Posts Tagged With: inspiration

That’s okay

I went to fitness this morning – and that’s about all I did – went.

And Vandie said, “That’s okay.  At least you got here.  Good for you for coming.”

I did half the fitness routine and had to stop.

And Janet said, “That’s okay. Listen to your body.  Some days will be better than others. Good for you for trying.”

I got frustrated and cried.

And Vandie and Janet said, “That’s okay, Stacey.  You need to be kinder to yourself, more gentle. Be patient.”

So, I got through the class – did the stretches and went home.

On my drive home I felt fantastic.

By the time I arrived at home I had decided to go for that walk I missed this morning with Kevin.

I walked slowly.  But I made it.

And I said to myself, “That’s okay.  Tomorrow will be easier.  Good for you.  You did it.”

Thanks, Vandie and Janet, for turning my attitude around so that I can have a great day!

Categories: cancer, inpsiration, learning, life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

I don’t think Dad would be happy about that!

“Dad”, I said, “Why did you want to be a part of the war?”

“It was exciting, Stacey.  Everyone wanted to make a difference in the world and we were young enough and cocky enough to think that we would never die.”

I guess doing things because you want to make a difference is an eternal theme.  That’s why I teach.  I want to make a difference in my students’ lives.  I want to help them realize their full potential so that they can make a life for themselves and for their children.  And, in some cases, I do think I make a difference.  Although, it is not always immediately evident.

I, and my colleagues, find ourselves in a bit of a pickle these days.  We are busy getting on with our making a difference when – bang- we are side-lined by criticism and judgement.  And it has nothing to do with our own ability to teach.  It has everything to do with perception.  The labour dispute between teachers (the teacher’s unions) and the Ontario government has become an elephant in the classroom.  It does not belong there – there should be no dispute.  The pickle part of the matter is that I feel caught in the middle and am being split and quartered by both union and government.  What’s worse is that media has not even recognized that I am being so severely severed.  I am being painted with a brush that labels me “greedy” for more money.

I am happy, in this economy, to have a job.  I am more than happy with the salary and benefits I receive.  I have worked for nearly 25 years in education and have earned by “wings” per se.  New teachers have to begin at the bottom and through hard-work and energy and love, will learn skills that will make them become better teachers – worth more pay.  This is the way it is.  And I don’t know anyone I work with that begrudges this process.  I remember as a beginning teacher struggling to make my rent, car payment, and student debt repayments month to month.  School was expensive and long.  I did the time.  I paid my dues and now I am entitled to enjoy what I have worked so hard for.

What I am not thrilled about, however, is that it seems the institution that guarded our rights as workers in the past, has lost it’s ability to negotiate rights.  This is not through their own doing, rather, a government that has disenfranchised the very people who forged it’s election.  How did that happen?  How is it possible that, in Ontario, citizens are worried about losing their democratic rights?  It is more troubling to me that the climate is one of distrust than anything else.  This is not the same government that my Dad put his faith in – and fought overseas for.  It can’t be.  Dad wanted to make a difference and the government supported him.  I am saddened by the fact that I too feel my work is important and I too can make a difference, but mis-representation by government and media has mitigated my abilities.

My purpose in the classroom each day, is to help students find ways that they can identify their own strengths and weaknesses, to find their way in the world so that they too can feel purposeful, respected, and worthy.  That is why I teach… not for money, as the media and government have claimed.  I know Dad would not be happy about that lie.   Nor am I.

 

Categories: Life's Lessons, Teaching | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

That was then and this is now…

I am still intrigued with the notion of forwards and backwards.

I know this theme is repetitive from yesterday’s post – but I would like to take a moment to reflect on the concept once again. ( You knew it was coming!)

What if I were to construct my posts according to then and now?  How would that look?  Here’s a sample of what “could be”.

Looking Back:  It seems that a lot of my childhood time was spend outdoors.  My parents were very strong environmentalists – before their time.   Dad was a farmer at heart and during the summer would pride himself in stirring the compost pile that sat beside his 1/2 acre garden.  At the time I thought it was disgusting and avoided at all costs the trip to the compost pile to empty the organic kitchen scraps.  Oh, the stench!  But Dad knew that a good pitch fork to add oxygen to the pile would keep the smell in check.  I often now think about Robert Service’s poem:  Ode to a wee mouse and wonder how many plans of the mice Dad had interrupted by stirring their inevitable home?

Now:  My husband and I keep five composters in our back yard.  They are the ones that can be turned to aerate.  We faithfully collect kitchen scraps and still reluctantly take the trip to dump the scraps into the composter.  No matter how many turns they get, however, they still smell.  But each spring, they get emptied into my garden.  And with pride, I mix the soil and wonder how the heck Dad was able to keep 1/2 acre free from weeds as my little backyard garden is plagued by weeds!  I love to garden and burst with pride when I carry in tomatoes, potatoes, and zucchini to the kitchen.

Looking Back:  The winter was a time of magic and wonder when I was a child.  Mom would always talk about the beauty of a snow-filled forest.  And it really was spectacular when the snow stuck to the branches and created a delicate veil.  Day in and day out, Mom and I would click into our cross-country skis and “do the loop” out the back door, through the woods, through the field and back to the house.  Our cheeks would be rosy and our spirits lifted by the beauty of nature.

Today:  My family and I just created our own little loop – out the back door, around the pond, over the bridge, and home.  We returned with rosy cheeks and lifted spirits.  The woods were so beautiful and the snow so crisp!  What a joy it was to take “my” family and friends out to enjoy something I remembered so fondly from my own childhood.

Maybe the joy we experienced in the woods today and in the garden in the summer were shared by those who live on in our hearts and memories?  Maybe they come alive when we remember the joys of childhood?  Whatever it is – there is definitely something to be said about living for today with the spirits and joys of “then”.

Mom and Marion out to do the loop

Mom and Marion out to do the loop

 

Categories: Family and Friends, Life's Lessons, Mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Where Does the Journey End?

I have not had much to say lately.

Mom and Dad continue to be on my mind – often – but I just don’t know what to write.

Maybe it’s writer’s block?

Maybe it’s grief?

Maybe it’s time to put closure to something else?

This blog, and all you wonderful readers, have been a great source of comfort for me through a very challenging time.  I’ve lost both parents in less than 18 months.  To me, this has been traumatic.  It has been a long, long, journey.

I wonder now, though, if the journey is coming to an end?

Is it time to put this blog to bed?

The condo up for sale.  I have a difficult time going back there to even check in on it.  It’s difficult to go “back” in time.

Yet, I sit faithfully in front of the digital photo frame as images of our lives fade in and fade out.  I sent some new photos to it the other day and I enjoy watching those fade in and out too.

What would it feel like to say, “good-bye” to this sentimental journey – or rather TTFN?  Letting go is the hardest thing to do, yet I think I need to know my limits and not stay too long.  I feel like the guest that never left… not knowing when enough is enough.

I need to move on – but how much of the past do we need to break from?  Does the past propel us to the future?

Does the past help us to build a foundation, yet anchor us to the ground?

It is inescapable, haunting, yet at the same time it is still my greatest source of comfort.

Should I stay or should I go now – I believe someone else used that phrase and sang a tune along with it (grin).

Maybe the falling leaves have brought this feeling of loss to front and centre.

Where is my faith? What is my purpose?  When will “this” sentimental journey end?

I guess today is a day of questions.  And having said that – maybe today begins a new “quest” for closure.

How is closure best achieved?

And the photo frame flashes images at me like pieces of a patchwork quilt.  They all blend together in an odd, yet harmonious blanket of comfort.

TTFN  – for now.

Categories: Family and Friends, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Smart Skills in the Classroom: A Whole New Approach to Teaching and Learning

So – how often is it that you google your name and find a video-clip that has been produced about you?

Yeah – not often – and so when it does happen, you gotta blow your own horn?  Right, Dad?  Mom?

I love this clip – mainly because there are so many testimonials from my former students who “suffered” my learning about best teaching practices.  Please, let me know your thought. TTFN.  Be kind.  My Mom and Dad are watching.  grin.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83kYLO7zCMQ&feature=relmfu

Categories: Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Everything Will Be Alright: If I remember correctly.

One of the things I miss most about Mom and Dad is their infernal, eternal, and ever-so-clever words of comfort.

Mom:  “Stacey, you’ll be fine.”

(Never believed her!)

Dad:  “A hundred years from now, we’ll all be dead.  So what does it matter?”

(This one had me stumped for a long time!)

Mom:  “Just do your very best.”

(I wasn’t reassured as a child as I didn’t think that would always cut it!)

Dad: ” If they don’t like it – too bad for them!”

(Didn’t get that one at all!)

 

How I miss their reassurances these days.  It really doesn’t matter who you are or how confident you are – everyone needs a cheer-leader.

I have been juggling and struggling this week to find a balance between work, home-life, Dad’s condo, a visiting German student, and play.  Play-time has never been a priority for me as my family were strong subscribers of the Puritan work ethic.  Work first – then play.  And there is too much work to do to play these days.

Play. For a long time I didn’t understand that word.  I really thought it meant have fun at work.  I think I still do.  And I think a lot of my play is my work.  Others, however, have a more realistic version of what play means… I think.  And I get the impression that play means recreation.  In any case, I am struggling to redefine my definition so that everyone in my family is on the same page.

Anxiety.  This emotion seems to be two emotions attached to each other:  stress and anticipated failure.  I find myself anxious these days about a lot of things.  It happens usually when things pile one on top of another.  I forget to isolate the projects and so they blurr and give me an overwhelming sense of .. anxiety.  Dad’s condo. insurance – moving furniture, marking assignments, making muffins, cleaning toilets… you get the picture.

Comfort.  I long for Mom and Dad’s words, “Stacey, everything will be okay.”.  We offer these words to our children – or we ought to offer these words to our children… but how often do we hear them as adults?  Will everything be okay?  I know, in the long run, things always find resolution.  It’s the process that is sometimes derailing, debilitating, confusing, and frustrating.  But, as fate would have it – there is always a better resolution that falls than one that could really ever be planned.

Yes.  I miss my Dad’s casual, “Don’t worry, Stacey.  You worry too much.  100 years from now… ”

I know, Dad, we’ll all be dead.  Kind of puts things into perspective.

Patience.  Perspective.

Everything will be alright.

 

 

 

Categories: Life After Dad, Life's Lessons, Mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Rainbow: It Only Comes After the Storm

My morning walk with Barb began with a message from Mom.  I didn’t notice it at first, nor did I put the pieces together until several houses into our walk.  It was Barb who first wanted to just “stop” and look at the rainbow.  It was Barb who said, “this is a gift”.  Her words flooded my soul and cleansed me as I understood this was a gift from Mom.  The rainbow meant, “Stacey – it will all be okay.   You can’t get the rainbow without first having the storm.”  I felt this rainbow was meant for me.  It was not meant for anyone else in the world – just me.  Of course that is ridiculous – but at the time Mom was speaking right to my soul.  And had Barb not knocked on my door to get me for our walk, I would have missed this message.

So true does this ring in life.  How often is it that the darkest moments we flood our brains with feelings of doom and gloom.  The storm brews.  There is chaos – emotional chaos.  Last night was my storm.  The feeling of having to take Mom’s dishes away from the condo was just too much.  They are only dishes to everyone else… but to my brother and myself they are so much more.

They were carried in Mom’s hands as an extension of her love to us.  She served us literally and figuratively on those dishes.  We needed the food as much as we needed her love – and both were served in generous quantities.

It takes time to organize an emotional storm into something that is beautiful – just as it takes time for the rain and sun to produce a rainbow.

The rainbow reminded me that when one door closes, a window opens.  The dishes will be moved from Mom’s loving reach at the condo today – to Mom’s loving reach in my own home.  It’s my turn.  Mom may no longer be literally serving us – but we have been well served with her memory.

TTFN, Mom

Mom

Everything about Mom was gentle.

Categories: Mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What are you worried about?

Stacey:  Dad, you should read some of the facebook messages my students sent me.

Dad:  Oh?

Stacey:  Yeah – I am flattered.  But humbled.

Dad:  Did you kick these kids out of class?

Stacey:  Maybe.  But they came around.

Dad:  So – what do you suppose made the difference?

Stacey:  Faith.  I had faith in them – like you and Mom had faith in me.   Dad, everyone needs a cheer-leader.

Dad:  I hope your Mother and I were your cheer-leaders.

Stacey:  Seriously, Dad?  Anything I wanted to do – you supported… eventually.

Dad:  Your mother was much better at it than I was…

Stacey:  She was a softer sell, Dad.  You had to hold the purse strings and I had an expensive diet!

Dad:  You sure did! And your mother was often upset that I didn’t let you do more.

Stacey:  I think you taught me the reality of life, though, Dad.  Sometimes it was good that you said, “no”.

Dad:  Your mother didn’t think so.

Stacey:  No, but if you didn’t say no I would have had to support you in your old age – and as it turns out – you remained very independent.

Dad:  Well, I tried.

Stacey:  Dad, I really appreciate that you were never a burden to me.  You were   wise beyond your years – grin –

Dad:  How do your students manage without parents?

Stacey:  They adopt me – and essentially because I have you – they adopt you too.  They love it when you come to speak – or attend on Remembrance Day, Dad.  They missed Mom this year – – and I guess you won’t be here this year either.

Dad:  Well, no.  But, Stacey, you know what to do.

Stacey:  I have lots of stories to tell, Dad.  Maybe I’ll tell one or two of your stories.

Dad:  Do you think they’ll fall asleep?

Stacey:  Dad!  Of course not – unless it’s a story that I wrote on your behalf.

Dad:  Well, in any case, as much as I like talking to you – you need to go.. and get ready for tomorrow.

Stacey:  I’m ready. I was born ready, Dad.

Dad:  Ha – Will you sleep?

Stacey:  No.  But that’s okay – I’ll sleep tomorrow night.

Dad:  What are you worried about?

Stacey:  I don’t know.  It’s just different this year.   You aren’t here.

Dad:  Stacey – I’m here.  You can talk to me any time you like.

Stacey:  Dad, people will think I’m crazy.

Dad:  So?

Stacey:  So – – well, I guess I’m talking to you now…

Dad:  Good luck tomorrow, Stacey.  TTFN

Stacey:  TTFN, Dad.  I’ll be thinking of you, tomorrow.

Dad:  And I’ll be thinking of you.  Love you, Stace.

Stacey:  Love you too, Dad.

TTFN

Categories: Life After Dad | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

So much has changed… one year later.

“Did you kick anyone out of class today, Stacey?”, I remember my Dad joking with me.

It was only this time last year.

I can’t believe how many things can change in such a short time.

When I think back to this time last year – I was worried about going back to school full time as that meant that Dad would be on his own.. well… somewhat.  I spent so much time with him after Mom passed away – it was almost a full year.  We grew a garden together last summer (on his patio) and decided what worked on his patio and what didn’t .  The cucumbers, while fun to watch, did NOT work.  The cherry tomatoes were a favorite of “Julius” and so we were going to grow cherry tomatoes again this year… The onions were okay – but no one ate them so they were out.  There was just no garden this summer.  And I think Dad knew that there was no point in planning one.

For years, I remember Dad planning his garden.  He would anxiously await the arrival of his “Stokes Seed” magazine (at that time I thought I’d rather EAT dirt than read that magazine) so that he could choose the latest and greatest of upcoming vegetables.  He’d plan for nights on end.  Make a list.  Order the seeds and then wait for their arrival – which meant that spring was on it’s way.

I could never understand how patient he was to await the first sign of a sprout so small that I thought he was totally nuts! But sure enough, those sprouts would turn into tomato plants, Brussel sprouts, and cucumbers.

The autumn harvest was always accompanied by the glow of orange, yellow, amber, red maple leaves.  And I was always, always, always back to school.  Dad would always, always, always be excited to hear about my students.

Working at the Learning Centre never disappointed him as I’d always have stories of triumph over adversity for him.  The students I teach often come from very difficult circumstances and I always, always, always appreciate that they are managing these circumstances at the same time they are trying to graduate from high school.

Dad knew my students well.  Every time I’d visit him – especially in September – he’d ask about the classes and what great things were happening.  Dad knew that the students were challenging – and Dad knew that I loved my job.  We’d have so many chats about how lucky we were in life.  We were given so many blessings.  Indeed.  Our lives had never been challenged as much as so many of my students’ lives – in that we always had family to count on.  Dad was my rock in the end.  He knew he had to be.  Mom was always the one getting involved in my student – stories.  But when she was no longer there – Dad knew he had a responsibility to ask the questions and to be interested.   I think he rather liked this new role.

This year, however, things are different.

I wonder how it will be to not report back to Mom or Dad about my first day at school?

How will it be for Ben, Katya, and David to not report back to Mom and Dad about their first days at school?  There are so many wonderful things that they will encounter this year – and I know “Nanna and Poppa” would have been proud of them.  There would have been a plethora of questions.  How will my children feel about the absence of the oh so familiar sounding boards and cheer-leaders?

So much can change in one year –

So much has changed.

How can one respond to such change without reflection?

I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to learn from my parents all these years… that “wisdom is knowing what to say and not saying it.” .  That, “if you don’t have anything good to say – don’t say anything at all.”

These two phrases are perhaps the greatest legacy and prophesy left to us by my parents.

Maybe this year – it is my turn to communicate these messages to my students?

Maybe this year – it is my turn to ask my children more questions about their school-days?

And maybe – just maybe – I’ll tell Mom and Dad about my first day at school anyhow….

Maybe things don’t really can change in such a short time, after-all?

Maybe they do.

We’ll see.

Categories: Life After Dad | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Stop the Bus – I Need to Get Off!

It seems that my mind races like a locomotive in full speed that just won’t slow down.  Especially at night!

I know that some of you who are dealing with estates are going to agree with me that it can feel like one step forward and ten steps back.  There is so much to do. And in my Dad’s case because he was home until the end – there is more.

The paperwork seems endless.

Okay, so I can get through things (and I am oh, so grateful to have had the summer off to “rest”) but it makes achieving closure a little more tricky.

Consequently, for the last few nights I have dreamed extensively about Dad.  Not about anything good – rather – about his death.

It causes me to wake up early and not be able to get back to sleep.

Here’s the deal: I did my very best to care for Dad as did everyone else in his life.  He passed away at home in his own bed, surrounded by loved ones.  The trigger may just have been that while trying to empty out the condo., I have had to process so many papers that Mom and Dad had stored over their years together.  One of the things I discovered in the papers is that in Dad’s medical history, he was found to have a spot on his lung.  “Aha!” I thought.  Cancer – lung cancer?  That would explain his fatigue, his lack of appetite, his weight loss, his cough… and so on.  There would not have been any change in my course of care – but for some reason I struggle with this new “revelation”.  And it seems to come through in my dreams.

Why is it so dominant in my thoughts?  I am at peace with what happened and that he passed away peacefully.  Why has this new piece of information troubled me so gravely in my sleep?  Guilt?  Ignorance?  Guilty over feeling that Mom would have known what was going on?  I don’t know.

I found this pattern to have been the same with Mom.  My post-passing diagnosis explained a lot of the symptoms Mom experienced prior to her passing.

Is this human nature?  Or my attempt to be a “vigilant” and “capable” daughter?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not regretful or feeling that I could have done anything differently.

I’d just like to get some closure and then some good sleep.

Does anyone know what I mean?

 

 

Categories: Family and Friends, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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