Tag Archives: school

Nothing and Everything

A flashback from What Next, September 2015:

nothing everything

I was born in a Chicago suburb, surrounded by siblings and generations of family. We’d drive station wagons through gently sloped streets lined with maple, oak and elm trees year-round and lilac blossoms everywhere in the spring. Every weekend the entire family gathered at one or another’s home.

Family gatherings gradually changed after we all migrated to Phoenix. My grandparents and aunts settled over an hour’s drive away, my parents, siblings, and I on the opposite side of town. OlderBrother and I walked to school in a new, drier, hotter climate passing ocotillo, acacias, and towering oleander walls.

Discovering the areas surrounding our home gradually replaced weekly visits with family. For weeks we explored livestock pastures, orange groves and hay fields. Our favorite times were spent swinging from ropes tied to enormous trees over irrigation canals.

A week before I was to become an upperclassman at our grade school, we left my grandparents and aunts’ families behind. In two cars with trailers, our parents drove my five siblings and me across the dessert to southern California. Home became an apartment where there were more trees and a patio, but no yard.

Dad and Mother went to work immediately. Very used to caring for one another, my siblings and I took on the new climate, new society, a much faster pace and being strange, new kids in metropolitan schools.

Cool wasn’t about the weather anymore; you either were or you weren’t. In jeans, t-shirts and squaw boots, I wasn’t. My main concerns were hand washing laundry and getting dinner ready. When Mother and Dad were home together they usually argued. OlderBrother stopped being my pal and mostly worked on cars with friends. Still, we somehow got from day by day together. Some days were less together than others.

A few months later we moved into a house in a nicer suburb. Eventually OlderBrother discovered the bus lines to the beach, and went there often. The rest of us hoped to go with him some day.

Two years after coming to Los Angeles, one midweek day Mother pulled us from school and took us to Crystal Cove near Newport Beach.

The fresh ocean air lifted me from our life and for the first time in months I felt I could breathe. Tide pools, waves, kelp beds, sandpipers and sea gulls sent my senses and my imagination soaring. It was our last outing with Mother. Weeks later she left.

I couldn’t get to the shore often enough for my liking. But whenever I could, I would dig my feet deep in the sand as though that would keep me from spinning off the planet. The beach became my sanctuary.

I mostly came with nothing, only to gaze where the sky meets the ocean. Between that horizon and my feet I found everything I needed.

In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
    he saved me from all my troubles.”  Psalm 34:6 (NLT)

 

Featured image courtesy dstiel at Pixabay

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Nothing and Everything – Repost

Our internet service has been uncooperative, (go figure, I’d recently commented that it’s improved).  Today I’m resigned to sharing an early post from Blogging U and The Next Best Thing.

 

nothing everything

I was born in a Chicago suburb, surrounded by generations of family. We’d drive station wagons and family sedans along paved roads through gentle slopes lined with lilac blossoms in spring, and various maples, oaks and elms year-round. Every weekend the entire family gathered at one or another’s home.

Family gatherings gradually changed after we all moved to Phoenix. My grandparents and aunts settled a half-day’s drive away, my parents, siblings, and I into a square pink house. Brother and I started school in a dry, hotter climate walking by ocotillo, acacias, and towering oleander walls.

Our playgrounds gradually replaced weekly visits with family. For weeks we explored livestock pastures, citrus groves and our favorite toys were ropes tied to enormous, friendly trees which we climbed to swing across the canals.  Later we practiced lying about swimming in the precarious waters.

Late in the summer before I was to become an upperclassman at our grade school,  we left my grandparents and aunts’ families behind. In two cars with trailers, our parents drove my five siblings, our German Shepherd a box full of her 12 suckling pups and me across the dessert to southern California. Home became a three-bedroom apartment where there were more trees, but no yard. Dad and Mother both went to jobs immediately.

Very used to caring for one another, my siblings and I faced the new climate, society, a much faster pace and being strange, new kids in metropolitan schools. Brother and I entered junior high.

Cool wasn’t about the weather anymore; either you were or you weren’t. In jeans, t-shirts and gym shoes, my main concern was hand washing laundry and having dinner ready before bedtime. Brother became cool. He stopped being my pal and was mean sometimes. I was not cool. To him I became nothing. Still, we had four other siblings  and the dog that didn’t care about cool. We somehow got through our new life together, day by day, some days worse than others.

After an eternity of a few months we moved into a house in a much nicer suburb. Eventually Brother discovered the bus lines to the beach, and he went there often. Though I missed him, I appreciated his absences.

Two years after coming to Los Angeles, one midweek day Mother pulled us from school and took us to Crystal Cove near Newport Beach. The fresh ocean air lifted me from our life and for the first time in months I could breathe. Tide pools, waves, kelp beds, sandpipers and sea gulls sent my senses and my imagination soaring, changing everything.

Through the following years I didn’t get to the shore often enough for my liking. Whenever I could, I dug my feet deep into the sand as though that would keep me from spinning off the planet. The beach became my sanctuary and the God I knew as a kid in the dessert met me there.

Often enough I came with nothing, only to gaze where the sky meets the ocean. Between that horizon and my feet I found everything I needed.

In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
    he saved me from all my troubles.”  Psalm 34:6 (NLT)

 

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Salute

The word-wide obsession with our devices and mankind whirling along the surface of the earth without actually living on it has me thinking. For all our technological advances we may have missed something important.

Spoiler alert: While I believe God blesses America, I am not blind or ignorant. We’re in a mess. And yet we’re a blessed mess. “And that’s all I have to say about that.”

So, now that’s out of the way:

I’ve noticed a distinctive change in American society. I admit, I’ve corrected youngsters for being disruptive or disrespectful during the National Anthem at baseball games, etc. That’s old school and can be risky. It’s also one of the perks of being old.

As a kid when I stepped out of line, whether they knew me, my family or not, a momma or a father was often quick to correct me. It was perfectly acceptable then and I appreciate their guidance more now than ever.

Today in our litigious society, we may have missed the importance of teaching our history, our good traditions to our young. Things like pausing for the playing of the National Anthem, saying the Pledge of Allegiance and what it all means. I didn’t learn it in school – I learned at home. While it may be part of a teacher’s seemingly endless job, it’s not their responsibility; it’s the parents’. And don’t get me started about showing appreciation for service persons in uniform…

So, before I start another rabbit trail, on this Independence Day, I apologize for the poor quality of the following video. Like me it’s old school. But as a society we need to hear the message. Like our full, accurate history, complete with some shameful attitudes and incorrectness, it’s important to remember what it’s all about.

Feel free to stand. Or pray.

“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” Ephesians 4:2 (NLT)

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Two Lights Are Better

After blogging for a few months I am delighted to have met Michelle Malone, a fellow blogger, and WordPress, Writing classmate. She writes with such candor and sincerity, I began following her blog immediately. While I didn’t initially notice Michelle is a Middle School Assistant Principal, I immediately noticed an innate wisdom about her writing.

Among many of her sensitive, enlightening posts, her recent Fear of the Unknown story especially piqued my interest.

I’m a grandmother, a freelance writer and a very humble blogger, but teaching is not one of my gifts. This revelation came to me after volunteering as a teacher’s aide in a private parochial school, and then getting to know a few teachers personally. Therefore I have the utmost respect for educators.

Fortunately for us all, my son’s remedial reading teacher changed his scholastic course. I think of Michelle often when conversing with my now grown son. Because of a single one teacher his academic career turned around that year and he went on with the rest of his class.

This year, in Fear of the Unknown, Michelle writes in eloquent detail about the “Start of the Beginning.” She describes it as “a joint professional development day between our two schools. It was my sneaky way of getting our teachers to connect and build what I hope will be a lasting partnership with teachers in our feeder system.”

In Michelle’s words:

“My greatest struggles and greatest joys are centered around relationships — the desire to build and refine them, but also to repair and resuscitate those in peril. I have not ended any (in my recollection); instead I have tried to repurpose a few for the sake of a peaceful mind and a desire to live a life of exclusivity.”

“In my current role, I primarily work with teachers, students, and parents. Though my response to various issues today differs from my response to some of the same issues over 20 years ago, I’ve noticed that the problems are essentially the same.  Parents do their best to raise respectful children, and they send us their best to nurture and to grow little people into big people who will one day rule the world we live in.”

“One of the myriad challenges we face, however, is a world that values professional athletes more than educators.  When was the last time you stood in line to buy your favorite teacher’s jersey or watched new teachers get drafted on national TV? The answer is NEVER. We don’t need that kind of pomp and circumstance, but we do need to be recognized and regarded as sowers who plant and nurture seeds each year that have the potential to grow into scientists, attorneys, prima ballerinas, designers, and our course — teachers. We need more teachers to continue sowing seeds so that there is never a fallow period in education.”

“I love it when my former students find me on Facebook and tell me what a difference I’ve made in their lives. That’s the reward for the sacrifices, the late night grading, and the second job to make ends meet.”

“I’m humbled when a parent says thank you for “doing what’s best for kids” when she knows that her kid didn’t always do his best. That’s the reward for foul language, temper tantrums, back-to-school nights, and after school help.”

“I’m honored when my former charges become teachers too.  That’s the reward for being a role model (whether I wanted to or not), planning field trips, and selling tons of World’s Famous Chocolates to fund those trips.”

“Ultimately, I’m grateful for the chance to make a small difference in the lives of others and to wake up each day and be granted that opportunity once again.”

In my experience, dedicated, committed people like Michelle and my sons’ teachers change lives in positively unforgettable ways.

Michelle and I are both new to blogging, and we fearlessly put ourselves and our stories out there in the hope of lifting, encouraging others.

About blogging, Michelle says:

“When I started blogging on All Saints Day, I never expected to meet a kindred spirit, but I did.  I met E.V.A. Lambert, author of What’s Next as I began reading posts from peers in my Writing 101 class. I confess that I quickly read through many of the posts, but there are a few that have piqued my interest, and I just can’t start my day without seeing what’s next!”

“Judging from her recent comment on one of my posts, I think she gets me too:  

“I barely know you, only met you this week, but I feel like you’re my new best friend.”

“Guess what, Roo — I feel the same way too.”  

We are both so glad God allowed our paths to cross on this gridlocked cyber super highway. We’re living proof that he’ll find us wherever we are and give us what we need.

I agree with Michelle that we are indeed on the right track . I hope together we help light this world up.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor”- Ecclesiastes 4:9 (NKJV) *

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  Matthew 5:16 (NLT) **

*Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

**Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

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