Man’s Best Friend

As the dust has just begun to settle on the 2014-2105 school year – I realize only in bits that the year was such a jam -packed one full of exciting achievements, but that came at a cost, a cost of seeing this past school whip by so fast while I found myself in the throes of so many projects, seeing them through did take so incredibly much time.  Often, when things slow down you realize what a sensational year it has been, but then I find myself, now in my third week of Cub Camp ( Reading and Writing summer camp for 4-6 year olds) rewarding but also yearning for the first few weeks where I can see the days becoming empty and allowing my paths to take me where I want to go, no necessary plans for designation required.  In the middle of all these reflections, you as everyone knows, there is always room for mishap.  Such is the tale that I must tell.  I think it might have begun the day I finally (a good outcome)  fixed the side mirrors on my truck thanks to the recommendation of David Kitchin, and yet, I did forget about the hole in my right pocket which I realized was the way the 200 pesos that used to be there disappeared!  This truly seemed to be the precursor for a spiral of bad chain events that are known to occur off and on.

My cats fight, and especially the kitten that fell four stories and has adapted and healed well from that injury and yet, there is a reacquainting process of the two females to get used to each other all over again, until that truce happens, truly they are at war.  In once such epic battle, I separated the two and of course, Dewey’s claw became lodged in my left back hand, undoing it and shaking it off among the other war wounds from pas cat epics in our household.

The next morning, the epic battle was a little different, and over the course of the next 3-4 days, my hand resembled a helium balloon, something that you would see over the skies of New York during the Macy’s parade, not even human really.

In the middle of this twits of events, I went out, walking the dogs, hand definitely swelled and unable to really hold a grip, and after a long pass of walking and as we neared home, of course the inevitable.  My keys – no where on me.  Of course you get that sweaty nervous prickly feeling along your back when you know you just might be in big trouble.  I was, I walked the route I had just been on no less than 6 times and no sign of my Pirates lanyard, keys within the last hour – gone without a sign.  I also realized, kind of non-related to my keys, this was a vote in the direction of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  No less than three years ago I sent my Kendall Pirates Jersey to be dry cleaned, (a great gift from my friend Umar) – only to have the cleaners be unaware of where it went when I received my clothes back, that was a mistake to let it go into the general dry cleaning round up – so if anyone one of you happen to know how I can reobtain a Kendall Pirates Jersey, please send that my way?) – and now my Pittsburgh Pirates lanyard – gone – hmmmmm I still have my Pittsburgh Pirates wind jersey and plan on not letting that out of the house as you hear people say, third time is the charm.

As you might have guessed, no keys to enter the apartment building, my dog walker did have a set but the actual person walking my dog lived 3 1/2 hours away, that would not work on a 11:00 PM night now, and on top of that, how would I get into my apartment to get what I needed for summer camp tomorrow? (A Wednesday).  Finally, with the light being able to be seen in my apartment but no way in, and three dogs in tow, and talking to my dog walker, (while my hand felt like a 3 million pound part of the Statue of Liberty) – I was offered to stay at my dog walkers, with my dogs, until morning when the dog walker assigned to my apartment came at 7:15 AM and I could get copies, get in, etc..  This would mean a day off just to try and take care also of my hand, my keys, and getting copies made.  However, who else would let me crash at their place in a time of emergency with three dogs?  Really?  – Walking Dog and Andres has truly saved me in so many tight spots and done  things way beyond the call of duty, often not related to walking dogs or dog care, that simply lets me enjoy and be optimistic in the darkest of moments.  There are few organization, few friends, and few individuals willing to keep the power of optimism up when you are in the full octane mode of negativity, and yet, those friends that do so rub off on you just as if a scene of friends that bring negativity begin to rub off on you after a time.

Add onto that Andres from Walking Dog taking me to a great puesto, Annie Veggie,  on Saturday and tasting perhaps one of the best vegetarian yet taste-like meat meals ever at Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 11.00.51 PMAnnie Veggie, and I have to give it to him.  His ability to go the extra mile to help someone, as well as his care and love of the dogs under his care, of course make his service the best in Mexico City, but also a great friend to have to provide the pickup when you feel things pile on and in the best of moments you have no solutions amid the anger you feel.

It all ends well, I obtained two sets of keys, for myself, for the neighbors who looks after the apartment building, and finally a doctor came and thanks to four HUGE shots and still meds coming in to fight off any lingering signs of the cellulitis I had in my hand – things have gone back to normal as far as size, strength and feeling, as as I walked home tonight saying goodbye to a good friend leaving Mexico for the states at the end of his career here in Mexico, I realize, how incredibly lucky I am and I wish I would realize that in the middle of events of crisis to be able to de-scalate from the apprehension and stress I feel the moment it is occurring.  There is a calmness when you are so tired – and finally, from being so tired from simply what could be stress, weariness, or frustration, that takes over and just lets you go about working things out until solved.  For me, I wish it did not take me to get to the point of exhaustion to calmly eliminate problems one at a time instead of hurtling at them full steam ahead.

It is a pretty large learning curve, for example when I cam to Mexico, I needed to break away from the disappointments and stress I have been internalizing for several years.  When I did become a little lower high strung with worry, I still found some aspects of anxiety would remain, but not nearly as they had been a whole package.  For that feeling, there is no single word that can express the relief of not having to expect bad outcomes when you just convince yourself to work through them.

I realize in small moments still, even after becoming a much calmer person in the face of opposition and conflicts, that life is just that way.  I have a long way yet to fulfill my goal to be very calm and unaffected by the worry that might sway back and forth in random moments, but the key is to be thankful for the basics comforts that push you past the current trials you  might go through.

In coming across this inspiring video of a father/son GoPro trip, you realize how much ability we each have to make life just simply better all around.  I still am so thankful for the amazing students, colleagues, family, and friends that make my life even better every day.  Even in the throes of frustration, there are so many moments of joy, the strength to find those very moments allows you to laugh at those frustrations and make you even stronger.  I am finding out every day how much better my life becomes due to how I can help others- and finding opportunities to do so.  I can think of no better place for this to occur than in Mexico!

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The Art of Serving – Ketsia Aurele Spotlight in Haiti

Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 9.33.06 PMI am a bonafide true believer of what you give of yourself, helps discover new chapters of your own life. The more you dive into investing in others you find yourself ever so clearer. When I heard former Seaford High student Ketsia Aurelia was traveling to Haiti and needed support, there was a no brainer to help support her. I was able to briefly inquire on the details of her plans and this is what we discussed in how she would work with Mission of Hope –

Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 9.35.14 PMQ- Can we begin with that will be your main objective in heading to Haiti?

A – I will be working with the medical mobile clinics and providing free healthcare to those in villages who can’t afford it.

Q – How long will you be there and where?
A- For 9 weeks, June 6-August 12. I will be staying in Titanyen, a town outside of the capital of Port Au Prince.

Q – How did you hear about this opportunity?
A – I heard about it through searching for it. I wanted to go back to the country where my parents were from, serve and go help out. I just looked up Haiti Mission Trips and Mission of Hope Haiti is the first linked that popped up, so I looked into it pretty hard, though about it for a while and eventually decided to apply there!

Q – Did you pick that area or was this a choice by a group you are going with? What are the most immediate needs there right now and why Haiti and not Nepal or another area in need?
A- No, I didnt choose there but MOH (Mission of Hope) has a campus there and that’s where they do a lot of their work, they have a hospital, orphange, and a school there, along with a church.
The immediate needs there in Haiti are probably jobs. There aren’t enough jobs available and because of that, it’s one of the poorest countries. People are struggling to find jobs, pay their bills, bring their children to school, or even have food to eat. People are still recovering from the earthquake there in 2010 and MOH have helped built about 400 homes for people that were moved into tents because their house has collapsed, so MOH is helping out all around.

Q- How does going to Haitia align with a philosophy you see as you begin work exiting college?
A-Well, it will definitely help me as a nurse because working in the medical clinics. I will be hands-on and touching medical supplies, interacting with patients and overall it will make me more aware of the conditions of people that cannot afford healthcare, and how small things can help save their lives. I will definitely be more appreciative of what of I have and because of it, I may be more of an activist for healthcare for those that really need it and can’t afford it.

Q- So in the future – do you plan on returning to the states as a career and visit Haiti on trips periodically to assist? Where do you see yourself wanting to be in 15 years regarding your status in your profession?
A- Well right now, I definitely want to go back to the United States and work, and will definitely want to take trips back here and there to volunteer. I am not sure if I would want to go back to Haiti and work more long term there, but it is not a far-fetched idea because I am sure after this experience I would not want to leave! So in 15 years, I want to be as a working nurse, but not sure to where I will be!

Q- Have you carried anything you acquired in high school or in college with you that will help you with this experience? Some experiences may or may not at all, just curious…
Do you feel studying at the University of Delaware was the right choice for you, and what do you feel has been the highlight for studying in your field at U of D?
A – Well in college I learned that people are very different then me, that people come from various backgrounds and have different persepectives on things especially financially and it made me even more aware of how huge that gap is here in the U.S. and how it is in Haiti. I will probably get to see the poorest of the poor there while also getting to see the well privedlged and the tourists there.

I feel like studying at UD was a great choice. The nursing program is great there, it taught me to get out of my box and it also challenged me a lot academically. It motivated me more and help me explore more of this country.

Q- What advice would you have to individuals interested in the nursing professions and thinking about entering the field? Also, how will they know if this is the profession for them based on what you have learned?
A – The advice I would give is to work and study hard. Practice the skills as much as you can and do not be afraid to ask questions. We don’t have all the answers. Nursing is very difficult but also rewarding. If you find a joy in helping people and find it in the end how rewarding it is, you know its the profession for you. At the end of the day If it brings a smile to your face, it is for you. There will be tough times, but all nursing students get through it if you are motivated enough.

Q- What fears do you have about travelling to Haiti? Have you been there or old enough to remember anything about Haiti? What are your expectations of Haiti during this trip? – What do you feel most nervous about this trip?
A- I have never been on an airplane so I am afraid of that! I have never been to Haiti, so this will be my first time experiencing my families’ home, and the culture to the fullest. I am most nervous about communicating in the language. I can fully undertand creole and can get by in speaking it, but I am not fluent in it. That is my insecurity and I feel because of that I will not be able to fully express myself to other Haitians. I feel that may be a roadblock or struggle while I am there.

To follow the progress and updates that Ketsia has been experiencing since her arrival in Haiti, you can check out her blog at this address:

https://ketsiaholyliving.wordpress.com

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Museo del Juguete Antiguo Mexico – The Past, Present and Now Wrapped into One Forever Child

Neighbors.   Sometimes we often forget how close we are to someone and never quite know them.  When I brought a pile of extra materials to my house from friends moving back to the states, (file cabinets, plants, pots, more) and gave a lot of extras to them – boy did I also come across a discovery.  Meeting Roberto Shimizu, REALLY meeting him, after sharing an apartment floor with him for over 2 years was one of the largest educations I received in one day, and I was able to learn just from the observations of his collections at the Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 3.53.49 PMMuseo del Jugete Antiguo in Mexico City.  Mr. Shimizu found ME  Mr Shimizu and meon the first floor Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 2.52.20 PMwithin minutes of entering the building and had this ease and proudness of a collection that I had yet to realize – but by the end of the day, I would be stunned into being unaware of this magical spot up to this point, as well as privileged to be able to discovery so much history of Mexico, the United States, and other countries ALL in one location.

In seeing a father and daughter in front of before even entering, I has one complimentary ticket and they obviously did not have the funds to enter, I slipped them a ticket and I think this made their experience possible  :)  I felt that was a good deed needing done for the day. and this was an opportunity it felt was not to be missed!

The memories that hit you from floor to floor of toys of the past – they are just amazing, then you learn about the amazing history of so much, the original neon sign of what was the symbol of this first location of display, the huge (two story) Mardi Gras mask in the center of the museum (from a famous nightclub in Mexico in Doctores)  that still has moving eyes and yet, people scraped the real gold off the one tooth that you can still see, the amazing collection of Mexican historical pieces that define all levels of Mexican history, the largest display of Harry Potter in the WORLD (heck, I thought I just walked into Ollivander’s Shop on Diagonal Alley, of every wand possible on one wall alone, then there is a real snake, the collections of magazines of Harry Potter, figurines, spells, more than you can ever imagine, and you only get a TIP of the iceberg of what you will experience in the GEM of a museum.  Downstairs the food is amazing in Japanese style, and you continue to see pieces of collections that will truly just blow your mind.

The collector that brought this collection to Museo del Juguete Antiguo, is a real estate lawyer Menahem Asher Silva Vargas has been certified by Guinness Awards as the largest anywhere but there are so many secrets to discover on every floor.  In fact, you are not sure if the exhibits that are being held by some of the most creative cases are the art or if the exhibits themselves are the art (Sputnik relics, former movie theatre showcase lights, an old Dodge spree wooden wheel, these are nothing compared to some of the other showcases themselves allow you to take them in before you even get to the exhibit!

From Batman to Robin, to EVERY imaginable item you knew or didn’t know – overwhelming is just a small little way to describing the wonder of this amazing amazing museum backed by culture so thick, it is easy to get lost in the nostalgia and volumes of culture.

Add to that an amazing guide, Jonathan Sanchez that came over to guided us through some amazing aspects without us even asking.  He showed us a very unknown roof that houses illustrations from artists all over the world, and the like that you just have to take it all in, that your are not dreaming, while the background of Mexico surrounds you as you lose yourself in the art.

I have way too many pictures than I can show here, but perhaps one will show you just how amazing of things you will find here, Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 3.38.31 PM(the details of every exhibit is what will amaze you as well) and this is a drop in an ocean of what you will see, and more importantly, feel!

You have until June 30th to see the Happy Potter exhibit, you will not be disappointed!

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Fathering the Dream…

Father’s Day.  Let me just explain to you my day.  I did not realize the revelations that revealed themselves until the day’s end.  It’s funny how your mind and brain just forget dates and remember important dates of events of importance – mainly to prevent you from the pain and/or sadness – hence the only way I knew it was Father’s Day from the posts of so many others and before I knew it – there was an amazing picture of my Dad Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 1.17.43 AM– and I know already another year had passed and Father’s Day flew into the year 2015 that fast.  I also realized how incredibly lucky I was to have a father like I did, when some do truly not know the experience of a father, and there we are, realizing our troubles are so minuscule compared to so many others – so, a sometimes taken for granted lesson to think about so early in the morning – but a good one.

Let me first say how AMAZING it was to sleep in this morning – AMAZING.  Waking up to a sunny day, a quiet Sunday and being able to take Andres Jannou’s (from Walking Dog) invite to a vegetarian puesto, IMG_5666Annie Veggie, by the Cuauhtemoc Park, this was a plan and a good one!  Arriving a little early, we headed of to the various markets and tents being set up for about 10 minutes before we would return.

We ran into a man who had some of the coolest vintage cameras I have ever seen.  Between video and Polaroids, to video cameras, to reel to tell and even older cameras, it was astounding.  These cameras looked as if they JUST came off the assembly line from the 70’s on up, they were truly a wonder.  In the process we discovered he did make DVD’s from VHS and other forms of videotapes.  DVD transfer services I instantly recalled the video I had of my Dad during his birthday, at my rented apartment on Oak Street in Butler, PA, the truly last big get together I have ever had recorded with my family and Dad, that I can recall, and I have never watched it, never cracked it open, just stored it.  To tell you the truth, it scares me a lot to open that, it always has.  I do not even know what emotions I will feel in watching it, yet, today, I knew it was time to do something about that, find out and do something abut getting it in a form to view.  This week that is my goal, and I feel I might have to find friends to be close by as I do so, I am not sure what I have always been so petrified of watching it, but a part of me definitely wants to at the same time, while other is truly afraid.  This thought of doing what I have not been able to do before caused me some excitement but at the same time feelings I do not even know how to put into words.

We arrived back at the puesto and I mean, whoa.  First it is run my a mother and daughter team which is absolutely great in my book.  Second, the daughter is a model, and wow, I mean, for being a model (she definitely was) – I have never met a nicer family that worked very hard to make everything so pleasing to everyone.  The choripan,Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 1.01.45 AM IMG_5667 the fish, the CAKE, everything vegetarian there was top-notch and I felt as if I could stay there FOREVER.  THIS IS A PLACE you MUST stop at on Saturday or Sundays ONLY, to actually believe how good it is …

I noticed I had 20 minutes to get to my next destination, a family BBQ that artist Jason Schell insisted I attend to with his girlfriend Valeria.  In being a little late (as I am known to do as of late) – we headed outside of D.F. about an hour away.   What I didn’t expect was the sense of family I felt from the instant I walked into the door.  Valeria’s father, mother, relatives, all welcomed me in but without saying a word, the feel of just being around a family that genuinely IMG_5696was a family and I relished it – that is priceless in itself.  It goes without saying, I instantly thought of my family gatherings I have missed for so so long, and everything about this meal and gathering seemed to transport memories of every such event I had with my family when we were all together.  The grilled BBQIMG_5688 of Chorizo, steak, and more, Quesadillas, Chimichurri, salsa, and so much more – it silent reminded me so much of the amazing feeling I always had when my Dad and our family were together, it felt as if anything negative was unstoppable and the sky was the limit on anything we wanted to do, it is pretty spectacular to have that feeling. Secretly, I thanks Jason Ironically from PA) over and over silently for letting me feel this again.

Moving from a great great family event, heading back to D.F., I found myself coming home, walking the dogs, then headed to the Lunario for the play, Man and Superman by Bernard Shaw.  Just when I though I just had one of the most perfect days, I settled into a play that made me laugh whole heartedly about love, the conflicts of love, and the politics that always settle in on such a topic.  HYSTERICAL.  One of the nest productions I have seen yet, more on that to come, so stay tuned.

Coming home I raced out to help a friend move items from one place to another and before I knew it, 11:15 PM and I am at home  – and I thought –

I looked back over the day and felt so many incredible INCREDIBLE moments that remind me of Dad so much but one thing stood out – his yearning, desire, commitment, and drive to help others – it never dissipated but grew stronger as he had more people around him, that always made me amazing at his spirit and energy – there was no end to the energy he had when it came to others.  He was so incredibly quiet yet his actions spoke volumes.  For some reason as well, along with these thoughts, I also saw incredibly so many flaws I saw in myself that I simply do and have not liked over the year.  I find myself not as patient as I need to be in many many situations, I find myself quick to anger when I need to not to be, I find myself not saying the words to people when I wish I would have, I find myself needing to grow in so so many areas, and realize, for these reasons and for all the gifts I have received from my Dad, how lucky I truly am to be able to recognize these weaknesses and be able to act on them.

There is no doubt I miss my family so incredibly much when I think of the moments we have had from such a large family, how those moments are irreversible and unforgettable. Of course I always always miss my Dad so much when it comes to this, and am so incredibly grateful to my Mom for being there in these moments, as well as every one of my siblings.  Add to that the gifts my father had for instilling the fact that the care and affection given to animals is the same energy and interest needed to be given to fellow human beings, just in a different form.  Leaving the house at 3:00 AM to help someone, let alone spending all day gathering unused food for shelters to pass among families he knew needed it, to working on more cars than he could possibly work on because that was a family’s only way to get to work to earn money, always putting himself last to put others first, taking care of every one of his children no matter what, often doing so silently, ALL of this, all day I saw my Dad in pieces throughout the day – and also realized –

this is the way it is with so many people I have been lucky to come to be a part of my life.  The heartache I have when I really sit down and think of how amazing the times were with my father?  I actually have begun to feel that same heartache when I say goodbye to same amazing students and friends lately in the last few months and years and I realize, the same admiration and commitments I felt in my heart for my Dad also became present in some of the most important people that became a part of my life and my Dad had also become a part of how much they meant to me.  To me, there is no greater gift than to have that feeling, yes, it sometimes feels as if your whole ending is being torn in two but , as clashing as this sounds, there is something that also remains inside you that lets you realize all of these feelings were worth it due to the incredible moments and feelings you had on the way – they are priceless.

Fathers Day certainly has a stereotype of certain meanings but based on the above, if any of us are lucky enough to have the feelings with individuals that have touched our lives, the same way that so many Father’s have?, then we certainly have a life worth celebrating for so many reasons.   As is custom, I am posting the story that still amazes me and that I pass onto some very special seniors and close friends of mine when they doubt how certain things can actually occur in life, an event that started with my Father and involved so many people thereafter – but along with this, I look back on today and realize how many opportunities my heart has been given to grow !   Thank you Dad and so many that have shared that same care towards me and have let me love them back in some form that can’t really be explained in words – :)

The Rings Around Us for Seniors in 2015

It’s funny this one tiny specific moment, my Dad helped up a piece of gravel in the driveway and show me how some of the gravel pieces had absolutely perfect starts in them, I mean, PERFECT.  He gave me several of those and I remembered giving one or two of those to individuals you really had stood beside me and supported me in what to them, were small ways, but in reality were larger ways.  I realize the small things are really not so small, if they stick with you and help others along the way.

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Mexican Summer Nights, Alarming Mornings, Camper Ready

Walking with the dogs on a PERFECT summer evening in Mexico, (it reminded me of this photo I took from above when arriving in Mexico from my last jaunt from the states)

Mexico from the air coming into Benito Juarez airport

Mexico from the air coming into Benito Juarez airport

last week (usually I am wiped out before 8:00 PM even hits!) – I realized how amazing the last few nights had been last week, literally a perfect summer evening.

As I strolled through neighborhoods, I would see lights that showed off the patios and hanging plans from the various residence, the clear and warm sky, the absolute beauty of night reflected from buildings and bouncing to everyone simply outside and walking though such an amazing night, you almost have to pinch yourself to believe it.   The dogs were more content than usual, and even they seemed to sense that relaxing night walks could most definitely occur on nights that would repeat l:) I still find myself in this life asking myself, “How did I get here?”  “How did this happen?”  Pinching myself and realizing I could not, would not, want to trade this for the world.

IT is not difficult to realize how amazing the world has become with friends and family that have made truly a great world, and sometimes it takes a simple walk in your own neighborhood to relish the important things that matter and that are valuable, to indeed, treasure your life. Seeing a video highlighted from one on my former students, here, (Alondra Santos’ performance)  I realize over and over how amazing Mexico is and how it looks at its own culture in its own way, celebrating its talent more and more and more and unearthing treasures that many people take advantage of.

One cannot live in Mexico and not think of how sheltered and WRONG people are when they see a country from afar and think they know that country, then life changes, and you move to a country and live among individuals that change your life – and simply walking out the door you see neighbors, feel the presence and culture, that touches your heart.  You realize how much of a heart-felt presence a country really has by taking steps to not simply be a spectator, but be someone that genuinely realizes how wrong so many have it from the outside.

In my case, Mexico, and maybe the best gift ever has been how this country has taken my view of so much and turned it upside, and long with it, done the same with my heart. If each one of us would take one step to change one major thing in our life in the way we have viewed an idea we have had for so long, wow, can you imagine how much richer our lives would be?  My goal will be in the next year to visit four geographic locations that desperately need help and I think when it comes to making lists of what I need and what I deserve etc, will change drastically when I put the needs of others in front of my own – which is why, after hearing about Paul Walker and his sacrifices for others through his organization ROWW, I knew there was more that I could do and it will make a difference if we all decide the same.

Mornings, my time to get caught up, react to a good night’s sleep and walk the dogs in peace without being stopped every  minutes  :)   Also my time to slowly wake up in the crisp morning air.  So last Thursday started like every other (most week day mornings) – out the door at 5:15 AM, walking through Parque Rio, before I new it, (or was aware) – on Alvaro Obregon almost home and look back – two dogs?  Didn’t I have THREE dogs?

It’s odd – when you have leashes on your had two can feel just like three in the morning at 5:40 AM – of course the puppies are looking at me like, “Where’s Mom?”  – ‘Kinah and the misadventures of Mexican mystique’ – of course I am in a full panic – so I do what everyone does when they are shocked out of that morning wake up funk – I spun around and ran the length of Alvaro Obregon I just came from, no Kinah, we crossed and turned onto Orizaba, almost giving a lady a heart attack as me and two galloping canines running full speed made her morning less than ordinary, moving towards Parque Rio full speed, into Rio, around two of the outlying circles, no Kinah, one more outlying circle of the park, no Kinah, last one – no kidding.

Kinah, standing totally still, in the middle of the sidewalk path in the park, leash on the ground, looking around like, “Where the HECK were you?!” Of course the puppies were going CRAZY like they had not seen each other for months, and I was just – well wow.  I am so glad in the AM there is NO ONE in the park – and on top of that, I still could run full speed with two canines at my side – however, mornings will allow me to wake up a little more due to that particular incident.

It is amazing to think when I found Kinah someone must have just tied her to a pole or fence ad let her be found, (I am assuming) but it has amazed me to know she just remained in the same place instead of running full speed in one of many directions she could have chosen.  ALWAYS events that cause you to think, thank, and reflect if you take time to do just that. Since I was negligent it seems in the AM, I am obligated to post a pic of the three right after their grooming and a rare moment of exhaustion for them (not usually occurring in the LEAST) Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 4.08.15 AM Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 4.08.26 AM Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 4.08.34 AM

As everyone is heralding the end of the school, perhaps from insanity or from a chance to catch up and get ahead even more with bills, saving and opportunities, I signed up for summer camp for the Cub Camp, 4- 6 year olds in Reading and Writing. I remember leaving Delaware the last summer and working the camp there and LOVING it, and thought, just do it.  Friday found myself between the library resuming the checking in and pre-inventory process and also attending the orientation and trainings needed to prepare for the upcoming camp and I have to admit – SUPER SUPER EXCITED.  Fro the supplies, seeing how many great graduating members were coming back to do camp, to the awesome team that will be our Reading & Writing Team – whoa, we are going to KICK BUTT and have fun !  So many exciting things to happen in the next few weeks – just when you thought it would be over – NOT!

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Recapping the Capping Moment, and So Much More Than Mortarboard…

There is so much that defines a school year, but ever since I was lucky enough to fall into the American School Foundation family in 2011, the one single ceremony that brings the reality of life marching forward without being stopped – has been the Capping Ceremony.  As I have done in previous posts, I always am curious where this tradition started, I never experienced such a moving ceremony aside from graduation.

This time in searching I found the usual tradition that nurses go through upon their first year of service.  With a little more searching, I found that this was a traditional practice held amongst elders and those entering adulthood in Chinese culture.

No matter, nothing I realize, no matter how far and wide I search, can truly define the feeling I get when I am sitting there, waiting to say goodbye to one life I have known some very personal and special students, and saying hello to a new door that is opening to their lives.  I find myself reverting to a child, asking questions such as , “When will we ever be all together again?  Will be be all all together ever again?  What happens now?  Will we forget the moments we hold so close to our hearts over time, even with fighting to hold them close?  Will we ever feel this way again?  Why does this all have to change so fast?  Why now when we are just getting comfortable with each other?  Has it really been more than one year, maybe two, even three?”

Of course, amid the questioning, feelings well up and I feel my heart expanding, expanding, and feeling as if ready to burst at the exact word that will just set all these thoughts, with the rushing emotions loose uncontrollably. All of this, in one ceremony.  Despite the importance and beauty of graduation, there is just something – the realization of last moments, last lunches, last hugs, a sense of saying goodbye that just floats around at the ceremony – and words that just never seem to capture such a moment still hang in the air.

Having the privilege of sitting at a table with Monica Avila, Alice Kanitz, and Alia Suhaimi is a large enough memory that will follow me to the ends of the earth, but add to the fact they chose me out of so many other so may cool and inspiring teachers that surround me, I still can’t get my head wrapped around that one.  Without saying a word, just that reality caused me to pause and feel as if I have just climbed Everest.  If nothing else, the importance of taking advantage of every moment, holding onto every memory makes days like these bittersweet and for ever remembered.

The lunch always goes way too fast, and before we know it, students are grabbing their gowns, caps, and we are herded into the Fine Arts Center and smack, right in front of me we as teachers witness the students in graduation regalia and realize what e have complained about taking so long to occur, is happening to fast.  The reality of a life without some amazing individuals we have just plain become used to in our lives, allowing us to hold our heads high through the best and worst days of our careers, is staring right into our faces.

I always knew that moments, those moments that matter way beyond gifts give n indicate the bond and tie that exist between individuals.  The tradition of gifts being exchanged is always a tradition at capping and yet, the best, absolute personal gifts are the moments I get to have that last hug and smile before the very individuals we cap walk across the stage as a graduated senior.  Nothing would be different this day, as having Monica, Alice, and Alice so close and sealing the finality of several years of so many adventures, we all realize in that moment, our lives have grown alot more, along with our hearts, as we roll through the scenes we have all played in through the last few years.

For me, I wish I would have simply extended out a few more of those moments, any moments, again, as I realize that the reality of our moving forward and putting distance between us as a reality, is a positive and exciting one, but one that at the same time drags me down a little in seeing things so differently without them.

Capping is perhaps my all time favorite ceremony that I feel completely honored to be involved in.  Whether I am asked to be capping or not, I still find myself so nostalgic and thankful to be witness to such an amazing ceremony – but I know deep down, the capping of these young ladies this year burns it’s permanency into my heart and memory.

Yet, I would see two remaining important ceremonies, the Athletic Awards and Graduation that would reveal some end of the year realizations that made this 2014-2015 year one of the most memorable.  Stay tuned for those moments coming up!

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Redefining the Definition – A Life’s Dream and Holding Onto Every Moment As You Go

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I know I have so much that is in my head that I need to get out and write about what has been happening in the last few weeks – yet to rush these reflections does not do justice and the meaningfulness of these events, so I need to just spill the details when I feel I have the thoughts together the way they should be  – but one little commercial break before I try to catch up –

Of course the advent of the ASF 2015 Leadership Awards, leading to Capping, leading to graduation is a bittersweet one for me, I really feel I take for granted the time I have with so many amazing talented and special individuals that have become my family over the course of four years and less, and yet, everyone feels as they have been with me from the very beginning of my life.  This fact itself is a priceless moment that cannot be replayed or repeated and mean the same thing again.  Ever. I am grateful for such a gift.

Through all the trails and the hardships that go with a day in and day out adjustment to so many volatile elements that change in the field of education, I have been taught and have learned so much about myself by the beautiful individuals that have allowed me to share their lives with them. I am still amazing at how fast life goes so incredibly fast, the moments, the memories, so much – when I want it to slow down it seems it is already past – wow.

I see myself changing as well and as a result of the people around me.  I remember when I was pursuing and aspiring to get my first Master’s to be able to open more doors to my future, and to help insure I would not be stuck with just one certain, specific type of job.  Then as I headed into my second Master’s the same reason, not wanting to be pigeon-holed into one type of career only as I like to be involved in multiple aspects of life involving my career.

Looking back, and at this point in my life, I simply wish I had this objective in mind – to pursue opportunities, be it a degree or life experiences, to make a bigger impact on those that need it in the world, to truly make a better world available.  I feel I want to be less selfish with putting my future ahead and trying to be involved with many more life and world changing experiences that do just that, redefine who I am and the views of what is me.  I realized I have tried to do that without realizing it along the way, the challenge of changing how see people view things they have always seen in one way, the way they see the role of an educator (and not just a teacher), how they see a librarian, how they see life and its purpose and how it can be changed, reshaped, changed, how they see each other, in having someone to present a different view of what they have seen all this time, and through all this an education in itself evolves.

I can’t stress how lucky I have been in my life to have individuals surround me that truly allow me to do that, believe that there is a flip side to how people view things they have viewed all their lives.  Along the way, I have realized how incredibly fast life goes, and in a blink in an eye, you can ride long or jump in and try to make a difference in some aspect of the lives around you.  I cherish the opportunity to do the latter and realize that is my life’s dream, so continue to make a new view of life and the world in as many ways I can.  Some people want fame, want a sense of inner accomplishment and success, and I truly just want to be always knows as the person who would take a standard definition and redefine that definition.  I am not in the least doubtful that my life is defined by those that surround me and share this journey, and truly, my heart keeps growing from the strength, beauty, and potential of some pretty amazing people that have guided me through my life.

Through a random series of events, I was drawn to the accidental viewing of Fast and Furious #7.  I was in a taxi for almost 2 hours in a typical Friday night/Polanco to Roma traffic jam, and I was just sucked in.  This past weekend, I just stumbled across the Fast and Furious 7 story, and the bittersweet story of Paul WalkerWatching at the 4:12 time of this video, pretty much says it all.  I have always loved the influence and emphasis on family throughout all the Fast and Furious series.  Of course the engine and motor head aspect of my life and fascination with the automobile has sucked me in but that underlying theme of celebrating “Saludo a mi familia” always always cemented the deal for me in my heart.  As I began to learn more about the late and great Paul Walker, I realized how much of a hero he really was.  The fact that he set up the Reach Out WorldWide Organization that is helping Nepal now, but was set up to help immediate needs for tragedies all over the world.  How he lived for being able to use the power (see :42 here)  he achieved for a higher and better cause, often questioning and arguing with himself about the right to have the power and fame that found him, and realizing from the friends that surrounded him that fame, that money, allowed him to do whatever his heart wished, and he chose to give back to as many as he could.

Paul Walker was in an accident but on his way to a benefit on the morning he passed away.  The fact that he devoted every spare moment he could to others, that he directed the reason for his stardom to truly be the source to help others, I just find Paul Walker to literally be the hero and idol I could only dream about being.  His motives make sense to me and I truly want to make sure my life will be a stepping stone to change the direction of tragedies that might occur and serve as a better way to improve other’s lives around me.  If I can make this change even moreso in the next few years, I want to move in this direction.  Spending priceless moments to serve and help others would be a dream of mine and I hope to move in this direction in the next 10 years to make that shift to see how opportunities open up for me to do so.

I am so incredibly proud of the students that became so much a part of my life for the last four years, they have inspired me and motivated me, pushed me to the point of tears forming when I realize so suddenly they are moving on and I will not be able to see them with the regularity I became so used to.  As I said, everything changes before you get comfortable with it – and so much more the reason to not take anything for granted.  I worry sometimes that there are so many opportunities I want to seize to be able to help so many people around me that I have not even attempted yet, and I have seen so many people so close to me disappear so suddenly, and each time, I am pulled back to what their life meant to those around them and wanting always serve as a beacon for their life and not have their life be in vain.

I saw in Paul Walker from the amazing memorial to him, to the information I did not know of how much he gave of himself to others, the best present he could ever present as a big screen actor, giving the benefits right back to children, adults, families who would never have the chance to better their lives without a little help, and they deserve that help.  His heart was one that never disappears because his spirit rises above the expectations of the me-first portion of the population that does exist today.  I can only see the amazing beauty and potential of some blessed students that have graduated this year, and I hope opportunities afforded to them will be reproduced ten times more and infused into a world desperate for individuals willing to create a much better world.

I have already received the beautiful gifts of time to share dreams, that turn into realities, and feel the swelling of my heart in pride at how much initiative many students from the 2015 graduating class had and put out into the world to impact others.  Life is so powerful when you have allies and those that inspire you to add that color to life that only moves the world further ahead and that becomes more optimistic.

In a world where truly it does seem to be that disfunction and negativity seem to play more of an important role the value if individuals to stand up, and any make a difference is so much more worth it’s weight in gold.  I want to find those pockets of gold to be able to go abroad and make impacts that do not just become verbal uplifts, but turn the verbal into more doing.  The world deserves that, the story of Paul Walker should be the revered model we all would and could do to make the world a beautiful place.  I have seen the magic of how much he gave of himself in the very spirits and lives of so many that graduated this past Saturday, and my soul feels so much lighter, with the promise of what these young men and women can offer for the world to move in such a better direction.

When I came across the song and video, When I See You Again, I melted.  Everything jelled.  The beautiful students that have surrounded me all my life, the path to serve a greater good to make a difference in the trenches of tragedy, reaching out to students that travel to other parts of the world to pass virtues they picked up and so the chain of impact becomes stronger as more and more years of individuals can realize what they can do to change everything, for the better.

I feel that the years ahead are the real fruits of when I see how I will make a larger difference, and I look forward to it.  If I can get across with  singular life a way to facilitate a better life for others, I think is maybe the best possible life one could ever dream of, the satisfaction of making a difference, and letting others being empowered to do the same, there are so many possible opportunities to do so.  I thank my moments constantly for always being surrounded by individual that believe that this is possible, anything is possible, and for that very reason, you secured a piece of my heart forever.  That is a gift that cannot be put into words that lives inside us forever.

When I watch the trailer for the song When I See You Again, I think back about all those individuals that have been taken so suddenly in my life, I think about all the people that have become family I have been lucky enough to have pushed me forward, and I think about what the future holds thanks to these very people, the world is a beautiful place thanks to these very people that my life has been blessed to be with.  Life is good with the family I have acquired along this way in my life and truly everything  is worth Holding Every Moment As You Go!

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“I Want My Respect!” and a Transformed A View from the Bridge Production Estasblishes this Sentiment

Despite a flurry and onrush of emotions the last few weeks amid graduation, saying goodbye to a high school experience of so many close students, and now family, many topics still come to the surface from even further back through these last few months and personal experiences in and around Mexico.  Certainly it is taking me a little time to recollect my thoughts amid all this and have it come out properly.  But it is time to catch up, so here we go.

Immigration.  A topic that involves hearts souls, politics patriotism, and a topic I have seen from the working fields and plants of Delaware, to the lives of students in my classroom, to the struggles of students to further their education – to the neighborhoods of a country where immigration is seen through a different set of lenses.  In seeing the display Del Gulfo de Pacifico along Alvaro Obregon, a breathtaking and silent reverence to what immigration means between the countries of Mexico and the United States, one thinks comprehensively about what the topic of immigration means to those that embrace more than just the issue of citizenship, but one of lives.

In seeing the production Panorama Desde el Puente, (A View from the Bridge) from The National Theatre in London premiering in the Lunario on May 17th, 2015, you enter the with a  complete preset of ideas and thoughts.

Sometime it takes extremes to see a topic, issue, or a less than familiar story, and certainly Arthur’s Miller’s tragedy recreated on stage here is the prime example.  Mark Strong who plays a often controversial, diluted, and extreme in measure individual found in Eddie Carbone carries the viewer through so many emotions, one thinks they are viewing The Trials of Ezra Pound that was shown in  2001 at the Shakespeare Festival.   the production all over again.  Nicola Walker never misses a beat to add to the strain, stress, and conflict that brews inside Eddie and affect his wife Beatrice.

The beginning and the ending are so incredibly dramatic and unexpected, with the narration by Michael Gould’s Alfieri, similar to a character that befits Joe Peschi – you are carried through an unfolding story that haunts every border, every country, and fitting that with so many experiences we have had in New York that New York happened to be the setting I could relate to when viewing this production at the Young Vic.

I love when productions take non-traditional routes and this is no disappointment.  The dramatic is flung out at the audience in all the characters, Catherine played by Phoebe Fox that transforms in front of you with occasional accents that intrigue your curiosity, Marco (Emun Elliot) and Rodolfo (Luke Norris) that come to the stage and bring a calmness and a rebellion to a house of dynamite waiting to be set off, and the Oficial played by Padraig Lynch who lights the match – this production brings out other topics that are not inherently seen from the beginning.

Bart van den Eynde as director and interpretation brings viewers to the dark places that topics around us continue to swirl and develop.  When you are able to take a traditional well known knowledge of anything, be it a production, an idea, an issue, a work of art, or just a view, something in the form of a new education formulates.  Aside form countless other issues that emanate from this production, the ability of Bart van den Eynde that is felt from the beginning to the end, that ends in red on stage, internalizes the issue of immigration foremost, and other issues sure to develop after you see this spectacular production.  If you live for another experience that internalizes itself in your heart and conversation, then this is certainly a moment you want to not miss.

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Similar Saturdays – Sometimes in Different Worlds, but Two Particular Involving Total Life Lessons…

Believe it or not, getting up at 5:00 AM was not that hard.  The last two weeks I have found myself in this huge draining time warp of exhaustion seemingly barely getting all done just in the nick of time – and even so, somehow amazingly it keeps getting done….:)

Thanks to the ASF Bear Boosters we have been able to capitalize on the last three weekends, yeah, they are weekends but also, been able to do concessions at ASF to generate funds to offset costs of printing and add some insurance for when and if prices might increase.  Thanks to the the Sports Faculty at ASF and PA Boosters, despite giving up our Saturday’s they have been a success.  Here’s a typical morning…

5:00 AM, wake up – stumble to the kitchen, grab dog food, make my way to where the already whining canines are aware of me waking up, drop food in their bowl, head to the shower (the time allows their food to digest!) – get dressed, get the dogs, to the walk thing through Parque Rio – come back, get items together for today’s concession (today?  One dozen Krispy Kreme, one microwave, one long cord power strip, 6 bagels (more at school) 12 muffins, on case of Valle juice boxes, a backpack full of other supplies – and believe it or not, I made it to the corner for a taxi.

Whew – 6:40 AM – ASF – early – good, enough time to start 48 cups of coffee brewing, head immediately to Oxxo two blocks away, three large bags of ice coming back kind of totally uncomfortable back to ASF (yes, close enough to walk and not far enough away to feel deserving of a taxi) – make it into ASF with arms aching, get all Gatorade, water,juice, soda on ice – load up the dolly with items, grab two large tables from across campus and bring to the lower part of school.   Set up all items back and forth like 8 times from the library where supplies are kept put on tablecloths, tables and items, set up electric, we are in business at EXACTLY 8:00 AM!

Three different stages of gymnastic groups are performing and by 10:00 Krispy Kremes had been gone in that first 2o minutes to follow at 8:20 – Muffins started disappearing next but WHO WOULD HAVE KNOWN we would have to make FOUR complete 48 cup urns of coffee today?  Y^#(!#&$(&@#*^&R$%^#O!  WOW!  Bagels, muffins donuts are a wisp of a dream my 11:30 and POOF! – Pizza arrives after awesome amazing staffer Ye Eun makes the call – bam!  four pizzas and they are delved on – 1 hour and they were a dream.  after the break for the judges, we order more and immediately they are back for as much pizzas as we ordered a second set of four.

As this utter chaos of way more people than we expected swirling around us, the calmness, expertise and reactions from staffers Alexa and YeEun made 10000% the difference today and the reason they did so well?  Because of those two and keeping a level-head. After 3:00 hit, and I spent an hour more cleaning and ordering things away and in the library, with my feet absolutely POUNDING – I headed back in a Citio as I had no energy to make it to the metro, at all.

I get home and find, the turkey I was going to buy off the group is GONE.  Nada.  Of course I realize this when I get home.  I walk the dogs as they had been in since 5:30 AM – we do the walk and take care of business routine, and I jet back to the metro, yes, that is right, headed back to ASF sure I can the meat I left out on the desk of the Lower School kitchen.  I could not fathom so much food/packets going bad so I am figuring I will jet back grab it and come back home FINALLY.

I get to ASF AGAIN, and can not find the turkey packages ANYWHERE.  I am too tired to realize I came back and am no better than when I started, and yet I did seem to just do that.  I get back home with my legs and feet feeling like small volcano eruption.  Open the fridge and YEAH. Stuffed inside a food container with the muffin is the piece I obviously had no clue about, the Pavo.  At this point, I decided my legs were going to give out soon from this day being so close, but not quite over. =

Also remember, this gymnastics concession was one of the longest, craziest and busiest day I have ever put in, and that counts Art Fair. I never, EVER saw that coming and yet I am still processing the event right now.  Literally it felt like I did the transcontinental passage back to where we started.  Through the absolute and sheer numbers that took us on one long ride all day and the talented anchoring of Alexa and Ye Eun, this day happened and much more financially than anyone could have imagined.

There are so many things you can say about people that have hearts larger than the community that surrounds them but yet, the subtle things done now only lead to greatness with the transition to a new experience after Upper School.

Looking back to my last day in New York, March 21st, this perhaps was one of the best days ever.  My high school friend and I spent just most of the day talking, venting, and at the Heartland Brewery  – at the base of the Empire State Building.  This place of course ia traditional meeting spot in the heart in New York City, has been for us alot but it is DELICIOUS and inviting, just a GREAT St. Elmo’s only larger kind of feel.  It is so incredibly large it is easy to forget that this is part of a huger whole!   Stepping into just sitting and chatting, reflecting, and remembering, and contemplating, it was a pretty great afternoon!

We all have friends that are priceless, and with my friend Umar, we step back in where we left off and time never seems to stop where we pick up.  He is absolutely the best friend you’d ever want in anyone – we both have war stories of what has happened to use when the good nice always finishes last yet, we never have to share any of them, it is a given that we have endured and persevered in this crazy life, and have come out victors because we have made such valuable friendships.  Not only did Umar purchase a shirt from The Heartland Brewery for me, but he got me this amazing jersey    Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 10.13.04 PM  and this point I was dumbfounded.   I now have a Steeler jersey, Penguins, and have to see about getting my Pirates Kendall jersey that “disappeared” at the dry cleaners and the set will be back intact…

All the times we had Pittsburgh and witnessed Mario Lemieux on the ice for the Penguins, the moments of reflecting back and just being friends? – With the amazing things that happened on this trip in New York this year and the accolades we worked so hard for – the friendships like these – are worth a thousand masterpieces in any gallery.

The day, before heading to the airport was a different take on New York seeing it in different eyes, with a friend that witnessed the same craziness in high school, here we are worlds apart and yet, here we are!

Which, that Saturday and this Saturday – have these amazing parallels of amazing people with a heart that is larger than what anyone can imagine;  greatness pours out because yes, their compassion, their optimism, and commitment,  be it friendships, helping when help is needed, and just being a GREAT person – life is good and there are no words to show how deep these individuals and friendships run where ever you go.

Yes, today with the trips I actually made back and forth countlessly today, as a result of the extreme fatigue that creates forgetfulness and much general chaos, that Saturday with a best friend from so many years before and JUST seeing New York in a different light – all magical moments thanks to the people that bring what they have inside of them to our doorstep everywhere.  Amid the feet throbbing, the muscles screaming for the night to provide some comfort – when you are surrounded like friends like Umar, Alexa and Ye Eun, everything fits right into place.

Coming back on the plane in Business Class, wow, That was a different world in itself yet seeing the lights of Mexico into view – an amazing feeling that so much that happened had become so much a part of me.  That in itself made it hard to differentiate what the best part of this whole New York experience truly was – hard to leave such a trip behoind yet knowing this was a result of so many talented people that made it happen? – it was amazing to be back to them and realize this is my life now yet friends I have made always are with me in some fashion, that seems pretty amazing   :)  Lucky?  Beyond with these amazing people in my life :)

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Duck, Duck, Duck, Harry? Dog? What is GOING ON?!!!!!

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There it was – the perfect day, an afternoon with the canines in the Dog Park at Parque Mexico, and on our way our taking the long way around the newly renovated and cleaned duck water park, and of course my dogs took a special interest, they always do.

As I rounded the corner, it appeared someone was even more excited than my wild and revved up canine family.  There, through the bars of the fencing, was a white small pitbull that had broken from his owner and had leapt towards the water and furiously dogpaddling headed straight for what he would hope to have as a duck dinner.  No kidding.  The ducks seemed to evade the puppy invader for awhile, but it was clear he was not giving up and would be set on grabbing the nearest duck as fast as he could.  So yeah, then there is me.

So I did the most logical thing, I took my shoes, socks, off, dog safely tied up at the fence but eager for THIS experience to unfold, and I entered into the duck pond after the runaway.  There is NOTHING exciting and wonderful, as it seems from behind that fence, of walking through duck water.  Really.  I am super majorly glad they had recently cleaned the bottom, but even with a recent cleaning, add the new smooth bottom liner and the existence of quite alot of duck muck (my word, yep) I almost slipped a few times.  Yet – I was gaining on the puppy.

Her rounded around the back of the island where a huge spot of water rose about 14 feet in the air, and I thought, “So, this is what it feels like to be under this thing?”  I saw the puppy make it to the island, barely, slipping on trying to gain a hold on the island.  He actually look relieved to see me, as it seemed he was doing more paddling than he planned on seeing how evasive the ducks were in the water.  Before he had time to think about honing in on any nearby ducks on dry ground I called him he came over and I grabbed him into my arms.

Wading back to the fence line, the funny thing was seeing his legs move as if he were still in the water paddling, even though he was in my arms heading back to sanctuary.  I made it back edge just short of the fenceline, and handing to his owner who kept thanking me profusely.  Of course Amaya, Wriggley, and Kinah are leaning high up against the fence, asking, “When is it our turn?!”  I regretfully noticed after I exited the duck area, everyone had me on their videos and cameras – and I was so glad no one I actually KNEW had just seen this unfold.

Of course, on the way back, my shorts we drenched and people (most) associated my dogs with having run in after them somewhere.   If only they knew. Of course when I arrived home, the first thing I did was get a shower, yet the faint smell of duck remained, lol.

It’s funny how you have no idea what the story will tell, yet, there are some parts so well they are easy predict at a glance.  This was a hysterical addition to a week , not actually 3 weeks.  However, the onslaught of last minute testing, ceremonies at every turn , reservations for equipment to name a few added to a week of mayhem to keep on top of it all!  As you know I am STILL working on finishing the experience of the last day in New York as well as a few many amazing experiences that involve witnessing the soon-to-tbe-seniors this next week – so stay tuned  :)

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