Our Place

March #SOLC17 Day 24

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“Hello, Gustavo my friend!  How are you?” she said as he took her hand.

“Wonderful!  So good to see you tonight!”

We could hear his bellowing laugh as we entered our place.  A laugh that comes deep from the belly that fills the entire room.  We changed tables a couple of times in the short 3 minutes since we arrived.  “We must sit in Gustavo’s section tonight!” we told the hostess.

“Are you drinking wine tonight?” he asked.

“Yes…..” and she pointed toward the wall of wines.

“I know, I know.  The V90 Syrah”, he said confidently.

“Yes, that’s it!”

“OK!  And for dinner?  Chicken?” he looked at her,  “and, the margarita pizza?” as he nodded in my direction.

In unison…..”You just know what we like, don’t you?!”

“And, I will keep bringing it as long you keep coming back!”

Another belly laugh erupts.

“Are you working Sunday?” we ask with anticipation.

“No, I spend Sundays with my mom.  She has Alzheimer’s and can’t be left alone”, he says in a serious tone we have not yet seen to this point.

In unison…”Oh, that’s so hard.  We’re so sorry.”

“Oh no, it’sOK!  It’s fun!  I love being with my mom!”

We give a weak smile and voice some words of encouragement,  shaking our heads as he walks away.  We have known this man for at least a year.  Our favorite waiter at one of our favorite restaurants.

But, what do we really know about him?

He presents himself to the world with such joy and happiness. We have no question that he is truly this cheerful person inside.  But also on the inside, he is struggling with such difficult issues.  He appreciates his mother.  Enjoys being with her.  Believes it is a gift to him to have her living with him.

We both acknowledged the stress and sadness that comes from living with an ailing parent.  Alzheimer’s especially.

This really gave us pause.

Be kind.  You never know what someone else is going through.

 

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Habit, Broken

March #SOLC17 Day 23

sol[1]I used to bite my nails.  I don’t know where the habit came from, but it has stuck with me ever since I was about 6 years old.  I can remember my friend’s mom telling me to stop. It seemed to bother her quite a bit.  More than a few people had suggestions that were “sure-fire” ways to get me to kick my bad habit.

Put that yucky tasting stuff on your fingers.  You’ll never bite your nails again!

Cover your fingers with band-aids.  If you can’t get at them, you won’t bite them!

Wear gloves!  (Following the same premise as the band-aids)

None of these remedies worked.  I continued to bite and pick my nails down to the nub.  I wanted to get the monkey off my back, but I didn’t believe I had the self-control.  I tried to identify the times that I was most likely to nibble on my digits.  In front of the TV was most common.  Recognizing the time of day for my dreadful habit didn’t change a thing.  I was simply more aware of my gnawing during my favorite TV shows, that’s all.

As I grew older I found myself in more professional settings and my desecrated nail beds made me feel quite embarrassed.  I felt like a child in an adult role.  I hid my hands every chance I got.  I went through my 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s like this.  Not believing in myself.

Until last summer.  I woke up one warm August morning and said to myself, this is the day I stop biting my nails.  I am 54 years old and this must stop.

And, I did.

Habit, broken.

It’s All About the Bach

March #SOLC17 Day 22

sol[1]There I was driving along switching radio channels – toggling between CNN, the top hits of the 60’s, Deep Tracks and back to CNN again, when I rediscovered the channel in the middle.  The station I have programmed literally in between Al Green and the Beatles.

This channel streams beautiful music from the likes of Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and……Johann Sebastian Bach.  The music of J.S. Bach soothes me.  It is the perfect antidote to a long stressful day – and to CNN.   Last night in the car I let it quietly emanate from the speakers.  It transported me – I imagined myself in orchestra hall watching the Maestro conducting each and every instrument leading to the most exquisite sound.  I imagined this short, stout man at the helm, wherever that may have been.   I’ve heard that he often conducted from various positions within the ensemble.  His gray wig bobbing. Letting the sounds move through his body.

Thank you, Mr. Bach.  Happy Birthday!

 

 

I Told You So, But I Didn’t Tell You I Told You So

March #SOLC17 Day 21

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Yesterday morning I was in a fog.  A Monday morning, rainy day kind of fog. I went to bed too late Sunday night and so it was difficult to wake up.  The rain, thunder, and lightning that began around 2:00 a.m. was intent on keeping me under my covers.  Cozy and warm.

But, alas, my phone’s alarm played a soothing wake up song right on cue…..once, twice, three times. Snooze, snooze, and snooze.  This kind of behavior is what sets the path for running behind the rest of the day.

I moved quickly, figuring I could make up the time.  I showered, dressed, applied makeup, filled my water bottle, ran a few things down to the trash shoot and headed to the 5th floor where my car awaited.  I parked in one of our closer spots the day before because we made a trip to the grocery store and had lots of bags, otherwise, the 4th floor would’ve been my destination.  This can get confusing sometimes – remembering on which floor to choose when getting on the elevator.  Our spot on the 5th floor is one of two and I always try to get as close to the wall as I can, leaving the car next to me lots of space.  Whenever I do that my friend Kathy says, “be careful!  It looks like you’re going to hit the wall when you pull out!” I usually blow her off, saying “Nah! I park here a lot, I know what I’m doing!  I’m a pro!”

Well, on this rainy, foggy Monday I guess I didn’t know what I was doing.  I guess all those times I’ve pulled out of that spot were no match for my falling-behind-hit-snooze-three-times-kind-of-day.  I was in a hurry, remember?!?!? All I heard was metal sliding across concrete

Later that day, when I told Kathy about what had happened, she didn’t utter the words once, not even under her breath.

I told you so” may have been on her mind but it was never on her lips.

For that I was grateful.

Faith

March #SOLC17 Day 20

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I attended the funeral for the mother of a friend this past weekend.  It was held in a very beautiful and very packed church.  The deceased; Margie, was only 77 years old. She had many, many friends and she touched many, many lives.  She was loved.

Sitting in the service for Margie I listened very carefully as the priest talked about what it must feel like to die.  He said that a few people have spoken with him after such an experience.  They would talk about the knowledge they had of what was happening around them as they lay “dying.”

One person knew from which direction the ambulance came and the names of the people who worked on him – and he was face down on the pavement all the while.  The priest said he could nothing but nod his head.  He didn’t have any answers, he listened and shared his faith.

Another person said they experienced the deepest warmth inside their bones because they saw their loved ones waiting for them.  Of course, they didn’t make it all the way to these open arms, but the experience allayed all anxieties they were initially feeling.  They compared it to that of holding your child for the first time.  Again the priest said all he could do was nod his head, having faith that this truly is how it works.

I considered all that the priest was sharing with us as my eyes moved from person to person in that church.  Each one looking so different from the next.  Old men and women with walkers and canes, middle-aged men and women holding hands, younger people with small children, single people sitting alone.  While they looked very different from each other, I saw that they had one commonality; it was their faith.  Their faces looked sad, but I could still see and feel a sense of peace and calm all around them.

It is fair to say that I did not grow up a very religious person. I was taught that there was a God, but that I should not depend on Him for my happiness.  My faith taught me to rely on myself and that God would be there to support me.  As I sat in that pew on Saturday morning, however, I could not deny the faith that was all around me.  I was amongst people who believed that everything was going to be OK and that whatever was unclear would become clear when God decided.  They were consoled in the belief that the separation of soul and body had taken place and Margie was happy, healthy and whole.

I could see how much comfort that brought to Margie’s friends and family.  And that is what keeps so many of us moving forward.

That is faith.

 

 

The Story of Me

March #SOLC17 Day 19

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It’s 1970 and I’m 8 years old.  I’m in the 3rd grade and my favorite thing to do is hang out with my BFF Karen making up dances, belting out duets with our band instruments and listening to Elton John albums. Dinner is at exactly 6 pm every night.  Steak and potatoes are the usual fare.  My mom picks my dad up at the train station like clockwork at 5 pm. He unwinds with a drink in a short glass with lots of ice and a strong smell.  I stay clear of him unit we eat.  I look forward to the weekends when we get to go to the library together. I am 8 years old and my life is about to change drastically.

It’s 1973 and I’m 11 years old. I just got glasses for the first time. They’re cool because they look a little bit like stop signs. I love my 6th-grade teacher….until she tells me that I ask too many questions.  I like to make my family laugh. I learn new jokes when my sister and I take the train to visit my dad in his new studio apartment in Chicago. He is a giant man with a huge laugh living in a small apartment.   I am 11 years old and my life is about to change drastically.

It’s 1979 and I’m 17 years old. I play the first chair flute in band. I take private lessons from Mr. Kochman. My mom scrounges up the money for them because Mr. K. is like a father figure to me.  Our heat and electricity have been turned off.  My mom can’t make enough money to pay the utility bills, but she still manages to pay for what’s important. My braces are off. I wonder what my Dad would’ve thought. He told me last year on my birthday that I was more spectacular than the fireworks in the sky.  I miss him.  I am 17 years old and my life is starting to change less drastically.

It’s 1988 and I’m 26 years old.  I have my first job as a school social worker.  I get my own apartment and I am filled with guilt because I’ve left my mom home alone. She still has our dog, but I am still sad whenever I visit.  I hope this gets better, this “adult” thing.  I’m nervous in my new school district.  I take to eating lunch alone in my office, until one day a friendly face appears at my door and says, Hey!  Come eat in the lounge with us!  I don’t know it yet but I have just met my best friend for life.  I am 26 years old and my life is starting to show the results of my hard work.

It’s 2007 and I’m 44 years old. I am happily working in a wonderful school district as an administrator.  I’ve just closed on a beautiful condo with friends in the city. We’re enjoying picking out granite, hardwood, furniture and paint color, along with exploring our new neighborhood. Venturing out to new restaurants,  checking out street fairs and walking along the lake are on tap for each weekend.  I am 44 years old and my life is about to change drastically.

It’s 2o17 and I’m 54 years old. I wake up each morning grateful for the new day.  There is also a tinge of fear and uncertainty, wondering if the good things in my life are permanent or only temporary.  Good health.  No longer do I take it for granted.  I sit on my bed, feet sprawled out in front of me, computer in my lap, gazing out a beautiful picturesque window thinking about the stunning city in which I now live.   l am 54 years old and I wonder…..what does life have in store for me next?

Ready

March #SOLC17 Day 18

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When it comes together like this it feels

like a fine tuned machine that

never needed lubricating.

It is a team of people talking, sharing, and exploring with such honesty that

it almost feels intimate.

Fear of failure is often

the prevailing emotion.

The place from which this fear emanates, however, is

the desire to do right by our students.

Slowly but surely, beliefs are forming and

are made public.

Action steps are developed both in tandem, as well as individually that

will guide us as we move forward.

Feeling a bit off center, some still not exactly sure how things will look, but

all still trusting that

our values and principles will light the way.

Supportive and caring professionals move out into the world with

confidence, knowing that

they have established a foundation for inquiry in the classroom and

believing this will set the stage for

exciting, engaging, and joyful learning experiences for

all of our students.