Basketball icons to our own lives, it is there for processing.

I was sitting in a The Cheesecake Factory – my first time and long on my to do list to check out, and towards the end of the dinner – as often happens because I do not keep a television in the main rooms of my home, I became transfixed with what was on the television.  It happens sometimes as I do not make television  a major part of my life, maybe not even a minor one, just an occasion one.

Yet, it was not the fact that television grabbed my attention- it was what had been on the news constantly this past week – Kobe Bryant.  Despite what you feel, say and have heard, I was transfixed with Spike Lee’s-  Kobe Bryant’s Doin’ Work.  I thought I was transfixed with Kobe Bryant’s Dear Basketball, but I found myself lost in the complicated thoughts on court of this Spike Lee documentary.   It was absolutely fascinating to see the dialogue and Bryant’s every step, every shot, every moment as he reviews each moment on the court.  This is something we rarely get to see step by step- and yet- the thoughts you see regarding life, philosophy, this teammates, his family, all that come out while on the court, you get an idea of how fast our brains can think in a single event, let alone moment, and the fascinating facets that Kobe Bryant thought of during just one specific game of his whole life.

Waking up Saturday morning, and listening to a specific interview and insight into Kobe’s legacy, it dawned on me.  I, of course, have heard and understand it is easy to side with the camp that one sports icon dies tragically and people dwell on that individual and easily forget about the individuals that die every day fighting for our country, victims of abuse, etc., and of course I get that.

Coming initially from an all academic background and then slowly becoming more involved and seeing the power of sports, I have evolved in my philosophies through the years and see the pull and power sports have to bring people together and improve other parts of their life when moderation of several areas work together, and being smart about all of them.  I have come to terms with the realization that focusing on one single component of your life is not always, and usually not, the best practice.  The best practice is to allow yourself time to focus on many areas of your life, good and bad.

It is easy to focus on Kobe Bryant as an icon and ignore the parts of his life that were not so celebratory and yet, if we as individuals are true to ourselves, it is just as important to focus on Kobe Bryant’s life in the areas he made mistakes, the abuse he realized was responsible for and the realization he did not realize that he did in fact hurt another – and the fact he did come to terms with this, made his realization public and owned it, not denying it.  Does that make him a better person for it? I think that is a stretch but this I do know, his magnification as a sports icon allowed his stand for women in sports, for women to be treated and heard equally, for his passion and love of sports to filter down to supporting his daughter and devotion to taking that fame and using it to support his family – yeah – you can appreciate Kobe Bryant for being a sports star or appreciate that Kobe Bryant used his sports status to appeal to each of us of how we take we he stood for, and appreciate those that might not be “stars” but no reason why we can’t take that same appreciation and apply it to those ordinary heroes around each of us – military, security, the everyday person that applies an intelligent, brave, and heroic approach to all that they do for every one of us every day.

 We can be better people ourselves, and to others from others, especially when their mistakes are magnified.  We are better people if we take those examples to better ourselves, and others, instead of vilifying for them.

I have become more aware of the legacy and intelligence Kobe maintained on and off the court, and personally realize position helps to spread various platforms that will help improve each of us as well as our country as a whole – those of us that do have not the celebrity platform can make a choice, sit back and critique everything that happens around us and explain away that we are too young, too old, too busy, and on an on, OR make every day involve one check on a checklist that will compile to improve our day and the days of the world around us. 

If you take enough time, you can definitely see the evolution of Kobe Bryant from cocky and somewhat egotistical swagger we often assign to sports players often, to the transformation and realizations Kobe made along the way, that supported causes, issues, and platforms that mattered more then Kobe Bryant did, and it is there.  Those lessons of a talented sports individual, both the positive and negative, help us and the world around us grow and become better individuals and communities.  You and I can both walk away and decide there are better people than Kobe Bryant to weep and lament over and yet, if we look closely at Kobe Bryant’s life, we can see a message he told beyond his love of basketball that each of us can take away and spread among many we admire, many we do not show enough admiration to, and those we still have much work to show how much we admire.  We have that challenge before each of us, what we choose to do with that opportunity will make all the difference, in the world.

 

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Making the Decision, Dr. MLK King Day and All That Fall Between

Days, and weeks I just could not put together details on how to coordinate something to represent some of our students, our school, our community.  As always, as is so crazy, something fell into our lap and just represents what Dr. King is all about.  Stay tuned for details later today on how the decision to make a difference, often falls down to a moment’s notice 🙂  Check back at this post later today to see how 2020 can be the difference want to see in others, based on our actions from day to day, that last a new year.

Humor me for a bit.  Trust me, I did not get the connection at first. A few weeks ago, I returned to the Western Sussex Animal Hospital, reconnecting with a Dr. Metzner after having visited him before I left for Mexico.  Oddly enough, one evening after lighting illuminaries, I ran into him across the street of my own house – almost over 7 years later – coincidences prevail.  As I was waiting, I overheard an individual in front of me, asking for directions to my housing area.  I perked up and sure enough, it was an older gentleman I always saw while walking the dogs in the neighborhood in the morning.  I offered to lead him back to the area, realizing he had somehow found his way to the veterinary center (he had no pets), and clearly disoriented.  The receptionist had written directions down, and I resolved to lead him back to his home following my appointment reservations.  Over the course of the next 10 minutes, he interrupted at least three times due to his worry that someone was going to lead him back, and also due to his lack of remembering a few minutes someone, me, had offered to lead him back.  This saddened me considerably. 

On the way back, he lost sight of me even due to my best attempts to slow and stay within his vision – and rerouted caught him as he had cut through a smaller nearby town, drove up beside him, and signalled him to refollow me back.  He seemed to recognize the one street in front of him, and did indeed find his way back with me in the lead to our neighborhood.  I always noticed the small sportcar-like vehicle he drove, reminding me of the last vehicle James Dean raced in. I was in awe of his memory and yet his ability to periodically remember details such as the road he now recognized.

A few days later, on my way home from school, I spied the road closed in front of me – and did notice clearly ahead his very own car in the middle of the road, right outside of the entrance of the entrance to my neighborhood.  It shook me a bit, but a few days later, wondering how he was faring as I walked past his home, a neighbor I had expressed this concern to stopped as I was walking the dogs and informed me he had taken his life.  I was not really shaken.  Everything that had occurred in the last few days simply came crumbling down for me and I spent the long weekend leading up to MLKing Day hibernating and contemplating all in the midst of a long to do list lingering in front of me.

The evening of Dr. Martin Luther King Day, undecided and unable to find a solid connection for an event to follow in the path set in front of us thanks to Dr. King, I received a message asking for volunteers for an event involved with the Seaford Community of Hope Project, Children & Families First, and Sussex County Health Coalition gathering that very evening. Thanks to Ms. Geisler, Ms. Burritt, Ms Betts, Mr> Jeffrey Benson, and three great students that responded withing 10 minutes (Thanks Macey, Mackenna, and Lee!) and I sat there contemplating this. The chance of this happening would have been next to mil normally, and within the same day, an opportunity presented itself. While some would see this as nothing out of the normal, it certainly surprised me, and made me realize some key aspects:

If we do not offer to go outside of our circle, there are no do overs.  The regrets we might have from not acting on something will never come back to us, and no matter how little the deed, that might be the once chance to send a spark forward that will cause a further fire of activity to change everything around them.  I saw this appear in the case of my neighbor, and thought this as I witnessed the interaction of the students who volunteered and were taking, interacting, and providing a respite to parents attending this gathering.  During the course of the evening, you heard comments of needs for the immediate community of Seaford  and so many more surrounding Seaford – the need for transportation to and from activities for youth, the need for more youth directed voices that see the needs in their own communities, the need for support that can assist in affording housing, methods to participate and have youth participate in local programs, and concern for the safety of local neighborhoods, and the health overall. Without attending this event, without being offered to be a part, without having this opening appear for the student volunteering, the youth present, the leaders offering doors of opportunity and support, all of these doors would close and not allow a few steps forwarding to strengthening the immediate community.  It is more than suggesting how to offer programs for youth in the community as a symbol, but involving youth directly.  It was a start. 

It seemed the message and call from Dr. Martin Luther King sometimes is not as obvious  as his words he vehemently shared, but is connected in ways and days before and after this symbolic day we  take in stride and meaning one thing in our minds.  Often, the way to supporting and making a difference appears in ways we never dreamed of initially.  I am proud of the students that offered at a moment’s notice the chance to give back and make a different,- and I am sure at first they thought, no big deal.  However, the faces and experiences you saw on the youth’s faces as someone was willing to take time to spend with them showed it all. Without allowing and provide caretakers time to contemplate such events, as many have little to not time to do so with working multiple jobs, grandparents playing the role of parents, and so many more issues, there are many more issues that need addressed than many realize, and it is vital for all to be involved to reach every person that needs the strength that the potential Dr. King sent out to the masses to make a change.   

If I would have never reached out and led my neighbor home, I would have wondered what I could have done that day that I had not done. I felt I could have done more, what not sure, but wondered how I would feel if I would not have at least offered the small act I did that day.  I see so many other opportunities that present themself, and trying to come to terms with not being able to do it all, but encouraging others to take advantage of the opportunities that will affect others, and cause them to also be able to change what can be a much brighter future for so many others, thanks to their involvement. 

 

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2019 – What Did It Mean…

Wow – where to begin with 2019?   As I thought about this today,

tempa 67 degree day, YES- December 30th, and I was in shorts, short-sleeves, and walking the dogs as they looked up at me and questioned – “Haven’t we been here before?”   Even the dogs were confused as this weather was identical to what we had in December in Mexico City.  I knew it was crazy when I opened the windows up, the temperature went UP from 61 to 66, and as I came home tonight STILL is 66 in the house.  I even cleaned gutters today – it was that warm – so yes, the issue of climate changing-  OBVIOUS despite naysayers- when you have the same weather as MEXICO (hint – it is closer to the equator) – in DECEMBER – that not usually happens ever – you’ve definitely have something to think about 🙂

2019 was filled with more twists and turns with the arena of politics, from Impeachment, to Ukraine, to Russia, if anyone thought the soap operas would stop in politics, it seemed to only pick up more.  

The loss of animals abroad due to poaching and climate issues of fire, earthquake, flood and more – filled so much of the news – everywhere.  Shootings occurring in synagogues, schools and churches made each day surreal as we heard these occurrences.   Uprisings occurring across several continents and countries came into plain view, Brexit, trade wars, ICE and immigration, rainforest destruction, genocide, impeachment, Guiado in Venezuela, as well and yet…

“Young people, when they understand the problems, are empowered to take action. When we listen to their voices (they) actually are changing the world and making it better for people, for animals, and for the environment because everything is interconnected.”
Jane Goodall, Dr. Goodall & JGI Win BBVA Foundation Worldwide Award for Biodiversity 

The hope and strength of what can be was seen in so many YOUTH – and despite adults chastising and putting down youth – they kept rebounding and somehow managed to be a louder voice than the whining, complaining, and saying but not doing individuals are so used to experiencing.   I would have to say, this was the strongest thing that affected my year this year – aside from moving to a new house – the nuances of so many activities, projects, and ideas that came from youth- and were seen on television and radio fueled by youth holding adults accountable for their actions – that hope can carry over any of the depressing and exhausting turn of events we keep hearing.  2019 was an exhausting year just taking in all the ups and then downs that would constantly occur, and yet, it seems as if youth are learning how to walk in step with ways to find opportunities for change, based on these exhausting turn of events.

I cannot complain about having a 65+ degree day in December, and neither should you. By biggest look forward to in 2020 is not let technology rule my days, or else I would have missed out on this one today.  I want to see technology encourage more individuals to find ways to appreciate and promote our environment, hand in hand.  This definitely creates a 2020 that is much more worth looking forward to, thanks to the events that have occurred in 2019.

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Life and Living.

In hearing the podcast with Peter Schjeldahl and his article The Art of Dying, the gift of awareness struck home this holiday.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/12/23/the-art-of-dying\

Be it from my Dad who worked ridiculous times of the day and night for others and held himself quietly to a higher standard than most around him, or be it my teachers that often exampled that life is open for as much as you want to pull from it, often having to wrestle elements that would insure a productive life from a world that often tried to take more than it could from you, to the family that had surrounded me and keeps filling their lives with each other to live their best life, with each other.

It is so easy in such a cynical world to get caught up and forget what life can be, being thankful for where each of us have come from and where we want to head, and how we do that with others that matter to us and that surround us as well.  

There certainly is a somberness to this podcast interview but yet a somber beauty and a reminder, that we can absolutely relish and enjoy, and make the most of everyday, only if we choose to.  The people we surround ourselves with, the moments we view and how we view them, does not have to depend on others around us, it relies on us as individuals and then spreads out from there.  Never more than ever have I believed it is impossible to be happy with others until you are happy with the moments you have with yourself, which involved alot of reflection and the time to do so, and moments to be at peace with how you want your life to be.

I see so many others pitting the happiness of their life dependent on others and this saddens me.  I have always believed and led a life that tries to show others, be independently happy with yourself and relish moments most take for granted, then others will start to appear in that lens of a life well enjoyed. I owe many others for that ability to do so and am grateful for realizing how important to take those moments to do so, certainly an investment in yourself as a person, and ultimately, an investment in the relationships you have with others, resulting in a life worth living.

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Ghosts and Memories of Christmas Pasts

One pound of turkey breast!  I exclaimed this on Christmas Eve as I went through Chick Fil A in Seaford to Alastornia (a pretty great student who is capable of a million things), a fellow Woodbridge student.  I literally, less than half an hour ago bought a POUND of turkey breast, buried it under a ton of packages in the car, and upon coming out of the store with gifts for the DOGS, found they (whichever of the three) had pushed the obstructions I had blocking them from the front seat, noses through the items all the way to the floor, and had devoured the turkey breast, the label of how much I had purchased- still being licked, left behind for posterity.  Not exactly one of the most favorite memories of starting the day before Christmas, but certainly a memory that will stick with me.  Never underestimate the power of the nose, willpower, and ability, Wriggley, Amaya, and Dane teach me that every day 🙂   

One of the largest changes in my life was adjusting to a life in Mexico that encouraged the chill factor – it took months, well years, to realize the culture of Mexico, first and foremost, encouraged the relay race of to do’s that most experience every day, to put that into the back seat and push forward the memories, the past, family, friends, and moments and have them b e more important that anything you need to do on a preconceived list, that society and culture in some parts of the world, especially the United States, has a tendency to push to the forefront.

Thanks to the countless students, friends, and experiences I have in moments that have pushed the value of these categories, I am finding the past time I have been lucky enough to absorb, has become part of my present as well. The trick is to not just feel this way around the holidays, but to relish and continue this importance all year round, now that we are officially one day past Christmas 2019. Definitely a few examples can exemplify this…

Indya.  One of the most hype and energetic students, Indya this year portrayed what the holiday, and everyday is about.  In doing the famed Secret Santa I have done for years, I was lucky enough to have Indya as my Secret Santa.  I say lucky because her spirit indicated all that Christmas was about.  Her gifts – phenomenal, because they were created by her.  As I opened the bag she presented me and saw the ornament

with erasers and the phrase she created and inserted, the plannerIMG_2346.JPG she gave me knowing my erratic errands and plans, theIMG_2345.JPG canvas she painted for me – all of it?- it spelled out someone took the time to observe and know me and provide gifts that said that very thing- that is what holidays are about- knowing each other and celebrating each other- the flaws, the good aspects, the celebration on individuals the whole thing.  It wasn’t just that, Indya literally was dancing on each foot as each items was opened to see my reaction, she was THAT excited about the items she gifted to me, and she should have been.  The items she created and was giving- meant more that any items you could go out and try to hunt down on a shelf, these were items that was bring to memory the excitement of a holiday – for years too come, and that is what we need to celeb rate every day, to relax what I call the “hamster wheel syndrome” – goals of working more, earning more, faster, more, more more….it wears you down and does not leave you with anything but the ghosts of a past that were full of trying to achieve more on the success scale, leaving behind some of the best years with family and friends that could be possible.

Yes, the whirlwind of controversy continues in all areas of the world – decline of natural resources for more economic growth and value, cesspools of politics that continue to dominate headlines- but each of us have a choice. We can decide to plug in to healthy outlets of productivity, creating healthy microcosms of what we want to see in the world in our own backyard, making relationships and visits among each other despite all types of technology, and making the time for events we want to see occur day to day, and as a result, this push back of reclaiming a life less made of lists, and more of the ghosts of those hurried to do lists, replaced with moments that will stay with us – priceless.

I say this tongue in cheek – I find myself this year wanting to do more visiting of historical places that make the state of Delaware – well Delaware.  Wanting to see underground railroad sites, more lights and using a new home as a home base for friends, get togethers and special events, and yes- this change starts with us and the actions we decide on to set a path of what our future will look like.  Getting together with family that hasn’t been able to do so in however long?  That was a great day and way we should spend every holiday – and a memory that will last forever.

The last few days of school, just being in the public school atmosphere, was hard to jump into the routine of enjoying the holiday to come, with so many to do’s and haunting of a schedule that would run out before we get to half of what we wanted.  That is okay, the pace of trying to race all the time and get deals, get tasks, does not long as the push back you can give to allow for more events that bring people together that might not have the large numbers of family and friends to enjoy the same things others can.  That is why those can do these types of get-togethers, SHOULD to change the reflection of how life is better with those we surround ourselves with that could appreciate the same aspects of life. Syerra as a student grabs onto countless things that need to be done in the WHS Library Media Center and helps run a Library Media Center that reaches out to all aspects of the community, and her gift, on top on me running her back and forth all day to get so much done in one single day, again, it shows a part of my life I value and she recognizes that, my dogs.    It reminded me that myself included, can do alot more every day to recognize what is important in each other’s lives.IMG_2352

As the holidays come to me these last few years of returning from the states, ironies exist.  As I was unpacking items from Mexico I have had in storage, I literally came across a card I did not know existed from my Mom, sent to me in Mexico, and out falls 15.00 sent to me back in 2011.  It reminded me amounts do not carry as much value as the thoughts behind them, sometimes $1.00 can be much more valuable than $10.00 when not necessarily put into a savings situation and put into one that means something tied to you as a person.

Coming across the same time the memory of dialogue between family and moving to a new country, an article fell out from Lynn Schofer:

when I was leaving Delaware for Mexico.  I was stunned, I thought the thoughtfulness she put into writing about me was such a gracious gift.  Truth be known, any successes and excitement I had while at Seaford – was due to the colleagues and students that believed in dreams of projects that could build up our community even better- not because of me.  Hence, an article fell out right behind that on img_2351.jpgKate (formerly Baltz), one of the first students that I encountered moving to Delaware that showed me that the excitement of education can be countered with a good laugh that makes the day even better…

It was perhaps one of the nicest articles I ever read and completely was unaware of this article at the time.  In reading this article over, the plans you make are always subject to change without you being aware of the implications in the future.  The best thing that occurred in my life was Mexico, and I did not realize it at first.  When I left Mexico, yes, it was one of the hardest decisions I had to make, but also, I realized, how much more I could love Delaware thanks to the people and aspects of Mexico I decided to keep to change the way I viewed a Delaware I was coming back to. Gifts that you find, remember, and share – better than any gifts that can be physically given, except for those gifts that share a piece of who you are as a person.

I certainly was not aware of a student like Indya being a vibrant reminder of what life should be about, the hype and energy and less of the measures to judge someone’s success.  I certainly had no idea my life would lead me to Mexico City, surrounded in an aura of stereotypes but so loaded with beauty and meaning that only those that choose to jump into experiences such as this realize how much it can change their lives- there is so much that many choose not to experience to be “safe”.  I have realized taking the risks that you would not normally take have a result- they increase your open-mindendess of the world, relationships, and your life, for the better.  Afraid of letting go is such a dilemma in individual’s lives, classrooms, day to day management of economic, politics, the world, nature and more – yet when done, it changes everything and puts all involved on  a life the never knew existed.  To not do the very things you have thought about but not acted on does indeed create ghosts of what could have been, similar to areas you will never grow or move away from- and that often caused individuals to remain “stuck” in a routine or belief that they never see another side of.  However, seeing many sides to experiences changes people, changes lives, and changes a life itself. 

This holiday I cannot say enough the thanks I realize from the lives that have changed me for the better through moving, being involved in other countries that have embraced my differences and not chided me as some parts of our world like to do, met students that changed my mind about what the future can be and will be, and in general, the reality that life does not have to be a climb or race for better and more, but a continual schedule of gathering with those individuals in your life that celebrate the successes you experience, because of everyone involved.  THAT is a real reason to celebrate the season among each other, over things, schedules, money, divisive views and so much more that blocks the opportunity to see how much we have to be grateful for, as well as how much we can help others be grateful for so much more. I think of this so much now when we say the words “Merry Christmas!” and “Happy Holidays” – not a bad place to be!

The onslaught of having an amazing Cross Country Team that struggles, yet comes back together, a Student Government that deals with alot of social dilemmas and decisions and also comes back stronger to fight another day and represent the best of what school can provide, colleagues that sympathize and work through the hardest of times alongside you, family that always remember you thick and thin, friends from this country and others – despite the miles – still remain as they did when last together – this is what a holiday is about 🙂

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ALL In a Day…

Holidays are an amazing thing.  If you are an educator, holidays do indeed look alot different to you.  Educator’s calendars and days grow to over 72 hours a day of needs with less than 24 hours of ability to reach everyone, add into this behavioral, academic, social, student’s personal needs, NOT including the planning of these days I have been alluding to, and is there time for anything personal for someone in the educator realm?  Not likely.  Very few realize this facet of what constitute an educator versus a teacher. 

The last three days have been clocked out of the high school around 7:30- 8:30 PM at night, clocking in around 7:15 AM at the latest – and literally, as my colleague can attest to, each one, not more than 4 minutes go by when every single need of over 50 students within one hour need everything from advice on letters, help for advice on peer relationships, the concepts that will push them ahead of the scores that are not pushing students themselves, and I literally could give you AT LEAST 20 more requests, from printing, to supply needs, to questions about moral decisions, within amazingly amounts of time crammed into 5 minutes.

It is a whirlwind.  But to realize what happens in a day, the amazingness that happened amid the details that make educators want to weep, you will begin to see what teachable moments can do to carry you past the sacrifices educators make for others over their own.

Today alone, Syerra worked out her own assignments amid over 20 tasks needed to make sure students around her would benefit from some small details.  From calling students that were being asked to be recognized for the deeds of kindness, receiving free senior shirts the Class fell onto, (instead of merely giving out), helping pay outstanding invoices, outstanding payments, delivering books to students that didn’t have enough time to check out a book during their traveling between classes, and this was just the first 30 minutes of class.  Add to this Syerra’s assistance with Xavier, who enabled to continue to decorate aspects of the library for the holidays, for some students that might only see holidays at school, the time they took to insure the holidays amid countless tasks needed to be done, spoke volumes of what they are capable of if giving freedom to make decisions.

Add Shania who would periodically check on labs in the AM to make sure all were still intact and being taken care of.  Look at Dalton who single-handedly took apart the defects of out 3d printer, inserted the new part and activated our 3d printer which hadn’t been implemented for over 5 months, he did it in 2 periods!

Look at the amazing jobs Diana took over when she decided how to organize the onslaught of papers, invoices, notices, assignments, and more to clear the way for more progress forward during a day in the Media Center that just does not stop.

Admiring the members of the Cross Country Team coming in and grabbing their items from a Fisher’s popcorn fundraiser and delivering them to the proper places.

Student Regan reaching out to Indiana Public Library as we create a partnership with out literary art Magazine The Riff, Alastornia catching via photo Ms. Donna Carter’s presence in the high school today representing events that will interest high school students and create a bridge of learning.  Xavier putting students that have checked out materials from August to November, and running a lottery of names to award prizes from Barnes and Noble in Salisbury, for those taking time to check out materials and enforce the love of learning.

This was just one day.  ONE DAY.  If you allow the amazing talents of the young men and women soon becoming a part of our society,  to represent what we want our communities to be from their own learning communities, this amazing feat of tasks performed in one day will become the well-oiled machine it is, student generated.  The resources, books, technology, and inspiration that even the most isolated student might feel can disappear when students are challenged and given the ability to use their talents, and interests, and grow their talents through they way they allowed to exercise their thoughts and abilities into action.

No, this is never enough time to even think about anything personal for DAYS after school vacation begins for an educator, but I have realized time and time again, how much education depends on the abilities and opportunities that can be handed over to talented students like these mentioned, and see where they will go. That is the holiday for anyone in itself to see every one of these individuals above, working in concert all around each other.  You almost feel the forward progress made thanks to amazing foresight and ability of each above.  This is the best possible present one could ever ask for, the commitment and creativity students can bring to anything and anyone they come into contact with.

 

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“If You Want to be Happy…

…for an hour, take a nap.  If you want to be happy for a week, take a vacation.  If you want to be happy for a lifetime, help people.” 

Such was the sentiment sent to me from the Carper Family for the holidays.  I realized in reading this one important sentiment: In a time of decisiveness, differences of opinion that usually do not end up well, and so much division – when individuals can agree to disagree, we can get to the more important aspects of the world that matter – looking past the moments we set aside to get our points across and then move on – this is a lost art but one that paints a canvas that lasts beyond how long a grudge will last. 

I hate the facts that holidays are so built up on the material aspects and how easy it is to be caught up in those materialistic aspects, and before you or I am aware, the sentiment, emotional and nostalgia, as well as the beautiful aspects of the world beyond us – nature, conserving the nature around us, recognizing technology as a tool and not a life preserver, and basically, the things we do not often get to hold in the palm of our hands.

I am finding the best gifts I am looking for at Christmas is a way to find items that remind us of a past that help us look to make a better future.  I hope this Christmas, and the weeks leading up to the holiday, will provide an opportunity to see the future is brighter than we hear, read, and sense.  This perception of what is possible amid a world that often does not give many time to think about what is possible, is within our grasp.  The real gift I realize everyday has been the friends, colleagues, students, family, and individuals unknown to me before, but now a part of my life.  The past, present and future truly do blend if we would allow it, and if we allow it, it becomes the best possible holiday we could ever expect.  I say thank you over and over to everyone, but most individuals realize at some time they are who they are thanks to the individuals that have influenced them over the course of a lifetime.  Thank you.

 

 

 

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Trap

Sometimes, the place we think we’re going when we start our careers is not the place we end up. – www.theatrefolk.com/episode159https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJoWCm2Ngvo

In listening to this particular interview with Stephen Gregg, I loved the point made that Hamlet and Lion King have the same plot – which is a great starter for most people and the additional point- writing a story one tweet at a time, story is what happen, plot is how the story is revealed – love this correlation.  However, this all starts with the idea that the play currently showing at Woodbridge High, at 2 PM, the last day.

But be prepared. Trap does lure you in, the audience, the plot, and if you wanted active participation with the audience?  Yep, all here and it leaves you quite in wonderment.

Stemming from the director to actors to the audience, amazing how everyone becomes intertwined in the play by what you think is the end of the play – or is it?  A mystery, a surprise, a shock and more, I was pulled in 100% from the very beginning, thanks to the audience as well as the cast itself.  I am going to deviate from singling out specific actors/actresses as I never deviate from but, I have to see, remembering some of the cast from the very first play I saw at Woodbridge High traveling from Mexico, these cast members definitely have a reason for being a part of cast in Trap, they fueled a massive part of the production and push you close to the edge of thinking you have it all figured out, and then….that certainly is taken away.  Add the newest cast members and you have a sense of wonderment of how it all fit together for this production.

Being lured into a plot is not so bad, my first wondering were where is Menachap, California?  Why California?  The first evening I also expected many bumps in the road, glitches in sound, lights, lines, it was an honor to be invited but I knew carrying those expectations with me carried a little bit of not maybe seeing the same show at the end.  Yes there were some issues with lights, a few places needed to have a little more sound brought up where lines were delivered, and then I realized at the end of the production this evening, November 5th, I found much not what it seemed when I expected those things, and sometimes not at all.

I want to go into more detail but to do so will take away from what Trap bring to an audience, so I can’t. The bravado and daring to go into areas of a play that is not like anything you’d expect, let alone plan, and it hits you as immediate as this production, success.  So theatre and play buffs, if you are addicted to anything play-involved, and thrilled by a production that catches you completely off guard and leaves you with a week’s worth of wonderment and conversation, this is your production.  You are quite in luck as this is the final day of production with the final shows at 2:00 PM, but once you experience the twists and turns of the realizations after the production, would love to hear your reactions to such an unexpected experience, on a production well done.

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Holiday Layering

Time.  Time passes so fast and the one thing that often happens is fighting for the moments to appreciate what happens in those seconds, minutes,hours, days, week, months, and years that fly by.  The biggest crime is not being able to pull moments out of all those time periods – and to do that you simply have to fight for the right (No not Beastie Boys) to have those moments not simply be added up – but remembered.

SO much has happened in 2020, and I think as holidays approach, it is more important to celebrate the people, the moments, the bitter and the sweet, that have slipped under the radar that change us- in all respects.

In the past year – wow.  I have experienced losses that have ached my heart to its core and at times, left me feeling like an empty house, not just one room, but a whole house.  Yet, it reminded me about my life oddly enough. I do agree in our saddest moments, we have alot to reflect on who we are, and how that sadness defines us.  I see a history of the following in some of the most painful moments I experience in 2019-

My fondest memories of individuals I went to school with in a small country school in Fenelton, PA – individuals I would graduate with and the day I left that school for a city school in Butler, PA, and yet the letters they wrote me even after I had moved.

Junior High, Senior High, the Golden Tornados, and now seeing so many at the upcoming 30th, yes THIRTIETH Reunion in 2020, and grateful for the memories that led me from those crazy times in high school that led me to returning to PA for such a great moment

The amazing support system I have in PA for individuals that let me crash (Thank you Rachelle and and Joe) – an amazing family that instilled in me so many personal strengths I never knew I had – with the losses of my brother, Dad, sister, you also realize the strength you have in family whether next door or another country)

Speaking of another country – the amazing network family I had believe in me and launch me in realize what is important and what is not, the amazing ASF librarians, staff, students, and colleagues that still are with me wherever I go today.  Mexico changed me thanks to every one of the individuals that believed in crazy ideas I wanted to make happen, and they made them happen! Working with Greenwood Public Library with our school library – priceless 🙂

Butler County Community College, Edinboro University, Slippery Rock University, Mansfield University, University of Colorado at Boulder, Florida State University, interning with the 1990 Pittsburgh Pirates led by Kimberly Miller before me, all that amazing opportunity to study and never leave the theory behind and being able to apply these ideas and morph them into real life .  The conference I have had with Natalie Dorfeld, it makes me realize how lucky our group has become and successful that year we graduated from Slippery Rock University.

Working my first job as a paper route carrier (The Butler Eagle) in Butler, Cranberry Banquet Dining Hall in Cranberry, Hardees, Kirks at the Butler Mall, Friedman’s/Bilos, Butler County Community College Counseling Center, The PA Turnpike, The Pittsburgh Pirates, US Investigations in Grove City, Southern Middle School in Lusby, MD, Glade Run in Zelienople, Penn Hills High School, Coudersport, to Delaware at Seaford, then Mexico and now Woodbridge High– not one of these amazing opportunities in education have failed to support and motivate me to see new ways of challenging the hardest of days and turn it around to make it a best day.

The amazing insightful moments to volunteer and work at the PA Turnpike, Pittsburgh Pirate, Baltimore Aquarium (YO Andrea! (sorry not Adrian, but that Rocky quote came to mind!)  to name a few and the amazing relationships that have evolved from these moments and the cool things I have been able to do from the amazing people that have come into my life, the past has become a part of my present.  

Organizations I have been involved with and actually created with so many amazing peopleNRWC, PAVE, Repentino., The Riff,DASL, NCTE, Library of Congress, Festival of Words, and so much more!

I find myself finding the hardships that feel as an empty house, a full one again with the moments you need to truly stop at times and celebrate – recently having moved into a house from Felton, DE, back to Seaford, DE thanks to the WHS Cross Country Team, that event having the WHS team involved set the tone of what a house should be, maybe at times feeling empty, but always filled with individuals that make it be full, every room.  My cousins not hesitating one moment to make this happen, the XC team that did not hesitate to what seemed as moving the earth, friends from when I worked in Seaford that own the house and allowed this to happen, one reminder evolves and appears:

Everything from our past is connected, if we allow it to resurface.  There is bad, and bad days, yes, but those bad days can open to reveal even better days than you imagined if you let yourself see ahead of time, you have an obligation to hold out for the better days thanks for the time your family and friends have out into seeing you reach those better day.  The truth, I promise.

Lately, I had some amazing dips in students pushing me at times to ask, “Is education really for me?  This STRESS– it feels as it is is going to close every door in “My house” and not allow any more to open! and yet, thanks to some amazing students known as Diane, Syerra, Anjolie, Regan, Alastornia, Indya, Shania, and more, so many more – they allow me to realize that their expertise, their talents, their promise of how they can indeed change the world, it allows those same doors to reopen and realize, the days of bad are not permanent, they are temporary. 

You just need to allow yourself time, time to take all these moments in and be grateful for both the good and the bad that have the power to change you, as well as change others around you.

Layering the holidays with what counts, and less with what costs, will make holidays even more worth memorable and valuable.  I resolve to get the highlights of some amazing people that have lifted me past some pretty hard moments that have come my way in the remaining days I have to post- and I appreciate all of you allowing me to have these memories to reflect and celebrate- As I open my house on December 20th to invite friends and family to come and celebrate the holiday – I look forward to seeing more opportunities of this and the next to take more time to do the same I advise other to do 🙂   

 

 

 

 

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Struggles Before Success

Over the past few weeks I have noticed a decline in my posts, as I am sure you have. That can be good at time, lol.  One of the biggest differences I noticed when I moved to Mexico from the states, and back, was the time I allotted myself.  I say this often, I notice this “hamster effect” in the United States- meaning I feel this culture of having to do more, do it faster, and do it even more than that first more.  No matter how much I resisted, I cannot shake that effect, I step outside and it surrounds me.  For some reason, I has an invisible shield that allowed me to pull back, create a life that allowed me to find some concessions in time to allow me to think, reflect, and to write.  My blog time grew as I also grew as a person with that newly acquired time allotted.

This sounds bad, right?  Yet, through this struggle and personal battle over time, some more important realizations also occur.  The individual projects and actions I do not regret, except for one thing.  The loss of commitment to each other.  Through so many activities and events during the day, from the first class in the day, to a lunch period here, to a meeting there, to a class meeting over here, to one of my favorite past times, cross country – you see small glimmers of those coming together and earning success as a team or group,  with the secondary level of success as an individual taking a back seat.  The drive to be number one, to be the best in the United States, as well as other countries, is stronger than it has ever been.  What is so bad about that?

To be honest, not much, in degrees.  In my experience, the greatest victories and levels of success achieved have been learning the art of sacrifice and victory when you can look to your left, look to your right, and see those around you that have helped obtain that individual success.  I have struggled the past few days with a mentality that group comes second, individuality comes first at all cost.  Until something tragic occurs, and then group is needed and essential.  As a Media Specialist, advisor, mentor, coach, educator I decided to make a choice, I choose creating a familial, group mentality in all I do, in all I create, advise, mentor, coach, and educate as my mantra because at the end of the day, humbleness, respect, motivation, traditions of eating together, praying together, preparing together, getting right mentality before a big speech, project, meet, class together.  How often do people sit down together and eat, break bread, and enjoy the success and failures of a day?  if there is one thing I do not want to lose, is that aspect of what motivates us, what blesses us, what brings us together and what brings us to the point that respects the ability to do something great.  Just simply to know that possibility remains there, is enough to want to push towards a goal of being successful standing out, and wanting with those that want it to around me.

Call me old school, but I put alot of emphasis in what Cross Country provides, and can for a successful future.  What does that mean?  Life is unpredictable and I see Cross Country as an event that replicates what life can give you when you give it to cross country.  I believe:

You treat practices like life, no difference than a meet or the most important meet in the world – you give it your all, at practice, at meets, you never hold back to do better at that “next meet”, there might not be one.

You never isolate your teammates to go on their own – this means you support them when you are not running, when you are running, you simply show up.  The whole season.  Be it you are the number one runner, the last runner, or a non runner, everyone will have their moment in the sun if you are willing to give a part of that sun to another. As a teammate you are a teammate for the season, every practice, every meet, be it if you are a supporter, a participant, a coach, a manager, an athlete.  Simply being there, you are a part of the team, and nothing every takes that away.

You show up, and this means physically and mentally.  There is a moment where even when a word is not said among anyone, you can FEEL the momentum building as a team prepares for what could be their best moment. THEIR.  Meaning in it together.  Gone are the days of individuals that will not be there because they are not running, if I am on a team, I am on a team whether I am running, whether I am coaching, whether I am running, whether I am timing, whether I am scoring, visibility is everything.  In that process of this physicality, I am sending a message: I am with you thick and thin, and whatever goals you have, we will do together- whatever my role is, whatever my level of success, I am going to do this with you one way or another.  Period.  If someone, even ONE person is missing, are we a a team?  I need to know, to do my best, every single person has my back – is there is shouting for me, is not quiet when it is my turn in the light, is not absent, is not afraid to shy away when adversity rears its head, WE ARE THERE through snow, rain, cold, heat, bad days, good days, through thick and thin.  If not, we are no different than any other library, school, class, Open Mic, Cross Country Team, football team, or friendship.  

Being there through it all, amid a world that demands more more more and a busy schedule, whether in Mexico, in the United States, ANYWHERE, does seem on the way out and antiquated (meaning old school).   Yet, it has opened doors for me I never knew were a part of a house, so to speak, and it has been my salvation to learn to respect each other, learn to respect the process, and learn to respect the growth that happens inside me.  I believe this guides me and allows me to guide others to success, and does not rely on me alone.  Thanks to the personal, academic, athletic, financial, and other struggles, I have learned, despite the setbacks, and those very struggles that push back at this notion of each of us together is more important than one of us in success, yet – if I do not insist on this mantra, I see myself losing a part of who I am.

So I push forward and insist, when you do your own thing, in the light of those that surround you trying to do their thing among all of us, you are losing a part of yourself – you are making a statement saying “You do your thing, and I will do mine” and the team mantra, power of team that comes with individual success, loses a little more of its power.  I simply am not willing to lose any of its power, despite the excuses, plans, aches, pains we all feel, I relish those excuses, plans, aches, and pains when they are set aside to allow room for those that are willing to also set them aside for the sake of another, someone we consider our teammate.  That is true success – from beginning to end, and worth striving for every single day. 

It was a reality when I coached Cross Country at Seaford, and we are easily a standout without winning the top spots in Cross Country, yet plenty of individual growth and awards were achieved simply because we had a family behind us.  I feel the same when I have some amazingly spectacular colleagues and students that push back against those that do not feel the same, that  do not DO the3 same every day, and at the end of the year, month, meet, etc, you always remember those that stood behind you and supported you the whole time.  It motivates you to pick yourself up and be ready for when the next big obstacle occurs, it brings you together, and it lets everyone know you can do the next great thing, and you do not have to do it by yourself, it goes a much longer way than that one event, that one day, that one meet. 

Long term vision.  Is being there, sacrificing your own wants for another?  I have 47 years of life to tell you, it does.  I regret times where I did not sacrifice a personal moment for the time I could have been with others to push them ahead, that is what I have to offer others.  Some choose to buy into that mantra and practice, others do not, but I am stronger every day for those around me that realize they power in many and not just one. I want others to find this realization and escape the “hamster effect” of spinning in circles, when you can be making new circles with those you cherish most.

 

 

 

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