“With Each New Life, I Was Learning a New Lesson…

Wow.  Sometimes, you just have something, a click occurs, your brain’s neurons just race to a point and you just – it just, it is important to be said, but also lived.

When a former student shared a video trailer, due in January, titled, A Dog’s Purpose,           ( side note – released on Friday which was National Dog Day of course has me celebrating every day I am surrounded by some pretty amazing canines.) –   Take in the fact that this student, a smile that could change anyone, every morning studying and taking advantage of everything that came their way – (I am leaving the fact whether he or she, was male or female, does it matter?)  – The personality this individual contained was something we all wished would remain in so many at our school. It is fitting they picked this movie that would move them.

One main theme stands out, The Ones We Rescue, Rescue Us.  Lately, I have felt this so incredibly much, for so many reasons and I think everyone SHOULD feel this every day, the world would change. Amid so many films that serve to destroy, break others done, and out pit good versus evil, I love the fact that a film is coming that helps us dig deep and contemplate how we can make ourselves better, as those around us.

September 11, 2016.  I remember the exact day I was in the classroom and a student ran in and told me what was on thew television.  I stood in disbelief at the replay, and remember a sense of panic, then anger, then revenge, then knowledge and remorse. Stages I realized had surrounded me so much before, and would after but things we have a choice to pick.

Years laters, working at US Investigations, we had a morning where we had a moment of silence, and that event lingered and hurt in my heart as much as the day I remembered this occurred, we all had out own story of where we were (similar to other past events individuals can point to where they were).  I also recalled the moments we trekked to new York City, the very first time we could go to the 911 site and we could still smell the concrete – it I can’t describe it.  I appreciated it even more, this moment, when I travelled and had so many amazing students with me year after year, they helped me reason this out on each visit.  I was lucky and wealthy in the moments they accompanied me. 

Here, in Mexico, as 911 occurred, I was lucky to have all these moments flash back through my day, and I also remembered the moment where my cousin in Takoma Park, MD, pointed out the house of the neighbor that lost his wife in that fateful day, as well as another house down the block, and the same sense of chills, silence, meditation took over as I just wanted to think about all the implications about this.

A few days later, yesterday in fact, we celebrated El Grito, and the sad fact is I NEVER KNEW this existed, while in the states, EVER.  Which is a shame, because would I regret not knowing about it now?  100% – which taught me another mini-lesson, be more aware of the events and individuals around me, and not just contained to one country.  it will brighten my horizons.Because it is not just about the events in other countries we do not know about sometimes, it is the people that will change our lives forever.

I sometimes look back and wonder where I would have been had I never took a simple decision to check out Mexico, a chance to get a fresh start.  AT that time, I needed a fresh start, I was frustrated with the education system and how it missed and passed over so many individuals in need of other aspects, when policies, standards, etc seemed to be more important.  Years later, the individuals that WERE passed over I see being arrested and worse, there is a direct link.

The projects we get involved in, the time we take to invest in individuals that rely ion something more than what is just expected from an assignment, it changes so many individuals, and changes do many aspects of life.  Education, the field, while it can be frustrating, has changed my life for the better.  I am able to see what I value in the world, put it into a project that I enjoy, and can cater it to what others can enjoy, are interested in, and can learn something about the world, as well as about themselves.  There is no greater opportunity that exists.  

I have been surrounded by beautiful images of how to make a situation better ever since the day occurred I decided to pursue education, from the moment I stepped into that professor’s classroom, to today where I decide how I can play teacher. librarian, advisor, and more day to day.  What I did not see back then was how much the students play teacher to me, and how much I grow because of them every single day.  I could spend many days investing in partying here, there, everywhere, living it up for me, and forgetting the majority of time is possible to see and learn a new aspect of myself every day.  I guess that can also happen while partying, (lol) and yet, I can’t get enough of the students that go on to become teachers (more than they are already doing now as students) and seeing where their lives go, what their lives have to teach them, take them, and give back to so many.

All of these images and thoughts hit me from September 11, 2016 to celebrating a Mexican event, Viva Mexico! – El Grito and approaching Independence Day in Mexico.  I am crazy lucky to have the most amazing individuals that were colleagues, friends, students, family, and just so many more that I ever saw coming, and being able to have the sense to open my mind to what will come, even if it meant being afraid, I always have had so many amazing individual supporting me, and those moments stick with you forever if you are with the right people.  With the wrong people sometimes bitter sweet, but you still learn, as if you have a new life. From a shocking and somber event, to a Mexican heartfelt celebration, I had found a tie.

I love when former students post images and events we took in together say, from 2010 and even before that – it makes me feel as if there is an investment that individuals remember, hold onto, and help shape them as they deal with what seems to be insurmountable roadblocks now and int he future.  I had so many roadblocks I never saw coming, ones that broke me down personally, socially, financially, and more.  Yet, students that are now adults, always helped me push through.  Friends I had not talked to for years came through for me, redefining friendship to me.  Grudges I had over family for odd reasons were emphasized as not important, to reestablish those ties because my family was beginning to expand from blood to those who had shared something amazing alongside me.

Independence is so important as a country, and as a young kid growing up, I relished the fireworks, picnics, days of football, or baseball, and just being outdoors, a U.S. Independence was all I ever knew.  And I loved it.  When I became exposed to Mexico’s Independence, and combined with the values I brought and appreciated from the United Stated Fourth of July celebrations, something powerful was created.  I realized the history Mexico had outdated the U.S. by SO LONG, and yet, the two together game me the freedom to realize, how much I had grown, thanks to the amazing students, that have become leaders in their own communities due to some event that resonated with them.  I realized the heroes that died on September 11, 2011 and the heroes of Mexican history had a tie as well, they established some key aspects that went way beyond their own lives, how can we do that?

To see this process of giving your all, then students moving on, into adulthood, and those moments that slipped away too quickly, it is sad, you have to learn to let go, and some students disappeared way before should have disappeared, which taught me even more to appreciate the time we have, and make the most of it, 100%.  I love Mexico so so much for the experiences that have been given me in a moment that I thought I could not go on anymore, I was pretty close to a breakdown as I take what I do in education, and how others perceive it seriously, sometimes yes, too seriously.  However, the values I was brought into, in Mexico, combined with the amazing positives I received from becoming a permanent resident in Mexico – all I can do it point individuals to what made the change, but words often do not do it justice.

Today, a film, No Manches Frida, comes out.  Hysterical and profiling the adventures, and misadventures of someone stumbling into the educational field.  A former student, Pamela, (sorry Pamela, had to do it) is in this film and again, past incidents of her as a Repentino. staff and the struggles she had to work through, and that smile, why do students always have that smile that leads to the next memory? – but proud is an understatement.  Each one of us wants to see then students became later successes. Pamela is one of MANY, but just another point of evidence to show, whether you are in education, science, engineering, architecture, or any field, there are individuals, countries’ beliefs, and moments unknown to you, that will change your life forever, if you let yourself jump out of the same routine, and recognize what is truly around you.

It is more than possible to lead a new life, with each new lesson, no matter if you are 15 or 85, I have learned that already in my forties, my FORTIES?  Where did time go?  But luckily, I have an amazing group of individuals around me, past and present, who remind me of that, and it is always a positive that keeps me moving forward.  As we celebrate Mexican Independence on October 16th, remember the amazing aspects that come with Independence, and remember how lucky we are, no matter WHERE we are.

P.S.  Just in case, the film I referenced of course dog related, however, there is one that still teaches us to learn, but for cats  :)

 

 

 

 

 

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When I Said I Do.

Designer carriage, designer leash, designer shoes, too good to go near the garbage bin where the rest of the dog bags are – you know the type.

Quiet, reserved, afraid of a little action between the puppy and an veteran canine, 10 minutes, I give her ten minutes and then her nerves might get cause her departure.

Open, laughing, anything goes, rough and tumble is fine, and the more the merrier, probably needing exhaustion to get a million things that need to be done, just like me.

There is a psychology to being within a dog park, and with the event of simply people watching, you can write a book.  Ever need inspiration, head to your nearest park.  With the amazing makeover of Alexander Pushkin Park, and THANK GOODNESS IT IS OPEN, the dog park within Pushkin, amazing thing have been happening.

Despite the food poison scare where many dogs were affected in Parque Mexico, truly, Parque Mexico is a haven for dogs, the walk from Roma is amazing, the park in Parque Mexico is huge, bordered by bushes, and just – I loved when it opened.  It was perfect.  Almost.  When something beyond food poisoning (and thank goodness that is over!) breaks down the quality of a park, I think attention is needed.

Let’s move to Alexander Pushkin for a minute.  Half the size of Parque Mexico, near Doctores, taking half the time to walk that the dogs usually get to Parque Mexico, how could that be better even with a new facelift?

Cooperation.  Two other familiar faces are always part of every day now as we replace garbage bags, pick up litter within the park, empty garbage to the disposal outside of the dog park, we rake the sand and push sand back into the central part of the dog park, we move mounds of sand to other parts to remove the excess water sitting there, we provide replacement bags into a recycled plastic bottle that another tied to a tree so everyone has access to a bag, we have a supply of bags we bring every time we bring our dogs to the park to make sure there is always clean area and removal of bags, we do this as a community.  What the dog park has lost in size, is growing in the heartfelt cooperation to maintain this dog park that our dogs love even more than Parque Mexico.  At one time there can be almost 15 dogs in one medium sized dog park, and yet, because everyone rolls up their sleeves and makes it an oasis, it works.  

The magic is, none of us, who do not really know each other, abuse the appreciation of using the park.  How many times have I seen people turn up their noes at the piling garbage at the edge of Parque Mexico and walk away?  See the ruts and puddles laying in the middle of the park and doing nothing? – that is a potential to cause a revoultion of working together.  If there is one thing I have learned in the past month?  Doing by example has been contagious and improved morale in our corner of Alvaro Obregon.  So much so, that the feeling of obligation is transcended (now that is a word) to every newcomer, they are there to let their canines have an amazing time, and a silent request is expected of all, do something little to leave this better when you leave.  Every visit I see flaws I have and I learn more about how to be a better person, from a …dog park?  Yes.

IF we, as canine owners, and lovers, begin the same actions in Parque Mexico, a transformation will occur.  While not sandy, the puddles will disappear, the gravel will be spread ut, bags will appear to supplement the overspilling garbage cans, the community will begin to own their park and take pride in coming, pitching in, and growing as a community rather than just an upturned nose and wishing things could be improved.  There is alot of energy in wishing, and not moving & shaking – and can you see the parallel here to life?  Life compared to a dog park?  :)

As I sit here and listen to a long ago album of Clint Black, titled, Nothin’ But the Taillights, I remember the summer concert at the Starlake Amplitheatre, (call it what you want now, – First Niagara Pavilion – are you kidding me?  – it will always be that for obvious reasons) – and remember how amazing it was to have summer concert nights from the craziness of working at the PA Turnpike, as a clerk at Bilo’s and landscaping.  I was lucky to have amazing friends to celebrate titles on Clint Black’s album like “The Shoes You’re Wearing” and “Something That We Do” – all metaphors STILL today for what you can make your life.  Me first is still a huge factor and does little to build community, yet if we take the friendships, the past, the opportunities to make it US FIRST, big things happen, from taking in the subject of dog parks, working in clubs to make a difference, and using music to reach your inner ability to help others, there is always potential to make your life even grander – and those around you, along with your canines.

I love that Clint Black’s album way, way back, while mirroring marriage in his Sing, When I Said I Do, has deeper implications as well if what we can do for a better change, such is life. Our dogs seem to realize this, so when we begin to do the same, we will truly begin to appreciate what life hands us every single day, and in between, we will find time to enjoy Killin’ Time... :) 

 

 

 

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“Do not go gentle into that good night.”

 “Explain to me what the point of living is if you aren’t willing to fight for the truths in your heart, to risk not getting hurt.”

2016 – August marks the start of my 6th year at ASF.  FIVE solid YEARS right now, and six at the end of this year.

In reading an amazing book titled This Raging Light, following an episode of one of the most intense fevers I can remember having, literally, a whole life flashed with events that have happened over the last year, then more than that.  Hard to explain but well, as is usual, and usually my posts can be off the beaten track, I will try.

Head colds, are they horrible or what? Maybe next to sore throats, which is what I started to get as a reward for this past weekend.  I resolved myself to do the salt gargling, mouth wash marathoning, constant teeth brushing, decongestant taking, and would work my other needs around the fight against a potential cold.

Saturday was a milestone, Dane, the dog we saved and had a pin in his leg, had it removed, let me tell you, NEW DOG. A good Saturday, thought not the one I planned.  Later, went to Home Depot, Sunday, biked to Home Depot, and not so bad, but whole weekend aware of a looking flu I was putting up a defense to.

Monday, head to work, aware that my defenses were weakening, not decongestant the vitamin of choice, tissue paper stuffed in tons of places, Halls my candy, and hoping I can make it through a Monday without going nuts from my runny nose.

Monday made it through, and my priority was seeing Amaya, to the vet over her not eating and being stomach sick the last few days.  I hiked it to Costco, grabbed dog and cat food, made it home by tax before 4:30, the canine pack out and Amaya and I were to the vet.

You notice things you do not notice when things are slowed to a halt, and I did notice this waiting in the doctor’s office, how incredibly lucky I have been with the amazing afghan trio and how amazing their temperament is when i remember as puppies I thought I was going to go crazy.  It’s amazing how things can flash by and you not even realize it, and how more meaningful life it when you do realize those things , you normally take for granted.  After a positive prognosis and a shot for her stomach, we headed back and for the first time, took her out on a “date” we hung out in a restaurant that allowed dogs inside and had an awesome dinner, and well Amaya is just awesome, period.  

Soup, green tea, and of course a brownie, finally home for the evening, and then just whoom, head cold turned into a “I need to get into bed NOW!” flu, – took a final decongestant, and I think for the next three hours I know I tossed and turned, and burned, it felt like my skin was on fire, the feeling when you just have the flu, period.  During that time, I dreamt too, still can remember dreams that involved my Dad reaching out to me, talking to me, and just – when I woke, I was soaking wet from the sweat, flu – but felt as if I had been in 20 rounds with a first class boxer, and just resurfaced – surviving (this is not the ideal way to close a Monday evening).

In bed, I opened This Raging Light, and just began to continue reading, and just – not sure it was the story or the memories sparked from the novel, and a combination of the fever I just broke out of – but a ton of worthy moments occurred:

  1. I realized how incredibly lucky I had been to learn, share, and take in all things that were my Dad, for many long years, almost 10 I went without even knowing my Dad, then out of the blue, on graduation, there he was, I can’t begin to tell you how surreal that memory was.
  2. How sudden the moment was that my Dad was taken away from me, and how lucky I was to be surrounded by a family that still – is unlike any family I could have ever wanted to wished to be a part of.
  3. The strange journey from a Community College in Butler, PA, to Edinboro in Edinboro, PA, back to Slippery Rock in PA, to Pittsburgh, PA, to working at U.S. Investigative Services in Grove City, PA, to outside of Solomon’s Island in MD, to Evans City, to taking care of horses and teaching students to ride, take care of horses, to teaching English in a variety of schools, moving to an amazing Delaware and really coming into my own with an amazing group of students and colleagues, and – truly moving everything I thought I knew to Mexico and using all the amazing experiences in my life to help enhance an even more amazing group of students and colleagues that would change my life – forever.
  4. The reality check that having the time to simply have these reflections, be able to look back, means as much as slowing down the treadmill I used to be on to keep going and doing, and never valuing those experiences later on, and when i have now been able to, realizing how incredibly lucky I’ve been, to have the students, now young men and women, the colleagues, (younger AND older men and women like myself) and family, to take a dream, reshape it, and make it reality.  I know I am the richest person in the world because of the amazing people that believe in dreams, that that can be made into reality.
  5. I have been lucky enough to grow up with individuals I see today who have done amazing things, AMAZING.  A single mother that has seen her daughter now go on to a major college, and realizing I saw her all through high school and college to see her daughter, to this day, be amazing.  Seeing friends that sat behind me in home room in high school now designing and creating projects in major engineering firms all over the world.  Seeing former students, STUDENTS, with children of their own and making an amazing home and life for their children.  Students I have now that every day, show sparks of greatness that make me stand back and say, HOW LUCKY AM I?

There are few things that you think of when you feel like you are facing death from flu, except I WANT TO SURVIVE, and MORE KLEENEX, and KILL ME NOW, yet, when you still realize how lucky you are to be suffering from a kill me now flu, due to the colleagues, students, family, friends that have made life truly a LIFE – well you’ve got something there.  Whether it was the after effects of the fever, or just all the right quotes and characters in place from Estelle Laure’s This Raging Light, one thing is constant, the same groups of individuals that allow you to wake up each day and be thankful for moving you forward.

Again, coincidence that this amazing quote, for the title of this blog, so strongly presented at the 2016 graduation to one well esteemed Debra Ramon, appears again a few months later in a book that is powerful?  I believe less in coincidence and more in the events that resurface, stare you in the face and are telling you something  :)   All we have to do is listen, and the rest falls into place.

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Frame tale, Realer Than Real

Taming of the ShrewA frame tale, a story within a story, I love it.  Often Shakespeare does this among countless other strategies that draw you in, and I certainly did not see all the magical ways Shakespeare reinvented life scenarios, and humor, combined with the bitter truth that love often offers and Stratford Festival’s Taming of the Shrew was no exception.

The Lunario certainly is a magical place – and this evening seated at a table of young women from France, it didn’t get any better than this.  With that flair in the background, and setting the scene for a great evening, and as you witnessed the crowd settling in at the Stratford Festival, you thought you might see a disturbance, and yes, you do – a man in the audience began to hassle or be hassled.  The the slight disturbance becomes a ranting about how the Shaw house is actually serving to the wrong crowd, the audience member with two theatre workers stumble on stage, the actor preparing for the play are aghast, all in in disarray and there you are, wondering WHAT the HECK is happening?  The actors preparing for Taming of the Shrew  plot (after the unruly audience member is knocked out) to revolve a scenario to convince the out cold audience member that he is actually a lord, convince him that he is not insane, and a man dresses up as a woman to be convincingly his wife, (sound familiar?)  The play hasn’t even started due to this unruly audience member, and the cast members, are putting on another play before the real play starts – this all was quite awesome – and just went to lengths to show how intricate not only Shakespeare can be, but also members of the Stratford Festival.

Once the intricate and magical music played by the musicians proceeds past the first mini drama that unfolded on stage, the second main drama, The  Taming of the Shrew begins, leaving you with still the talented threads of music that made the very first aspect of this production, even before the unruly audience member and his tale, and mockery, began.

This was highly acclaimed on so many points, one strength is just not possible, there were numerous reasons.  The participation that the audience was sought out for, perfect every time, from the glances, to pulling a boot of of one of the actors, to the looks that accentuated the sarcastic moments, you are involved no matter where you are sitting in the house.

The INCREDIBLE tension that Deborah Hay brings to the stage, almost gives you a migraine seeing the tension she works through and is able to maintain, BRILLIANT. if there ever was a Cate, it is and was Deborah Hay – from the expressions she pushes out in anger, to he most amazing soliloquy bringing a summation of the play, you are praying to someone in thanks for her being on the stage.  She is able to turn a theme of hate, anger, and pain into one of beauty with a tension in the beginning, you ask, no way, how will this happen?  it does and then some.

Ben Carlson.  Whoa.  I mean, not only playing the audience -rowdy Christopher Sly, (I did not KNOW that was HIM!) – and of course, a Petruchio that makes you follow him that much more closely, here is the second frame tale.  In real life? – Ben Carlson and Deborah Hay are MARRIED.  Can you imagine playing this role on real life, as warring War of the Roses husband and wife,and going home and discussing this ?  I can’t – AMAZING.  I love they are couple on and off stage, and you wonder, do they sleep soundly after this energy thrown at each other in harms way on stage.  I think YES – with a resounding YES!

Every single character in this production can be talked about for paragraphs and pages, the legendary Peter Hutt, mesmerising Sarah Afful, Brad Rudy as Curtis, EVERY SINGLE ACTOR had hilarious moments of involving the audience 100%  and the story of dueling competitions for Bianca, and two stories within this main story, frame, frame frame – stories that rely on each other and yet it is all as clear as day thanks to the quality of every single dominant and supporting actor and musician, every single one.  The laughter that rises to the top from everyone around us was evident of all this.

When I walked out of the Lunario and the cool wind, the starts above, another amazing night, I realized I had a fame tale of my own.  Coming to Mexico was a dream in itself, from songs to movies, of course I had rumors of what Mexico was, and having that idea blown apart, and pleasantly, I still have not gotten over the story within a story that Mexico has added to my life.  Many expect just coming to Mexico will change you, it certainly does alot in that process yet seeing the values and freedom Mexico gives you to dream and fulfill those dreams, you realize, Mexico can’t make it wonderful for you, but you need to have the desire and dreams of projects, plans, and creativity to take the encouragement that Mexico gives you, and run with the opportunity to do crazy great things.  IF YOU HAVE THE Initiative to take the good with the bad in life, you will see the beauty Mexico offers for you to fulfill many a dream.  

Being able to actually converse a bit in French, be surrounded by amazing individuals from France, be in Mexico and experience Spanish and a host of other languages at any one time, it certainly is not the Mexico that was painted to me growing up, and I am thankful for that.  It makes Mexico even more magical when you realize the true Mexico all around you.  More on this in the next post, but being a part of a magical wedding last week, being asked to help translate scripts from German and Latin to English and opportunities to just BE in Mexico I never imagined – there certainly has been quite a frame tale that intertwines with the intricate, deep, and hysterical scenarios you find in Taming of the Shrew.

I once, when I was in college remember seeing a version of Taming of the Shrew in Pittsburgh, with Mary Robb Jackson, in 1988, an amazingly cool slanted stage that came towards the audience, a news anchor was in this production and this has to be in the 90’s.  It never left me.  This version of Taming of the Shrew  will stick to me just as long, the combination of personal and amazing wrapped up into what Shakespeare can bring to so many is indeed timeless and this production was as well.  

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“Libraries” = Creating+Preservation + Creativity+Risk Taking+ Discarding the Box

As a 2016-2017 school year approaches, there is MUCH to look back on and use as a springboard to what is to come.  Of course, as you well know, it is QUITE easy to miss these past activities and let them be just that, the past.  OR, you can become a new person and allow those moments, those experiences, to shape you in ways that not just push you into the future, but PROPEL you into rooms you never knew existed.

Back in October of 2015 (yes I actually remember this) – a colleague sent me an article titled – Reinventing the Library.  Going back to March 0f 2015, an even better article on what gets kids reading was another complement to an idea.

Looking back is an amazing tool and this is why in a few examples:

We were amazingly asked as a student magazine, Repentino., to cover an experience using the Google cardboard/Google Expeditions experience at our school.  I have purposely been waiting to develop and release those articles for several reasons and also realized sometimes ideas need to percolate before releasing them.  It was an amazing experience to have CTE come to a student organization, such at Repentino., to have responsibility of taking adventures and covering them, and really processing them.  Truly, the processing became students being involved in a project-based task and processing, linking, and brainstorming how this could end up going larger, into the public forum.  I LOVED that this occurred in our Upper School Library.  As articles developed, other events began to appear.

Summer school. Wow.  I volunteered at first and thought after,ugh.  WHY? WHY WHY WHY?  My summer, needs to be summer school free!  – and yet.   I had the unique opportunity to grow in ways I never expected, ever.  Sure all groups of people are headed in all directions and I wanted to be counted as part of that.  Then after the final week, I realized I HAD BEEN traveling in directions I never expected and didn’t realize!  One of the Math courses combined the use of Aurasama to recognize individual created POSTERS, (I thought of this being a QR code- with no QR code and total images being recognized, it was Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 5.26.30 AMCRAZY GREAT!) – and then later seeing students work through the challenges of Wintercroft masks that used math every single step of the way.  THIS WAS JUST ONE CLASS!

The Yo-Yo class sounded hysterical on paper, yet, when you saw the interaction, the LOVE of learning something, and then seeing these students perform to music as a show, it was amazing.  Then you would see students taking a new skill, and turning around and teaching each other, on their own – a skill that stemmed from a Yo-You and actually tapped into how students become educators themselves.  Watching the dance classes start with Thriller but seeing the students break out of a shell that could not be cracked through many experiments – it was unexplainable.

Math also utilizing current cuttings of plants we grow here and developing conservation-based  ideas with products we have growing and maintaining here on the roof – which led to students writing grants to help sustain projects tied to this initiative.

From my own experience in Reading and Writing, we started to dig into projects that would go beyond the classroom, that would actually interact with future, potential community projects, and we discovered Jane Goodall’s Institute and began experimenting with reading and writing in the summer school classes, applying what we were learning to our classroom and then beyond through a program called Roots & Shoots.  Add to that students writing articles tied to art out of Reading and Writing, (their work becoming published) and again, paths never conceived before.  I had become the student, the student, the teacher.

As the summer ended, I had completed one graduate course acknowledged by the University of Colorado, at Boulder, acquired 20 Professional Development hours, and walked away with a curriculum, ideas of projects that could change small and large communities, and redefined what the term LEADER meant based on how you inspire projects to affect learners in a social, educational, and personal way.

ALL THE WHILE, a student and I started a path to creating an internship program that would impact communities in Mexico, acquire young teachers that would be part of a growing intern initiative, and eventually turn into an academy where students from all over the world would TRUMPET back to Trump’s claim that to make American great, you need to build walls, need to move away from those living outside of the United States, and as Trump went on putting down anything that was defined as America (in his terms) outside of North America, forgetting America was STILL Central, Latin, South, North and yes, even Greenland, student around me were developing projects that brought students here to acquire the true Mexico, breaking DOWN stereotypes of what Mexico specifically means to others, and what Mexico IS.  Students were developing real-life answers to real life problems that began in streotyping – that started with adults.  This was an amazing summer of possibility that would begin to turn into a reality check – and students were responsible.

All of this in one summer, ONE summer, that has led to so many possibilities, for the future – that if you look where it started, it started with the library s a hub.  A hub for discovering how technology can be used in the community, used among each other for pushing creativity and technology, reaching out to ideas that at first seemed dreams, and realizing, libraries were centers for technology, media maturity and interpretation, discovering how to hone your skills in research, discovery, application, an area to discuss future potentials of hands-on project based learning, oh, and yeah, we also have books.

There are game changers in life, yet some prefer to wear masks and hide themselves from what can be a game-chnager in lives of those around us.  I was lucky enough to be part of so many amazing discoveries this summer, those around me decided we need to grow this to latch onto this and make these discoveries a reality.  Students around us I found, turn the instructor into a student, if you are lucky enough.  In turn, the classroom becomes a laboratory, where students conduct experiments to see how they can impact the largest laboratory of all, the world.  The Library, the Media Center, the creative makerspace, despite a myriad of titles, if you simply consider a library the storehouse of all things literary, you are only truly  teacher, and not an educator, which – believe me, the world needs educators more than teachers.

I am still finding to stay refreshed and amped up all year long, instead of being asked at the beginning of the year to find the curriculum that leads to better test scores as a goal, to be led by students and be a leader due to the dreams, ambitions, contributions and ideas, and potential leadership students have, turning the educator, BACK into student.  This is what a library does, turns the “outside the box” ideas, throws the box away, and creates a product recycled from cardboard, ideas, dreams, and technology, and redefines learning.  It is looking to be a very bright 2016-2017 year  :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Roaming Roma…

It was an idea given to me by a former colleague, she asked, why don’t you cover all the new restaurants located in the Northern Roma area and provide a guide.  That is a very cool project, so while I was thinking on how to creatively approach that, I just noticed people walking, talking, in Roma, a volume I had never seen before as individuals from outside Roma, like never before have been making it a small metropolis, like never before.

Where do they go?  What do they see as so attractive?  For once, I thought I’d just play visitor and see what my own neighborhood would tell me, take me, that I had as of late maybe taken fro granted. So here we go…

Walking out of my door on Cordoba, I found myself walking down Tabasco, past the Buddhist temple full of meditation this early evening, and right onto the doorsteps of

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Silvestri on Tabasco

Camino Silvestre, my favorite hummingbird tienda.  As soon as you walk, listen, pause, the continue

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Goethe Institutein you are surrounded by the songs of birds, and the massive collection of bird supplies envelopes you.  The staff here is amazing, helpful, and always helps me out with the questions I have and provides the right answers.  As I had used them as my personal reference text today, I left and headed up to Tonala, past the

in, you are surrounded by the songs of birds, and the massive collection of bird supplies envelopes you.  The staff here is amazing, helpful, and always helps me out with the questions I have and provides the right answers.  As I had used them as my personal reference text today, I left and headed up to Tonala, past the Goethe Institute.

 

IMG_6457 I realized how cool of a place this institution was hosting the documentary film festival and tons of cool and new events from film, literature pop culture, and so more, there is always something happening new here. When you walk along this neighborhood, you really notice the IMG_6459freedom of casually opened windows, amazing architecture, and a solace among the quietness and peacefulness.  It is simply Roma.IMG_6458.jpg

 Heading down to Tonala, and speaking of architecture, you find your nose leading you to one of the

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La Puerta Abierta

 best bakeries (and there are four within walking/smelling radius) right in front of you.  La Puerta Abierta offers a wide range of IMG_6461.jpgtasty baked good but also cooking classes for young and old in some of the best recIMG_6465.jpgipes you’d want to have in your own home.  Looking at the selections so late in the day today, you realize, you could always find a home here.  The smell of the Apple Tarts hovers right above you and after that there absolutely is no turning back.  There is always nostalgia also on the streets, in the form of architecture, IMG_6468.jpgor in the form of say, vehicles.  An old Wagoneer took me aback to being around 8 years old on a winder day, being able to get through any snowy road thanks to its tough durability.  IMG_6466.jpgIt seems this Jeep Wagoneer easily endures now through the now snowy temperament of Mexico City !  You also will undoubtedly pass some of the best street stands for Queso, tortillas, and a hundred
items at one of these famous stands.  The Oaxaca cheese? I have this problem with eating it before I get home.  Head ing towards Alvaro Obregon, you notice the bustle of young musicians into IMG_6469.jpgBoicot Cafe, my favorite new find.  A great and artsy establishment, with a back area dedicated to community artists, you feel the excitement of a Friday evening filled with dropping off of intruments, setting up equipment, and a Bohemian experience of music and art blended into one cafe awaits. The Chai Tea there is addictive and that is not the only thing that will keep you up all night thanks to an entertaining venue found in this cafe.Go a little futher, down and left, and then Orizaba come up on you faster than you IMG_6470.jpgexpect.  Walking south, you see the former gym has been replaced by a new upscale version of business, Mint & Tea, the not yet opened employees teasing passers-by with thIMG_6472.jpge preparation of vibrant colors, found normally in glasses and plates of exotic Mexican food,  and being soon available for home decor.  Go a few steps further, and you see on your right a former half-ram-shackled
garage turned into a collective of enticing restaurants of seafood, burritos, and more.  Within roughly three weeks the transformation that occurred on this corner was amazing.  The neighborhood, within four years has transformed itself, and for some reason I notice the transformation here more than past neighborhoods in the United States, not exactly alarming,but just always something to wow you.  As you make your way down Orizaba, you run into the spectacular IMG_6474.jpgPlaza Luis Cabrera.  Spectacular because of its overwhelming ability to calm you, as well as draw you in to the establishments that classically surround this plaza.  Today, the exhibit about the facts of individuals making the Exodos

 

from their own countries for survival and preservation of their lives.  The statistics stun you, make you stop, and appreciate the such basic surrounding we have and find in our own neighborhood, often those I take for granted on a walk with less observations than on this particular evening. Leaving the park reluctantly, and heading back to Merida, you stroll past one of the best office of Ophthalmology in IMG_6481.jpgMexico City.  Having pretty much the worst eyesight since I can remember as a child, and being able to see perfectly the sunsets, the sunrises, beaches with perfect views, that is pretty much a miracle in itself.  Then being given the information ahead of time of what it going to happen,how, and what to expect in detail, and hearing the newest investigations that are being researched and IMG_6482discussed, Dr. Ramon Naranjo Tackman?  Not difficult how he is easily one of the best in this country and many others.  Go a little further and look up (I often simply forget to look up to see the skyline and the art that can be above you), and you see Roma has impressions of expression and art in every direction. Creativity, of course, can be found in food as you

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Ice Cream Nation

come down Merida and onto the coolest Ice cream preparation using liquid IMG_6485.jpgnitrogen, and there is always a line.  Period. Ice Cream Nation has so much to offer in plain old cups of ice cream filled with amazing concoctions, to the classic milkshake that fills you up as if you just had a full array of selections.  The show is not bad either as the Nitrogen does its work – and you know you’ll be filling that punch card up quickly. Crossing Alvaro Obregon and leaving the sounds of countless cups of ice cream behind, and really looking down the middle walkway IMG_6486.jpgof Alvaro Obregon, you appreciate the mix of efficiency of Ecobici and trees that line Roma, and bring its welcome home feeling to you as you just wander.  To your left is the scent and reliability of the flowers IMG_6487.jpgyou have always frequented for ceremonies at ASF, and a little further the multifaceted corner of tacos, but even beside that, the attraction of Casa Franca, who provides spectacular jazz in evenings above and below, as well as delicious pizzaIMG_6488.jpg and more entrees from the personable owners on the ground floor, who you will occasionally see arrive on his UK. scooter.  Roma itself has so many personalities, this is but one brief (brief taking almost 2 hours) to take it so many accents that present themselves to the average individual in Mexico City.  Priceless, definitely.  Forgettable? Not in the slightest.

 

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Turning, Spinning, Reeling…Life

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 6.23.27 AMPericles.  I never heard of this Shakespeare play, so as I was literally running with 2 minutes to spare, (yes it was one of those days, walking in Plaza Cabrera, passing by a camera crew, then stopped by a camera crew and asked if my dogs could be used in the photoshoot & subsequent movie, and I was, ” um sure!”, forgetting I had to be at the Lunario for tonight’s Pericles).  Leaving my house at 5:22 for a 6:00 Pm start, boy did I remember….

As I made it into the Lunario at the nick of time, even with a cool background bio on this play, I was anticipating boom or bust. it seems always a gamble to run into a play, never read or seen by Shakespeare, to see on stage.  Yet, I recall my Graduate Degree course where we travelled to Stratford for this Festival, (thank goodness for Rachela Permenter’s influence) and knew the excitement that came from many an unknown Shakespeare play then – most of the time it was amazing – with a few disappointments.

True experiences grip you, shake much emotion out of you, and leave you with a flood of recollections that sometimes leave your mind racing.  Mediocre to average experiences begin to stir possibly a flutter of a recollection of the past, of events/individuals that have influenced you but then keep on passing you by.  For some, these “experiences”are in the form of dramatic productions, I live for the movies, plays, sometimes a musical, the art of the word in a book, music, and of course, an insightful conversation.  For others, it comes in the form of a variety of mediums, be it art, certain trips, objects, today – posts of conversations found in the arena of politics, careers, the future, and past and present history.

I also recall the days when I would take Shakespeare, even back to the days in high school and feel as if “If i can just make it through this class, this jumble of old English, I’ve got it made.”  Then of course at Slippery Rock University, I met Dr. Edward Kopper ,

   

what seemed like worksheets with word after word after word of symbolism in words that came from the words of Shakespeare, were worksheets that revealed so much I never knew before, coming from those very words that stupefied me, changed everything in how I viewed reading and Shakespeare and I realized how much treasure Shakespeare has hidden between lines, between words, between acts, and why and how elements of his writing were timeless.  This of course opened me to plays, and other forms of writing as well, and a door that have always been unlocked swung wide open.  Those are instructors you will always remember.  

Somehow, even before Slippery Rock University, my very first experience with public theatre, when I attended a one Butler Community College, the transcripts/admissions faculty at the time, older in years, and yet an avid theatre-goer, who could not drive, I found and became her Driving Miss Daisy, actually driving her to Pittsburgh Public Theatre in exchange for the ticket and meal afterwards, I learned so much.  I think now, who had opportunities like that, ever?  Little did I know then, how much it would change me years and years later.

Present – The Adventures of Pericles.  Already you might have guessed.  An unknown production that already has opened the floodgates – this is a powerful production.  As Pericles opened, the set resembled the proclamation of one as a narrator, coming to the stage, announcing a take that all must truly experience.  Little did I realize the symbolism  of the bride that would sit with me through the whole memory of this production.  What I did realize was that to read Shakespeare you see unrealistic events that in real life, hardly ever happen by chance as they happen the way Shakespeare pens them, in order for one brother to meet up with one sister, on the same shore, BY CHANCE, now someone, really? How possibly could this happen where it “works out” so well?  Of course, that this the aspect that seems hard to find a takeaway, the Hollywood part of a movie, the drama we will never quite find in the frequency Shakespeare presents it.  Yet, there is that element of takeaway you can’t deny.

The hits keep coming.  One also has to wonder how many detrimental, negative aspects have to happen, as if in a modern-life Job, to also feel as if it is possible in real life.  Yet, I can attest, they might not come in rapid succession as Shakespeare presents, but yet life does indeed roll out the trials, does hand out the tribulations, that most characters see in three hours, and often just when you feel you are rising the next trial, the next conflict, another stronger than the one before comes to attack. True life disguised as a picnic and revealed as the most perfect meal covered with ants.

The magic of this element, of life being presented in so much trial, so much tribulation, and yet to be dealt with in the most human ways that are apparent, and sometimes more valiant than others will deal with – it sinks into you.  No matter the number of storms Pericles faced, the number of deceitful and envious actions taken against him knowingly and unknowingly, the number of disappointments that broke his will, the perseverance towards something he did not know, the end result was absolutely astounding and could not go without notice to anyone as a spectator.  

Now true, much of this is in the pen of Shakespeare in this amazing Tempest-like tale and yet, MUCH more is in the heart and control of the actors and actresses involved.  The level of emotion that was brought forward to the stage, along with this impounding sense of doom, surprise, rise to glory, and return to a life-can-go-on possibility, could never, ever go on without the power of this cast.  Seeing the tears in their eyes and the amount of anguish that was brought to the stage, not only from the main characters but also from the supporting cast, it would be 100% impossible to pick out a specific actor/actress for achieving this, because for one of the first times, I never witnessed so much emotion that was channeled, reined in, bridled, then let go in the right places, the right moments, an in the right way.  

You take the tale of Odysseus, wrap it into the elements of The Fall of Troy, and end with the tale of a 12th Night finish with the most powerful enzymes you know of, and you come close to what this production does for its audience.  Out of a three year experience with all things Lunario, by far, this (hard to believe!) is the most powerful, influential, and moving production I have ever seen due to the acting, the emotion, the expertise, and of course, the content.  To have the experience and benefit of receiving this message, as well as imagining what it would be like to be in the audience at Stratford, as when those realizations hitting you so many years ago for the first time, that trip to Stratford, this experience with Pericles, priceless and no explanation can draw it out of you on how it makes you feel. 

In a larger frame, there are so many individuals that do not realize how lucky they are to go through something difficult, that opportunity there is there to make something better of themselves through that experience, and to what end they will walk away learning more about themself.  I will pout myself at number one on that list, and that is a whole other post.  The complaining, the gnashing, the biting life presents, that is real life.  That continues to exist from day-to-day. I often succumb to allowing myself to soak some of that in, and affect me, the actual complaining others do, seems often to soak into me and I allow it to affect me and then I come away with that very unattractive disposition.  It changes me, bogs me down, and creates an individual I often do not even recognize.  When away from that element, I slowly transform into someone else, and feel better as well, inside and out.  I build up my resistance to expecting that element, often seeing someone else complain and being able to put myself outside of that characteristic shocks me into realize I do not want to become like that, at all.  Whatever it takes, it is vital to surround yourself with the most positive of influences to avoid falling into that trap of change that threatens everything that surrounds you in life. This ultimately results in depression, lethargy, apathy, and a personality hat becomes unattractive to friends and everyone around you.

All of this from this very production of Pericles?  Absolutely.  When done right, thanks to the tools of an acting set, Shakespeare’s true message comes out loud and clear.  True as well, this particular production seems to be shared with other writers, and not solely Shakespeare.  However, even more so the reinforcing of what occurs when you combine talents and possibilities with like individuals.  Would I see this production again tonight, the last showing of Pericles?  Absolutely, it was THAT good.  Consider it, and consider the thoughts as you watch Pericles battle and brave what seems like unearthly trial after trial – you will find your impossible horizon of success as well.  Just give it time and find that chance to rise about every wave that comes your way, even when they come so close to drowning you.

 

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Hamlet…To Be.

When you see a version of Hamlet that leaves you wanting for more, the one that is spectacular is even more spectacular.  Such was the case with Stratford Festival’s Hamlet at the Lunario on the Fourth of July.  In the beginning, you sense, Hamlet, played by Jonathan Goad, would be wither a bust or a hit.  He keeps the silence and you are waiting to see what this Hamlet will be.  You find out that getting the audience to laugh, lean in, and sympathize with his character is not difficult at all, he starts off with no hint of extra spectacular ability and you begin to notice, he is able to play the lines, emotions, and swings of Hamlet perfectly and bring you along with every onrush of emotion.  He easily stole the role of Hamlet and that was satisfying in itself.

Add to the character depth the ability of Claudius, played by Geraint Wyn Davis, and Gertrude, played by Seana McKenna, to continually frustrate and rise your ire, nonstop, with the disappointment you feel immediately in Gertrude, and the hatred building, building, building for Claudius, again played perfectly.

Tom Rooney as  a very strange and quirky, fatherly, priest-Polonius is able to pull off the perfect shadow of someone Hamlet continually uses for sport and marvels at – a perfectly made and played character by Rooney.

Tim Campbell as Horatio, Steve Ross as Guildenstern, Sanjay Talwar as Rosencrantz, Brad Rudy as Barnardo, all an amazing job of being Hamlet’s allies as well as his foe at times.  Their emotions, genuine and being foils to Hamlet, as well as bringing our Hamlet’s secrets, all played smoothly and invitingly on stage.

One disappointment was Laertes, played by Mike Shara.  While he is a definite looker ladies, at times his emotions seemed forced, not genuine, and a little stiff.  Reactions to Ophelia’s death were the biggest area I had problems with, yet the interactions with his father as well as sister, and rage at Hamlet all seemed to be right on par.

Yes, the gravedigger, absolutely great played by Robert King.

The players of the troupe – just the way you would want them, amazing, funny, dramatic they were also a show within itself.  I remember the last Hamlet we saw, and it seems as if they were a secondary, and minor, aspect of the play.  Not sure in this version of Hamlet, as you can feel the building up of tension as they get closer to bringing out the truth through the plot of their play, playing the conscience of Hamlet, on stage.

Then there is the magic of the Stratford Festival itself.  I had the pleasure of going two years, and it is MAGICAL.  The hotel with terriers and classic wooden floors, the four stages you can rotate plays, the magical Art in the Park show, the awesome Down the Street pub/cafe where you can catch the directors, players, and just the FEEL of being there during this festival, as well as the beauty of the town – you have to experience it.  Having been lucky to meet Timothy Findley years ago, thanks to then SRU Writing Center colleague Carrie,  I am lucky to have many many magical memories I hope to revisit at this Festival soon. I discover every time I witness Shakespeare, if done creatively, is similar to viewing  for the vert first time.

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Uninvited Acts of Kindness

 There’s so much I have missed out on. Yet, I thought I was not missing anything at all!   Famous last words. Case in point. Heading to the short story, rescuing a dog in the last week, with a damage/broken leg, war-torn from neglect, not in my plans. Period. Over the course of the last week some major observations that really hit home.

Observation 1Initially, taking “Dane” our recovering patient outside to walk, I seemed to be angry all the time – from the looks. Yes Dane had visible ribs and so shrunken a stomach – he looked like a walking skeleton, understood. Add to that the fact that his leg was badly damaged and he could not walk – and his leg and limping also drew attention to him. However, you could definitely tell the looks of disgust from the looks of pity.  

Observation 2 When taking “Dane” to the vet, I thought the lady waiting in Spanish was remarking on Dane and his reasons for being at the vet. Turns out, thanks to the owner of Walking Dog, Andres, he informed me that the lady actually was saying she didn’t want Dane near her dog at all – there is the reasoning of being contagious of something, understood. Then there is the tone of voice that you don’t need to understand when you reflect on it, that certainly doesn’t refer to that reasoning. I need to learn much more about really understanding Spanish AND coming to terms with people’s views.

Observation 3Dane walking by himself, being carried downstairs fur fights every day, carried back up, he appreciate it, tai wagging etc.. However, when we went outside, he did his business, immediately turned around and wanted to be back inside. No tail wagging, it is obvious to see animals do indeed feel depression.

Observation 4Dane always has his tail wagging when introduced to Kinah, Amaya, and Wriggley, and Kinah, Amaya, and Wriggley are a little scared of Dane, it is like me as a 7 year old living in the country, nearest neighbor seems to be light years away. When I went to school I was always in trouble for talking too much (shocking) jumping all over the place (even less surprising) due to just BEING around kids my own age after being by myself for so long. Hence, Dane.

Observaton 5Noting observation 4 – with a former student and her family visiting in Mexico, we took all four dogs, together for a walk. MUCH anxiety. Dane is wagging his tail the whole time, and allows himself to be pulled back when he gets too close, and the “pack” allows him to be a part, as they are used to walking with other dogs as well – thanks to the friends walking the dogs and thanks to Kinah, Amaya, and Wriggly, Dane feels part of the pack and I think his tail will fall off from wagging.

Observation 6 During the DAY – daylight, with everyone around to see, and knowing how I feel about the stares, I decide to do it. We walk, and when I say we, I mean, WE WALK the furthest Dane has ever walked, as a pack, never hesitating once with the pack leading on and expecting him just to fit in. THIS time, people stare but they see a healing dog with three afghans, no one offers looks of disgust, Kinah, Amaya, Wriggle change everyone’s minds about who he is and if he fits in. Dane has never changed his mind about who he is and is determined to walk waster with three healthy legs than those with four healthy legs.

Observation 7 Despite a perfectly good bowl of water poured for Dane, he looks on to the bowl that Kinah, Amaya, and Wriggley are drinking from. He wants nothing but the same – you can almost hear, “I am part of the group- please treat me like everyone else.”

Observation 8 Kinah, Wriggley, Amaya, Dane, walking past what looks like a timid dog, he lashes out in anger and scares all of them with much aggression. Owner seems happy, almost satisfied. Kinah, Amaya, Wriggley, Dane, all seem to be exuding the statement, “Fine, go through life aggressive, scary, and you lose a great pack like us.”

Observation 9 – Walking Kinah, Amaya, Wriggley, challenging enough. Add a recovering emotional and physical Dane to the mix, it seems like WWF with Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. At a corner, attempting to use a doggie bag for Amaya, the pretzel twist is one, each dog taking their leash and intertwining them like Tetris. Add to the fact Wriggly, gets my grip loose from the grasp, manages just to hover at the edge of the street tempting and rubbing in the fact he is loose, (and he knows it) – and an oncoming car approaching, Wriggley ready to lurch away on any attempt to regain him back to the fold. An uninterested bystander across the street, seeing this whole scenario play out, hurries across the street, grabs Wriggley’s leash, holds him there and tells me to go ahead and finish cleaning and then hands me Wriggley’s leash, smiling. Perhaps one of the nicest things that wipes the anger and disgusted stares I received over the last few days with Dane, and proud that Dane continued to be his canine self, and let any and all stares bounce off of him as he overcame his own obstacles.  There is hope in the smallest, and largest, of observations.

I could be reading things into the above observations as well, but one thing I do know, you can sense the changes in feelings and attitudes in animals, if you allow yourself open to the time to just feel. As I look at the above observations, it is impossible for me to see the progression of change in the first observation to the last one, as well as realizing everything observed and felt, can be applied to what occurs among people among other people. Lessons to be learned there, is real time, that can’t be explained and put into words, but just known.

Looking back on a cool event, the American School lock in, I remember bring back nostalgic items such as the Atari, complete with a high score sheet for Kaboom,  Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 11.25.31 AMand classic like Kaboom, Pac Man, Frogger, and more, and realizing I never sat down with these particular students before, both a mixture of freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors, and this was being one of the most fun nights I could recall – it was the highlight of the year opposed to thinking that going into an all nighter would be a all nightmare, not even close. The sunrise that spread across Mexico was a perfect touch to a great great fun-filled night. Despite summer, I am finding being away from those that exude negativity and complaints, throwing myself into a mercy mission of rescue, and simply taking in experiences that were not planned for my summer? – I am in a healing process as well, and grateful for it.

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Unfinished Business.

Father’s Day every year is like that moment when you come into the apartment, you out your feet up, and that one cat sneaks up on you and scares the living daylights out of you. Every year, Father’s Day sneaks up on me without warning, and yet, realizations every year I never reflected about enter my mind. Yes sometimes they scare, me, but other times, they just instill me with wonder in how much I am still learning about myself – and that becomes this question in my mind – did my Dad ever realize how much he had given me by his example? Most times I think not, but that always manages to put a smile on my face.

There is a lot in my DNA I simply can’t explain, my metabolism, but constant wondering of ideas, projects, and wanting to develop this or that, often my restless spirit, and of course, I have realized, look back on the past year (part of 2015 and what we have here of 2016) there is so much I am discontent about, it often bothers me personally, when there seems to be some type of mistreatment. Honest, I try to let things roll over me and not take them personally, but it’s just amazing how they simply come back despite that attempt.

However, enough of that I digress, instead of profound conclusions, I am going to mention some of the realization that still impact me thanks to my Dad, who seemed to also be everywhere at once, able to help hundreds of people just thinking about them, and here, years later, I am lucky enough to see what I feel are impacts of his very being.

No one believes how many children my Dad actually fathered, but to be completely honest, I recall how hysterical it was to him that every year at the fair, he would be the one that could win the fair event of a father that could fill up a school bus with his children. Speaking of buses, I still remember the school bus we used to travel back and forth to motor cross events; looking back I often think we were the inspiration for the show The Partridge Family.

Dad’s reluctance to drink or smoke always impressed me, while everyone around him did, he didn’t touch the stuff, and yet, he was the most popular person around everyone, many who needed to drink and smoke to relax and be fun to be around, which again, strikes me as ironic as I see the same today and his unwillingness to do either – albeit his strength and how others looked up to him – that spoke more than any words can be put down.

Animals, geez, could we have enough pages to go on about that topic? From raccoons in diapers that would wander around our house, to foxes on the mend, to deer he took in, to the thousands of dogs we had that seemed to always be Saint Bernards, to cats from every direction, of course that element still runs through our lives today.

I always wondered how he managed to say so little, I mean little. Despite the “darndest” things that would get anyone’s temper off in a flash, he would walk away and I heard it said around, me, but thought it often, what kind of war was going in that he was able to keep all away from view – and yet just worked through so many frustrating moments.

No one will ever realize what it is like to be among so many children during Easter, Christmas, and then as I grew older, add to the mix nieces, nephews, and truly, having enough numbers to fill a public park, I have to tell you, there is and was nothing like it. Amazing. When you thought you were too old to play baseball or horseshoes, you realize, you aren’t when you are surrounded by that much family.

The ironic thing is this is just the tip of the iceberg, I remember a time when my parents separated that I did not really understand what having a father was, for most of my life that ranged from 1st grade to well, 12th – I remember walking out from graduation and it was just – I can’t explain it. There was my Dad. I mean, seriously, there was my Dad, and after that – those 12 years seemed to reappear and just – poof – just like that. I think then and there I realized how fast life can pass before you, and in realizing this – you can either make the most out of it so you will remember the best details or just it continue to pass you by in a haze, which may still do.

The ironic thing after my Dad passed, which I still know to this day altered me considerably and had me reeling in more ways than I ever realized, that to this day I am still realizing more and more about myself. I find myself becoming more solitary but to the affect that I am resisting things and situations that just don’t feel right. Or I don’t want. Or I just want to not be a part of. I have spent so many years giving 100-150% of myself to everyone around me, as my Dad did, but I began to take back and resist the very things I don’t like, disagree with, or just make me feel bad. What is totally opposite of my father, is the ability to keep inside the injustices I see and feel – ranging from so many places, people and situations, it is not worth going into specifics. That is something I will probably work on for a long time, trying to deal with the things that bother me, that happen to others, that others do to others, and I find myself helpless to improve. To me, that is one of the most frustrating things I just have an issue with.

Well maybe this as well, the ability to not maintain such high expectations of others. I just do this naturally, and expect a high threshold from so many people around me, which I think honestly, comes from myself. I expect to represent my Dad in the best light as an obligation to the many countless hours, minutes he spent, every minute, working working working to make things better for so many people. I still marvel at how he was able to be in all the places he was and do all the things he did for so many, it is just – it seems not possible. However, what he has left behind is this ability to contemplate what he did provide for his family when he was alive, and when he passed, and as everyone in our family knows, he has never left from the things very things he has instilled in us.

In retrospect, there are many people that never maybe knew their father true. However, I have been lucky enough to always find several father figures in the form of teachers, coaches, colleagues and more, and I am so so thankful for those individuals that helped fill in the gaps while I floundered in those years before reconnecting with my Father, as well as being handed down an invisible code to live the best possible life one could live.

I am doing better on working through so many of these contemplations I have mentioned above. Take today. It has been an uphill battle for me to just get back in the routine of running like I used to in the states, sticking to regiment of fitness that kept up with my energy level, but today biking that 34 miles? It reminded me of Rubes Run in Prospect, Pennsylvania, that fateful year I finally placed first in my age group – and giving that trophy away years later to an exchange student that just – well the sentiment carried forward to her. But all of those things, my father was in the middle of all of that – for various reasons, and it feels good to be back in taking care of my body and just doing more things for me.

Then it dawns on me, fathers, whether you had one, whether you knew one, whether you didn’t but simply being fatherly? – that changes things. It changes people, it changes situations, and it changes you. Sometimes I am simply so angry at how ignorant others treat others in so many situations, there is simply no consideration for others towards others sometimes, it kills me. Sometimes things happen just so – the last few weeks I have this churning, burning, anger that sometimes has just wanted to take me over, and trying to find a place to put that, all if us know, it affects our demeanor with others, our own periods of rest, and more. Quite by accident, I came across Bob Dylan’s Chronicles, volume one, perfect.  Dylan has an outrage to so many things during his time, taps into those things, and his angry feelings rise, and his words, reading them, his disappointments, his anger – how he did and didn’t fit in so many places, perfect reading for the perfect time in my life.

Between that discovery of a angered voice directed at injustices and the return to putting myself into training to jump back to the physical self I was when I was in Cross Country – sometimes you just hit on the right things at the right time. Just as I finished my 34 mile biking test today I sat down, pulled out Dylan’s book, opened it and what comes on the restaurant speakers? I kid you not, Dylan’s “How do you feel?” – and just ironic moments like that – means nothing to some, means everything to others. The individual sitting next to me asked to look at my book and over the next 10 minutes, he just was examining parts of it with a huge smile on his face, like a sense of recognition and the thanked me before he left. I can’t put it into reasons exactly, but that was just perfect.  Reasons I can’t explain, but it was a great moment.

All of this above, all of what I think about and reflect about, yes, my Dad is in there as well, sometimes I can explain and other times I can’t. I do know I wish sometimes I could sit him down and see what I can see right now, and he’d laugh that big laugh of his in just seeing how unexpected life can be and has become. Yet, his ability to provide confidence without often even saying a word? – there is magic there.

I know I have been lagging with posts and so much has happened over the last few months, so yes, I need to get back at it. I once said that when there is this long lag in posts when I blog, it is me taking in so many aspects of so many events, I just want to word it right, “right” being the way it feels right to me and to represent it correctly and not just dashing something off to just have another blog post.

Looking back the end of this school year, there is so much that hasn’t been reflected on and sure, I’ll get to it and maybe some of you will agree with me about it, that is pretty awesome – but the real impact that matters is that feeling of moving forward in a world that can be turned upside down in so may arenas, political, cultural, social, and more, and still being true to yourself and those around you. Luckily I can look to my Father for sure whether he is here now or not, and of course, my Mother. I have been lucky to have parents that did things in their own way, but always provided a path for me to see the best option to build myself up and do the same for others. That is the right way to live a life, and oh what life it has been.

So as Father’s day comes to an end, you do not have to agree with is at all, because this seems to me just my take on it. But I have been seeing Father’s Day as a day of embarking on that return to realizing what elements you continue to build on and strengthen to continue to serve as a father figure to those around you. Whether you base this on a father you know, a father you symbolized with, or simply being a father, as much as we try we can’t change the world by ourselves, but lending that attitude of fathering everyone us, many realizations begin to truly set in and extend beyond ourselves. There doesn’t seem to be a better gift out there.

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