Persisting

Persisting

320Success seems to be connected with action. 1Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they never quit. 1

422Efficacious people stick to a task until it is completed. 1They don’t give up easily. 1They are able to analyze a problem, and they develop a system, structure, or strategy to attack it. They have a repertoire of alternative strategies for problem solving, and they employ a whole range of these strategies. They collect evidence to indicate their problem-solving strategy is working, and if one strategy doesn’t work, they know how to back up and try another. They recognize when a theory or an idea must be rejected and another employed. They have systematic methods for analyzing a problem, which include knowing how to begin, what steps must be performed, what data must be generated or collected, and what resources are available to assist. Because they are able to sustain a problem-solving process over time, they are comfortable with ambiguous situations.

1023Students often give up when they don’t immediately know the answer to a problem. 3They sometimes crumple their papers and throw them away, exclaiming “I can’t do this!” or “It’s too hard!” Sometimes they write down any answer to get the task over with as quickly as possible. 1Some of these students have attention deficits. 1They have difficulty staying focused for any length of time; they are easily distracted, or they lack the ability to analyze a problem and develop a system, structure, or strategy of attack. 3They may give up because they have a limited repertoire of problem-solving strategies, and thus they have few alternatives if their first strategy doesn’t work. 

The above is from an article titled, Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind, Chapter 2. Describing the Habits of Mind by Arthur L. Costa that we use in a program of Nowcomment.com, and can annotate among other high school students and teachers.

After a really really bad night of Wriggley being tended to at the ER in Salisbury, MD, coming through like a champ, and me exhausted, I woke up and examined these habits of mind:

and realized two groups of people came to MY MIND (see what I did there?) Classic Upward Bound students and Cross Country runners. I often see many that are not able to see past today, even tomorrow if they are lucky. But when they catch a glimpse of what the future could bring, (which is a hard thing to change their scope of vision) they become a better runner, student, and shaker and mover.

I could say more, but do not need to, despite 1001 things that often consume our lives, this one quality out of 16 is one of the most enduring and can change a person. I admire that in the students and athletes that keep up the good fight and persist.

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You Miss It Before You Even Realize You Did.

Often. there are days that exist that I have so many thoughts and reflections, it is impossible to put them into words, impossible to formulate how to get it just right in stating how you are feelings.

Oddly, these are the same days that I am overwhelmed with driver after driver not using their turn signal (ESP in driving must be a thing), letting people in front of you without ever a thank you or acknowledgement wave, the days I get calls to help others with tasks that they easily can find out in a few minutes (we’ve all had those) – and of course the just “Murphy’s Law” events that manage to pile up one after one after one.

I have taken to just dropping everything, leaving it all behind, and piling the canines into the vehicle and heading to the beach. I have done this for the last four days and see the need to do so for the next five easily. During these great escapes that are badly needed – I have come to realize so many things and just let the things I needed to say settle down into some brief simplicties.

So many individuals miss the simple things in life like simply hearing the silence of the wind, the trees, the birds, the wind, the water, the tide, and so many very specific sounds due to the noise they continue to make themselves, and round themselves.

So many individuals miss the simple things in life like simply hearing the silence of the wind, the trees, the birds, the wind, the water, the tide, and so many very specific sounds due to the noise they continue to make themselves, and round themselves.

So many individuals miss the simple things in life like simply hearing the silence of the wind, the trees, the birds, the wind, the water, the tide, and so many very specific sounds due to the noise they continue to make themselves, and round themselves. I see them missing it before they even realize the did. Yet they do not even realize what they are missing at all.

The individuals that ride my back bumper pushing me to hurry, hurry, hurry, (metaphorically and in reality) could indeed make you do that very thing, or you can just let those actions roll over you and forcefully ride over you and refuse to let your time be hijacked into the faster timezone that you care to be in, so you will not miss the details that many others miss.

I see this reflected in the scramble to work work work tirelessly for that almighty dollar, and the stress that the economy has put on families to make that priority one. From experience of someone who worked 2- 4 jobs at the same time from high school easily into my 40’s, I do not remember a single moment of the weeks I tried to achieve my highest number of hours for that almighty dollar.

Yet, I still remember some of the quietest, most still moments where I just observed, listened, and took ion what was happening around me, letting me work put my own pace and resisting against the tide of a pace that seemed to catch everyone up in a pace that was expected, and never allowed for reflection, internal peace, a sense of satisfaction.

I find myself more and more willing to build in moments of the day, be it a 20 to 40 minute break, to mornings, evenings, weekend afternoons – that allow nothing but time for me to let me thoughts settle to a lower point – where I can see, reflect on, and feel them – opposed to caught up in a speed race of a moment a minute and then over.

I am grateful for a period in my life where I was able to realize that what was much more important than the number of things I could check off a never ending to do list, was the value of slowly and carefully putting tasks in front of me that I wanted needed, and along the way helping others see a better me in letting my interests also become part of their interests.

There, as I am finding out, is always going to be time to fill in all the time in a day with things that are deemed valuable now, the question is how valuable will those tasks be when I look back 10 years later – and often I am finding in some of those instances, not enough to want me to miss the opportunity I have sitting right in front of me.

If we do not stop to take that picture we thing might be a great shot, take the time to listen to someone when they have something important on their mind, say hello to the person next to you just because, or simply allow yourself to get to know more about what makes you, yourself happy, there is a good chance there are even limited chances to do so in the future as that mentality becomes your new “normal.”

There are so many no guarantees that come with short sighted vision and goals, and often with long sighted vision and goals, space is created to allow those moments of reflection, meditation, and just space to take a breath in and have a chance to enjoy the moment, rather than simply be able to reflect on it in the past. The best opportunities are the latter, when you discover you have the desire to carve out more permanent moments and events that you can truly can look back on and realize the value of the moments that are happening.

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To the MOON! Or to Earth?

it is interesting that Jeff Bezos thanked all the Amazon employees and customers that paid for the 10 minute flight into space and also that the overview effect, the fact that people realize the earth is fragile from a view from space, is the best way that changes people minds about how fragile the earth is.I can help anyone realize this fact if anyone wants to see several local environmental areas in our own county that are consumed by plastics, needles, fast food garbage and more. Sigh.

We have a long way to go to show politicians and those in positions of wealth of how they can better benefit the world around them.I do believe in the ability to use millions, (maybe billions) for something in discovering innovations in space travel, especially being able to reuse a craft to do so, BUT also in using such publicity for a further impact on the world’s needs now, in real time, truly combining what such an event does to bring attention to so many and use for a better use – couldn’t Amazon have created a link to this event and all who watched it, if they contributed a positive ideal for a new solution to 1 of 100 dire needs of the earth, Amazon would donate at least 1000.00 to that cause?

Connecting the dots of using publicity and the spotlight, as well as using one’s platform to benefit the world around them as well as themselves (and others) should not be out of the realm of the earth’s atmosphere, be it from a millionaire or someone barely making minimum wage – these are some of the things I think about at 4 AM πŸ™‚

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GREAT Dane

Thundershowers predicted and sure enough – tons of them. I was upstairs, FINALLY FINALLY shampooing the upstairs and feeling pretty good about getting something done that had been on my list and knowing that the cleaner part of the house was occurring.

Wow, that is super super koud outside, almost shaking the house – HEY!

Dane, the amazing Dane, was standing at the top of the stairs having struggled to jump over the baby gate to keep him in the entertainment room downstairs – “DANE! – hey now, come on!” as I took him back to his area with his mournful eyes looking at me with “Why?!”

Back to the room, emptying the rug shampooer, boom!! – thunder, rain and…DANE! AGAIN!

Taking Dane back to the area and placing a ladder in front of the baby gate to prevent a third and sure enough after 20 minutes, there was Dane AGAIN – “How did you…” – come on DANE! Back again and solidifying the gate like a barracks.

Looking back, I realized he truly was trying to tell me something, and probably not understanding the house shaking thunder he was feeling – he was desperate- I wish I would have thought about this more in the moment.

About half an hour later, I go downstairs to check on the brood, and there is a HUGE pee stain on one of the sheets in the dog area, and NO DANE. AND the front door is open- and I knew I had not left it open and you got it – NO DANE. Wriggley and Amaya were still there looking around like, “Where’s DANE?”

I panicked.

I grabbed my keys, jumped into the Mountaineer and started driving our familiar walk paths over and over and over – nothing. Anxiety taking over, I was probably driving faster than I would be able to see or spot Dane, especially in the dark and during the rain, I was a full panic and misery inside.

As I came around the second side of our housing development – a neighbor is outside and asks as I drive by, “Looking for a dog?” YES! YES! “Red collar?” YES!

Sure enough They found Dane as they were taking their golf cart around the plan and he jumped RIGHT IN and they took him with them to their house and here they come with DANE! I was perplexed and still in shock how close he might have been to being in the front road and just did not let myself thing more of the could-have-beens. In a full panic himself, Dane knows to push the front door to loosen if not really latched tightly, and to open and to exit – and he was, the first time I can ever remember, scared beyond belief to not try something extreme.

You know that sick feeling you get in your stomach when you wish you could go back and do something different and it would have avoided a close call you can never take back it it goes wrong?

Also realizing what you have and hating the fact you were not taking enough time to realize the details that matter to another ( in this case, Dane?)

All I could think about was the pain, heartache, fear, that Dane has experienced and how we have had to try and heal him and have Dane recover from those experiences and this –

Sunday morning, despite hating to roll out of bed at 5:30 AM, up, grabbed the canines and into the vehicle and at Dewey Beach (allows dogs in the summer before 9:30 AM) by 6:20AM- record time with no one on the road – and we roamed the water, the beach, saved at least 5 horseshoe crabs turned over, met other canines and their families, came within 20 feet of a dolphin pod facing us in thew water (how lucky ate the canines to experience that?!) heck, even me! – and we did it again in neighboring Rehoboth, (free parking until 10 AM) and never had to pay a dime for parking – the dogs glorified in the air to, from, during the beach and the smells of everything, they were puppies again in an instant easily – petted and loved by 100 others- they ate it up –

and you could tell they wanted every day to be like this.

And why not? Life is going to be the BIGGEST REGRET when you can;t remember the hours you put in and from which week but when you could have remembers the moments of time that you felt exhilarated with your family, friends, loved ones, that will linger more than any specific weeks pay or list of to do’s -in a thunderstorm or on a sunny day,

Every time I see my canines eyes look at me, and hear them call at me, I remember the voyage they were willing to make with me here, and I, at the very least can give more of my time to give back to them, we each need to consider what we have not versus thinking we will always have it later. Especially after what we hold dear to our hearts after this past year –

I thought all this as I watched Marshmello ft. Bastille – HappierΒ and realized I need not a video to remind me of the sacrifices made by others, and my dear dear canines, and felines, to just be with someone that love to be with.

Lesson learned, even after the thunder.

(The neighbors have no idea NO IDEA how much what they did was life-saving) – my mission will be to let them know!

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Compromising Compassion

Hot, as you know, and having to go back into Food Lion TWICE on forgetting an item, I was contemplating going back in….and fought the urge to say no and did anyway.

On the way out I gladly escaped into my vehicle, started up and planned to exit pronto from the heat pushing in on me.

Right before my eyes a woman in her late 20’s or so, one I saw in the grocery store, simply pushed her cart towards a car, and indeed- it did! It hit the neighboring car, parked in a handicap spot – and I just was stunned.

Passers-by looked incredulously (I always wondered when I would be able to use that word) and she simply remained in her vehicle as if – “Too bad, so sad.” Even though I was halfway out of my parking spot, I was stunned – STUNNED- so I did the most logical thing that seemed to do in a situation full of wrong, I defiantly against the heat pulled BACK into the space, exited, into the stifling humidity, walked over with leaving my car running, walked in front of their vehicle to retrieve her cart now against the car in the handicap spot – and walked it back to the store returning it – then hopped backed into my vehicle.

They remained parked there and from the face she made in the back seat as they pulled out, not pleased. I saw the driver of the car the passenger who had the cart that had bumped into the parked car – she was scowling and not happy so, some sort of interchange, I thought, must have occurred when I was returning my “not my cart.”

This left me with a sense of dismal belief in how people view each other, think of each other, and see each other.

What would you have done?

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“You Can’t Wait Until Life Isn’t Hard Enough Anymore Before You DecideTo Be Happy” – Nightbirde/ Jane Marczewski

When I saw her performance – and witnessed the profound and deep-seeded performance, aside from the letter I usually try to slip to seniors when they graduate – that has been a very important part of my educational life as they become graduates – I hope – especially in 2021 that these graduates realize some very important things.

In figuring my educational career – I have been in the educational field for twenty four years – 12 of those years as a Librarian and Media Specialist, 12 as an English Educator, all the while studying Master’s Degrees simply because to be honest, I always search for aspects of education that are morphing, growing etc..

I think in this particular post I am able to identify the core aspects that do not require names –

As an educator, I have seen some pretty harrowing moments, as most educators do – young children from the age of 4 to the age of 18 physically, emotionally, mentally, socially abused, used for money for parents that see their children as such a tool, learned to always keep extra food and a small refrigerator in the back because without fail, there are always a handful, that come to school relying on the breakfast, lunches, and snacks they know they can come to a library and obtain – and when I was an English teacher, definitely my classroom as well. So many educator experience this today and get no credit for this realization.

Seeing students growing up hungry, alone, isolated, abused, neglected, and more, day in day out, along with the stress and disrespect that are thrown to educators even more today, there is no way, no how, anyone could possible realize the role of a librarian, of an educator, of a counselor, even of an administrator unless you are actively doing this on a daily basis – I know some will disagree, and that is okay, but living this experience for over 24 years – and having family members and friends see me drag myself home some night – complaining when I hate complainers, whining when I hate whiners – the depth and reality of how little educational processes have come, and need to come, it sits with you well.

It is important for graduates to have a chance to sit down with their supports that enabled them to see their way to 12th grade to realize – exactly what the above quote points out.

The pandemic was a small slice of what havoc life can truly throw your way. I am grateful, after some personal losses way back when I first started in the educational field, I would 100% throw myself into my students, my field of study, my classrooms, in and out of buildings.

“But when does Harry get some time for Harry?!” – lol, yes, I have been told this many times and yet, only a small handful of individuals know that what keeps me happy, going, etc is having had these rough experiences and times, and some pretty great ones, and finding a niche and a step, for someone else to be able to find, and then find their way.

There is nothing worse than feeling that there is no way out, no new opportunity or experience that is in front of you, that can help express who you are, to yourself and to others. Yet, one of the most rewarding moments of an educator, as well as the most trying, is being beat down in a world that truly feels at times it is against every gain you try to obtain for yourself and for others and getting back up. Yet there is confidence and strength in numbers.

I look back and see I could have spent alot more time building a relationship with someone that would have resulted in a family, children, etc and I cannot say that is not a good thing. I joke around alot and lament when people get married and offer condolences, but deep down, I hope and know (they usually do) I am so extremely happy for them because I have grown up with them and I do expect nothing but the best for them. I will be honest, I truly suck at anything somewhat related to the idea of a relationship, I just simply suck at that whole area – and yet- isn’t the first step admitting? LOL – Yet, I have never once felt bad about this aspect because –

It has been AMAZING – to weigh the number of obstacles, daunting roadblocks, and dead ends that appear, only to realize they are mirage – and having a friend, an educator, a guide- show you with patience, and foresight (which to many see as blindness) just as ,myself, a very old 40ish person – looking back- how to put something aside for others helps you put something aside for yourself.

Classes of 2021- trust me on this, there have been many evenings where I have come home at night, and doing what I do, I work myself until my feet are numb, my back feels as if it will break, I begin to see stars, and I can no longer lift my arms, I throw the wishes, frustrations, and disappointments that others feel around me and experience into tasks, chores, lists, to-do’s on those especially bad days. Sometimes I am a sponge, I absorb much of it privately, and sometimes I even weep at night seeing the breakdown and struggles that many young students should not have to endure.

I am not the only one. You will have to believe me on this one, some of the strongest teachers you know have some of the hardest moments when they are by themselves, having to put on a game face when they want simply offer a hour of just chatting and talking with you because they want you to know, based on their years, if you believe and persevere, not even a pandemic can shake the energy you can bring to everything within your touch, sight and future.

Nothing can prevent you from performing acts of kindness and initiatives that no one asks you for.

Take with you the knowledge and keys of success individuals are willing to give you- this separates the individuals that will wait for something good to come to them- to the individuals that know good will come to them after seeking out how to provide that good to others in the process.

Yes, there are countless cheerleaders that are faculty, close friends, coaches, family that continually tell me “You are amazing!” You are relenetless and an energizer bunny!” “You are the best!: ” I so appreciate such comments but what it comes down to is this, and I have always known and believed this:

Without the struggles, the ability to confide in educators as soothsayers and fortune tellers of other futures, without the belief that you have the power to change a world that is often plagued by selfish, Me Me Me thinking,- with not realizing to have the ability to somehow benefit those around you and include them in on your successes – you truly will feel as if you are always in desolate country. Without you, I have no successes, no highlighted achievements, no truly success stories. Unless you are in the picture. Yes, Y O U.

So don’t doubt yourself or underestimate your ability to ride a funk out that you might find yourself in.

Surround yourself with individuals willing to let you dream every single day on how you can actively do something to improve and perfect, be it yourself, others around you, or the world ten years from now. What matters is your happiness, (and do not wait 40+years to realize this) – and your happiness coupled by bringing others along with you.

You will never regret this decision, and realize how wealthy you will become down the road if you simply trust your instincts to help others; as a result you will be helping and growing yourself, and being patient over these years as they occur.

I have never been so luck as due to having met literally family in the form of students, friends, colleagues, and faculty in this country and other countries. One thing is the same wherever you find yourself, Individuals have a higher threshhold of success if you are in their corner and rolemodel generosity to themselves and others.

There is so much to learn – I am excited more than ever for you – Please Decide to be Happy no matter where you find yourself. You have done that for me ten times over – Keep that faith!

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You Have What it Takes…

Following our long -awaited Cross Country Banquet covering the past two seasons – a teammate came up to me and told me there were sorry and apologized because they knew they could have done better. That never left me, and it took me a few days, but I formulated a a small portion (it is difficult to put it all in words after a year that often exceeds words) back to this athlete- (Remaining anonymous- and in actuality – this applies to everyone that made up quite an amazing 2020 WHS Cross Country team).

Dear ___________________

Despite not being able to have a Cross Country Banquet, I would have to say it was quite an amazing opportunity see so many talented runners in one room after a year that put each one of us on a rollercoaster. But one thing was left unsaid.

You came up to me and said to me, “Mr. Brake, I am sorry I let you down.”

_________ , you NEVER let me down. Not once. Not ever. You showed up. You showed up when you struggled with your academics, when it was sometimes painful for you to run, when you had an amusment park of roller coasters of your own to conquer. And get this,

You did. You pushed yourself. You said you didn’t push yourself. You said you could have done better.

But you showed up. You showed up knowing you might be able to do better, not sure you were able to do better, but you showed up.

The one single thing I learned, 31 years after high school, yeah, THIRTY ONE. The BEST relationships, the best memories, the BEST learning I have ever done after over 16 years post high SCHOOL, an onslaught of undergraduate and graduate classes, the best moments of my life continue to be with students, athletes, and friends like YOU.

I understand and feel the disappointment you feel when you get a chance to truly realize the season is over and in hindsight, you know what they say about hindsight. (I hope?! πŸ™‚ ) But YOU are not hindsight.

Think about the amazing season we had, and you were a part of it- we had a princess, twins, a pandemic, ladies that were pushed to pace boys, boys trying to pace some of the ladies (true) and cross training/sport athletes, and a TEAM. WE had a TEAM because of all the aforementioned working for themselves AND together, and YOU, were a part of that team.

What made me think of what you said that night over and over after our long-deserved banquet?- approaching people and telling them that they should consider cross country. You know what the first thing they say to me is? “What makes you think I can run?”

I will share with you one of the biggest truths/secrets I uncovered since I jumped into cross country.

Running is a small part of what cross country is, and from the outside, that IS a secret because many think that makes 100% of what cross country is.

Wrong. This is the truth, the heart, the ability to put your good days, your bad days, having an outlet to channel 100 emotions and being able to do it among the outdoors, traveling, being able to control your breathing as your brain races through these emotions and experiences, and being able to do this in different spots over 3.1 miles, and yet still being TOGETHER as a team – despite not seeing each other for parts of the course – that is what makes Cross Country uniqiue.

You could have never run more than 50 feet and be the best cross country team athlete if you bring your heart and willingness to do your best, support others, and willing to set aside your pride, and give a little of yourself to others as well as to yourself. You could be a finisher of 17:00 after 3.1 miles or a finisher of 55.00 after 3.1 and STILL BE THE BEST part of a XC Team.

It is how you carry yourself, what you bring to the TEAM, and the heart you bring to XC; on paper, there is no way to measure THAT – be it time, rate per mile, or personal record.

I hate to compare a sport to the best moments of my life, so I won’t. I look past the sport and see the individuals who bring and bare themselves for the sake of being better, be it 30 seconds better or maintaining a better rhythm of breathing or enduring longer.

This life that challenges us every step, if not this past year, has been a constant foot race to see how you will endure as an individual. After seeing three years of growth and some exceptional athletes come and go, I have had the best moments of my life by seeing the sacrifices individuals make for the sake of a team as a whole. We were lucky enough to have a returning senior athlete gives us a glimpse of what lies in the future.

That warms my heart more than anyone will ever be able to, or ever had. You need to take that and ask yourself, what now?

You can fall into that category of people that say “I can’t” or make excuses before you even give yourself a chance to consider, “Maybe?…”, and in doing so, you only think about yourself and not the others that you could support. That is easy to do when others are not around. However, holding on to how you have helped others through this season when together, and doing so when they are not around, now THAT is an amazing trait…you have the chance to take the times you have and work towards supporting others that might now be in view right now. Will you?

.You never let me down. Ever. You showed up,

You gave of yourself for the sake of others on a daily basis. So, you didn’t do as good as you think you could? That is an amazing learning lesson in itself, the realization – many do not get that far – and you have. So do exactly as I asked – take what you know, and make something even more of it, and simply…

Show up. I am proud of you – never forget that πŸ™‚ That is the best kept secret of XC.

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One Among Many

It is refreshing to have a reminder, in a lesser form than the pandemic, of what can lead individuals to greatness beyond what is right in front of us.

Seaford Star April 29, 2021

When I saw this image of Duane landing first place, and then took in the overall record of the results of the team that day, I had to ask – what matters most, the individual, or the team?

Then it hit me, I remembered in the Fall 2020 season, for WHS Cross Country, we often faced the possiblity of not having enough athletes to actually count (when it came to qualifying for meets). Yet, we always came together and realized the individual effort mattered as much as the team effort and this gave us choices.

Choices.

If we did not have enough athletes to qualify as a team for a meet, we had each of our individual talents to represent out team in another form. But we had to believe we could break a record, be it personal or on a historical record form, but that was and is XC.

Meet after meet, with the pandemic looming over us, athletes supporting us from WHS soccer, field hockey, and within families, and even other teams –

https://anchor.fm/harry-brake/episodes/Woodbridge-High-Schools-XC-Podcast–The-Runners-High-with-Sussex-Academy-XC-Coach–Jay-Diaz-ev71po

-amazing things happened, on an individual basis and as a group.

Choices. It does not matter if as a group of an individual you succeed, as long as you hold the light of possibility and always give yourself choices to succeed. Especially in a pandemic that allows us to realize what we need to realize all along.

Greatness is always in front of us πŸ™‚ and always within us.

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Genuine realizations.

I still think it is amazing the things we miss.

At nine years old, Amaya was simply was a puppy again at training. HUGE credit of course goes to Andres Jannou for the years he actually did spend on her when she and Wriggley needed someone to guide them, as well as Carolyn Baynes who puts the guides and pointers in all the right places. From the very day Amaya had the chance to be a part of the WHS play Annie, she when asked is seemingly yelling, “What have you been waiting for?” Her easy going nature, her eyes, her mannerisms, her willingness to do things that have never been asked and her wanting to be asked – it melts your heart when you take all these realizations and how genuine she is – how absolutely genuine she is and how precious the time is you carve out to make time for such moments, and the realization I could have, should have carved out more moments like these.

Amaya’s second training class – and without hesitation, and truly only her third time asked by meyself for commands – Amaya sat when asked, went into a down positon with the right movements, stayed when asked, and was able to maintain eye contact on her eye after the temptation of food she could not resist in front of her.

If anyone realizes what you lose by not carving out time to just let these genuine realizations soak through your mind and allow you to contemplate what you experience, it is me; thanks to Mexico and a country that taught me it is not all about me, that gave me Amaya, Wriggley, Dane, and Kinah, that gave me Dewy, Suzy, and Hangover, that gave me the chance to reside out of my comfort zone and siingular perspective and realize the genuine nature of others outside of what I always knew – there is no turning back, and I am eternally grateful.

I could also refer to the amazing voyage that Dane, Wriggley, and Amaya made from Mexico City, without their mother Kinah, with three rescued cats in tow in one vehicle, NONE of which ever rode in a vehicle and yet accepted this 4 1/2 day trip as if this had been old hat. Their genuine innocence was and still is beyond words.

When you realize Dane’s story, obviously having been

raised for fighting other dogs due to his scars and tough body, his broken body from people kicking him, runnning over him with a car, the utter mistreatment near death, receiving him from the hands of another absoultey genuine man who had already taken in 6+ homeless dogs in Mexico, who drove almost 3 hours away to bring him to me in Mexico City, Dane, shaking, trembling, covered with blood, and surviving through a pretty painful surgery piecing his leg bones together, months of pain, and STILL he looks at you with those brown eyes with nothing but absolute, genuine adoration – thew veterinarian in Mexico that believed, that truly defies any sense of trust I have ever known, and is a testament to what we can be as humans. What we can do if we want to make a change for the right reasons.

Okay sure, I am discussing pets here, fine, let’s move onto humans πŸ™‚ One of the largest realizations, once I gave myself time to do nothing but reflect, was to see how the element of sports can interact hand in hand with education, and how often academics, take a back seat to sports, for parents, for coaches, for many that let academics take a back seat to sports. The argument often comes up that sports keeps the mental dexterity of the student alive and energized when the academics often can drive a person crazy. Considering a pandemic and how hard academics have been, it has been a revelation to see how, when reshaping education to be as interactive, as exciting as sports can be, how the value of academics is perceived differently.

As a coach, as an educator, as a former bad student in all things Math, I understand that the disservice done to students is the SAME exact model of instruction that tears aways the value of education in light of sports, since; it has been organized this way since the INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION. Just because this is the way it has always been does not mean it is the proper way as timea around us have changed. I look to the pandemic to shape and change the genuine realizations that will target our Departments of Education to go to educators, to go to parents, to go to the students, collect their views, their ideas, and form a more perfect alignment with how education can be a 21st century approach – which allows sports – to align itself with academics instead of competing with it.

The most genuine relationships I have had with my athletes during a sport season have been when we have comiserated over academic issues together, and tried to solve thise issues together, instead of pushing off that academic problem onto the student alone. Sports are as valuable a tool as academics, and academics are as rigorous and valuable as sports, if the same time, equal time is given to both. The comments I continue to receive from athletes that see the genuine realization of their coaches, their athletic mentors, that are willing to put as much time in to their athlete’s academics as they are to their athletic form? – it is beyond appreciation you can put into words, and yet, this is a rare realization – and needs to be a more frequent one.

It is so easy to make judgements calls, be used to your own style, your own community, without ever stepping out to realize what is possible outside of those own familiar patterns. It takes more ability, guts, bravery, and genuine trust to step outside of what you have always known, to discover something you never have, to dissocer those who are not “your people” – it is a feat of bravery and honor to do so. Coaches, Departments of Education, legislators, civil rights leaders, politicians, parents all have the chance to open doors that have not been opened before, and to air voices that have never been asked before; for their ideas, their suggestions, their views, their realizations to be heard, proposed to others that have not been propsed to before. There is nothing more genuine than carving time out to allow these moments to occur, at no specific rhythm or time, but giving yourself some time every single day to allow these moments to simply arrive and not be forced, to be accepted or responded to, without deadlines, without the appropriate expected answers you want to hear.

I am grateful for the lessons my dear Amaya, Wriggley, Dane, Dewey, Suzy, Hangover, have taught me from the time they were rescued to the time I am still learning from them. I am grateful for the athletes who continue to tell me Coach – it means alot when you instil the fact that grades as as important in how we approach them as that next on field milesone you push us towards. Now, I am counting, relying, and looking to those thaty can provide the time in charge of educational changes to be open to a genuine realization that individuals they have never asked might have alot to say and to offer.

From academics, to sports, to the very family members that are our canines, felines, and all other family pet members, from students, to educators, to politicians that at times wear out their welcome, to adminsitrators, to commitee members, if we fail to take away the amazing opportunities we haven’t thought of yet, as the sake of the heavy losses we have been dealt from this pandemic, we all lose and learn nothing. There are truly so many genuine realizations that will never, ever sink in that can change so many things past due for change, unless we allow for the genuine realization to be discussed, to be asked, to be received.

I look forward to see what the next training lesson with Amaya will teach ME, what she will have to teach ME, and to see how genuine I will be to realize the time I have missed πŸ™‚ And in the meantime, I hope the world around us also is willing to be open to the very genuine realizations that will make a better reality.

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What is Happening? No really, what IS Happening?

**Warning ahead of time, if the existence of runons and lack of punctuation puts the fear of God in you, be forewarned, this happened below in order to reproduce the speed of all events happening in a given day as today. It could be worse ….:) **

Pandemic. I never really had thought much about this word until obviously the past year and if we are on the “same page”, I will never dread the day where I can gently push this word to the back of my shelf memory. Without going into the craziness that has become our lives due to this word, let’s take a look at one day.

Just one.

Thursday, April 1st – April Fool’s Day- no, no purple hair mistakes (sorry!) – but today for me, one little microcosm example, as I am sure each of you have similar stories to tell – that define what the pandemic has brought to your doorstep and how it feels.

With my Mom recovering from hip surgery and some slight complications along the way – I knew this morning – despite visiting hours not happening for hours and my need to be at school at 7:20 – I was able to get out the door after feeding and walking /running the hounds- dash over to her house – grab items I knew she was wanting (chargers for devices, clothes, things that will ease your mind when you are in the middle of a smorgasboard of events) – managed to get over to the hospital and find a GREAT indvidual who enabled me to get the items to the security guard who in turn made sure those items were on their way to Mom – Thank you Tidal Health staff at before 7:00 AM!

Okay – so rescuing family trauma – checked off my list – we are navigating the health arena to have it all operate smoothly somehow and I am grateful for the ways it is working out despite what seem bumps and roadblocks in the way, when you stop, you realize how much worse things could be and grateful for how good they are in the middle of such a crazy time.

Making it to work in the nick of time, grabbing the temperature thermometer for the students, dropping my bookbags off in the library, students arriving into school for this Thursday, and we all have smirks and looks of relief knowing, THIS IS THE last DAAAAAYYY before Spring Break, yes, DARN, cold but we will take it even if there is HAIL coming down πŸ™‚

As we are finishing and students are in from the buses, Leon announces as he comes in from assisting the buses,”Cake! I’ve got cake – appreciating you for supporting me!” We stop, he said the magic word. What? Cake, ? “In the main office, cake!” As IF we had not been snacking on so much unhealthy food as of late, and yet, not being able to refuse – ever been there? We were and to hear him describe this treasure on a Thursday, and it sounded beyond anything you could IMAGINE – and the last day before Spring Break? Really? Walking back to the Media Center all I could think of was CAKE – that is SO AMAZING! –

Yes, I slid into the office right away DESPITE eating a whole Birthday Cake filled Easter Egg from Sweet Serenity shoppe the day before (a large one- stress does that) – despite knocking off at least 10+ boxes of Girls Scout cookies in the last week (Thank you Ms Jen Leonard) – in spite of taking out cookies, sugar nuggets of every candy and concoction we have had brought into school the last few days, the equation of healthy versus not healthy was HEAVILY on the side of the NOT HEALTHY – and when I saw the way that cake look, Leon’s magic cake- and no knife, well of COURSE I headed to the library, remarked to Leon how amazing it looks, took the knife back, and despite it being before 8:30 AM, that corner piece of Chocolate Turtle cake with caramel and probably more chocolate known to Willy Wonka? I could barely swallow a piece it was that THICK – it celebrated the fact we had made it to the LAST DAY before Spring Break it was a GREAT start to this day –

Tackling the 3D printer and getting id badges and book stands started, tackling the signouts of Chromebooks needed delved out, tackling a shelf full of books that had been hiding in a storage drawer and getting them shelved, weeded, or otherwise donated due to duplicates, a call to the hospital to check on the transfer of Mom to a new facility, receiving a call back confirming the transfer and aproximate time this would occur (figuring in my head the time needed to catch Mom before she made this transfer from the hospital) – looking down – DARN- 12:07 already?

12:15 marked the production of out FIRST podcast from the Runner’s High podcast segment from WHS Library Media Center with Jay Diaz, Sussex County Cross Country Coach and we are online in less than 8 minutes (STAY TUNED!) – I got this. – Hooked the mike up to the desktop, arrived at the live feed site Anchor to capture the audio, set up the camera as a backup for Zoom JUST IN CASE audio dropped from one source, and there is Coach Diaz waiting in the room – here we goooo-

An amazing and soul-filled interview that when it comes out in a day or so , you will be amazed HOW MUCH comes out of it when you hear it – halfway through it – what? Tanner Hollis and Amanda Roth with a bag in front of me- I was deer in the headlight and not expecting – “Coach Diaz- can I pause you for a minute?” – Zoom still recording, and the conversation of receiving a complimentary gift as a thanks for pushing Kudos for the Troy Haynes Foundation unfolding in front of Coach Diaz – perfectly recorded and my surprise as receiving SUCH A COOL GIFT BAG gift – from this amazing initiative – things are happening SO FAST! – just like like – Ms Roth and Tanner disappear!- – back where we left off – recording, Q & A-ing, and now , students coming in mass rush returning the Chrome books for the day, me interviewing and motioning with my hands to just drop off the Chromies on the desktop –

(BREATH taken here)

Just as we get through the last student successfully dropping of the Chrome book without an extra sound made, the loud speaker announcements come on overpowering parts of pur interview- BUT WE KEEP PLOWING THROUGH – and we will NOT be stopped! – not able to avoid the side remark of the various dismissals – and a student coming in for direction – at the front desk, me answering/repsonding to the interview while scrawling and directing that student silently upstairs to the Math instructor waiting for him – while completing such an amazing and enlightening side of XC from this collaborative Q & A podcast, that memory still fresh in my mind – a call from the case worker representing my Mom’s transfer to a new rehab facility and answering those questions to the best of my abaility

– disinfecting the returned Chromebooks, surfaces used for the day, grabbing as much as I could to close the library down for the Easter Break,

-refreshing the fact I would be going over outstanding invoices for books and determining which books did get shipped and which did not- with Ms Margaret Workman, and her coming across an Oriental Trading coupon in the middle of asking if I was interested in 20.00 from Priental Trading and then realizing that offer only came with an order of so much being bought and her remark – this was the PERFECT remark at the BEST time-

“Nothing is easy is it?”

and I almost collapsed right there – without a beat, with the perfect amount of sarcasm and disbelief, it was perhaps one of the funniest remarks made in the middle of a freight train of events unfolding in RAPID fire motion –

Needless to say, revisiting the hospital to go over a checklist of to do’s in 30 minutes, realizing I parked at an angle in the hospital parking lot and that I ran the vehicle low on gas and because it is at an angle, the gas not making it to the gas tank on an angle – (lol) walking home to get my Mom’s vehicle to get home to get the gas can to go back and fill up the gas can to out gas into MY vehicle to start it up but NOT doing so because well, I can only drive one vehicle at a time (really?!) – at home a little before 5:00 to feed the dogs, walk the dogs and get back in the house before the 5:30 PM meeting with Classic Upward Bound for the parent town hall meeting, (and having had talked to a few friends from Bridgeville to Harrington on a plane to get a vehicle back to my house and Mom’s house πŸ™‚ – whew- 6:30 and meeting is over- out the door to a former student’s (Thanks Colton!) to be my second driver- dropping Mom’s car at her house, dropping Colton back home after a successful pick up the car that I could not drive while driving my own car from the TidalHealth parking lot, back to Mom’s to gather items she needs for the next few days as a new rehab, back home –

and yes. April 1st is my Dad’s, Harry B Brake , (not Harry Randall Brake my brother, and not myself Harry R Brake) but my Dad’s and the one thing sticks out in my mind.

Despite that craziness above – which if you really tried to recreate and confirm – we ALL have had days thanks to this out of joint schedule of life we have been handed that rin fast forward – despite all of that above, I kept thinking how lucky I was able to have my Dad’s cool headed-ness to get throgh such days as this. No he might not be physically here when I call him up on the phone, but there was no doubt he had been with me all day to get me through all of – THAT above and be able to celebrate and appreciate it. He defined the story that I never could quite explain – that formed the Rings Around Us – no matter how crazy and how without a stop our days are – we carry something inside each of us that makes every day an aamazing day – it is worth every amount in the world to realize this, whether we stop to do so, or whether we keep motoring through rapidfire event after event, as often happens, we each have moments where we can be so thankful for the events forward rather than that can take us 20 steps back, which has happened as well in so many lives today. All of our lives.

In an offhand sort of way, the largest reunion known to any living being happened today and I felt this. Every single individual that contributed and contributes to my day – is a part of who my father was and is – a reflection of how my father always strived, no matter where, when, or how, to help someone, and be a part of what was going in in their world as well. I realized I had been celebrating his birthday all day with the very events – people – and generosity I had been receiving with them all day. That is what I always think about on April Fool’s Day, – can I pull off a prank in the smallest way as he did every day in the grandest way, while still remembering how amazing a spirit of helping others he held all throughout the day. I witnessed, again, as I have on prior April 1st days, a day full of the motivation and satisfaction of having those that are making the best of the hand they have been dealt, and moving forward.

Happy Birthday Dad!

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