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Showing posts from June, 2013

The winds are a blowin'...

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I am at the Model Schools Conference in DC where the winds of change are in the air...can you feel it from where you are? It is strong (the force is strong?) and I am excited to be in the breeze! We are in a  place where we have no where to go but up...we have reached the bottom...it is where we begin to rebuild. We have a group of thirteen who are slowly coming together to be a part of building something new. When there is nothing left, it is easy to look at building a new foundation and building...

This trip for me was about making a change...a decision that I refused to feel the way I have...drop all of the negativity and begin again. There are no options...nothing to discuss...things are over...time to move on. I am making the commitment to build bridges and be willing to walk across them...meet others where they are, hoping that they will do the same.

I am looking forward to something new...something greater than the sum of the parts. I am hopeful, I believe that it can be...a sm…

The Butterfly and the Cocoon...

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One day a mand found a cocoon of a butterfly. He took it home to watch over it  and noticed that a small opening had appeared. The man watched the butterfly struggle for many hours. He watched as the butterfly struggled to push it's body through the small opening. Ater several hours, it quit struggling..knowing it could not go one any further.
One day the man decided that he would help the butterfly and cut a small hole in the cocoon. After he opened the hole, he continued to watch. It easily emerged from the cocoon, but had a swollen body and shriveled wings. He continued to watch every day, expecting for the body to shrink and the wings to grow. Nothing happened...as a matter of fact, the butterfly kept struggling and was never able to fly.
For the rest of the butterfly's life, it was never able to do more than hobble around, most likely because  it was released from the cocoon too soon. The struggle and the constriction, required by the butterflies wings to expand, helped c…

New Beginnings...

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I am leaving in a few hours for the Model Schools Conference in Washington, DC. Although I went last year and had a great time, I am hoping that this conference will be the beginning of a new and exciting year. The pre-conference has already brought about some excitement...both our principal and vice-principal are leaving and pursuing other positions, our head secretary and registrar are also new. It will be quite the change.

One year ago I came home from the model schools conference on fire with excitement. I was ready to charge forward, impacting others. A small team of us had been talking and planning for four days, excited at the new possibilities. Needless to say, circumstances interceded and disaster happened. A disaster that was never recovered from.

I am ready for new beginnings, a cohesion that hasn't been this year. I am ready to put the hurt feelings behind me and start over, try to find the place within where joy can bloom again. New beginnings require work and cooper…

Growing miracles...

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I do not have a green thumb. I have difficulties growing practically everything. I can kill the unkillable plant, have the inability to successfully grow a garden, have a brown thumb all around. What I do have the ability to do grow miracles. When I look at my youngest son, the cutest boy, I realize that he is a miracle. I have grown him...raised him up from a place where they didn't think he would made it to the healthy boy he is now. There have been many times when things have been difficult...moments when I wasn't sure that things would be okay, but we've held on and a miracle has grown. There have been times to mourn what could have been, times to rejoice, times to watch the miracle grow.
Times that are the most difficult are the times to look for the miracles to grow. It is hard, for someone like me with a brown thumb, to not throw in my gardening trowel and give up. Instead I need to look at the fertile soil, the rich earth, and plant the seeds of a miracle. Don'…

Marriage...

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Today is a very important day...most of you reading would say that it is the day that the Defense of Marriage Act was defeated, which is true. Today, all people, regardless of who they love, have the right, according to the Supreme Court, to be married. Many of my friends have not been free to marry due to the Defense of Marriage Act. Today, I am grateful that they have this right, but still can't believe that we, as a nation, are even having this conversation. Each person should, and now does, have the right to marry the one that they love, regardless of color, gender, sexuality...love who you want...you have the legal right to marry them.

True...all of this, but even more about this day is that it is my Fourteenth Anniversary. One night, sixteen years ago, my now husband and I were playing in a co-ed soccer game and he ran me over. (He would tell you that it was the other way around, but should he ever tell you the story...I am telling you the truth right now!) Granted we were b…

Play big...

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Nelson Mandela is an amazing man...For many, many years he has been a shining example of what it means to be a public servant, a lover of his nation, a man with vision, and a person who plays big. His passion has always been to create a land where all people, regardless of color can have equal access.  Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison, 20 of these on Robben Island...during that time he worked with other prisoners to help create a plan for a new government. By the time he left, he was on the path to becoming the first black president of South Africa. During the 1995 Rugby World Cup, he encouraged the black South Africans to stand behind their countries rugby team, the Springboks. This was a game that was not loved by the black South Africans. Mandela saw that this was an opportunity to join together...meet where each person was. Afrikaner and black South Africans were joined by a common love and common cause, cheering their country on to victory. Nelson Mandela was playing big..…

Dear Beautiful You...

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I am struck by the beauty of the small things these days...the little moments that are unexpected. Each of us brings to this world our own beautiful self...sometimes we need to be reminded how beautiful and powerful we really are.

These last few days I have had two of my nieces here and are watching them emerge. One at age seven, is coming into her self...loving, rambunctious, amazing. The second, only seventeen days old, is a beauty...sweet and lovely. When I think about the things that make my soul sing, these are two of the things that definitely make the music play...

It's a love letter to yourself...dear beautiful you...
I am working on writing my own love letter to myself...what would I write? It might go something like this...

dear beautiful you...
this is YOUR life...
look deep within YOUR soul
find YOUR joy
love those YOU love
release YOUR pain
calm YOUR mind
heal YOUR heart
stand for what YOU believe
let go of things YOU have no control over
find YOUR peace
LIVE YOUR LIF…

Stop Worrying...

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Believe it or not...I am a control freak. Looking at my house or my classroom, one would never think this is true, but in so many ways, it is. I have a deep desire to know what is happening in my life, to be able to control the outcome or at least the possibilities. This is a constant challenge where the last eleven years have dished out a variety of times where I had absolutely no control. This lack of control in one area has made me confront this personality trait in many, sometimes painful, ways.

What does it mean to want to be in control of uncontrollable areas? I guess it's the desire to be the queen of some domain, any domain in my life. Although this is unrealistic, of course, to be able to control all events, the illusion of being in control can be a strong motivator to continue this behavior. This is an area that I am putting energy into...letting go.

Letting go of the need for control is powerful. The ultimate realization that one actually has very little control can be …

Moments...

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Throughout our lives we have moments. Moments that are memorable, moments that pass us by until we are reminded by another. Each of these moments becoming the building blocks of our lives, slowly, like a beach being built by the waves, growing into the life that we have.

When I was in high school and entering college, I thought I would be a high school science teacher. Science was my love and I had some amazing science teachers who not only nurtured my love for science, but also my love for life. They were shining examples of how a teacher could make a powerful impact on a student both academically and personally. I went to college single minded and didn't really explore many other options until much later, when making a change would have been too late. Don't get me wrong...I believe that the path we each travel prepares us for something in our future and my love for science (and genetics in particular), prepared me for the birth and life of our cutest boy. Having a child with…

Wait...

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So many times it feels like the time to quit is now. When is the perfect time to throw in the towel? When is enough, enough?? What is the final straw??
In those times when it seems like you are at the end...wait. This is when the miracle happens...in that space moments after you decide not to quit. You may not know what that looks like but unless you take the risk and wait...you will never know what may be...
Take your time...wait...see what happens. Everyone deserves a miracle...you just might have to wait a bit for yours.

Odd and Imperfect...

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If I could describe my life, it would definitely be odd and imperfect...I wouldn't have it any other way. When the eye qualifies something as beautiful, it is often because the object is symmetrical and "pleasing to the eye." I, on the other hand, find the most beautiful things to be those that are a bit odd or unusual. They have character...they are touchable, relatable.

Looking through my life, I realize it is filled with the odd and imperfect...people, situations, things. I am staggered by the beauty of others, but find I am most drawn to those who reveal something different and unique about themselves. The crack of humanness, the oddness of our inner beings, is where I find my true connections. Vulnerability combined with strength draws me in...a sense of odd and imperfect. The combination of hard and soft, dark and light, is fascinating...so much that I need to keep myself in check as to not be sucked in. Being drawn toward this combination can, at times, put me a…

Summer Freedom...

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Today is the first day that I feel a bit like summer...We got back early this morning and I didn't get to sleep until past 2:30am. Needless to say I am tired. I am not complaining, mind you. It really was a wonderful weekend in Illinois, everything we went to accomplish got finished and the people are great. I feel pleased and satisfied at how well it all went.

Now begins the summer, a time to relax, free my mind, focus on where I want to be, how I want to be...

The nice thing about summer is that it is open. Although we have plans, there are no plans.. We are taking a family vacation to Minnesota to go the conference and Yellowstone.

This is the time where the mind can relax, where the noise of the year can be settled, dealt with, put away. Every year is new, every group of students new, fresh, and ready. It is almost having a beautifully plowed plot of earth, ready to plant. You are given the flowers and your job is to place and care for them.

I am wondering what my flowers will…

Southern Illinois to Home

Today was visit the college day. Stesha got to do a meet and greet with everyone in the Club Sports/ Intramurals office. A little wigged out that everyone seemed to know who she was but clearly everyone is great there. 
After a very long meet and greet, we were taken to lunch for pizza!! It was amazing!!
Next on our agenda was to meet up with the "potential' roommate" Joanna...lets just say the she is not a potential anymore but rather full fledged!! We looked at a few houses, they agreed on one they liked, an application was completed and now a third roommate is being searched for. Overall an excellent beginning to Stesha's journey. 
One more time for frozen custard (for me)...and we were off to the airport. It was a breeze dropping off the car and going through security...we charged our phones and waited for boarding. 
I am now writing from the plane on the way to Phoenix. We have a short layover and then head to Portland. 
I will post this from Phoenix and tomorrow wil…

Southern Illinois Day 2

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Today's events in a nutshell, mostly because we have to be up and at'um in 5 1/2 hours...

We slept until 12:30 Edwardsville time (10:30 our time), jumped up and rushed around since we had to meet Joanna, Stesha's potential roommate in St. Louis at 2. Luckily we were able to postpone until 2:30 because we couldn't get it together. Having your body in one time zone and being in another can be a little rough. Needless to say, we arrived at a great coffe shop, The Mud House, and had an excellent breakfast and coffee with Stesha's new potential roommate, Joanna.


After about an hour or so, we all needed to go on our way. Joanna seemed great and she and Stesha seemed to hit it off. Ironically, Joanna is an artist who checked out Portland State as one of her potential graduate programs. It was too "graphic arts" for her, so she decided on SIUE, even though she is from St. Lewis. I think this pairing has a lot of potential and Joanna is joining us tomorrow for house…

First and apology, then things I've learned part 1

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First, I need to apologize...I didn't do a blog post last night...In my defense, I was on a plane all night, so there was really no time to blog or post, but still, in over 150 days, this was the first night of no post...

But...Stesha and I came to Southern Illinois this morning (I keep wanting to say last night because it has been the longest day ever!!) This will be Part 1 in a series that tells what I've learned on this trip to Southern Illinois...

So here we are on the plane. Stesha got us tickets for the red-eye, which was great until this morning when we arrived at 5 am, exhausted.


We got to the airport and stopped at Starbucks for what were clearly the rudest employees ever. I ordered my Americano to a scowling woman, asked the other if they did ristretto shots (ris-what?), then asked if I could pay separately (If you read me your card twice!)...well, now we know...females in St. Louis do not take happy pills in the morning. Coffee in hand we began our trek to our rental…

A drama free summer...

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The irony of asking for a drama free summer is that I currently teach (well, technically the school year is over, so I am not actually teaching) in the drama room. I joke with the students, when they ask why we don't have drama, that we have plenty of drama around the school and that I am satisfied that they don't need instruction. My vice-principal from last year would say that I teach dramatic math...I guess I do...sometimes I feel dramatic. But...this summer...

This summer, I want no drama in my life...nothing to take my job, make me feel icky, distract me from the laughter and fun that I am so needing. I am not sure what is in my future. It seems like just when I am comfortable with things that they change. I am not going to try to solve the world's problems, be in control of more than I can control...I am going to take each day to breathe, meditate, and love my life. I am going to spend time with friends and those I love.

Life is short...I want each day to be somethin…

End of the Year...

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End of the Year (in six lines)...

Teams cheering
Painted faces bobbing
BBQ wafting
Bass thumping, kids dancing
Students crying
End of 8th grade year

The Final Countdown...

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Today was the last locker clean out of the year. Strange how it seemed like things rushed and then slowed down, rushed some more!

It seems like what would never come as arrived. Am I ready for tomorrow? Of course not! Will I be? Of Course!

So...tomorrow won't be about goodbyes...It just is...another day to remember that embracing one another is far greater than saying goodbye...

Living together...

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I had an epiphany tonight...one after a frustrating day. I am frustrated that I am counting with glee, like one of the kids, as to how many days we have left...Two more...My epiphany, really, had nothing to do with the countdown, but rather the frustration. I realized that although people need to work together as a team, that does not really mean they have to like one another.

We must learn to live with one another. I joke that there used to be a time when we were better about ignoring one another, when we could be civil, and not necessarily a fan. I have worked many jobs during my lifetime and the number one thing is that you must have decorum, some element of service. Even if your co-worker is someone you would not hang out with after hours, you need to find it within you to be polite. That is what it means to be a professional.

I feel like I have lost a bit of that these past weeks. I have been unable to separate my inner being, the child crying out for justice and wanting to thro…

Nearing the end...

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It seems strange that in just three short days this school year will be over. I remember last summer, feeling excited for the new year...what it would bring and then the middle of the year, just praying that it would be over.

It has never lacked for craziness or drama, it has been the biggest roller coaster of my teaching life. Although there will be a (small) part of me that is sad, I think the biggest emotion I will feel is relief...relief that it is done and time to heal from the wounds that are (sadly) quite deep.

I have not lost hope completely...I work with some great people, people who have the same dreams and hopes for my school as I do. Some of the deeper wounds will take longer for us all to heal, but ultimately we will draw together, and move forward, trying to build up what has been destroyed.

This is what we do...we are teachers...we are there for our kids. There will always be those who have a different agenda, who are on a different path, but I am happy to be in the tre…

Night falls...

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Night falls Slumbering souls Swirl freely through the clouds And the clear, crisp air
Twinkling lights  Guide the way From their joyous dance To the sleeping minds
Sleep covers Like a blanket Nestled in  Throughout the night

In with the new...

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Today I witnessed the miracle of birth...it was amazing. My brother and his partner had a baby. They invited me to be there on this momentous day and, since I had two c-sections, it is the first time I have actually seen it happen...

My newest niece entered with world today at 7:46 pm. Her mom was brilliant...(my brother did a great job too).

So tonight there is not much to say...just how excited I am that this girl is upon us and I think our first photo opportunity pretty much says it all!

The circle...

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School ends in four days... Tomorrow I am going to graduation to watch my first group of seventh graders walk the stage toward their next step...adulthood The craziness of this year is coming to a close I have written for almost 150 days straight...
It astounds me that this is where things are...the end of the year, the beginning of lives, the building of a habit.
We work and live in a circle...teaching and learning, living and loving, watching them grown and sending them off.
Where did the time go? Just five minutes I was unpacking thirty-seven boxes of crap from my old building...two minutes ago the year started...it's almost over.
Don't blink because before you know it, time has flown by...but when it does, I will forever keep you in my heart!

Freedom...

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The feeling of freedom is a strange and beautiful one...almost like when you are young and you fling your shoes off and run through the grass, the feeling of the blades running in between your toes. The feeling of the wind blowing through your hair, not a care in the world.

As we grow older, it is more and more difficult to feel true freedom, as we are often bogged down by the stress of everyday life.

Freedom is the feeling of lightness, not a care in the world (or maybe less cares), buoyancy.  Freedom also means that you can speak your mind, without the feeling of repercussion, stand for what you believe, even if very few stand with you.

Freedom is something that we all deserve...the right to feel confident in our own skins, in our own world. Freedom is a concept sought by many and, truly experienced by few.

I will declare today the beginning of freedom...one step at a time, one blade at a time, we can achieve freedom...we don't even have to take our shoes off...we can just bas…

Miracles are unfolding...

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Sometimes it doesn't take much to remind you that bigger things are in play...a simple word, a pat on the back, a hug from a friend. 
Today this was my email from Brave Girls Club, a reminder that miracles unfold in our lives. We had an event at school tonight where I was gleefully greeted by former students, a miracle in a time where I have struggled to feel connected. I watched 230, 7th grade students present a giant project that they have been working on for some time, a miracle that reminds me that even at the end, students can do great work. Parents and family members came to school to see said students, a miracle in reminding me that even in our poor community, families come out for their children. I was told by some co-workers that I shouldn't feel like I am on an island, a miracle in healing my heart.
Small miracles can carry us through the hardest of times. Even though I am celebrating that the year is coming to an end, I am reminded that for many of my students, the …

My one more...

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Today was one of those days...you know, when you (apparently) are babbling at your partner at 5 am, not making sense until you say, "never mind," where you oversleep anyway, where your brain is so foggy a single thought can't get through. That (plus two nails I broke off below the quick) was how I started my day. The whole day has comprised of a deep level, bone tired, exhaustion I haven't experienced in awhile. I am clearly reaching the wall...the end of the year. I know I can make it, we all will, it just seems that these days, which have about a million things happening in them, will simultaneously crawl and fly by. I have work to do, papers to grade, and I can't stay awake, I can't focus. I must go to sleep. Normally, I am the night owl, but I have hit the wall and it's only a Monday. Tomorrow brings more end of the year follies, but my hope is that it also brings with it a rested me...we can only be what we can be, but sometimes I wish I could be awa…

One in Seven billion...

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Today I went and watched a softball game...seems like an occurrence that isn't that important, but it was a reminder of the things that I will never experience with my sweetest boy. Our life does not involve baseball or soccer, but rather Blue's Clues, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, computer games, chess and MadTV. I am not bitter or angry...I am lucky, my son is lucky...he met the right girl already...she is one in seven billion.

We joke about the wedding and they are dating...I mean..let's be real, they are in the fourth grade. What makes her special is that she has a quality that so many lack...she accepts him for who he is. She isn't bothered that he is in a wheelchair or that he doesn't talk. She doesn't care that he can't do so many things that she can...she is happy with what he brings to their table. She worries about him when he's sick, sends stacks of drawings and notes home with the nurses to remind him that he is missed, beams a smile when sh…

Magical People...

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There are times when magic enters our lives. Sometimes we know it immediately and then others we discover as we go. Occasionally, the magic reveals itself to us long after it has entered our lives. There have been many instances of magical people who have wandered through my life and I am grateful and feel blessed that I have been touched by each of them. When magic enters your life, it is important to recognize it, embrace it, cherish it.

It seems that the most magical people in my (recent) life have been women, which is ironic because throughout my younger life I felt most connected to men. Some of my closest friends, as a young woman, were males...maybe it was because I was not good at the girl drama scene. Having grown up with lots of girl drama, daily school life was not the place I wanted more. Ironically this is still true for me to this day. As I have become an adult, there has been a shift and overall find I am closer to women. I think I am comfortable to say that each of my…

Knowing yourself...

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Life is a journey. Sometimes we take this journey by intricately planning each step and reaching out to others along the way, or other times we take the steps along this journey by accident. We often reach markers along the path which trigger opportunities to delve deeper into ourselves. Knowing ourselves is where true wisdom lies. We only get one shot at this life and learning all the intricacies about ourselves gives critical information to continually improve ourselves and our life. 
For many, the constant struggle between the desire for personal and professional power and the desire to build a quality life becomes a paradox. The struggle to move forward professionally can, at times, actually halt personal growth. We all want to feel respected and acknowledged, but the desire for these can become a roadblock in seeing ourselves fully.
Traveling the journey of life is about mastering yourself. Taking positive steps forward means you not only nurture yourself, but lift those around y…