Legally Open Minded and Amazing (Part II)

A second main lesson many may or may not notice, but hope many walk away with learning from Legally Blonde the musical, is the topic of respect. The open-mindedness that is encouraged in the middle of the sometimes crass Law instructor’s class, some participants of Elle’s fan base, and yes, it is the script and is real life; even more to life is the reality that while one might not believe or accept a differing individual’s belief, orientation, views, or religion, they certainly are a better member of society for remaining open and respecting an individual that might not match to your beliefs, but still respecting them as a person. This thee played out through characters, the plot, through the musical score but even better, it was rewarding to see the young cast appreciate these values towards another better than the media, talk show topics, and even better than some adults, which is promising for the future of many healthy communities.

Te’Neal as Vivienne

At first this character comes off as being stone-cold emotionless, and it was easy to see as the play progressed, you saw more and more of a law calculating Vivienne. I think the stern, cold, law only and my future only personality is played so well by Te’Neal, and I think as the days go on, you will see more and more of the emotions Te’Neal is able to pull off through Vivienne. When you see the changes that take place between Vivienne and Elle as plot characters, you begin to feel a power of the plot and musical elements coming together.

Lauren as Brooke Wyndam and Kate

Auditioning at Carnegie Hall earlier this year, that tells you a lot of what you need to know about Lauren. Second how many of you can sing that musical score while jumping rope? The “muscle” that Lauren brings to this position is the perfect match, and then her “softening” when it comes to familiarity with a fellow “sister” – Lauren is able to bring this role alive through her voice, her charisma, and through her ability to speak to the audience directly. Love love love. The smarts also being represented through Lauren is well done- and a natural role for Lauren. if you have ever seen her during a typical school day, all business and the times when she isn;t cranking out the amazing success, we are lucky to hear her voice.

Olivia as Enid Hoops

If you were a member of the WHS staff anytime in the Spring of 2022, and anywhere near students on a daily basis that were even remotely attached to the play, you were aware of living pieces of this musical every single day for months. One concern heard repeatedly is the question of if a role is right for a student to portray and how they will be perceived as a student in that role. I know for a fact Olivia pulled off a great feat in her role as Enid, canvassing from staunch anti-masculinist topics to being an independent woman, addressing issues from lesbianism, breaking glass ceilings for the path of future women, to just simple respect demanded for women. Through it all, Olivia pushed the determination of this role to the forefront, and despite being difficult to hear sometimes over music and peak moments of a rise in sound, her building confidence in this role helped reflect the personality of others through the personality she brought on a steady basis as Enid. Not an easy feat to achieve and it was exciting to see her continually warm up more and more in this role.

Cameron as Aaron Schultz

The array of various individuals represented coming to Harvard depends on the varied personalities. Cameron definitely is able to represent the awkwardness of a new law student as Aaron perfectly. Quiet, out of sorts a little, and sure of himself, would like to see a little more of that self-confidence pouring out, and think we will as the musical progresses. Dancing, singing, and also being a part of the ensemble, it doesn’t take all brain power to see the talent Camerian has to work different facets of this character.

Prince as Sundeep and Carlos

Seriously, prepare yourself for hilarity. Prince has the moves, the language, and the expressions to add the comedic reactions needed opposite of many a serious contemplation during the musical. Aside from never being able to look at a UPS driver the same again, playing another entering member of Harvard as well as the big reveal Carlos during a great court scene number, if there was any more of Prince during the musical, there indeed might be Purple Rain. The right person, the right scene, the right laugh, the right look – you will be convinced once you see what he brings to every character.

Believe it or not, this is only still a third of why and what you will see in Legally Blonde the Musical by WHS Drama team. Stay tuned for the remaining look at what you will be really taken off guard with and amazed by in this production. Part III on its way soon and you still have tonight at 7, as well as May 1 and 2 at 2 PM to latch onto it all!

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Legally Open Minded and Amazing (Part I)

Post ex-patriot depression. Unless you have decided to take one of the biggest risks of your life and truly give up everything you know, move to another life and leave so much of yourself behind, most likely, you might not have been aware of a condition known as ex-patriot depression. I certainly never did, and then, well there are no words.

The individuals you welcomed me from my home U.S. country when I moved to Mexico- and waked me literally by the hand so I could be successful in everything I did was beyond what I ever expected, and the six years I spent in Mexico, as I have said before, completely changed me, 100%. Returning back to the United States, and I never thought I would ever say this, was the hardest decision I ever had to make, it felt as if I was leaving everything behind AGAIN, on the other side of my border, and leaving 95% of myself behind with my departure- very difficult to come to terms with.

That first year back was the most difficult of my life- absolutely, the most head to the wall depressed I am sure I ever felt in my life, and again, that is a difficult pass to get beyond. However, one thing brought me front and center as I attended the first show of Woodbridge High’s Legally Blonde The Musical performance tonight.

Leaving Mexico was not just leaving a world of students, parents, and friends that I had become close to from all over the world, it was leaving drama behind. I mean that in the best possible sense. The productions that the musicians, parents, actors, tech crew, stage crew, put themselves into, raising thousands upon thousands of dollars, and performing to over 200+ people every night, that was something over the six-year period I had actually begun to EXPECT when I went to our school’s productions – being able to be a fly on the wall behind stage and cover the cast and crew in photos and blog posts was a privilege every single night, and a mind-blowing one at that.

When I realized I was returning to Delaware, and I knew the shock would be real jumping back from living in the 4th largest city in the world to possibly one of the smallest states in the United States, I knew there would be repercussions on my being and yet…

I can never forget the VERY FIRST drama production I attended at Woodbridge High in the WInter of 2017 – Miracle on 34th Street. I forced myself to not compare anything with anything, as I was in a totally different life now, and to do anything else would be unfair to me, and learning to settle into a new life I was creating over- just a lot to work through in the realization department.

I still recall, how I was welcomed without the person who welcomed me knowing it, and without even knowing ME. I saw for the first time, a young girl who acted, sang, and was just uber-confident in the reason she was on stage, confident in the story she was leading and telling others, and even though everyone knew this story, she told it in her own way and brought everyone in.

Alyssa as Elle

She brought me in from a very depressing transition and I felt instantly at ease and at home, despite the post expatriot depression I found myself in being warped between countries. She was amazing. had a great voice, confident, spunky, and was absolutely exciting to see on stage. I of course am talking about the lead in Legally Blond, The Musical, at Woodbridge High School and talking of course about Alyssa. I did not know I would come to know this young star of the stage in a better sense years later, nor did I realize I would see her in several stage productions and each time, seeing her grow in a number of ways into the young woman she became tonight, and sadly, her last full production on-stage for WHS. There were so many familiar emotions I felt in the same scenarios I was a part of in Mexico through countless amazing productions, and yet, her ability to take a role and pull someone out of an expected withdrawal of all you have come to know, well it is powerful. But Alyssa’s ability to remain her comedic, dramatic, energetic, ability-to-overcome- obstacle- after- obstacle- to- be- successful- story, AND talented self, as told in Legally Blonde as well, was one of the brightest takeaways you will witness in seeing this show. You have even more hit the jackpot if you are one of the many lucky people that have come to know Alyssa and see her grow in a variety of ways, and there are no words to saw what you witness as you see this happening. I never knew that little girl that conducted her self-confidently would be the same great young lady I would enjoy seeing in later years in my class, but ther it is. Being lucky and not sure how I became so lucky. I will attempt to go on and give you the most pertinent reason why you will never forget the lessons you will walk away with from this now three more day productions you should make a point to see, without giving away the points that will 100% surprise you and leave you gaping at how amazing it was pulled off.

A sidenote, one of the coolest things about a production is what happens BEFORE the production. I always noted and paid attention to this. In many of the Mexico American School Foundation productions, actors would be in the crowd waiting to get into the auditorium, in their role already, and mingling with the attendees / spectators as their role, and it was ALWAYS outstanding. ALWAYS. And tonight, what an amazing scene you need to be aware of. You had alumni from previous WHS production in attendance, from Marissa to Gerald, seeing former actors and actresses from years past there – was amazing to see everyone and chat with them before the production. ON TOP OF THAT, seeing so many instructors and administration in the audience (LOVED Ms Shiley – nominated teacher of the year in her complete Legally Blonde outfit with ms Fisher) from various schools, so many parents, siblings, and on TOP OF THAT, seeing instructors that came from Classic Upward Bound that were definitely here from afar- that was one of the greatest preshow events that can occur and already sent an amazing vibe. it was fabulous. On TOP OF THAT, seeing some amazing WHS athletes just get off the bus from their sporting events and come in their uniform, RIGHT off the bus to the show? PRICELESS.

Tommy as Emmett.

Wow. Just WOW. Never seeing Tommy play a role as front and center and it being the FIRST night production, the confidence Tommy brings to this role? PHENOMENAL. The good-guy, stick with it and mentor yourself and another to rise above anything that tries to get you down kind of character, he brings to LIFE and really SHINES at the end as a result- so so right for this.

Madison as Pauelette

Did you see this coming? I certainly did NOT – and wondered, holy mother of beauty on the stage! She is so versatile, worked her beauty salon to the point of being THE PLACE where you as a spectator centers back to, and is able to progress her character from one point to a polar opposite SO WELL, it will leave you wondering as well, WHY DID WE NOT SEE MORE OF HER in other productions. The additional personality she adds to the stage cannot be found in the lines she reads, and you will feel this from the very beginning when you first see/hear her.

Jaisac as Warner

This is a make or break role, and Jaisac is able to bring the hindsight to foresight of this character, in the same light as Elle (not easy to do) in SO many different scenarios, the foil character he brings is essential to the success of this story, He does it so well. SO well. VERY impressive with what he is able to do with this character and how it brings out so many other characteristics of the characters he is with. You often fund yourself regretful or flashing back on the past with Jaisac as Warner several times during the show.

Prince as Kyle the UPS guy

Oh My Mother of UPS Delivery GUY! If you are not falling on the ground, impressed by the versatile roles Prince is able to bounce back and froth with, AND the way he delivers this role to the hilarity all the way through the production, the laughter and hilarity is contagious from beginning to the end of the production. Absolutley. 100%. HYSTERICAL. Worth every single second of moves you see Prince make. I was not expecting the belly soreness I felt after all of what Prince brings to the stage.

Avery, Carla, and Karla as Pilar, Serena, and Margot.

I have to just tell you, seeing Karla in the last production and wanting to see more of her, is one major reason, absolute, one of the most talented, quietest, and most surprisingly dramatic ladies that you would not expect to come alive as she does on stage, wow. Seeing Karla in previous and then seeing her explode even more on stage as one of Elle’s angels, lol, priceless.

Avery – never expected a set of lungs like that on her, never expected the sassiness and amazing talent of dropping the best lines at the best moments, she was a sensation for her first production on the high school stage and no way will we be seeing the last of her to the benefit of the audience.

Carla is so spunky, energetic, finger and pro-Elle supportive I am wondering what I did not see or recognize her in more productions and can only hope somehow, some way, we will see more of her talent that she shows in legally Blonde. You can tell by the way she trusts her pro-Elle thoughts and advice, she loves the stage and bringing it to the audience 100%.

This is only a THIRD of the amazing things you see and feel from WHS’s version of Legally Blonde, so stay tuned tomorrow AM for some not spoiling reveals of AMAZING things that came out of a first night showing of Legally Blonde at Woodbridge High School. If ever there was a school production worth its money in pink, it is this one – so hurry before it is too late, you still have April 30th at 7PM, May 1st and 2nd at 2 PM!

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How Many Times Can the Broken Pieces Be Picked Up – and Who Will You Give Them To?

It is at the very weakest moments of our lives, that we often see the truest parts of our own self. It is difficult to say why this is the case, but as for myself, it has been often the truest of the truths I have discovered.

In receiving the devastating news that a mentor and one of the truest hearts I have ever met lost her brave and courageous battle with cancer this evening, I asked myself silently a few times, why on this sometimes biting, knashing, seemingly ungrateful earth do some of the best, purest people, some of the hardest fighting, working, and most selfless people have to suffer such great length, where so many others that are selfish, ungrateful, bullying, individuals remain untouched by struggle? Why on earth indeed?

I am sure many of you have asked this question in some of the most trying, frustrating, exhausting, and bottom of the bottom of times. It is in these moments of utter desperation, that the truest form of who we are and can be is often revealed, and I always have believed that is from the strength of the very people we mourn, but have given us the strength to represent them forever in our actions, our loves, and their lives and just in another form. Through each of us.

Ms Cheryl as many of you know was one of the purest heroes I have ever met on this earth. Coming back from Mexico City, broken-hearted about leaving such a close-knit family of people that had taken a chance on me, never knowing me and taking me in. Losing the one person that had hired me when I originally was not the right person they were looking for, Mr. Williams in hiring me changed the trajectory of my whole life. Little did he know at the time, his decision put some of the most amazing young people, some of the most amazing teachers, artists, and dear friend in my life that to this day, I am sure I never deserved.

Leaving this all behind was bittersweet, and coming back to my family, and working through several losses on top of losing Mr. Willians, upon moving back, often pushed me to the ground to a crawl more times than I care to recall. Yet, ms Cheryl took me in at perhaps one of my lowest moments, and she gave me so many freedoms to work with students and young people, it gave me more than a running start returning to the United States in such a blur of not knowing who I was amid the changes or where I was going. She gave me a map.

Through the countless issues, problems, and dilemmas that Ms Cheryl guided young people through, listened to, and found ways to support them and give them confidence, she never wavered from her calm, reflective demeanor, ever. She always placed the clouds of hope under every single young person, adult, and friend she came into contact with. She passed its legacy onto every single person that came to know her, and when she retired many were devastated in seeing her move away from a scene she always managed to play the hero in.

Who would save everyone now? The greatest legacy and gift that Ms. Cheryl provided to everyone within her reach was the love, the listening ear, the calm demeanor, the will to work until you thought you had nothing left, and then you realize you have a whole lot more because there are so many others that have 20 times worse problems than yourself. In fact, the very complaints you think you had are mere specks of dust when it came to trying to find ways to help those around us that were suffering way more than we would ever come to realize.

Ms. Cherly, for me, took a chance on me, that she could have easily said, you have so much going on right now, you just moved back, I am not sure you are going to be able to give what we need for this Upward Bound program. She never doubted me. She jumped in and advocated for my abilities, talents, and interests from day one as if she had known me all her life. I can tell you from the heart, apart from my family and the amazing friends I have been lucky to have as a part of my life, there is also a whole ton of people on the opposite side of that spectrum that will never advocate except for themselves, period. Ms Cheryl’s love for all things possible, even in the middle of the worst of storms, is LEGENDARY. As is Ms Cheryl.

I would guess, leaning more to positive belief, there are so many of us in the world touched by Ms Cheryl, touched by Mr Williams, touched by someone that believed in us for no reason, advocated for us, and set us on our way to doing things we never knew we could do. The very worst thing we could do is hide from those opportunities to keep these amazing individuals alive through a withdrawing grief. I grief that says I can no longer pick up the pieces.

I am of the belief that just when we think there are no more broken pieces, another storm of pieces will be at our feet, trying to wear us down. However, the lives of such people as Mr Williams, Ms Cheryl, who give you a part of themselves because they believe in you, and they believe you can go on to help someone else and believe in them like they did you? That is the largest piece of all to pick up and hold onto – the very biggest piece. You are so missed already Ms. Cheryl but your life has just begun thanks to the many throngs of people your life affected. Thank you so very much.

I love 4:03 of this video – that was the very epitome of who Ms. Cheryl is!

I think it is a powerful statement that both Mr Williams and Ms Cheryl both wanted us to spend more time helping others than knowing and worrying about them- which defines them perfectly in all they ever did.

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One Single Day, Task, Focus is a Losing Librarisition…

Librarisition? Seriously? Bear with me.

The below comment given by a librarian in another state hit home with me. I have been employed where certified librarians were made to feel as if they were a mascot. Luckily, I am in a school, and previously was in a school, that does/did not view it that way, a priceless gift, but many are.

Okay so yes, whether you realized it or not, April 4th was National School Librarian Day, and yes, three amazing faculty members of my school reminded me and told me thanks.

That felt good.

BUT – to the amazing and talented certified school librarian who wrote this above- I feel you, I truly do but KNOW THIS -Our professional ALWAYS ALWAYS is usually deemed less than the roles of nurses and counselors which are required to be in schools, and of course be certified. To the dismay of certified librarianship NOT so much BUT….

…We know what we do every single day is just as valuable as any profession, knowing we pave the way forward for futures. Many take that for granted, deny deny deny, or choose to ignore that fact.

BUT get this, the things we do EVERY SINGLE DAY, not just ONE day, (or month) speak louder than the multiple days spent removing certified school librarians from schools.

Organizations believe in us.

Students, senators, and state representatives and teachers and yes, admin believe in us.

Students and faculty believe in us – look at a typical day!

It is vital to remember, the administrators that do not acknowledge the value and merit of a certified librarian, the parents who choose to ignore literacy is a factor to all success, the individuals who choose to take the path of a degree in Information Science is not needed – they continue to struggle to find ways to succeed, and we all know, the best-kept secret and not best-kept secret but those to know, one of the very important cogs in the educational system is a certified librarian in every school.

It is so easy to believe a certified librarian alone is the key, teachers, administrators, and certified librarians with paraprofessionals change the landscape of education forever. It has been proven time and time again. Once others begin to take blindfolds off, more successes will be heard and seen.

Together, we all realize, it does not come down to one day, even one month, but the collective and countless hours, patience, and behind-the-scenes work we do EVRY SINGLE DAY? The privileged individuals who WANT to know, know more. It always seems to work out that way and togetgherm we work better.

Last note to let you know you are not alone – I did a Component Five experiment with students, on what they knew about certified school librarians and then what they did know after receiving a little information about certified librarians being present in our schools in Delaware. You are going to be amazed at the results, but it settles well with me that students are the first to be enlightened about the status, value, and presence of certified librarians in Delaware. Many times I was asked, “Why did I NOT know this about the profession, the lack of certified librarians, their absence across this state, and why do not more people outside of school know this?” All good questions. I do believe National School Librarian Day and National School Library Month, single, powerful tools, are meant to answer those questions.

Keep the faith. All bets on one single day is a losing Libraristion. πŸ™‚

P.S. We have another day / opportunity too- April 16th – National Librarian Day πŸ™‚

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Intersection. Which Way Do you Turn?

April 1st.

Poetry Introduction (because School Libraries, Sexual Assualt Awareness and Prevention, and Poetry can be destinations we use vehicles to get to!)

Whew. Let’s just dive in. Looking back to last year – it seemed a different April 1st is appearing, and one not to be worried about if headed in the right “direction.” (That is the good and bad thing about school librarians (SCHOOL LIBRARY MONTH!) – See? their mind is ALWAYS on and connects to everything…) It seems the idea of idling at an intersection was more real this year than ever, seeing so many aspects converging together. Exciting.

Speaking of that term before we just do that, this day ironically marks the birthday of my Day, Harry Brake Sr., and an assortment of gifts he has left behind for our family to capitalize on. From his hard-working ethic, to his mischievous nature, to the ability to reach out and pull in a handful of acquaintances without blinking – (pretty much like a magnetic), to an unbridled creativity that would come out in the most unexpected ways (wood carving, soap carving, mechanically, twisting designs throughout metal, paint, and more, the armory of talent that he carried, utilized, and shared knew no bounds.

Oddly enough, there were similar identities, even stories. but as a family, we know there was only one that carried weight in so many widening circles in Pennsylvania.

Much of that I carried with me silently throughout the day and helped me create and reflect on the below as well- as I realize each of us carries a potential – the trick is seeing it through to share it and have it develop into other creations and motivating others.

April 1st- April Fool’s Day, aaaah yes. So – it is true, I did NOT add an addition to my canine and feline family despite my post. Sorry about that. I try to keep the lines between what is possible and what is not closely aligned to allow a little bit of questioning to occur on April Fool’s Day in the tradition of the mischievousness my Dad would always lay before us. However, the intersection of the day is what is powerful amid a day of potential foolery.

The whole idea behind School Library WEEK, (April 3-9, 2022) and of course, School Library Month Month, is to be a model and beacon to inform others of what they might not realize about school libraries. It sounds obvious, that school libraries have morphed since the idea of a room full of books at your disposal without spending a fortune, and free to the average patron – ALWAYS a bonus to anyone that really likes anything mechanical, vocational, creative, inspiring, and a hundred more topics, without having to be a book worm. Unless people outside of libraries realize the inside can be a haven for dreams, talents, creativity, inspiration, and connections, yes, connecting to everything around us, then the value of the school library is diminished, just like a vehicle loses its value as soon as it is driven off the lot.

How do you maintain that value and keep that knowledge in front of the average person outside of the school library? At this point in the intersection of school libraries and potential, it is all about finding ways to market what exactly a school library does, and meet those needs of the community, be it a school community, a town/neighbor community, a learning community, a retired community, an business community, an agricultural community, every one one of these communities are connected and have intersection they all will eventually meet at, the key is to have the school library be the stoplight, sign, or traffic director to send people in the right direction.

Our first intersection decision becomes National Poetry Month in April! First, get this straight, Poetry is not always flowery, sweet, and sentimental. FALSE! It CAN be, but more importantly, poetry helps show the relatedness of thought, to action, to sometimes emotion, to the world around us. Of course the classics stick out, like Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Billy Collins, the “classics” that will burn through your memory of what driving through an intersection is.

Let’s also recognize that poetry is and can be represented by “Hot Rods” of the category, Amanda Gorman, Maya Angelou, Violeta Orozco, Joy Harjo, Jason Reynolds, Sandra Beasley, many more young poets, and this comparison to intersections about poetry and vehicles is not by accident.

There is poetry about mechanics.

There is poetry about farming.

There is poetry about pets.

There is poetry about doctors.

There is poetry that can highlight causes such as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (Also April).- Survivor Poems that show growth through traumatic events

The intersection we find ourselves at with School Library Month and poetry is full of potential, it is just dependent on which direction we choose. So here is a challenge to start us off. We are looking for poems that discuss growth, life, and even more how they represent our own state of Delaware, or your state, or country where you live, your immediate community. We want to collect these that reach deep and make you think in a literary art magazine by students, called The Riff.

We want to theme our collection Sprout, and show how people from all over respond and see this idea of “sprouting” through many dimensions of growth. We want to publish this and show this is a collection of individuals who are able to show us through your poetry (this month IS poetry Month). We hope you will send them here: SUBMIT and please tell others and let’s show how this intersection of poetry and life are navigated by us. Please also check out our Poetry a Day, every day page, as we navigate through so many types of Poetry for EVERY DAY! –

Next post, since this is just becoming too long πŸ™‚ – How the intersection of poetry contests out of Woodbridge High School, Escape Rooms, and some other cool contests this month will engage and challenge everyone from adults to young students, stay tuned later today to learn how this will be available to you – and celebrate School Library MONTH!

Also, Happy Belated April Fool’s Day Birthday Dad!

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Jasmine Warga, Students, and Art bring out the inner student

Olivia, do you think you could paint a conversation between an author and students/adults?

Wow She did!

In talking with Jasmine Warga and her book, Other Words for Home, so much depth!

A HUGE shout out to Delaware’s Festival of Words, which involves coaches, artists, teachers, parents, students, librarians, athletes, readers and non-readers to name a few. We need to continue to support initiatives like that that allow students to think outside of the proverbial box. This event supplies opportunities, meals, and texts alongside live author events to inspire all.

The talk we had tonight with Jasmine Warga, AMAZING.  The concept and perception of women wearing hijabs, the level of comfortable being asked where you are from when you were/are born in the U.S., the stereotypes and fears that many Arab Americans had following 911, and so many more topics that were brought up!   AND we had a student paint this painting based on the conversations she hears – attached.  Amazing night and I realized, school libraries can catch students off guard and enable a sense of trust to talk about normally uncomfortable topics when students find that third space library that introduces art and interests of the students without ever having to mention a book. 

The interest in books actually does not need to come from a reading interest which many students do not have, students tonight became interested because of topics they might learn about themselves, that draws them to the books. 

Fascinating discoveries tonight!

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A Day in the Life!

It was an honor to be asked to write free-lance school library stories for Every Library, and the first one was difficult to get exactly right, – it took me several runs at it to get the idea across of how the position of a school library is recognized for what it is – too many roles to checklist off.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

A Day in the Life!

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Perfect Day?

Sometimes you just hit the lottery.

Arriving at Chapel Branch at 1:00PM, on a day that seemed patterned after the best summer day you can recall – Denise Oliver and I began walking our canines, and it was picture perfect. The dogs seemed to say with each whiff, FINALLY! Between the breeze and gentle rocking of air you could hear through the woods, it is an AMAZING place to be on a day like today.

Looking back over the last few weeks with developments on the horizon, it is such an amazing gift to be able to have a place like Chapel Branch to escape the marathon’s of to do’s the world recycles day after day.

A VERY successful DO More 24 campaign,

a great community cleanup planned for March 26th at Chapel Branch and Newton Woods, our exciting Pre Easter online auction April 11th – 15th, of so many artistic and creative items that will make amazing Easter gifts from businesses all over MD and DE, our Beer and Benevolence Community Dinner night at Dog Fish Head April 27th starting at 5:00 PM – and the possibilities that are on the horizon, but add this all up and realize most events are within a 1-4 miles if you live in Seaford- it is breath taking.

After an amazing day and soaking in sunshine, we saw at least 10 more cars in the parking lot, talking with new visitor about the trails, and engaged in an amazing conversation with someone that remembered when Chapel Branch was initiated along with the Seaford Swim Associations’ pool, it was a perfect day to travel back in time. It was interesting to hear about the swing sets, baseball park, and how Chapel Branch was created to be a recreational area for those that became employees of DuPont. I have been searching for years for images/pictures that captured what these areas looked like, if you happen to know of anyone that has these. We’d love to gather these for an archive adding to the legacy of the Chapel Branch area.

With a day like this, the dogs rest and sleep better, we sleep a sounder sleep, and are able to face a next day where we realize it is better to slow down and take on the tasks of every day at a slower pace to take in the beauty we often rush by every day. It was exciting to also meet individuals today who wanted a copy of our recently donated book, Last Child in the Woods, and discuss the many wonders of Chapel Branch they may not be yet aware of.

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Anger, Guilt, Faults

Not sure if you have felt anything as of late, but I know – Anger, so much anger has been welling up inside of me and it is actually interesting looking back.

Most of my anger is directed towards the events of how people that take so much pride in their country, they are willing to fight for their Ukranian country at all costs – willing to drop everything and how much it touches them despite the losses and numbers against them – I am watching some of the bravest individuals in front of me.

I am a visual person, and I feel it is way too easy to placate what is happening by simply reading the lines, seeing the images of their pain, and fear, I can at least transport a part of myself to their plight and try to dig in and follow and pray for their bravery and success in the face of such tyranny.

I am not sure, well I am sure it is not on the level of when I thought I knew so much about countries from the studies I had from textbooks in high school and college, My biggest flaw was I believed everything I read and that was taught to me and did not question enough. When I travelled to Mexico carrying the views, beliefs, and stereotypes of what I thought was Mexico – I realized within a few days how off base I was. Seeing children that were one to two years old in the metro willing to sell stickers that would not fit in the space of a wrinkle in your knuckle, for hours just to get a few bits of change, until the wee hours of 3 and 4 AM, seeing how hard individuals worked day and night having the most minimal resources they could call home, and feeling the pain, suffering, and struggle yet immense gratitude for what they had without ever wanting more, more more, I felt so privileged to be able to truly take in the idea that less is more, the most important assets you carry with you are the relationships, trusts, and ability to help others – the “stuff” we acquire means nothing unless it helps others feel at ease, rather than just the pride of having things.

I could go on and on about how disgraceful some of my views were, and how grateful I was to be welcomed with open arms, set straight, and to truly view how amazingly smart, trustworthy, and reliable my neighbors and friends were when they had no reason to be amid a backdrop of views representing alot of slander, false portrayals and ignorant comments that often came from others about Mexico and life in general in Mexico in this particular case when I created a life there. (Thanks to those that took me in no questions asked).

Mexico was the most beautiful country thanks to the beliefs and values that so many generous individuals would not let those aspects get in the way of seeing me for how I, was, and how I could embrace Mexico as a country and realize how lucky I was to be a part of the country. I never take for granted that experience and the country made up of individuals that would bend over backwards for me and never know the whole me at first.

I transfer alot of this experience to wanting and expecting more from the world to support Ukraine, my anger comes in pockets from these areas – politicians who think they know what is happening in other countries without ever spending their time there to know the country and know the people.- that disgusts me. It hits me deep and causes so much anger in me when I see so many selfish people around me interested in things, things things, and often tend to go blind when it comes to noticing the people around them that need a ear, a conversation, solace and yet anything that matters to many are things things things. I am surprised at night when I have gone to sleep crying over hearing the plight and impact of what is happening in Ukraine, I can envision the students and friends I know in Ukraine and yes am worried sick, and with every complaint from people around me about having to do some type of task, or complaining about not having the latest this or that – my biggest fault is applying the open mind and heart of a people to my own country, as many did for me – one of many of my faults.

Guilt comes from me not being a better person for having such a short fuse when I see this occurring on all levels, disrespect for other countries, disrespect for other peoples, for their beliefs, blaming others for something instead of doing something to make it better, I need to find a way.

As a country, I find myself thinking the harder I work and the harder I put myself into something, it does alleviate me from being so lax about things and I feel I just have a sort of repentance owed for something being too selfish about how thankful I should be for the gifts I have received of a job, friends, good health, safety, and more. I take way to much for granted, way too much, and it is ironic I feel and see this when other people are put down, threatened, forced against the freedoms they should be afforded and are not given any opportunity to truly live. The anger boils under my level of realization that I wish more people would put themselves in situations to understand from the outside of their situation what the situation truly feel likes, not just from their point of view.

I write this as I try to find ways to better the world around me, find others that feel the same way, and try to form an alliance to put out fires of selfishness, greed, ignorance, and more. Some days are better than others, others worse the the day before – yet, the worse realization I find is the thought of not trying to value every little piece of gratitude that I am lucky to have that can’t be bought, can’t be charged, can’t be collected. I think these thoughts as every day I pray for a strength, a courage, and a power so vast that the powers that try to overrun countries, attitudes that try to tear down and out down others – find futile against the kind hearts that truly make the world a better place. Helpless in seeing others fight for what is right has been difficult.

I hope I continue to find those people who find ways to care with their hearts rather than their wallets, greed, and selfishness. It is painful to see so many of these emotions brought out in the affront against Ukraine, and I stay positioned to want to push their strength, energy, and pride even against everything that threaten it. I have learned this from some of the best people in and out of the United States, and that gift is priceless.

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Everyone Deserves Their Third Space

One of three students that had breakdowns this week, and they found refuge in the safe “third space”, the school library. Parents and teachers need to readvocate for certified librarians and school libraries that do way more than simply check out books. That stereotype is an insult to students and faculty that the school library can support. A great email from one of the young ladies this third space available to them helped. It is not ever about ME, it is always about what the school library can provide for students.

“Hey Mr. Brake thank you for checking on me and I like how you tease me it makes my day feel so much better and put a smile on my face you are my favorite teacher at this school and I feel like the library with you is my safe place there. I’m sorry if I been kinda been in there a lot I just have things going on and I feel most safe in the library with you cause you make me laugh and smile and brighten my day. I had a talk with my mom tonight and we talk about something we never did talk about and I’m pretty shaken on it cause now she confirmed what I thought I remember from my past. So I’m now taking all that in and it’s just a lot for me to process everything going on. So thank you for being patient with me and giving me a safe place. I really do appreciate you in my life.”

if you do not know the status or presence your school library or school librarian has, I urge you to be more inquisitive and more more vocal – and you will see positive things happening that you would not believe, stemming from a school library!

The library as “Third Space” in Your School

Third Space

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