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Showing posts from 2017

Problems to Solve...Teaching to do...

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Today is the first day of Spring Break. Well, to clarify, at 3:10pm today, I was officially on spring break. This year I am trying to find some solace. I have some specific goals that I want to accomplish, some of which I have been trying to get done for a few years.

Two years when Javad had his seizure, I went into a deep depression, a hole that I struggled to dig myself out of. At work, I coped, barely getting through each day without crying. My room piled with piles and my life was a disaster. I have been trying to dig myself out for the last year. Then my Grama died this last May and that was a definite setback. I looked forward and continued because not continuing wasn't an option. One day at a time I have been healing, one breath at a time. I am better than I used to be, but still not better.

I don't cry every day. Sometimes days, even a week goes by without crying. I feel accomplished when these weeks happen. Somehow through all this, Imanaged to do my job, not well, bu…

Dear Javad....

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Dear Javad,

Today marks two years since the day that changed our lives forever. Two years ago, while I was at school at African Family Night, I got a call from your older brother saying that you were unresponsive. My heart sunk because in the background, I heard your dad's voice and the panic was clear...something was very wrong. I told your brother to call 911 and I gathered my things and began the long drive home. I called home as soon as I was in the car, after calling Grami to go to our house to be there for support. Grami, who arrived at our house amazingly quickly, answered at first and told me that the paramedics were doing CPR...your heart had stopped. My heart was pounding and for the longest time (four long minutes), I waited on the phone, wondering if this was it....wondering if you were going to slip away and I wouldn't be there. I could hear my heart in my heart and began taking deep breaths, almost panting in the car. My legs were on fire and numb...I couldn'…

Just Breathe...

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Every day we are now being assaulted with news...news that is frightening or untrue or crazy or worrisome...news that is overwhelming and disturbing. In the last four weeks, I have listened to more podcasts about politics, read more articles, listened to speeches. I am more politically active than I have ever been, but sometimes it is too much.

I have anxiety and there are often times when I am a ball of nerves inside. If you are looking at me, you may not even notice. I am, mostly, able to manage. The last four weeks, I have to admit, has rustled up more feeling of anxiety than I am used to dealing with. The issues at hand are hitting me from all sides making it, at times, more difficult to manage. I need to remember that this could be a long run.

In these times when there are so many mixed messages and so much information being thrown at me from all directions, I need to remember to breathe. I can't take it all on, I can't take it all in. If I do, my ability to manage will c…

Soccer Church...

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Tonight I went to a preseason Timbers Soccer game. It's interesting heading to the stadium and being around those who have been so supportive to me these last few years. I stood in Section 105 and looked across the pitch and felt myself breathe it in. For two hours I felt the stress melt away and just enjoyed the game.

Soccer has been a part of my life for years but after Javad's seizure it took on a different meaning. Soccer became the lifeline that kept me sane. Through Javad's healing, I have found solace in the people, most of who didn't know me before, coming to support me without question. Being a part of the community is a unique feeling, one that I can't really describe. All I can say is that it feels wonderful.

Most of my fellow Army friends refer to the stadium as "church." In many ways it is...it's a place to gather and celebrate something that is commonly loved. It's a place to feel uplifted and sometimes deal with sorrow. It is a plac…

Taking Shifts...

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Tonight on a Facebook thread, I was talking about how rough, on a personal level, the last few days have been. The confirmation of Betsy DeVos yesterday hit at a place that was unexpected. I (unfortunately) watched the  confirmation hearing yesterday and immediately began feeling such a sense of panic. I have spent twenty-five years in the field of Education. I am lifelong learner, having earned two Masters degrees and a variety of continuing education credits. At the end of the day, I came home and cried. I questioned whether the work I have done my entire adult life has been worth it.  Hard work just seems like it didn't matter. It was defeating.


Today, Congress confirmed Jeff Sessions, who had previously been denied a Federal Judgeship due to his history of racist remarks. Elizabeth Warren, Senator from Massachusetts, tried to read a letter aloud that had been written by Coretta Scott King and was quieted. Two male Senators, one from Oregon, picked up the letter and continued …

When you disagree...

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This morning I saw a post on Facebook by a friend who talked about a political opinion that varies greatly from my own. I found myself thinking how to handle this...do I unfriend? Do I unfollow? Do I do nothing? This is one of those times when I really needed to examine how I feel about our current political situation and this impacts my feelings about people I know and respect.

Our current president has written executive orders that directly affect me in so many ways.  I teach many students that are refugees. These students often came from camps where they spent their entire lives or were possibly born there. These camps are tent cities or make-shift houses that are dirt floors and essentially four walls. There may not be running water. Their entire day is spent waiting in line to get staple foods that they may then share with their neighbors. They also stand in line for water and other important items. School may or may not happen for these students. These families have waited for y…

Thoughts on Trump-land...

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I've been doing a lot of thinking about our current political situation, our president and the repercussions of decisions being made. As each day goes by, I realize more and more that those in Trump-land honestly are way over their head. A group of people with no experience are trying to run the country as if it was a business. There is no ultimate boss here, there is a series of checks and balances that were put into place by our founding fathers so that a dictatorship can't happen. Apparently those in Trump-land have not studied much history, nor have a real understanding of the constitution or the way that government works.

In the two weeks since Trump-land has been in charge, I have seen wrinkles form on the face of a man who values his image. He looks tired. I think this job, one he desired because he felt it gave him ultimate power, is more than he expected. A week ago he signed a ban on immigrants and refugees entering the country, which caused a worldwide uproar. A jud…

A political break...time to talk about giraffes

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This week there have been many things that have happened. I know that since yesterday much has happened in Trump-land...questioning a federal job and going on vacation. Tonight I decided to do something different...ignore the news. I am taking a break and focusing on something else...Javad, my little giraffe boy.

Many who read this blog know about my son, Javad. He is fifteen and is affected by a very rare musle disorder called Myotubular Myopathy. He is a gentle and wise soul, one who makes me a better person. It has been a long journey with him, spending a lot of time in the last fifteen years in the hospital, sometimes barely surviving. It has been a emotional challenge for all of us.

I am lucky that I have three other great children who, although the times were rough for them too, have loved their little brother unconditionally. It's hard to be a sibling of a chronically ill child...all the focus is on them much of the time. In many ways it is like living two lives, the "…

#DressLikeaWoman

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As I sit here ready to write, I have so many feelings bubbling up. For most women, the insult "Like a Girl" has been thrown at them in many different ways. Watch the video...it gives great insight on what it means to be told that you do something "like a girl." For each one of us that identifies as a female, we have no choice but to "act like a girl..." because we are girls! We have no option to do something in a different way. We wake up in this body, we have the feelings we have, we are what we are...Who said that doing things "manly" means better? The insult is thrown at men too. "Quit acting like a girl..." The ultimate insult from one boy to another or even worse, from a girl to a boy. Why is this? LGBQT youth are told they are "like a girl" in a way push them down and make them feel less. It is the ultimate slam insult. Why is that? Who decided?
It should be that being "like a girl" means that you are powerful…

Come together...

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I laugh each day when I think about writing my nightly blog..."Who knew I would write a political blog?" I often say. I never have really been deeply interested in politics until this election cycle. Don't get me wrong, where policies have affected Javad and his medical care, where policies are impacting immigrants and refugees, both due to my personal connection as well as my school connection, I have been interested, and of course, anything impacting education has been on my radar, but mostly I feel that I am fighting a battle in the trenches daily and don't have extra time to fight with battles that are happening across the country.

Sadly, those battles are now infringing on the areas that I am most passionate about, my job, my students, my family, my son's health. Now, they are poking the bear. Anyone who has ever dealt with me regarding these topics will tell you that my passion and willingness to fight is pretty strong. I am unwilling to back down from a fi…

Wearing the scarf....

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Today was World Hijab Day, an event that is celebrated yearly at my school. It is an amazing day. Many of our Muslim students bring their own scarves from home to share with other students and staff. Many women on the staff don the scarf before school to wear the entire day while students can get a scarf at lunch. About ten girls proudly attended to students, wrapping their heads and pinning the scarves in place. Staff and students wore the beautiful scarves proudly throughout the day.

I always find it interesting on Hijab day, especially the reactions of the Muslim students. The girls smile and often comment about the scarf and how beautiful I look, while the boys often enter the room and their face breaks into a large smile. I liken it to it being the first time they have truly "seen" me. "Miss, you look so beautiful."

Sometimes when I look at the scarf, a symbol of modesty, I see into the eyes of these beautiful girls. Some of my students wear the Hijab while ot…

Educate Me...

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Think about applying for a job...You spruce up your resume, write a mission statement, and prepare for the questions you may be asked.

Today I learned something new...when it comes to high ranking government jobs...none of these things matter. Money does.

Today a new secretary of education was confirmed. Betsy DeVos, a woman with virtually no education experienced was hired by the United States Government to lead educational policy. Let's be clear...I am NOT qualified for this job, but I believe, with a Bachelor degree in General Science and two Masters degrees, one in Education with a focus on SPecial Education and a second in Mathematics Education, I am far more qualified than she is. I have experience and desire to improve the quality of education and opportunties for our students...all of them regardless of their social standing, the color of their skin or their religion.

It seems tht we are moving into a new realm in education. Over time, teaching has become a career that is s…

When women stand....

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Today, a woman stood. She said no. She refused to follow. She was fired.

The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, told Justice Department lawyers not to defend the Executive Orders on Immigration restrictions recently signed by those in Trump-land. Sally stood up to the bully behavior that has been thrown about in Washington. She acted as a warrior for those who were being abused.

Last week a universal ban on refugees was signed by Executive Order. Refugees that have been fully vetted and were waiting in their country of origin. Some were already on the plane on the way to the United States while others were told upon arrival. Those with visas, work permits, even green cards were held in airports around the country or put on a plane back to the country where they started.

Attorneys were camping out in airports and representing refugees, pro bono, computers on their laps, sitting on the floor. They were working in teams connecting with families who were desperately trying to get inform…

Refugees Welcome...

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I teach at a high school of 2,800 students, small by some state standards, but large for Oregon. Each year we "compete" for the 'biggest school award' with a neighboring high school. I have been teaching in this district for seventeen years and in these seventeen years our district has gone from a mostly white middle class district to one that has welcomed hundreds of refugee families, families that have been pushed from their homes in other areas of Portland due to gentrification, and families seeking affordable housing. A district that has changed from one with less than twenty-four percent non-white to a diverse population of more than seventy-four percent non-white where over fifty languges are spoken. Every day students enter our school who have recently entered the country, many from Africa, Myanmar, Iran, and Iraq. These students have seen and experienced things that no child should. Violence against themselves or their family, packing quickly and fleeing duri…

Iran so far away...1375 days...

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Well, the water seems to be getting deeper and now I am just swimming. Today in Trump-Land, it was determined that those who come from Iran may be in danger of being removed or not allowed to re-enter the country. Yes, now Trump has entered my house, he is in my personal space, he is talking about my family. His ludicrious new order says that those who have green cards (even ones who have been in the country for some time) may not be allowed to re-enter if they leave. The heat is increasing.

The idea that we, as a country, can essentially state that we will no longer allow those of a certain faith, in this case Muslim, flies in the face of everything we were built upon. The United States was built on religious freedom and equality of all, yet here we are barring those from countries that we have decided are "sending terrorists." The closed mindedness of this administration is mind-boggling and illogical. To state that our government prioritized allowing Muslims to enter over …

I am the force...

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Each day when I come home I am now checking the news with trepidation, sondering what todays events are. Today in Trump-land more conversation happened about The Wall,  $15 bilion dollar endeavor that US citizens will pay for. Along the border between the US and Mexico lies almost 200 miles of space, some near cities and others in the desert, where, currently, there are fences and walls already dividing the continent, dividing families.

Think what the United States could do with $15 billion dollars...fund schools, increase social services to those in need, fight poverty, provide housing to the homeless. Fifteen billion dollars...lets think about that for a moment...let's think about the vastness of that money. I can't even fathom. Building a wall just means that those who are trying to leave Mexico will build a higher ladder, save more money to pay the Coyotes to cross in more dangerous places, risking their lives even more.

A companion of this travesty is the idea that DACA, …

Hold on to the rope...

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I have a new philosophy in my teaching job...don't check social media during the day. Don't get me wrong...I haven't been a rabid social media checker in the past, occasionally checking Facebook and my email but this week, I have decided that I am not going to check because I am frustrated and angry every time.

We have had a new president for four and one-half days, five if you want to count inauguration day as an entire day. It was reported that he took the weekend off (after declaring that inauguration day was National Day of Patriotic Devotion...sigh) so truly he has been in office for only three days.

So much has happened in just three days, so much damage. Sadly, there are some who have declared that he has done exactly what he claimed to do and is putting America and American workers first. I just don't even know where to start because sometimes thinking how far we have walked backwards in the last few days is a bit frightening.

I used to feel that we were a part…

Frogs in a pan...

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Well...It's happening. I posted
something on Facebook today about being Pro-Choice and my feed blew up. Pro-Choice, like I believe that women have the right to CHOOSE what they do with their bodies. Immediately there was talk about being pro-abortion, as if that I the ONLY choice that women can make.

Now, here we are, a country that is in trouble. In four days our President, using both Twitter and a fatal pen, has decided that we should freeze government hiring,removed us from the Pacific Trade Agreement, is looking into leaving the UN, signed to drill for oil along more than one pipeline, is threatening millions and destroy their water, is planning to build a wall between the US and Mexico (which WE will pay for), has determined that refugees from "dangerous countries" not be allowed into the US although they have been deeply vetted, and has begun talks to destroy health care for millions. I am at a loss...I am genuinely feeling physically ill.

I have always been outspok…

Building a raft...marching on

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Have you ever seen an otter? They are adorable. They are fun loving, swimming playfully through the water, frolicking through the waves. Everyone loves to watch otters...they are calming and uplifting.

Otters are also committed to safety of the group. At night, when threatened with being crushed against the rocky shore, otters wrap their legs around the kelp floating in the bay and hold hands creating a raft so that no one floats away. They sleep, holding hands so that when the morning comes, and it is time to resume their day of  swimming, eating, and playing, they are all there and everyone is accounted for.

Recent events in the United States have brought the otters to my mind. Otters have few predators so can easily escape by climbing to dry land or by swimming away. This is not a luxury that we currently have. We have predators out there, but instead of swimming away, I suggest that we take another page from the otters book, we hold hands and protect one another.

Yesterday I parti…