This is your story that became ours.

I carried the thoughts around all day that today, on Dad’s favorite day, that he carried around all year playing pranks on so many, he is with us so much in spirit. I wonder what he would think of such a thing as what is happening now – and I can’t help but thinking, thanks to that stubborn streak of his, he would find the ten closest neighbors that did not have a ride, did not have food, and did not have cash, they would have all they needed if it was left up to him – There’s not a day that goes by that I wonder if I am doing things that remember him well – and not a day that he is sorely missed, especially on his birthday- April 1st. Love ya Dad.  This is your story that became ours.

 

 

The Rings Around Us

You always hear people say “Deja Vous”, or, “It was fate!”  A certain amount of events have occurred in my life where I realize that fate certainly did play a huge role, God certainly intervened, or that I just stumbled across the correct amount of lucky, though I was never known to have much of THAT.  However, one particular event has yet failed to cause others to be speechless, bring tears to my eyes, and remains a constant reminder that life is a chance for everyone to give it their all, and you will be rewarded.

It was the beginning of Spring 2002, I will always remember the sun peaking out behind the clouds on a mad rush towards home, then known as Butler, PA.  Yet, I am getting ahead of myself.  Sitting in the office of my job, chatting with friends amid piles of mindless work, my manager walks over to my desk.  Everyone has had a similar situation, flashbacks of “What did I do?!  Wrong or right?!”  I was asked to accompany her to her office.  “Uh-oh.  I really did it this time.”  With every step anchored with weight, I sat down in Bonnie’s office.  She looked at my very serious, I sucked in my breath anticipating the worst.  “Harry, your sister called.”  “What?” I thought.  My sister didn’t even have my phone number here!  “My sister?” I blurted.  A nod.  “Yes, your father seems to had to go to the hospital, and wanted you to know.”  Wow.  Now you have to know…

My father, aside from typical stereotypes about men, came from an era that buried money in coffee cans, worked until the following sunrise, and certainly did not visit doctors.  I had no recollection of my father EVER being in a doctor’s office unless it was on my own account.  My worry of job security shifted to a deep panic.

The flurry of gathering my things together, blurry images of my friends alarmed at the panic on my face, not seeing or remembering much except that sun on hitting the crystal snow on my race into Butler, PA that afternoon.  Thought sped through my head, and yet I knew.  There was only one way my father, father of 16 children, a rite of life in it’s own right, was going to be at a hospital.  “Quit being morbid and pessimistic!” I blared at myself.

The day of my father’s funeral was an extension of the emptiness that was felt throughout my whole family.  A punch in the stomach, the wind being knocked out of you, the delay in reaction that lasted for weeks, even months, call it what you will, that was me to a “T”.  Standing in the middle of the funeral floor, surrounded by hundreds of individuals’ lives my father had touched, friends of mine that were in complete silence, I felt my sense of organization and life plans gone in an instant.   My sister, Pam approached holding gently a lift-top box.  As she gently opened the box, I saw rows of silver rings with his initials HBB in top.  “Dad created these rings and left one for each son, and you need to choose the one that fits your finger Harry Jr.”  I was in utter disbelief.  In the morning of my father’s death, rows of hundred dollar bills had been aligned on the breakfast table, papers of bills, payments, and obligations neatly arranged.  That in itself was too much of a premonition to take in, but this?

A few days later, I noticed that the ring I had chosen did indeed seem big even with choosing the smallest ring possible.  I went into the closest Main Street jeweler, briefly explaining the value and problem to the owner.  Within minutes, a spacer had been put on the ring, with the last words I remember the owner stating, “It’s on the house, your father would have wanted it that way.”  Another moment to keep me in awe of the way things develop in life.

Two months later again driving on a summer and wonderfully summer day, hand waving in the half open window, I arrive at my father’s house to help at around the garage with my brothers.  Not being used to wearing a ring, I sometimes would forget I even had one on.  Looking down for no particular reason, my whole body began to shake realizing the ring was gone.  I panicked.  I tried to backtrack my day, “Yes, on before I got into the car”….realizing that somewhere along the drive, my last remaining physical tie to my father was lying somewhere on the ground.

Have you ever been so anxious or restless about a problem, dilemma, or seemingly unsolvable problem?   You’ll begin to realize the feeling I had as I spent the next two weeks conducting the world’s most extensive search.  I felt I had let my father down within a matter of months.  Irresponsible.  Inattentive.  The last words of my mother lingering in my mind, “Your father will get that ring back to you” amid my search.  I respected the optimism of my mother, however somewhere I knew this was an unrealistic conclusion to a very devastating incident.

The phone rings early on, and I can tell my Mother is excited.  Laughing, I begin, “Okay, so what’s -”   “Harry Jr.”, listen!  Sit down, seriously sit down.  Listen, now, I am serious, really listen.  A lady came by looking for a car…

That was right, a lady had come by looking for a car seeing my Dad’s lot full of cars, parts, and every other piece of machinery on the property.  What didn’t quite sink in yet was the fact that she had been by earlier that day, her son in the car.  Her son feeling suddenly sick, she pulled off to the side of the road.  Before anything did occur, (You know where I’m going with this, don’t you?!) he sees something shiny in the weeds.  He reaches out and low and behold, a ring!  I silver ring!  He pockets it.

“So you see Ma’am, when we came by the first time, no one was here, we decided to stop back.  It wasn’t until on the way back that my son told me about finding this ring.”

“May I see that ring, please?”  “Oh for heaven’s sake!”

I don’t know the expression that my mother received on her face, and I can’t even imagine or remember what I looked like in hearing this story.  I remember the sobs we both had over the phone, the jags that hit me in waves, unbelieving, wanting to so much, but receiving answers that were beyond my comprehension.   “What would have made this unknown, never been to my father’s place individual bring up this story at all?  What were the chances her car pulled off on the side of 11 plus miles of road in the exact spot where lay probably the most valuable item on earth?  What were the chances this individual arrived at my father’s place once, and would return again, with this ring, with the honesty of her son?”

To this day, I can say no more about this story, I literally find my mind stopping at this point.  However, I see things in such a more of an optimistic light.  Greater than luck, fate, or coincidence, I have realized that there are so many things about life that are precious.  The people that surround us are often taken for granted, as well as situations.  Most individuals contribute half their ability towards achieving things, or going after things they deem valuable, be it personal goals, hurdles at work or home, relationships, taking the time to reflect.  However, things will never slow my appetite to achieve what is most important to me in life, friends, family, a healthy relationship, a sense of stopping enough to enjoy the achievements around me.

To me, life is symbolic of this circular ring.  All things will come full circle if we just let it.  Quoting complete coincidence, the famous chronicles “The Lord of the Rings” peaked during this particular time in my life.  Easily drawn in to the comparisons of the ring, I was able to still value and hold true to the above mentioned values I seemed to inherit.

 

Thank you Dad.

Harry Brake

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Change the Perspectives That Surround You

Taking a break and giving the canines a break from the all day road trip in isolation and on the road, and in state parks from yesterday. Some revealing moments:
 
Sad to see so much trash on a small beach at St. Augustine – a small family on the beach on the other side- no one picking up trash and then seeing me doing so they began. Made me feel good to see example leads to another example, makes me sad to see even the smallest beach having plastic bottle caps, broken plastic straws, and so much trash crammed between rocks that could not be unlodged and stuck between rocks – trash and garbage we can control DOES make a difference. There even was a garbage bag left, I picked up and started putting garbage in, and found that it was collecting back on the ground – a hole in the bottom! LOL. If I can pick up garbage, with three dogs pulling me in all directions, and disinfect afterwards, residents of their own precious areas can do the same. Now people can change how they see their own areas they live in, and for the better.
Driving past services it was warming to see everyone was keeping the social distance, individuals pulling up  Woodland Beach in Smyrna and watching the tide and water roll in from their vehicles,  individuals on a trail in any park respecting distance and taking extra precautions when in the open, individuals dashing in and out of a food or essential need area, actually aware of their surroundings, the people in those surroundings, and the relationship between those two-
and then not so in other places. 
Lines wrapping around the corner of the Dover Rita’s touching each other, not even 30 millimeters between them made me extremely sad
Seeing young people gather in the parking lot at Woodland Ferry park and getting out of their fixed up cars, 8, 9, 10 people, it was scary how people can act as nothing is happening on a sunny day, let alone a cold and cloudy day as well.
Acts that seem against what will help increase the futile feelings others can pass on as fast as the coronavirus.  Positive actions, positive modeling will spread as fast as a potent virus, or antidote, and I hope as numbers increase negatively, more actions by others and the realizations that this is real – and will hurt others around us, create a sense of empathy and positive reaction to those modeling actions others will be willing to exhibit, for the better of others.
Hearing the actions of others, reverting to coughing, throwing slurs and comments at others- this is not the action that causes positive change or advances progress of a county, but of select groups of individuals.  This is not who we want to be as a nation, and applies to everything, from cleaning up our areas and doing something positive during this pandemic, following better actions to encourage others to do so, and simply showing compassion and actions that will change a culture of perception for years to come, let alone for the time being.  Much can be done during a period of tragedy, all coming down to how we decide to perceive ourselves and others and how we want those perceptions to surround us, and even define us.
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Don’t Let Bad Times Required Fail to Change Your Paradigm

Wow.  Therefore, we are all in a situation where we have never found ourselves. As a result, there is much we will learn, wish we would have learned, and find out about each other and of course ourselves.  I thought it fitting to share some of the realizations that have forced their way to my front door, often uninvited.

Schedules are what you make of them.  I have already had days where I laid around until 12:00 or later, relished them, but then later than night felt refreshed to have a schedule of making the best use of my time.  Definitely, I have always had the problem of learning to slow down, those are a change for me, YET, it makes a world of difference to have a section of each day to be priceless in getting things done I wished I would have days ago. Schedules made by ourselves make a huge difference in our mental and physical state for sure.

Librarians and libraries.  You probably know my soapbox but it seems to take at risk situations for a certain majority to realize, librarians, true librarian do not survive or behind stacks of books.  In the last 5 days, I have helped plan, strategize, and implement media and tools for educators all over the world, as well as other librarians all around the world have done.  Yes schools need librarians, yes schools need real libraries, yes librarians are masters of connecting, creating, strategizing, implementing, and that much more – and work especially well when paired with admin and educators that believe together, anything can be remedied.  Fresh air can be brought into the stereotypes of what education can look like when creativity and restrictions take place. It should not remain a situation as we find ourselves in to find the net worth of what someone with the training – usually a Master’s and then some, who is trained to make those all of a sudden connections, is valued.  Librarians are more than book sitters and hopefully, institutions and individuals will look at the profession differently. The connections that librarians are able to make, (this site is a collaboration of hundreds of librarians from across the world) – ends up supporting hundreds others.  People should rely and lean and refer to public and school librarians, and value them so much more when it comes to planning than is already the case.

Radio. Last night I was listening to a psychological focus on YouTube videos, televisions, and people in general – The Lure of Living through Others.

Finding ourselves outside of technology is vital, even when dangerous pandemics, and when not, face us. It is sad we have to be forced to find those things that are simple, quiet, and meaningful amid a society where Tweets, Tik Toks reign supreme, but hopefully this realization that technology as a side note, not the main manuscript, and people and the relationships real time matter more.  I like the fact that radio and traditional tools of voice, podcasts, Listening, these carry more substance than much “artificialness” technology can bring, and often not realized until later.

Difference of opinion that result in short-sight judging, falling into politics, issues, races, genders, immigration, you name it, it sucks.  Individuals are individuals no matter where located.  Often superiority to be ahead sacrifices the lives of others.  In talking with a friend in Argentina, lacks of fresh water, financial destruction, atrocious human rights violation, deaths next door and much worse seem to slip by oblivious to most people not from specific areas.  Animals disappear forever, climates become irreversible, individuals in other countries begin to matter less than what happens to ourselves and the ultimate result become a slow reduction in compassion for humanity.  It is vital we regain a more open thought and open window of awareness for others outside of our own selfish selves, to regain a balance for the things we hold dearly close to us.  I do see opportunities where individuals can come with terms to do things like can improve these actions, from helping neighbors needing supplies that are older, needing food, not hoarding, being generous and reaching out to those beyond our borders, not laying blame for things that happen on others, to resisting negative rhetoric; we are all in this together. Acting on that same phrase is a very vital step in order to improve the very things in the world we see disappearing around us.

It does alarm me the lack of concern of distance, etc.  In taking the dogs to several parks, several people wanted to come right up to me, pet the dogs and stand right beside me, aside from going into stores and people not being alarmed when they touch my fingers, wrist, etc and well, sorry, that just alarms me. It paints a larger picture of how bad things can become when individuals do the opposite of what I see in the paragraph above, a careless abandon of anything that does not seem to sit well with their view of looking at things.  The world, and what can happen is larger than we were.  Once many more people act these realizations on, things will change around us, and for the better.  Be it the way people see each other through divisive opinions, views of what librarians do and can do, being more open-minded of what our actions do to others here and afar, or simply being better people with superficial things stripped away, there is much in the positive arena that can be achieved.  There is much to be learned by opening our minds, supporting each other, and often doing what are sacrifices temporary, that will have much better long-lasting impacts.  Often students have the short vision syndrome, which is unable to see beyond the class at hand, and this often is due to awful conditions they have had to endure, OR, simply not being taught to thing that way.

In a unplanned turn of events, each of us, needs to realize, it is okay to look after how we best can protect ourselves, but also how our actions and thoughts affects others.  How we can live our best life that helps others do the same as well is an investment in others and ourselves a double bonus.  In turn a ripple that will start in our Own North Americas, will spread to Canadian, Latin American, South American borders.  America is more than 50 states, it is several others countries.  Compassion and action, through rhetoric and acts should not simply stop at our own concerns, but we have an exciting opportunity, through some scary times as well, to LEARN, and take time we have on our hands to figure out ways to learn these things and help others learn these things.  We all are students and teachers if we choose to be, and in turn, it will renovate what we know as the largest classroom of all, our world.

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Healthy Gaming – One Solution to Homebound Gaming – Isolating It is Not

One element of school that many are finding when at home is gaming. I know many associate unhealthy screentimes to gaming, but I thought – What if games existed that tied into educational branches we see at school Is it possible?  I touched base with a  gamer and she helped me brainstorm free and interesting options out there that many might not be aware of.
Contrary to popular opinion, gaming is a social activity.  As active gamer FeralF0XX goes on to say,
Many people believe most gamers are antisocial and exclude interactions, yet we all communicate vocally or through chats online. MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online games) require teamwork after joining a specific group in order to run through missions or obtain online resources to craft items.”
Some examples of free gaming that delve into various categories are below:
“What’s interesting is the different factions/syndicates that players choose from to obtain exclusive rewards.
I found each syndicates objectives depends on the players beliefs and personalities.”
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HISTORY article on Games Involving History
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An excellent collection of games here – from becoming an Amazon tree to music-based rhythm games!
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WOW!  “When Rivers Were Trails is a 2D adventure game in which Oregon Trail meets Where the Water Tastes Like Wine. An Anishinaabeg in the 1890’s is displaced from their traditional territory in Minnesota and heads west to California due to the impact of allotment acts on Indigenous communities, facing Indian Agents, meeting people from different nations, and hunting, fishing, and canoeing along the way as they balance their wellbeing.”
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A ton of cool alternatives to history here!
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What games have you found?  What games are free, safe, and educational?  Please comment your suggestions! 

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JUST.

libraryMarch 16, 2020, a birthday that will live in infamy.  Knowing my day was occurring on a day that will be know in the middle of Coronavirus – honestly I had no idea what to think about this.  The one word that kept coming into my mind was the word JUST.  ( I was just trying to figure out how I would put together a proposal of why our school library is one of the best libraries for a contest).

“Libraries aren’t just for books. They’re often spaces that transform into what you need them to be: a classroom, a cyber café, a place to find answers, a quiet spot to be alone. It’s actually kind of magical. This week, we have stories of people who roam the stacks and find unexpected things that just happen to be exactly what they required.“ – This American Life podcast – The Room of Requirement

Libraries in my life have been hallowed ground, not JUST storing houses for information, books, etc, but places of refuge or a place where I could belong, where I did not fit in anywhere else.  As I grew up, I saw so many JUSTS in others, and wanted to help them find what their JUST was, or where they could find it.  I hoped they would find the library as a center where they can come and find their JUST and realize, sometimes a JUST is perfect and sometimes it does not have to be JUST as well.  My JUSTS are libraries are not just book depositories, they are not JUST quiet places for work- Libraries ARE JUST for everyone, just because there IS something in every nook and cranny for ANYONE, JUST if the person that is the librarian believes in an open minded purpose of the library and JUST if the patrons that come into a library will JUST believe there can be more 🙂

Coronavirus is not JUST a passing fad, when you see the statistics in other countries of the numbers slowly start to take off.  It is easy to think so when you see our schedules that seem to be breaks, and not for the deeper reasons.  Deeper reasons emerge when you JUST think about others, of the age bracket most affected, that are part of our own family.  When I hit the fifth grocery store, counting Family Dollars, seeing that shelves were empty of toilet paper, anything disinfectant, Orange Juice and tons more (yes Ramen noodles) and thought – I am glad I already had toilet paper and wondered couldn’t JUST one place basic supplies and a deeper thought hit me – I wish that so many people would JUST think of others when it came to leaving something behind – anything behind for others- it made me sad to come across this realization.

Couldn’t it be possible to JUST have a birthday that did not fall on a time period that many had to be self quarantining? Then I realized that was as selfish as earlier wishing for the fact that so many others did not horde everything I could not find on those very shelves.  I did JUST have the best birthday thanks to the 90+ family / friends that stopped during their day and wished me Happy Birthday.  It could have been the loudest birthday, it could have been the quietest birthday, but I realized for many nonvisible reasons, it was JUST a very very good day to have a birthday.

I have loved noticing that there is a line between being JUST a teacher and being an educator.  I love that ANYONE can be JUST a teacher and others can be more than JUST a teacher, and I found these people in all professions.  JUST sometimes, the not so obvious is right in front of us.  It could be hidden from us from stereotypes or prior beliefs or lack of those. Some of the best Educators are those individuals that take the time to let you share a portion of what they know, sharing more time with you, pulling from life aspects that are really there and easy to relate to, taking the time to stress the importance on a  a personal and educational level, than individuals known JUST as teachers. 

There are a hundred more JUSTS waiting for us to turn from negatives to positives. What are yours JUSTS on this wonderful St. Patrick’s Day?

 

 

 

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The Second Time Around Is a Little More Difficult…

A great response to someone that had a birthday last Leap Year Day and this next Leap Year Day  🙂     Let’s work with a little history about Leap Year Day.  

In listening to an NPR Podcast, certainly balance and harmony, and a chance to have an extra day to do something extraordinary, as you know does not come around all the time.

My goals today? It might sound infantile, but sometimes I like the privilege and freedom to act infantile when I want, so I will try and have my signature on as much as I can today, dated February 29th.  I do see this as A chance to do as much as possible on a day that is often not afforded to us.  Here are some suggestions on my checklist:

Check out the Harriet Tubman film that represents some important insights into Black History Month.

Seeing the art represented by so many at Delaware State University.

Complete opportunities at the Library of Congress as a Field Experience intern.

Send thank you’s to several colleagues for some great support in the last few weeks at my school.

Organize some items and rooms at my place.

Redesign plans for the next few weeks with my classes at school, as well as implementing project ideas in the Library Media Center.

Complete my essay for my Florida State University course on Literacy Media.

Finish some reviews on Yelp!

What aspects of your can you do, that are not in the plan normally, and open your mind to new adventures?  You and only you, have the power to shape and change things for the better all around you, and the great place to start is Leap Year Day!

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Valentine’s Day – V is for Ventursomeness!

Okay I get it Valentine’s Day, candy, candygrams, flower grams, etc etc etc – but I learned through this holiday I have loathed – a word ventursomeness that perfectly described some of the most lovely individuals I have come to appreciate, even more that past significant others – and I am so lucky to have met them!

Today, a FRIDAY – and yes Valentine’s Day and despite that these students stayed and decorated, set up and prepared quite a great setting for Woodbridge alumni as a thank you for what their commitment to the school district – Logan, Andrea, Syerra, Confidence, Jady, Regan, Indya, Gabby, Xavier, Mackenna, Rosita  did all of these things  (and more I am not remembering – AFTER the school day)

Made pink lemonade for alumni, prepared trivia, WHS merchandise for sale, brownies, cupcakes, cookies, Valentine’s hearts, chocolate covered cherries, popcorn, coffee, Valentine’s cards, had UNO and other games ready, yearbooks out, sign in sheets of individuals to stay in touch with WHS events, free giveaways for trivia questions  just to name a few things

and on top of that, all after school and after practice – and still sticking around and enjoying the moments of potentials for alumni- and see Ms. Tammy WIlliamson, Mikaela Smith, Ms Jon-Rene’ Holmes, Mr Eugene Hayes, Ms Margaret Workman, Ms Debbie Little, Ms Shiley, Mr Weiler – all to say hello and visit – these are great individuals who went the extra effort to put something on for others and for those to come after a long day to take part in them!

 Add to this Syerra’s triumphant success of passing the Prometric CNA exam, BOTH written and the skills portion (that is a mouthful!) and this makes the SAT look like a walk through candy land – whoa.  I could tell from how nervous she was in the AM, and WHOOSH!  within what seemed minutes she was DONE and I was thinking – “Did you really just take that test?” and then she was back in there and Whoosh!  Out again and at our Valentine alumni bash- and wow – it is impossible to not be so proud of what she did in ONE DAY!

Add to this the exciting possibilities of scholarships and acceptances on the part of alot of our seniors, the amazing victory lap the juniors will be taking with their SAT and PSAT tests- and you realize there is very little time to reflect on moments like these that we all are able to celebrate the successes of each other, and celebrate with alumni and present WHS students, but when we can, it is bittersweet.

It is easy to state the above individuals who carved out a piece of their time to visit with all of us, and celebrate each of our past, present and future venturesome qualities, makes Valentines’ Day the holiday I always wanted to celebrate! The future has never looked brighter for the class of 2020 thanks to the classes that have preceded them and that are coming after them.  Together that is one huge wave of Raider Pride that keeps coming back! 

 

 

 

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Setting the Model When Confronted- Vengeance or Resurgence? – A Model for Positive Change.

It dawned on me, as leaders in our country take confrontations brought to them and react with removal of voices, lashing back, lashing out, little is being done to reach across to individuals that disagree with maybe one’s perspective, despite disagreements.  Instead of removing individuals from the public view that you might disagree with, I believe we should take examples from our youth – face topics that are being addressed that may or may not be in our favor- and do better, TOGETHER.

Example in point – the world in microcosm – Student Government.  I have been an advisor with the same class since Sophomores and even though you have to accept a level of social drama, welcome to ADULT hood where as much drama occurs just in different forms.  Yet, seeing the youth in front of me navigate through this drama path into a narrowed event the past few days, helped summarize what they have learned that is so much more than adults in leadership positions in our country.

When officers of positions of a class are questioned or taken to task because not enough is being seen done, or felt as being done – it would be easy to back away and simply ignore.  It would also be easy for those bringing these arguments to walk away if things might not seem answered clear enough or simply be heard and wonder what results will occur.  Yet, both groups – those wanting change, those representing a path to have change happen and lead that change, having the bravado to come back to the issues and come up with solutions, both addressing topics that are brought to their attention, could be taken personally, and yet- I witnessed officers and members of the senior class take criticisms and never deviate and put up a wall to work together – no – they stayed their course – they did not turn on each other, they did not devise plans to remove each other to get past that “noise” of what they could have considered “noise” – that “noise” and criticism actually shapes us as individuals; this opens a door for the future that many do not see – sometimes not seeing past one day, and you have individuals, YOUTH, willing to face criticism, willing to face adversity, and take it and ask, how can we work together and take these criticisms and make a better future.

I see referendums being asked by schools, I see many ADULTS claiming why referendums should pass for their districts – I see many ADULTS leading the path of plans for their city and county councils, I see ADULTS stating what their country needs and attacking other adults, and yes other Youth, but this is not what I see enough –  YOUTH- YOUTH being asked what businesses THEY would like to see in their OWN communities, YOUTH being asked what THEY know about current referendums, THEIR solutions to what they are not seeing in their own schools, THEIR opinions on moves and decisions in their own towns, councils, and even down to the student governments.  

Giving YOUTH a voice, be it a podcast as we have been trying to do, addressing first year high school students to put together plans that will affect so many communities, local city and county, school, and yes even the country.  When more adults make it VISIBLE that they are allowing YOUTH to place a more vital role in the decisions being made that directly impact them- positive changes that bring youth with everyone else for dramatic changes in local municipalities, schools, and yes, even government.  YOUTH need to be welcomed back through ACTION and opportunities for vision for the future.

I was lucky enough to see members of the Class of 2020 that had complaints, and then witnessed officers of that same class take those complaints, wants, needs, and more and BOTH stood their ground maturely and never waivered from denying the opportunity to work together still – no grudges brought out, no stubborness taking precedence over each other – adults need to take the example of youth willing to two the line maturely and deal with opposition and willing to embrace it and not lash out, but willing to work even more TOGETHER. 

Until youth are being asked how to play a part in so much more that goes on around them, little will be done to convince future generations their ideas, their openness, their creativity, their education matters, and has an investment all around us.  Isn’t that what education should be about? Facing adversity, life skills, application in this case of how Student Government can mirror how we handle every day life and manage opportunities for the future – all can be defined who we are as communities when one key factor I do not see happening as much as it needed to be years ago- What role do Youth play in decisions, businesses coming into our community, (aside from simply being workers) – what role in views and ideas do YOUTH have to recreate who we are as a county, state and country?  

If you look closely, librarians like Donna Carter, Karen Johnson, community leaders like Matt MacCoy, Jeffrey Benson, Craig Dimes, Kathryn Burritt, Ms Geisler, and tons more, allowing YOUTH to be front and present for the issues that are of concern, but visibly hearing and seeing youth leading the charge being given keys, and allowing YOUTH to open the doors that will change the environment around us.  Until YOUTH are being made a part of interviews for the very positions for individuals that will represent them, given voices for why financial support should be given to districts for growth, YOUTH being present on council meetings for businesses, concerns, etc, it is simply operations for adults- not for Youth.  This is it the change that will create resurgence, renewal, and growth – rather than repeated cycles of remove, replace, request.  We need more, we need more Youth forefront in major community decisions.

 

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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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