Monday, May 31, 2010

Sacrifice and Truths...

I’m uncomfortable to say that today is Memorial Day and while I am not prolific in my words to encompass the importance of this holiday, it did however make me think of my brothers; each of whom served in the military. They were the brave souls that fought for our freedom and allowed us to wave a flag in pride that we are American citizens. Nevertheless, they were considerably older than me so I don’t have firsthand knowledge of their journey, nor can I offer ways in which their lives were affected by or even if they did ‘go off to war’. But I do know they served their country and for that I am swollen with pride for each one and want to thank Mike, Tom, and David for all their sacrifice and dedication to the United States of America.

Ironically, I do have personal awareness of what ‘going off to war’ meant for my father so I’d like to share a piece of writing I previously had written that does indicate dire consequences of what that ultimate sacrifice encompasses. My personal knowledge comes from being the daughter of a man who gave up his dreams to serve his country so allow me to share.

I’m not quite sure that my father would be considered an ancestor. Isn’t an ancestor one who comes before us many centuries ago? If so, then perhaps my Dad was a modern day ancestor? Regardless, he is the individual who came to mind when given this assignment in writing class and I believe that things happen for a reason, so it must be my mission to write about him. I don’t know much about my Dad and what I do know I acquired in the days following his death as a result of cleaning out his apartment, so my knowledge is scant and somewhat shallow, I must say. But, nonetheless, he is my father. The glaring facts are that he was an abusive alcoholic who beat my mother frequently and rode the proverbial revolving door in and out of our lives. When he wasn’t making us wait for hours on end for his presence for the ‘weekly visitations’, he happened to take my sister and I to some fun places; the lake for boating and fishing expeditions, the Silver Tavern Bar for hamburgers and greasy French fries in a plastic yellow basket, while the grownups drank Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, and who could forget visiting Orville, Ohio, my Dad’s childhood home in addition to the place where the infamous coach Bobby Knight was an old friend.

Again, I say, he is my father and yes, an ancestor, but aren’t we to gain some infinite wisdom from our ancestors? Don’t we have lessons to be learned from those that came before us? That being said, I search for meaning and answers to my father’s existence which takes me back to his death. Just as he lived his life alone, he also died alone. He was found in his darkened apartment by the city police when no one had seen or heard from him in days. He was slumped in his worn reclining chair one foot from his big screen TV given that his eyesight had failed him and blaring from the box was ESPN, a direct result of hearing gone bad. His false teeth were located beneath the chair side table that held his magnifying glass and an old photo of my sister and I of all things. A path to the door was vacant of all furniture and remnants that clearly were swept aside as the goal of the medical examiner was to recover the body of what was once my Dad.

Days later when plans were executed according to his will there was nothing else to do but peruse through what was deemed to be treasures of his life. My sister and I hesitantly opened cabinets and drawers at an arm’s length to create distance from what, I’m not sure. As each carton was opened, a flood of memories descended upon us taking us through tears and laughter in a single moment. We filtered through faded pictures of family members both known and unknown.

These artifacts were suddenly the ashes of the burnt out dreams scattered to the wind of my father’s life including a write up in the sports section of the Fostoria Tribune that announced Robert Currier to be one of only two four-year varsity lettermen football players in the history of Fostoria High School, and interestingly enough, to this day there are only seven such individuals with this distinct honor. He was a shining star in his own right that led to a college scholarship to Ohio University to play the sport he loved. He was deserving of the accolades placed at his feet although those were severed two years short by his draft into the Korean War.

We analyzed the dull and dingy trinkets such as his Varsity ‘O’ pin and the carefully engraved diamond cuff links welcoming him to the Ohio University football program, plus odds and ends that would become the puzzle pieces to his life which would lead to an understanding of my own.

Instead of living his dream of that of a shining football celebrity, my Father went off to war and came back a broken man with shattered ideals disguised in a bottle with the anger of an iron fist and razor-sharp words. What was directed toward his family was really anger at the world beyond his control. No, that doesn’t excuse his actions nor does it make the events orchestrated by him right, but it’s justification of the fight in me labeled competitiveness and why athletics come easy for me. It’s validation for me why I no longer need to hold onto the self-blame I instigated trying to make my dad happy if only I would have been a more perfect daughter. What's more, it does provide me with understanding to the window of a man’s soul who wanted more from his life, but received much less.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I Can Only Imagine...

‘I Can Only Imagine’ by MercyMe shuffled through the IPod during my morning walk taking me to contemplate moments, feelings and experiences I have never been subjected to. I have no personal knowledge of climbing Mount Everest, or winning an Olympic gold medal or feeling the exhilaration of accomplishing such a feat. I have no knowledge of winning the lottery and becoming a millionaire, although I’d fully welcome that one if given the opportunity. And I have no awareness of the feelings associated with having a terminally ill child or losing a child and I pray to God, that one isn’t in my future. But as humans we just accept that we will not be privileged or at a disadvantage to have every encounter known to mankind.

This last week I was fortunate enough to be of witness to a novel experience of a student of mine. I teach students with learning challenges so it’s common-place to watch the disappointments, struggles and frustrations of my kids. However, this particular student that I’ve taught for two years was fortunate to have one of those ‘I Can Only Imagine’ moments, and I was lucky enough to be of witness to her response. She passed the Science End-of-Grade test with a level 3 score and for those of you who aren’t familiar with this process, students take the EOG’s beginning in 3rd grade and are expected to pass each component (reading, math and science) or they have to re-take the test. Regardless of our efforts to shelter students who need to re-take the test, students are aware of those individuals who pass and those who don’t.

My student, M- tries so hard and if there ever was a perfect learner, despite her labels, it is her. She carries out whatever is requested of her and doesn’t give up-EVER. She is respectful, kind, loving, and funny and in spite of her limitations in the classroom, she more than offsets those with the friend and student she has strived to become. However, whenever her classmates chatter of their successes, I observe her self-confidence evaporate like a puddle on a blistering day but to her credit, she keeps persevering.

So this was her week, her day and her moment. For all the tests she has taken and fallen short of the targeted goals; as our school district deems as crucial, for all the moments she stood graciously in the other student’s shadows, this was her time to be jubilant and euphoric and she certainly was, as were all the adults whose lives have been blessed by knowing her, this was her Mount Everest moment! The days’ following her success there continues to be a skip in her step and a glowing smile that brightens her face for she is no longer imagining what that moment will feel like, she knows!

Until we meet again,

(Thanks to M's parents for allowing me to talk of her in my blog AND for sharing her with me...)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sweet Dreams...

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Sweet dreams are made of this. Get out a pen and paper and take notes on any imaginative concepts that bubble to the surface.

It's not a habit of mine to read my horoscope, however, this morning it offered me the perfect excuse to write…how lovely~ The permission I gained was imperative to my psyche knowing that I am shooting for new stars; doesn’t everyone need dreams to reach toward to keep their lives purposeful?
I adore being a teacher, and affecting the lives of my students. Most days I can’t ever see myself retiring, however within the past year a couple of innovative dreams have penetrated my soul. I fantasize of writing and publishing a book or two. I aspire to start a scrapbooking business on the beach to assemble photo creations for others who don’t enjoy the craft as I do that will allow me to capture the essence of the special ones in their world. I couple this goal with the idea of having my studio overlook the ocean; ahhhh, what better atmosphere to get the imaginative juices flowing than to be immersed by the ocean’s beauty? Scott has a longing to open a donut/bagel shop at the beach so we can be beach bums collectively; anybody have a couple hundred thousand dollars they’d like to donate?
My point being, just because we age doesn’t mean our dreams cease to exist. I wonder, are the ideals of our life as an adult more luring because the inhibitions of youth are no longer as prevalent? Or perhaps we stop listening to ‘could’ve, should’ve and would’ve’ thoughts that saturate our dreams. At any rate, I like the consent of my horoscope and in the meantime, I’ll let the words of my book bubble to the surface.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My A-HA Moment...

I ought to make a confession which probably isn’t much of a surprise to some of you…I am an emotional eater! Did you hear me?

I AM AN EMOTIONAL EATER!!! There, I said it and it is out in the open! I believe I have run the gambit throughout my life of every type of eating disorder known to man OR woman. Anorexia, Bulimia, Bulimarexia, Compulsive overeating; let’s see, did I forget anything? Oh yeah, Restricted eating. Basic bottom line, I am addicted to food. I eat when I’m euphoric, and when I need to celebrate, I consume food when I am bored, anxious, sad, uneasy and nervous. When I am unsure of myself and scared, I exercise compulsively and decrease my calories. After a quarter of a century of treatment, I persist in losing and gaining the same 20 pounds repeatedly. I speak this because the last 5-6 months I have been tip-toeing on the fringe of disordered eating.

At this point in my life, since I said I would be totally honest in my writing, I actually had an A-HA moment just the other day. I truly surprised myself as I take pride in being very astute and perceptive regarding my thoughts and feelings but I totally missed the boat on this one. In November I turned 50 years old…YES, 50 and so like all people who are considered ‘over the hill’ it was necessary to get blood drawn and a complete work-up done. Accordingly, I naively went to have that prepared, without a care in the world, since I AM a healthy individual who exercised. I eat well, okay, most times I eat well given that I do love a gooey, crunchy, chocolaty dessert, and the candy I have a tendency to eat, and ice cream, well I was born with Dairy Queen in my bottle I’m sure. I was absolutely stunned AND appalled by the results: Vitamin D deficient, my thyroid is not effective and my cholesterol, can you believe, it was 289! I was convinced I was going to stroke out prior to the weekend being over. So, after meeting with my nurse practitioner and devising a plan I was to go back and have my blood drained and retested, which I did and well, it was 310! Really? UGH!

My A-HA moment came as I was briskly walking early one morning, which I had stopped because I was instructed to rest to ease newly acquired foot problems and knee problems and had to get orthotics for my shoes to correct this problem, blah, blah, blah… In a split second, the chicken and the egg scenario was roosting through my cranium. The twenty pound weight gain; was it because I had stopped walking, or was it because of the inactive thyroid, or was I stressed out and depressed on the subject of all the above and eating to counteract all of the maladies that had transpired since I turned the BIG 5-0?! Which came first? Regardless, I was using every medical malady to justify my poor eating.

The moment of clarity escorted me to the strong feelings of NOT liking this body I am lugging around; it is not comfortable, my clothes don’t fit well and I’m very self-conscious so as a result, I am taking back control of my life…Regardless of the ‘whys’, it is my job to take care of myself; not only for myself, but for Scott and Nicholas. I love the person I am inside and while I am not obsessed with thinness, I do want to be healthy and I’m not feeling that these days. So today, I TAKE CONTROL! I’m not going to wait until the thyroid is fixed or until my cholesterol goes down or until my feet stop hurting. I am going to eat healthy and cast away the wayward eating, and I’m going to exercise and be damned with waiting for my knees to get better.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

past and present...

The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart. ~Elisabeth Foley

Boy, do I know this; as you read previously, my friend Susan was here for a visit from Ohio. I was so excited for her to share in my life in North Carolina, to see how my life is spent with the people who surround me and just the subtle ins and outs of my day. I wanted her to meet ‘my boys’; Scott, my husband and Nicholas, my son, and oh, I can’t forget Hurricane, our golden retriever who is a huge part of our days because, well, just because he teaches us that from time to time there is nothing more imperative than someone stroking our back reminding us of their constant presence in our life. He also reminds us that regardless of our flaws, we are still lovable and valued, don’t we all need to hear that point?

With the presence of my friend, within three short days I was able to visit places in my years that otherwise wouldn’t have been measured. Through our conversations I was transported to Bowling Green State University in my sorority house pouring peach brandy and Tab into unremarkable glasses with Leslie, Lynda and Chipper. Also, my little Debbie and I were singing, ‘Amee’ by Pure Prairie League at the top of our lungs while we skipped through the middle of campus in the wee hours of the morning when we should have been sleeping. Once more, I was stationed in front of the steam covered mirror with Shoe trying to get her curls to uncurl and hearing Joan’s merriment resonate in the insipid hallways of the place we labeled home.

In just one moment we were once again where Susan settled in Columbus, Ohio reveling in the escapades on Wyandotte Ave. during such visits. We were carried to relationships of old and people whose lives we shared, with flashes of times we laughed and cried collectively and these abundance of recollections all transpired in one short weekend.

So while we were forged to our lives of present, our past experiences were apparent in our togetherness. We discovered throughout that we hadn’t grown away from each other but our lives of past and present had merged into one regardless of the adults who had surfaced. 
Who transports you to another time of life?

Auf Wiedersehen, bis wir uns wiedersehen,

Saturday, May 22, 2010


My college friend is here from Ohio and I would depict our friendship as something that will live on in my life, most definitely in my heart. This particular friend has been in my life through good times and bad; although our friendship has slumbered from time to time, she has never judged me nor turned her back on me regardless of decisions I've made that have affected my life...My encounter of her has brought me face to face with some realizations of late.  

I think of the people that have entered and exited my life and I liken those relationships to that of a trees as I’ve pictured on my blog because I see such similarities of us as individuals to that of trees...we all have roots; we all come from a position that firmly hold us to our place on Earth. Good, bad or indifferent, our life is ours to behold and embrace and to learn significant lessons. It is the foundation of our being and our roots that guide us into our path that we conduct and direct. The trunk of our tree firmly holds us into the life we have chosen as our journey, as the branching off into various directions is exhibited  by the folks that affect our lives. Each limb, be it long or short are the people that have left an impression on us with relationships that remain stagnant or continue to grow.

I have been blessed in my life with wonderful people who have assisted in the carving of my path. It is only lately that I have been secure enough in my being that past individuals have been invited to enter the threshold of my life once again because I am firmly positioned in my being and do not fear judgment of others. To all those in my life who have encouraged or been part of my journey, I thank you. My trunk is strong, my roots are grounded and to every branch and limb that has been supplementary to my inner beauty, I am grateful. I like who I've become and I treasure sharing my being with those that have enveloped me.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My students...

It’s all about the colors, or so I thought. I spent the last twelve or so minutes sorting diminutive sparkly bits and pieces in a rainbow of colors into clusters. No designated groups, just arrangements I deemed as important. Immediately I gravitated toward the individual colors and made piles of various shades of crimson, blonde, cerulean, and fuchsia. There were the lone pieces of black and cream that didn’t fit with any particular group so it became an entity unto itself. Once all my chunks were in their appropriate places I maneuvered the unit in the shape of a rainbow spread out before me.

It was stunning and appealing to the eye and I surmised a self-congratulatory bid of a task well done. At that moment my mind averted to the kids in my classroom; isn’t that what we do to our children upon seeing them for the first time? Perhaps not consciously, but we inadvertently position them into groups; boys and girls, black, white or Hispanic, low level children and high level children and noting the ADD kids….and it wasn’t until I manipulated the pieces into a rainbow that I discovered their true value and worth and stopped seeing them strictly for the group function but for the intent of making a rainbow of gorgeous colors.

All my children are beautiful beings; orange or red, tall or short and there is a place for each human being amongst my fine-looking spectrum. And once done with the activity, they were swept and gathered back into the bowl to be distributed to another group, another day, and another time. My students will move upward and onward to be present with a new teacher year after year, only to be positioned once again into a collection until their true color is worth the view.

Monday, May 17, 2010

My son, Nicholas...

I walk side-by-side with my child, fingers knotted with mine as we begin our journey: destination unknown. He squeezes my fingers to notify me of his existence, just in case I’ve forgotten. We connect with our eyes and engage in an exchange of words-their presence more essential than their meaning. In that little boy voice he asks, ‘NeeNee, do you love me?’ a question that the answer is already well-known—‘yes, my son, I love you more than you will ever know’ I speak, as a grin glides across his sweet little face.

There's something about watching your child discover his own wings and take flight. In six weeks, my son will be headed to middle school by himself because you see; we have spent four out of six years of his elementary school in the same building that employs me.....when did he become that old? I'm sure it was just yesterday when I held him tight and rocked him to sleep with a slew of songs. How I loved those hushed moments when I knew he was safe in my arms and free from the woes of the world. But will a mother's veil be strong enough to shelter her child against the anguish and despair of humanity?

It is truly my hope and prayer for Nicholas that the journey he will embark upon will be cushioned by high-quality individuals that love and support him as he soars, and catch him when he falls. I will cherish the little boy always, and nurture his soul, although no one will love him like I do, for he is my son; 'yes, my son, I love you more than you will ever know.'

good bye bis zum nachsten mal,

Sunday, May 16, 2010


ahhh, you found me~
...allow me to briefly introduce myself and my purpose if you don't already know me, which my guess is you probably don't, although you may think you might. I recently attended NCCAT which stands for North Carolina Center for Advancement of Teachers.  The seminar was titled, Writing Powerful Stories. Amongst the 20 or so people who had attended we were asked what our goals were for the seminar and why we were there.  Well, besides the obvious reason that it was at the beach, my favorite one actually Ocracoke Island with sand, sun and surf, I decided I needed to come out of the closet.  No, not the closet you're thinking.  You see, I have always considered myself a 'closet' writer. Throughout my life, I wrote poems, lyrics, stories but hardly ever shared or some, I never even wrote down for fear of being 'found out'. 

But within the first hours of the seminar after being instructed to write, the following came to my mind and heart...Today I will begin to let my voice be heard…it is my voice, unlike no other, with all its imperfections, and blaring scars, it is mine to behold, so very loud and proud. The shame is absent or at least muffled, the words, though slight and minute will bellow…Today I will begin to let my voice be heard!  So therefore, on May 2, 2010 I decided that whatever it was I had to say was important to someone and even if it wasn't, it was meaningful to me and isn't that cause enough?

So today after much thought and debate, this is my spot. A spot where I will be honest and awaken those threads that not many of us voice. The unvoiced feelings of growing older, of the place a family holds in every cell of my being, of experiences and for me, because I am an educator, so of being a teacher. I am a wife, a mother, a teacher, a friend and the more we travel in our journey together, I hope to be a beacon.

good bye bis zum nächsten Mal