Embracing & Enjoying Life

The Cedar Park writers are an amazing group of upbeat, optimistic people who made me feel welcome and special each time I visited their group. Laughter filled the room as they shared stories of bluebonnet fields, childhood homes, first dates, and family gatherings. These writers inspired me to fully embrace the moment and enjoy life.

Gayleen Rabakukk
Badgerdog Teaching Artist



Flowers are like life, you start with seeds that must be planted, watered, fertilized and trained.

As a child you are born a baby requiring feeding, washing, nurturing and changing.

Then you grow and start to talk, walk, and feed yourself, and learn to develop in the world around you.

The beautiful difference being a human versus a flower is that once you grow to maturity, you have the opportunity to develop into what color and beauty you want to be.



People I Most Admire

  • My wife, Bea (53 years, next month)
  • My mother (passed away in 2011)
  • My mother-in-law (passed away in 2016)
  • My dad (passed away in 1976
  • My daughter, Liza
  • My son-in-law
  • Presidents of the U.S.A.
    • George Washington
    • Franklin D. Roosevelt
    • Ronald Reagan
    • Donald Trump

Manny Chavez



A good Sunday for me would be to wake up
to a morning rain,

followed by a clearing sky,
and then a bright, sunny day.

To have my two sons and three grandkids
over to run around with my dog.

Firing up the grill to cook burgers and to sit
around with the whole family in the
backyard and drink a cold beer.

Billy G.



I have always loved Texas.
The bluebonnets are the flowers.
The bluebonnets have a cat claw hidden in the flower.
The flowers are a lot of beautiful.
The state of Texas plants flowers close to the highways.
The bluebonnet is the state flower.
Most flowers have a great smell.

Dale L. Martin


Happiest Childhood Moment

My happiest moment was coming home from the hospital when I had my tonsils removed. I would speak more clearly and had no more pain.
Even at the young age of six years old, I could think clearly about my life goals:

  1. To express my fears and joys, hopes and dreams for the future
  2. To be more happy in my grandfather Watson’s and grandmother’s (Unger – maiden name) home
  3. To see that home both as a blessing and a curse, — a release from pain, way to face the future

Going to church was a healing place for me at that young age. This is a parable of life – both releasing my pains and opening up my future. I know God loved me and affirmed by parents and grandparents.

Mel Swoyer


Dear Mom,

I missed having you around when I was a child, but I was truly grateful that you were around for holidays and after Mary Ann got married. You had me come to live with you in New York, even though you were mostly away working.
I learned a lot about being there for my children, so that I saw to it that I was home when they got out of school and made sure that they went to college.
Like you, I experienced two marriages. The first was to help my friend not have to go into the military and be sent to Korea. I already had five brothers that were serving as well as a brother-in-law. I was blessed with a beautiful, caring, loving daughter from that experience and though that marriage didn’t last, my next one did until my husband passed. Before that occurred, we had a daughter and three sons.

Susan S.


Dear Past Self,

Hello—this is a wakeup call.
There are things you love to do and can do well—
time is running faster and faster—stop wasting it!
Write—you know how much you love it—it need not
be brilliant—just honest—and based in reality or—
as much reality as can be discerned at this point—
all of which, and I repeat time is racing—
my brain is in the race
hooked the way of looking at the now and future possibilities—
good or not.
Think of all those books with blank pages.
Think of all the pastels, pencils pointing, clay not being used, the minutes not filled with artwork—the wonderful handling of each.
Wake up, Ms. Fool!

S. Betts


My Hometown

Liberty Hill is a small town, north of Cedar Park. It’s growing though. A highway runs through it. One restaurant is there called Delilah’s. Good place to eat. Great pies and vegetables. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. One highway, Highway 29, runs east and west through the town. Service stations and a few churches line the way in. Of course, there are numerous gas stations there.

Chris Turk



Cool Summer Stories: Writing with Strangers at the Bullock Museum

What happens when you set out paper, pens, and a few inspirational quotes in the corner of a museum and ask people, “Hey, you want to write something?”

Badgerdog recently partnered with Cool Summer Nights at the Bullock Museum to encourage some fun creative writing on a summer eve. Cool Summer Nights invites folks out of the heat and into the AC of the downtown Bullock Museum to explore new exhibits, enjoy craft cocktails and coffee, and make beautiful stuff/learn things with Austin organizations like Austin Book Arts and Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center. The theme of this particular event was Identity, so Badgerdog posed some thought-provoking questions alongside literary quotes. What we received in return was a gathering of storytellers of all stripes: parents writing alongside their children, travelers befriending native Texans, old friends discovering the secret novelist in the group, and teen writers penning fantastical adventure pieces on the spot.

What happens when you invite folks to make cool stuff with you? You get to watch new writerly friendships unfold, you see mother/daughter duos writing back-and-forth, and you get to read amazing stories and make new friends. Here is a sampling of the stories writers came up with at the Badgerdog table in the Bullock Museum.

Inspired by this Sylvia Beach quote: “I am a citizen of the world,” writers respond to the prompt—If you had to pick a place that represents you most, what would it be?

london night lights bridge
Photo by Uncoated on Pexels.com

Waterloo Bridge

If there’s one place that represents me the most, I would say Waterloo Bridge in London. London to me represents a true melting pot of the world. Contemporary yet steeped in tradition. It represents the path I created for myself. British citizenship—not the ‘easy’ or planned route, rather a path sparked by connection and saying YES to opportunity. learning from others and learning a spot where it’s fun to be because of what you can see. Even though the bridge itself isn’t the most ornate. You can see St. Paul’s and London Bridge…. yet you can also see Westminster. It’s a direct route between the Strand, Holborn, the city—over to Waterloo and Southwark. It feels expansive.

Rachel Martino


I am an earthworm.

Growing up in a remote village in China, I had very strong aversion toward little creatures such as bugs and worms. Any time I saw one, I would try to kill it with rocks or little knives. Until one day, when I cut an earthworm in half.

To my shock, the earthworm came back alive and started crawling toward me. Being only 4 or 5 years old, I got scared and screamed for help. My father rushed over, “Yeah, a little earthworm can survive anything, including hurt as severe as being cut in half. It might not seem much, but it does a lot of good to our earth, marking it futile for us to grow crops”.

I am now an earthworm. I might seem petite, but I can survive any hardship life thrusts upon me. I might not show up in spotlight often, but I quietly do good for the community I live in, whether in China decades ago or here in Texas now.

C.J. Zhao

Inspired by this quote from Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club: “You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet…” writers respond to the prompt: Okay, but if you HAD to pick a material object to represent you, what would it be? Why? 

yellow flower field across brown mountain
Photo by Rudolf Kirchner on Pexels.com

In the Land of the Dead

I would choose the trail I’d leave if I had an errand in the Japanese Land of the Dead. You are required to abandon your belongings and beliefs along the rock cave path. On my path would be my Apache tan ropers, and my belief that Winnie the Pooh is the best book ever written, and my socks with the little black whales on ‘em, and my memory of clear, cold snowmelt sliding over granite boulders in the Basin, in Franconia Notch; and my jeans and my plain purple grannie panties, and the sound of the meteor falling out of the sky over Lake Travis at dawn, with an electric, tearing whisper. Then there would be my coral cotton summer sweater, and memory of how to hold a horse’s hoof while picking a rock from the frog, and a white camisole, and my memory of how my neck got a crick in it while I was watching for that darn meteor. Then, my glasses. So then I can’t see.

Melodie McLellan

Uplifting Others

When I pass on from this adventure we call life on Earth, I will be content if I can look back and see an undeniable pattern of making the lives of others better.

Even as a child I’ve felt a sense of joyous fulfillment when helping others. Late grade school found me fascinated and drawn into computers and the pure rush of making complex electronics do my bidding. As I’ve matured into a young and now middle-aged person, I’ve learned that beyond the self-satisfaction I can profoundly uplift others with my work.

Really, no gesture is too small though. Even simple acts of every day kindness silently tell others that they matter and have worth. May I finish my years always enriching the shared journey of others.

Nolan Egly

Inspired by this quote from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre: “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will,” writers respond to the prompt: When have you exerted your independence? Was there a time where you felt free? Describe that moment. How did you feel?


No gain without loss? Isn’t that the rule? Some kind of Natural Law: No action without an equal and opposite response. We choose to change our circumstances without thinking how we’ll be changed by the choosing.

I walked away from family.
What relief. I am safe now. I am free.

brown wooden floor
Photo by Chris F on Pexels.com

It’s funny though. It took so much courage to leave I never expected it to take such strength to learn to be the person without them.

I am not the same man in a new future. I am a new man in a new present. I escaped into the chrysalis. I am free.

Jayse Cardinal Tahkiné

Going Places

Some people would argue that it’s not about the destination, but the people you encounter along the way; others may say that a journey’s not worth taking unless you have a sweet ride. Ms. Munoz’s class at Barrington Elementary explores both sides of this question. To some, the people they encounter, cousin Jesus, Mom, Purple Stinking Fish, or Dad, are the most important parts of the journey. Others would rather have a black and pink car that goes 1000,000,000 miles per hour to get them where they’re going. Both sides seem to have their point; maybe one day Mom or Dad can time travel after they’ve stepped off into the lake from their floating Lamborghini.

One Time

my cousin Jesus
he doesn’t talk
he’s that good
he writes tiny
and one day I sent him to the moon
he played boxing with a monkey
and it was a tie
the monkey flew in an airplane to his house
one time he turned into an Autobot
and kicked Megatron’s butt
he was the Autobot Optimus Prime
one time
he went to Mars and fought aliens
he killed the aliens
with a blaster that shot a laser
one time
he rode a T-Rex
and the T-Rex couldn’t get him off him
at the end of the day
he ate a frightened chicken
he went back to his house to play with his monkey
when they were done
they got inside the house
and he played video games with his monkey


Best Mom

My mom works at cleaning houses.
My mom takes my brother with her
because she doesn’t have a
babysitter to take care of him.
My mom likes children.
My mom has four sons and me.
My mom lives in Dallas.
My mom goes with my two brothers to school.
My mom is the best mom I’ve ever known.


Playing with My Cousin

When my mom lets me, my cousins and I bake a cake. When we are finished we put it in the oven. Then we go swim. Then we get to eat cake when we go to the park. We play catch like if a person touches you, you need to touch another person. Then we go on vacation to Dallas because we have family over there. We play with my other cousins because they’re fun and that’s the most fun of all the parts. We play with my uncle and it’s so fun. We play the egg game because we like to play that game so much. It’s about that you may need to crack the person. We go to Six Flags; it’s cool.


My Dad&#39s Work

My dad works and he has the hard thing to do. My dad works on houses he builds. My dad is so tall. My dad wears long pants and white shirts. When he comes back he says he loves his job. He is so funny. When he goes to work and uses his materials it sounds like hammers and machines, like a tractor picking up wood. When he comes back he takes a shower, eats and takes us to the store. He buys me stuff. My dad is fun and also he is a talker. He tells jokes like this, “What does the frog tell the fly?” Then he tells the answer and my mom, me and my little brother Junior laughed and we couldn’t stop laughing. He wears boots when he’s at work. He wears boots because there are some people that let down a window and a screw and he could cut himself. He’s cool. He makes tricks. He took me to San Francisco.



The person that I like is my brother.
I like his job because he writes music.
I like music and he likes music too.
He shows us what kind of music he is writing.
When he was in high school every morning
he’d take his iPod to hear his music.
I like English music.
My brother went to college.
My brother was so happy because
he told some boy to help him on his music.


Black Line

my car is gold
is cool
goes 90,000
never stops
when I stop
I make a black line
I go far away like Mexico
I race and I win
I take my dad to work
he said it’s cool
my cousin has one
and it goes fast
one time he came with me
my car will take you
rush before for the end
watch my car is hot
it has buttons
one to like my car
and one for food

Jesus H.

My Car

I pick that car because you can travel in time.
You can relax by pushing a button so it can drive by itself.
My car has a pool inside.
My car can transform into anything you say.
You can play video games.
My car’s color is red, white and black stripes.
It can go 100,000,000 miles per hour.
It has ice cream in it.
You can do billions and billions of stuff.



The color of my car is orange.
I wish my car could go 900 miles each day.
My car is a racing one.
It has white light.
It has Firestone tires.
My car has 4 seats.
It has an engine of blue and yellow colors.
Its maximum speed is 680.
The car has turbo.
When it starts a race gas comes out.
I want to go to Canada because there is tons of snow.
My dad is going with me.
It has cool tires.
My car can fly.

Jesus M.

Speed of Light

The color of my car is light green.
I wish my car could go 1 billion miles per second.
It has white lights. My car has 3 nitrous.
It has the speed of 300 cars. One rim is golden.
It starts with a big roar.
When it goes full speed, fire comes out of the wheels.
If I were taking someone with me,
I would go with my family to China.
I would drive through anything, faster than the speed of light.


To The Moon

there was a car
it was black and pink
I was going to space
to the moon
the noise was rrwwrrm
it was a spaceship
I went with Ellen Ochoa
when it landed
it said, “We land”
it tells you where we are
it was like a robot
it can change the color of the spaceship
if you wanted a party it will make one
I can change the shape of the car
it goes fast, fast


A Purple Fish That&#39s Stinking

One day I went to the river and something hopped and it was a purple fish. It smelled like smelly feet when you don’t take a shower. That’s how it smelled. He had big, ugly teeth. It was kind of like the ugly duckling. Then the purple fish said, “Do you want to look at my feet?” I said, “Yes.” Then he showed me his feet. he had big, big nails and they had big cracks like SpongeBob’s nails. When they came closer I almost wanted to vomit. It smelled like old trash with food and bugs.


Hot Rod

I have a car that goes 40 miles per hour. The color is blue. My car is also like a submarine. It can swim in the water. My car’s seats are colored green. My car’s wheels are green. I would like to go to all the stores. My car works in sand. It doesn’t get stuck. I would go by myself. My car’s lights are red and white and yellow. My car has 5 seats. My car has 2 doors. I would go to Wal-Mart and it would take like 3 minutes to get there. My car had nitrous.


Saber Car

My car is pink, purple and black. Jennifer is going to go with me to the mall because she is my friend. She likes to go to the mall. My car can fly and it can turn into a limousine and different cars. I like my car. It is so cool to have a car like Mira’s. My car goes, “Room, Room, Room!” I like going to the mall. I built that car and I painted it pink, purple and black. I like being outside with my car. My car goes 5,000 miles per hour. It is so cool because you go fast, super fast. I did many things with my car and I called it Saber Car.


Flying on the Sky

One day my dad gave me a Lamborghini that could float on the water. Then I asked my dad if we could go to a lake to drive the car on the lake. The car was black and the rims were grey. One day I pushed a red button on the car and then wings came out of the car. I was flying on the sky and then I picked up my dad from the floor. Then everybody was staring at me in the sky.


999 Speed

My car is going to be red.
It will go under water like it was swimming.
It can go to space.
The car has food and television.
It can turn into a house.
The fastest speed it can go is 999.
I am going to go with my friends.