The Path Unknown courtesy of Virgil Poetry
I was wondering today, if we ever really know the people in our lives. Sometimes we feel like we know each other and that everything is out in the open, but suddenly we are privy to something that opens a door we didn’t know existed. How do you ever really get to know someone? The only way to know each other is to be totally honest and open, without fear of repercussions or retaliations. This is harder than it first appears because while we know what we are thinking and feeling, we cannot predict what others will feel or think. We have to take chances. We have to believe that honesty is the best path and that those we love will understand us. We don’t always know what we are doing, or what the consequences of our actions will be, however, by acting with honesty and with the best intentions, we can be assured that we are on the right path.
There are times when I long for a chance to go back and to re-live parts of my life, like pressing the rewind button on the TV remote control, if only life could be recorded, watched and then revised. I wish for opportunities to jump into the past and see the reality that existed then, gaining understanding of the actions of my parents and family members. I want answers that I cannot have, understanding that eludes me and knowledge held at bay. The mysteries of the past created me, shaped who I am today and impact my life, giving me a shrouded path leading to the unknown. The choice I have is to give others a clearer picture and light in which to make their choices.
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I spend my days making a difference in small lives, in small bits, minutes at a time. I always knew I wanted to do this and I can remember back to 2nd grade, being asked what I wanted to do when I grew up, I never hesitated. I knew I wanted to teach, to spend my days with children, helping them learn what they would need to succeed. I have been doing this for 30 years, but realized 20 years ago, that the youngest children in elementary school were the children I felt at home with and I loved spending my days operating at a dramatic level, performing my teacher act complete with props. Puppets, alphabet pointers, counters, games, blocks and books, and a healthy dose of make-believe aid me in my endeavor to pass on the foundation of education, the recognition of letters, numbers, symbols. My students learn life skills, manners, social skills and ABCs. They learn to count and to count on each other. They live with me for 6 hours a day and I have the awesome responsibility of giving them all they will need to succeed. I face obstacles (illness, family trips, doctor and dentist appoints and the threat of a shortened school year) that keep them out of the classroom, parents overcome with their own lives or mistaken in their belief that “it’s only kindergarten” and it not as important as other grades, a government that does not put education first and a school district consumed with financial worries.
With these obstacles, I still must succeed. When Davis Guggenheim’s new movie Waiting for Superman arrives, perhaps it will inspire conversation, or will motivate a movement to save public education from elected officials and from itself. I have hopes, yet daily, I must go to class ready to do my best regardless of these obstacles and needed changes. I spend my days making a difference in small lives, which will one day grow from the nurturing and education I can give them.
I am watching the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics and I notice a stadium full of positive people from all over the world, all getting along and am seemingly exuberant. How can this be? Well, these people all in one place with something in common: the love of athletics. Perhaps if we search for the things we have in common with people of other countries, instead of focusing on our differences, we can create a world that shares joy and comes together during times of sorrow, a tall order for a world of separatists, fierce with pride and often unwilling to see the good in those who are seemingly different. I propose a one week contest:
For one week, make only positive comments, look for the positive in people and situations and after the week, post a comment here about any changes you notice.
They are other people’s children, yet they feel so much like my own for I spend the better part of each day with these little ones, caring for them and about them, dedicated to their growth and development, in fact, we spend so much time together that we think of each other when, bringing each other small gifts of appreciation; pictures, pencils, books and cards upon return. They are “my kids,” our days with lessons in the academics, life, world of arts and an education in manners and behavior top the list. They are learning to say, “please”, “thank you”, “excuse me”, and “may I please”, to earn the prize of a fancy tea party, parents invited. These children care about each other and are in this for a team win, everyone succeeding together because help is given freely and no one falls through the cracks in this room because there is always someone there to catch you. We are all practiced catchers and we all take turns falling.
These children are wise beyond their years and their ears are fine-tuned to the nuances of the adult conversations they silently hear, taking everything in, not always know how to process it so it emerges during group discussions, at unexpected times, during a vocabulary lesson, example definitions. I find out more than I sometimes want to know, about their worries, their fears, and their strong feelings.
Some of these little ones have power at home, demanding attention, voices loud, tantrums forthcoming, while others slink into the crevices of family, observing, while waiting for their turn. Some are parents to their siblings while others live alone in adult worlds, taking on the responsibility of carrying part of the burdens housed in their family
Most of the children are happy, regardless of circumstances, because in this place, the place they live for six hours a day, five days a week, they are members of a bigger family and the communal aspect provides enough for all. There are enough toys, enough crayons, enough pencils, enough friends and enough time, their pride growing daily as they become more accomplished and learn to take pride in their own work, their own creations and their own ideas. “Our job is to come to school,” they say.
“Yes, so is mine.”
Vroman's Bookstore: A book lovers fantasy.
Today, for the first time in a week, the sun was out when I woke up, providing rays of hope for a day filled with energy and productivity. This is the first day in the three weeks since “the fall” that I have had enough energy to stay in an upright position for the majority of the day. I decided to do a bit of belated Happiness Project goals from January in the form of moving energy, i.e. cleaning my cherished writing area of the massive amounts of clutter that have accumulated in three weeks and concurrently, I decided to de-germ our home since we have been under the influence of a nagging cold for the better part of the week. I carefully listed the areas to be cleaned and I am happy to say I actually made good progress. I can see the desktop, as well as the surfaces of a few random tables. Papers have been filed, are waiting to be shredded or are resting comfortably in the trash bin. I have (gag) paid bills, deleted e-mails and sent communications and now am finally settling in to write my latest thought.
I have decided that I want to be a featured author/speaker at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena. I have fallen in love with this quaint store that is old (1894), classic in its independence and it’s style: two-stories, sporting wood shelving and paneling and featuring real booksellers. Yes, the people who work there are actually booksellers, not retail salespeople and they know of which they speak, their love and knowledge of books permeating the store. The store features events: book groups, talks, signings, and readings all listed on its informative website where you can find everything you want to know about this amazing store, past, present and future.
The Pasadena area is a great place for a field trip too, pedestrian friendly with many interesting places to eat. The community is old and established, the home of the famous Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl its streets lined with mature trees and lovely, stately homes. Traveling to Vroman’s is like taking a little visit back in time to days when times were simpler, technology was less and books read in their proper form, typeset on paper hardbound with sturdy jackets to protect the binding and flaps of information to entice the reader.
I can visualize myself upstairs in the area reserved for book events, presenting my new book to an enthusiastic crowd who waits patiently to have me sign their newly purchased copy of the book and perhaps pose with me for a picture. A day when I will sit in the little café in Vroman’s and sigh, “I did it.”