Special Features

The Change of Seasons


Photo illustration by Code Poet via Flickr

The official start of spring is this week, and for some in the U.S., it can’t come too soon. The vernal equinox not only marks a change in the seasons, but a transition in life as the dormancy of winter gives way to life blooming anew. Click the links below to read how these essayists are inspired by the coming of spring.

  1. Beauty for Everyone
  2. Hope Arrives on the Wind
  3. The Dawn of a New Season
  4. The Most Wonderful Rite of Spring
  5. The Annual Cycle That Is Life



Photo by quinn.anya via Flickr

Some say the secret to being a good friend is to be a good listener. But beyond friendship, being a good listener is essential in other relationships, both personal and professional. In honor of Listening Awareness Month, listen carefully to what these essayists have to say about being a good listener.

  1. Listening Is Powerful Medicine
  2. Listening Shows Me the Way
  3. Learning to Listen
  4. Listening To Silence
  5. Beyond the Noise

Foreign Languages


Photo courtesy of Pesky Library

It’s National Foreign Language Week, a time when American high schools, colleges, and universities celebrate and recognize the importance of learning languages other than English. For some, the goal of learning a new language is to satisfy a grade in school. But for the essayists below, learning other languages changed their world.

  1. Yankee Go Home
  2. Urdu—A Key to Another World
  3. The Magic in Letters
  4. Saying Thank You
  5. It’s a Small World
  6. I Believe in Sesame Street

Finding Strength After Setbacks


Photo credit: Ray_from_LA via Flickr

It was Longfellow who said “Into each life some rain must fall.” But sometimes we must endure more than just one bad day; there are true setbacks and obstacles that block our life’s path. The following essayists have found that sometimes significant challenges turn out to be opportunities in disguise.

  1. My Grandmother’s Dicho
  2. Feeding a Hunger
  3. The Strange Blessing That Brought Me Home
  4. Joy Cometh in the Morning
  5. My Father Told Me I Was Fat

True Love’s Kiss


The Kiss by Gustav Klimt

There must be something special about a kiss. Painters paint them, sculptors sculpt them, and poets write about them. Whether it’s a sweet peck on the cheek, the kiss of young love, or the passionate embrace of romantic love, the kiss endures in our memories. Click the links below to learn how these writers feel about a kiss.

  1. Swing-shift Kisses
  2. The Love I Choose
  3. Gray Hairs and Wrinkles
  4. Here’s to You, Merrie
  5. Mwa
  6. I Believe in a Good Kiss

Little House on the Prairie


1933 book cover courtesy Wikipedia

Laura Ingalls Wilder was born this week 151 years ago. And yet, her Little House stories of life on the prairie are timeless in their appeal. Click the links below to read how these essayists have been inspired by the life and stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

  1. Tell Me a Story
  2. The Love I Choose
  3. We All Need a Good Story
  4. Saviors

Standing Up to Bullies


Photo courtesy mangee via flickr

Nearly one-third of all school-aged children are bullied in America each year, and statistics show those who have been bullied suffer lower grades, self-esteem, and self-confidence. For the essayists below, being bullied—or even witnessing bullying—became a springboard for change in their lives.

  1. We Are Each Other’s Business
  2. Make This World a Better Place
  3. Beauty Is More Than Just Skin and Eyes
  4. Sticks and Stones
  5. Political Bullies: You Don’t Scare Me

Listening to Your Inner Voice


Photo credit: crdotx via Flickr

There are numerous times in life that we aren’t quite sure what actions to take and which path is best for us. Jiminy Cricket would say the way to make life decisions is to let your conscience be your guide. Whether making life-changing decisions or frivolous choices, see what these essayists gained from listening to their inner voices.

  1. A Grace of Silence
  2. To Hear Your Inner Voice
  3. Trusting the Small Still Voice
  4. That Little, Inner Voice
  5. Listening to the Hippos

I Have a Dream


Photo courtesy PBS NewsHour

Next Monday, we honor a great man who worked for racial equality and civil rights. To honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we offer the following essays by people who have been influenced and inspired by Dr. King’s work and words.

  1. Standing Up for What Is Right
  2. The Power of Words
  3. Dr. King’s Dream
  4. This Is Our Mountaintop
  5. Singing the Dream

Making a Change


Photo courtesy of Patrick Breen via flickr

“Nothing endures but change,” said Greek philosopher Heraclitus. It’s the beginning of a new year, a fresh start, and for some, a time to make resolutions. However great or small, deciding to make changes in our lives can be powerful, and for these essayists, making a change also brought about a new core belief.

  1. Right On Red
  2. The Sisterhood of Roller Derby
  3. Spare the Change
  4. It Starts with One
  5. Action Can Change Beliefs