table near the back of the room and she sat with her back to the bookshelves. I took a chair across from her and so began our first mentoring session.

I tried active listening, the way I had read mentoring should be done…but that assumed that the other person was talking. Rachel wasn’t saying much at all, and I found myself floundering, just asking one leading question after another with little response.

I tried telling her about myself, seeking in vain to find some common ground we could tread. I was thanking God that I was an extrovert, so this was not the root canal experience it might be for some people, but I also felt that Rachel tested the outer limits of my social skills.

Finally, something I said clicked. I saw it slot into place just from the look in her eyes, and like an anxious angler, I cautiously tugged on the bait line to see how far she would advance.

“So you like art?” I asked, leaning forward slightly. “Who is your favorite artist?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” she said, “But I really like pictures of oceans.”

“I think I might want to be a marine biologist some day.”

“Really, “I asked, “What do you have to do to become a marine biologist?”

“Um…go to college, I guess.” The corners of her lips drooped in a defeated curve and I realized this was something she hadn’t thought through at all. It was as much a child’s dream as wanting to be a ballerina or an astronaut and she had no idea that it might be within her grasp.

I suggested that we get a book about marine biologists, preferably with lots of pictures, and we set off to the check out desk to find the first of many marine biology books that we would bond over in the coming months.

In time, I would share in the grimy truth of Rachel’s home life, her incredible challenges and mourn her ultimate decision to fail that year of school and to terminate our mentoring relationship.

I learned far more from her than she learned from me, but she inspired me to help create a much better program than the one I had joined. I think of Rachel often, and her face is the one before me when I give speeches and presentations about mentoring and the difference it can make in young people’s lives.

“Blessings always, sweet Rachel.”

Kali’ P. Rourke is an avid volunteer in Austin, Texas and leads the board of the Seedling Foundation, which mentors children with incarcerated parents through a site based program called “Seedling’s Promise.” Seedling Foundation partners with the Austin Independent School District in positively affecting thousands of school children each year. Learn more at http://www.seedlingfoundation.net/images/stories/seedlingvideoicon.jpg and