Wipe the Slate Clean


Do you remember when you were a child in school? Were you ever this young?

Just kidding!

Have things changed since the days you were in ‘grade school?’

Children, in the old days, would be assigned ‘cleaning the blackboard’ on the

classroom’s job or chores chart. That meant to erase the whole board, followed

by the activity of taking the erasers outside and clapping them together. I used

to like this ‘after school’ job. I would see the dust rising from the erasers being

pounded together and be filled with a sense of accomplishment.

I also enjoyed this chore,  since sometimes the teacher would talk to us, along

with let us choose something from her treats jar or a stash she had in one of

her drawers.

When I taught sixth grade, the first year was 1979-1980. The “Board Cleaner,”

was how I wrote this particular chore on a magnet. Each of the children would

rotate this, with other ones such as “Line Leader,” etc.  I would also have a small

bucket, to have the student fill with water. Using an old towel or ‘rag,’ the child

would wipe the remains of the dust off. It was a nice feeling, for me as a teacher,

to see that ‘clean slate,’ at the start of the next day.

Imagine your bad times, past hurts or difficult periods in your life.

Write them down on a blackboard in your head.

List them, one by one, remembering the pains, trials and sadness.

Take your mental ‘eraser’ and carefully, slowly rub each one of these away.

Rub the eraser up and down, or if you prefer, side to side. Make sure that all

you see, at the end of this mental exercise, is a hazy blur of grayish black.

Now, take a dampened rag and get a small stepladder, or if you are back in

time, a child’s wooden stool. Use the wet rag to clean all the remaining chalk’s

powder and blurred images off. If you need to, turn the cloth inside out.

Finish this process mentally, along with your imaginary blackboard.

You now have a ‘clean slate.’

Picture, if you will, the best times of your life.

Make a list of places, faces and beautiful images.

It is possible, I have done this process, in my head, too.

You can ‘re-invent’ yourself.

You may become a renewed person.

Your positive energy can ‘re-charge’ you and make you whole again.

Believe in unlimited possibilities.


Somehow, move into the present.

There are no ‘time limits’ or penalties, in this.

There are no ‘school bells’ going off.

There is no need to do anything but leave the board behind you.

Proceed outside.

Breathe in, breathe out.

You are free of the painful past.

How will the story of your life continue from here on out?


I have had friends who have asked me,

“How did you bounce back?”

In my case, I had a sense of purpose, to raise my children and make

their lives as positive and happy, as possible. I could not take any

more time on my own dissatisfaction or depression, I would not

dwell on what choices led me to the places I went. I just knew I had

to start over. I chose a town in Central Ohio, a college town, you know

it as Delaware, Ohio.

My parents were in Cleveland, later in Vermilion and my ex-husband

lived in Cincinnati, later in Dayton.

It was a halfway point, between the two cities, letting me able to make it

in either direction, without too many hours on the road.

I chose this place to ‘start over.’

I knew it was my children’s and my ‘new beginning.’

I knew absolutely not one soul here.

I later found some high school friends who had chosen to live here.

One was my children’s high school Biology teacher, another a swimming

and gymnastics instructor, and another followed me here, after her own


If you have caused someone else’s heart to break, let it go.

Try not to cause any more heartbreak, try not to crush or break a

child’s spirit.

Any mistakes you have made, learn from them.

Always think that there are more chances in life.

I believe in multiple chances or opportunities to start over!

Another way to handle strife and tough times is an interesting one,

that editorial cartoonist, Marshall Ramsey gives in an article in the

December, 2013 issue of “Prevention” magazine. M. Ramsey’s

suggestion is to look at your life and remember the “terrible twists”

that happened to you. He personally likes to list his own negative

occurrences and then, see them in a positive light.

Here are some examples found in the article called, “True Grit.”

“The way to get through tough times is to start with advanced gratitude.”

M. Ramsey’s list of Life’s negatives matched with happy outcomes:

1.  His first job after college was as a high school janitor.

The job led him to his future wife, the daughter of a fellow janitor.

2.  The recession forced him into part-time work.

Getting laid off gave him the time to start 2 new careers;  in book

illustration and radio.

3.  Melanoma diagnosis.

His cancer diagnosis helped him to decide to organize a series of

races to raise melanoma awareness.

4.  People who did not believe in him.

All those naysayers were just ‘ill winds beneath his wings.’

Great words to live by, quoted from Marshall Ramsey:

“A good analogy is if you’re canoeing downstream and you hit a rock,

it can either sink you or push you in another direction. If you choose

the other direction, it’s a blessing.”

Advanced gratitude is explained in this article as:

“The ability to identify and appreciate the bad events in your life because

of what you’ve gained from them.”

M. Ramsey gives these steps and you may find more details in the article,

if you wish to look up “Prevention” magazine, 12/13.

This process is a three step one, which includes changing your perspective.

First, establish a gratitude ‘baseline.’

Then, retrain your own brain. Tying thoughts of

stressful events in your life may even change your neural pathways.

Reminding yourself that good things come out of difficult times, may

just pull you through the bad times.

Remember the hard stuff.  What have you gained from sorrow, losses or


There were studies listed and other experts in different emotional

areas covered, including Dr. Robert Emmons, Dr. Rick Hanson, and

Dr. Richard Tedeschi.  These authorities have done research and written

books on the subject of “Who am I? What kind of future do I want?

What makes sense to do with my time now that this event has stopped

me in my tracks?”

I have heard someone on television talking in my past about how we can

create our own destiny, change the course of time, and I have come up

with many times, the image of a blackboard with writing on it. Lots of

thoughts cluttered on it, sometimes I have made lists on it, but always

I like the satisfaction of wiping the figurative blackboard clean.

Starting today with a clean slate, just fits my notion of a happy beginning!


25 responses »

  1. Love love love this Robin! It’s like you wrote it just for me:-) I know it will resonate with others as well! Thanks for your wonderful words of wisdom. Today was our last day of school. Time for summer to begin…with a clean slate! Oxox

    • I had you and someone else I read on their blog, in mind. The article helped me last December, six months after the fisherman and I parted ways forever. We had allowed ourselves friendship, which had kept my heart open to Hope. The article helped me to move on, then I thought of the blackboard. It was not in the article, but it is not an ‘original’ thought, just the way I processed it on the post was my own way of dealing with the sense of loss.
      So glad it may help a bit. Congratulations on your last day of school! Onward and upward, my dear friend! Hugs, Robin

      • I think if there’s friendship there is always hope…so it’s best to not even try…that’s what I’m doing. So very very hard but each day it gets a bit better:-) oxox

  2. “How did you bounce back?” What other choice do we have? We’ve got to keep pressing on. All of those tough times have made us who we are today, which hopefully is stronger than we were.
    As soon as you mentioned the blackboard, I thought of how teachers used to make you write. “I will not talk in class” or whatever you did wrong, 100 times. Of course, I never had to do that. 🙂
    I love “Prevention” magazine!

    • Thanks, Jill! I did not think of the blackboard theme until recently, but did think that the article helped me through processing a man who we had lingered as friends far too long. He would never see me as more, so it was hard last December. I needed to ‘give up Hope’ on the possibility of ever getting close again. The clean slate is an image I have had in my head for quite some time, it came out of history, I am sure. It may have an interesting origin, too! I never had to write on the board, but did on paper, “No talking in class.” (Imagine that!) Smiles, Robin

  3. i love, love this clean slate concept, robin! the image of the blackboard is perfect and gives us all hope. each day is a chance at a new beginning. no matter how bad everything that came before it might be. wonderful and positive post ) beth

  4. Isn’t it great that we have a chance to start fresh? I think we all do this in some way or another at one or more points in our lives. I know I have. Not in regards to marriage, but with jobs, friends…through out what’s not working and start fresh. The blank slate is a perfect visual and exercise to demonstrate this. Love it!!

    • Thanks for this special and thought out answer! I appreciate that you see this working in your own life, with jobs, friends and other things that are in the past, having made a fresh start… I am sure there is a book about this, but I did think of how a hypnotist takes you back into your mind and past, then when you come out of your ‘trance’ you are starting fresh and renewed!

  5. Very interesting. So, Delaware is the place for a fresh start…must mean they have some good restaurants also. I have relatives that moved about a half hour drive away from there….I’ll have to visit this summer and see why it is such an attractive place. As for M Ramsey, I like the idea…
    1. Had a terrible temporary job holding an air hose in a toilet paper factory years ago. Constructive idea: It has made for some great stories, including the excerpt i wrote for my last blog post. I admit, it was the only time I have actually been bored to tears. The hose was almost too heavy to hold….
    Fantastic post, lass. Keep them coming…

    • I will have to check out your terrible temp job holding an air hose in a toilet paper factory! This sounds like a Lucille Ball and Ethel Mertz episode! I can just imagine someone taking this and running with it!
      Thanks for sharing and also, the nice comments about keeping them coming. I chose a ‘college’ town, was torn between Westerville and Delaware. I felt that the atmosphere would be open-minded and that there would be theater, musicals, orchestra and sporting events beyond high school to keep my children and I busy! When I went to BGSU, I always loved Bowling Green, married and lived there for two years, until my husband got a job down in Logan. I refused to live there, sorry any Logan citizens! I chose for us to live in Lancaster, Ohio. That is where I was leaving to come to Delaware, after our divorce… I am not sure if I would think it ‘worth the trip’ but it is definitely the ‘right’ place for my children and grandchildren! Smiles, Robin

    • I am so glad you liked the kayak reference, did not see you in a kayak, but on a motorcycle, in my thoughts. I am glad that you found that one to be a catchy one, when you have hit a ‘wall.’ Take it easy, Chris!

      • hahahaha— Thanks, Robin! I know exactly what you mean, but it struck me how it’s one thing to run into a wall in a kayak, and quite another on a motorcycle. 😀 LOL

  6. I love the chalk board analogy. Could relate to it immediately. Clean slates are great to look at as a fresh start and invoke an energy to create something on that slate. LOVE it! It’s amazing what we can do when we look at what we’ve done, or what’s been done to us, and be grateful for the changed direction. Great post Robin! 🙂

    • So glad, Colleen, that you liked this post! I have carried around thoughts about it for quite some time, finally found that “True Grit” article to tie it all together with some ‘research’ and evidence, to back it up! I guess I could have presented it as original but I am sure that we got that slogan, or expression with some kind of historical reference! I chose to leave it alone and am enjoying the feedback. I am so grateful for opportunities. Another way to say this would be the old saying: “When a door closes, a window opens!”

  7. What an inspiring message, Robin. I’ll try to envision that clean blackboard today as I’m hit with some of the “same old same old”!!! xo

  8. Thanks, Luanne! It has been on my mind, swirling around, trying to decide how to go with this. Then taking my magazines to pass on to a friend, remembered Prevention article. I think that and how a hypnotist, slowly has you go back counting in time, until you are ‘awakened’ with peaceful thoughts and your fears are conquered! That is another visualization that I have used when I need to start a fresh page in my life! Smiles and so glad you liked this! You are never ‘same old, same old’ to me!

    • I am so glad you found this to be a wonderful metaphor. It is a phrase that probably has a historical reference, did not look this up to find it out, though. I am sure that you are enjoying your lovely summer vacation, Judy! I remember how that felt, I was as giddy as the students were, when June rolled around! Smiles, Robin

  9. Excellent advice, Robin. I learned (the hard way, as usual) that old resentments were doing me much more harm than anyone else. I now strive to forgive others as readily as I can for wrongdoings, real or perceived, for that reason. The hardest person to forgive most of the time is me. It is not always easy to keep that slate clean. 🙂 – Mike

    • I think we all are extra hard on ourselves, Mike! Other than psychopaths, who show no remorse! Forgiveness given to others, really helps us feel much better. Dwelling on past errors, also is not healthy for our inner selves. I am glad that you are someone who realizes this. I have had few people in my life, who didn’t feel the same way. The weight or burdens we carry around us, are so aptly labeled, ‘baggage.’ Getting older, it is so freeing to just throw the baggage out! I hope you will know that you are loved for who you are, faults and all! No one is perfect, after all! Smiles back at you!

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