Lessons Learned and the People Who Teach Them

This week has been a challenge. I’m not just talking about writer’s block (which is there) but a darker struggle inside myself, as I question whether or not anything I do has value in this world. I’ve been dealing with:

  • students who seem to think attendance during the last weeks of school is optional
  • students who think that my assignments and the deadlines associated are optional
  • administrators who think that my opinions do not have weight or are not worthy of consideration
  • young students whose lives are so difficult outside of school that its hard to see if anything I am doing is reaching them
  • at least one class where the women in the class refuse to speak up and participate, they defer to the male voices a large percentage of the time. It drives me insane as someone who truly values mentoring young women.
  • a complete lack of faith in myself as director, writer, artist, teacher

But then, Siobhan Curious over at Classroom as Microcosm, posted this prompt as part of her Writing on Learning Exchange Series: she asks this provocative question “Who Taught You?”

That message made me think about what we learn when we least expect it, and who teaches us those important lessons. Sure, hopefully we have teachers throughout our educations that actually teach us something, but I am beginning to think that perhaps true learning comes to us in a different way. This isn’t to say that we have nothing to learn in a classroom environment . . . there’s plenty to learn through those formal methods, but sometimes we learn in unexpected ways, and sometimes we teach without knowing we are  teaching.

In my own life, lessons have come from so many unexpected places and people:

  • the fellow teacher from Australia who didn’t graduate from high school, used less than legal means to get hired to teach English in Japan (you were supposed to have a college degree) and showed me that a love of life and a passion for following your heart is in some ways more important than what you learn  from books. Too bad I didn’t fully absorb that lesson until very recently, despite the fact that she taught me it about 20 years ago.
  • the lessons I learned about prejudice, hate, and racism while working with a group of Roma children in Slovakia.
  • the lessons I’ve learned from the leaders of that Slovakia trip, about caring, sharing, traveling and living life with the understanding that there is more to the world than our small section of it.

    The leaders of Dramatic Adventure Theatre pitching in to make sure we were well fed.

    The leaders of Dramatic Adventure Theatre pitching in to make sure we were well fed.

  • There’s my current student who faces all kinds of challenges including incessant and debilitating migraines, being struck by lightning, and numerous friends dying from suicide or car accidents and things. She’s taken all this sadness, all these challenges, and given herself a goal to help others by becoming a school counselor and learning as much as she can about psychology. She is an inspiration.
  • The lesson I learned this morning from a woman I don’t know. Mia McKenzie’s blog post starts with the words “Hey White Liberals!” and challenges me to reflect on ingrained aspects of racism and injustice that we all need to think about, and somehow change.

This list could go on forever, and my blog is peppered with posts about people of all ages, races, cultures, levels of education who have taught me lessons. The point is that we never know when we will learn something that changes our lives. Nor we will ever truly know when we have taught something that has made a difference.

With that perspective, perhaps my life isn’t as empty as it feels at the moment, because there’s always something new to learn and the possibility that someone actually learns from you.

This is my greatest teacher.

This is my greatest teacher.

 

Deep Thoughts by Lisa Kramer

No, my deep thoughts will be nothing like Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy. There’s an entire website dedicated to his deep (dark, disturbing, and sometimes downright hilarious) thoughts which originated on Saturday Night Live.

Do you remember those?

No, my deep thoughts are the thoughts of a brain that has been working overtime during the past week, but can’t seem to work its way out of the mire of thinking.

To put it simply, I think too much. I cannot move forward into some other kinds of writing or into planning if I can’t empty my brain off all the thoughts competing for attention. If I had a pensieve like Dumbledore in Harry Potter I would be pulling strand out of strand of thoughts out of my head just to give my mind a rest. But I don’t have one, so I must resort to a more mundane way of doing things (or is that a more muggley way of doing things?). I don’t have a magic wand . . . I just have the magic of words.

I want to use that magic except that I’m afraid, because the truth is that some of my thoughts could piss people off. Does that mean I shouldn’t write them? Or is it finally time to get all of this off my chest?

What exactly am I afraid of?

I guess my fear is not being liked. I still struggle with  wanting to belong somewhere, and here on the blog I’ve found a group of friends even if they are only virtual ones. I’m also aware that anyone who has dreams of writing and selling a book, needs to build a fan base. But what if my deep thoughts are too radical? Too opinionated? Or simply too difficult  to follow?

Yup, my thoughts are that deep.

Then I look at one of my writing idols, Andra Watkins aka The Accidental Cootchie Mama, who does not run away from the dark words and thoughts that sometimes haunt her. She lets her characters have a voice through her words, even when those characters and thoughts come from a scary place. Her fiction never fails to chill, thrill, and make you think a little about the meaning of  life. Perhaps I need to allow my deep thoughts to come  out  in the form of fiction, or at least I need to give voice to them somehow.

Even if they make me afraid.

Does anyone want to hear the deep thoughts of Lisa Kramer or should my voice remain silent?

Sometimes deep thoughts come while sitting on a swing and staring at the sky.

Sometimes deep thoughts come while sitting on a swing and staring at the sky.

 

Celebrating the Craziness

I have been unable to continue the celebration for the past few days (week) due to the unexpected demise of my computer which lead to the unintentional (but necessary) purchase of a new one and the wait for it to get loaded and things like that.

All of this happened, of course, just two weeks after  the unexpected demise of a car and the  unintentional (but necessary) purchase of a new one.

In other words, just when I thought we were back on track financially, craziness ensued. So today, as the final entries in my list of 45 things to celebrate about my life, I have decided to celebrate some of the craziness.

36. The crazy day my Mom sprinted across the airport to get my wallet/purse to me on a plane, back in the  days when an O.J. Simpson-like sprint through the airport was allowed, and Simpson himself wasn’t a criminal. For the long version of this story read, Telling My Own Story . . . it Begins.

37. The crazy day in Japan which started with  me in a kimono learning tea ceremony, and ended with me dancing in the arms of a man dressed as a woman under the watchful eye of the Yakuza (Japanese mafia). For the long version of  this story read A Strange Day in Japan.

38. The crazy 10-day canoe trip during the time I was getting my MFA at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. I mentioned that I had taken some courses in puppetry, which inspired the leader of the trip  to challenge the group to create sock puppets and perform in the middle of nowhere. Each person had to create a sock puppet of another member of the group. Truly bizarre.

Photo by Steve Kramer

Photo by Steve Kramer

39. The crazy fact that in the first seven years of our relationship (5 dating, 2 married) Nathan and I never spent a full year together, as one  or the other of us traveled or lived in other places. Even now, we spend about a month apart or more each year.

40. The crazy fact that, despite multiple moves and yard sales related to those moves, I cannot let go of boxes of books that I’ve gathered over the years,  some of which I’ve never read. I really need to let them go.

41.The crazy fact that, other than Canada, Nathan and I have never gone to another country together despite all of our separate travels, multiple journeys to Hawaii, and dreams of travel.

42. Related to number 41, the reality that every time we (or I) had an interesting opportunity to travel internationally, life would come crashing down on us making it impossible for me to go. Goodbye trip to Russia. Goodbye trip to Ecuador. One of these days.

43. I sleep with stuffed animals. Enough said.

44.My hair has a crazy mind of its own, curling one day, straight the next, and taking over the world another time.

45. Last, but not least. Me, Myself and I!

picture003

Celebrating Fears Faced

When I was in high school, I was accepted as a Rotary exchange student and was invited to go to Belgium for the year. I let the fears of others rule my decision and I stayed home.

That is one of my biggest regrets in life.

As I matured, I began to realize that letting fear stop you from taking chances means giving up on a lot of dreams and on living. I tried, when faced with fear, to push through it and face the fears. I wasn’t always successful, but I grew stronger and more courageous with each attempt, or so I thought.

Yet, something shifted again after I became a mother. Suddenly fear has control over me again, and more often than not I give into those fears. Fear of trying to publish. Fear of making friends. Fear of taking chances. I think this new hold FEAR has on me has something to do with the fact that my life is not my own–my decisions affect Nathan and Sarah. I can’t just pick up, take off, and take chances.

Yet, as I approach this birthday (Eek! The actual day is tomorrow) I find myself yearning to become the person who does not let fear stop her anymore. After I graduated from college and was on the job hung (following a one year internship at a theatre) I had two interesting options on the table:

  1. The more practical option of working for a Canada based Arts Administration Organization that sent people throughout North America to help arts organizations with reorganization and planning. This would have probably led to a solid career in Arts Administration and or Arts Advocacy (one thing I would still love to do ) and–more often than not in recent years ;)–I’ve thought being Canadian wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
  2. A job teaching at an English conversation school in Okayama, Japan.

If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time (or even just the first of the celebratory posts), you know where I ended up.

In Japan in my early 20s.

Yet, the decision to go to Japan was not an easy one. It was a fear-filled one. It took some words of wisdom from one of the actors at the theatre company I was working out to help me make a choice. He said,

“There are no wrong decisions. There are choices that can go badly, but they always lead to the next decision.”

I tried to make those the guiding words of my life. This doesn’t mean we never make mistakes, but if we face those mistakes head on–despite our fears–we will make it through to new opportunities, new decisions, and new moments to face our fears.

So today I celebrate the moments in my life when I faced my fears and moved through them. Among those moments, I celebrate the day I got on a plane, headed for a country I’d never been to a job I never thought of, and cried my way from Boston to California before sitting in sleepless fear from California to Japan.

I hope someday to be that courageous again.

Celebrating Projects

This (long-ish) list of mine is making me take trips into memory and thing pop into my head. I find myself remembering with a smile or a groan some of the interesting and obscure creative projects I’ve participated in, with people of all ages. So today, for #32, I celebrate some of those moments.

History Comes to Life

The first one that popped into my head has led me on a futile search for some record of another amazing person in my life. When I was a Sophomore in high school, I had a wonderful teacher named Rita Smith (who would a few years later be named the Time Magazine teacher of the year). She taught social studies, and as a class project we created a living chess tournament using characters from history (The War of the Roses) as our chess pieces. I, along with a fellow student, wrote the script for the tournament, which we then submitted for the state history competition, and made it to the semi-finals I believe. We all performed the living chess play/tournament in Boston, dressed in costume and enjoying every moment. This was one of the moment I saw the power of theatre as a teaching tool, but also the influence of an incredible and creative teacher on making learning an enjoyable and memorable experience. To this day, I strive to create opportunities like that in everything I do. I spent the day trying to find out where Rita Smith is now, but haven’t found any information. I’d like to say thank you, if I could. (Any Brockton High School alums who may read this . . . do you know where she is?)

Mystery on a Train

When I lived in Vermont, one summer I taught a summer camp at the Burlington Center of the Arts that was called “Mystery on the Flyer.” The kids who participated created a murder mystery that we performed on a moving train in Burlington. It was fun. It was fabulous. It was an adventure.

We met all the characters in the train station first, then we got on the train and the mystery began.

We met all the characters in the train station first, then we got on the train and the mystery began.

G.O.A.L Reached

While living in Durango, I worked on several projects geared toward grades 5-8 that I found rewarding. One was the Girl’s Opportunities in Arts and Leadership, where I helped some middle school girls find their voices through writing and onstage. I love mentoring girls. I also worked with a group f 5th graders as an Improvisation coach for a Destination ImagiNation competition which combines science, theatre and social studies. They placed fourth in the state and were a wonderful group of kids.

Creativity is for Everyone

In Kansas I worked on a program that I’ve written about elsewhere in this blog, providing an arts/drama workshop for a group of adults with developmental disabilities. That will always remain one of the most powerful experiences of my life.

Combating Hatred

If you read any of my posts about Slovakia, and working with the Roma you know how special and influential that experience was, and how much I hope to find a way to continue with projects like that.

Students Who Think

Over the years, I’ve managed to inspire or challenge some of my students to take their learning beyond the classroom. There was the one who decided to create a piece of invisible theatre in the campus center protesting the abuse of women around the world; there was the class (last semester) who decided to do a flash mob of sorts exploring the issue of sleep deprivation and stress around exam time.

There were Honors students who became inspired by something I taught  and pursued that as their project.  There was the Japanese student in my conversation class who took my discussion of poetry back to his college classroom to share. There was the student who took a chance and applied for a transfer at her dream school, partially because of a discussion with me (she’ll be graduating from Emerson in May). The list of students who have inspired me because of their passion, and of whom I feel like I’ve helped inspire as well, is ever-changing and growing. I’m honored to have been even a small part of their journey.

While I still sometimes look at my career and say, what have I done? I don’t have a big name in my field. I’m not famous. I never became the well-known director I had dreamed of becoming, it’s these smaller moments and short-term projects (a list which could contain many other examples) that I cherish.

What are some of the work/project experiences in your life that you hold dear?

Celebrating Life’s Ups and Downs

A comment on my post yesterday made me pause for a second, and ask myself if this list I am creating is about EGO. Am I trying to say look at me and how wonderful I am? Why did I decide to write a list celebrating my life?

Our lives are all made up of stories, some large, some small. Some victorious, some failures.  Unless someone has walked through your life with you for entire thing, by your side through it all, there is nobody who knows all of your stories. My mother doesn’t know. My sister doesn’t know. My brother doesn’t know. My childhood friends don’t know. My adult friends don’t know. My husband doesn’t know.

It’s not that the stories are secret, simply that nobody can be there at all times to experience them.

However, those stories make us who we are today, and those stories guide us toward who we will become. In a world (or at least a country) where middle age is sometimes seen as “less than” youth, and where I “aged out” of my highest academic degree by not getting a tenure-track position within a couple of years from graduating, it makes understanding and valuing your own story all the more important.

There’s a scene from the movie The Holiday which gets me every time. Iris  is having dinner with Arthur Abbott who points out something very important:

Arthur Abbott: Iris, in the movies we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason you are behaving like the best friend.
Iris: You’re so right. You’re supposed to be the leading lady of your own life, for god’s sake! Arthur, I’ve been going to a therapist for three years, and she’s never explained anything to me that well. That was brilliant. Brutal, but brilliant.

I’ve too often been the best friend.  This list is to help me understand myself as the leading lady in my own life.

Today, I will include some things that I celebrate because they made me stronger or helped me grow. I hope you will celebrate those moments in your own life which may have been difficult at the time, but through which you came out a new (and improved) person.

22. When I was completing my MFA, my committee chair threatened (and tried) to fail me because I hadn’t done some things for her that had nothing to do with my thesis project. She, literally, sat me in her office one day and said “that’s your second strike” when I was unable to perform a time-consuming task for her because I had other (paid) obligations. After this meeting, I didn’t remain meek. I went to a dean and discussed my concerns. He told me there was little he could do, as it was her word against mine but he would help me in any way he could. After my thesis production, my chair wanted my committee to fail me for things that could have been fixed if she had advised me earlier in the process as was her job (I’m not saying I had no errors, just that if she had pointed out her concerns when I was in rehearsal I might have been able to answer those concerns). Yet, she came to rehearsals and said nothing, leading me to believe all was well, until my committee meeting where she attacked. The other two members of the committee seemed somewhat speechless. They offered me an alternative, which was to write a paper answering some of the concerns, and reflecting on how or what I might have changed. I turned in a 12 page document that couldn’t be disputed. My chair isn’t the one who let me know I had passed, another committee member did that. I never spoke to my chair again.  I learned to stand up for myself and my (future) students against injustice in the system.

23. I mentioned being told in Japan that I was the “weakest” teacher at the small conversation school I taught at. I was crushed. I asked for an explanation. What was I doing wrong? What could I improve upon? What were the complaints against me? My boss told me he couldn’t be specific at the time but he would find out. I remember going to the river, sitting under the cherry blossoms, and sobbing for hours. Being in a foreign country is difficult enough, but then to be told that you were failing in that country was even worse. It was terrifying. The way I saw it, I had two choices, quit and go home or stay and try to improve. If there is one thing I’ve learned about myself, is I am stubborn to the end. Despite the fact that I never got any more information from my boss, I chose to stay, and worked as hard as I could to become better. In the end, my boss asked me to stay on for an extra month (I was supposed to be at that school for a year) until my replacement came. I then moved onto a bigger school where I stayed for two years until I decided to go to graduate school.

24. I miscarried my first child. I know this happens to many women, but I blamed myself. Before I knew I was pregnant, I had asked my doctor to put me on antidepressants. I don’t remember what I was on, but it was one not considered safe for pregnancy. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I stopped taking those pills. About 6 weeks in, I lost the baby and I mourned. I still mourn the child who never was, because I blame myself for that loss. However, if I had that child, I would never have received the wonderful gift of Sarah.Sarah turns 10

 25. I completed my doctoral program in three years, including course work, research and writing my complete dissertation. My dissertation was then nominated for an award. I had to present at a conference where they would then announce the award winners. I was pregnant (with Sarah) at the time, but hadn’t had any problems with morning sickness until my nerves about presenting kicked in. Picture me sprinting from the elevator to my hotel room, carrying my bags, saying hello to roommates who I hadn’t seen in over a year, and running into the bathroom to vomit. Fun days. Anyway, my presentation went well, despite some antagonistic questions from audience members. The other nominees presentations were interesting, and we awaited the awards ceremony. Just before the ceremony, the head of the committee (who I had met in other situations) pulled me aside and said, “Lisa, nobody is getting the award this year, but you are getting an honorable mention.” I am the ONLY ONE who got an honorable mention, but NOBODY got the award. Politics that I will NEVER understand at play. To this day, I still can’t understand why that happened. When they announced it at the award ceremony, nobody there understood it either. I had to try to be stoic, try to hold in my tears. I failed miserably. From that I learned my first lesson in the brutality of academic politics, a lesson I would (and still am) continue to learn over the years. A lesson that has led me to know that there is something else out there for me, even if I have yet to figure out what that is.

26. The last one for today might surprise you. Nathan (my now husband) was my first and only boyfriend. I was a complete and utter failure when it came to dating as a young person. In junior high, I “dated” Stephen for like a minute. (Basically he called and asked me out. One of our friends convinced me to say yes. I got scared and broke up with him before we even had a date.) I had one date with Chris in high school, but he liked me a lot more than I liked him. I ended up going to the prom with him as friends, because my friends wanted me to go with someone. I had a few flirtations in Japan (Gacho, Scott, and Mike) but I wouldn’t call those dates. I met Nathan in grad school in Hawaii, and didn’t even know our first date was a first date. (For that story read this). We dated (including long distance) for five years and then we got married (now married 13 years). I think I learned enough from being the best friend, to know that I had found a good one. At the same time, I always thought I’d never find anyone, that there was something wrong with me which prevented me from connecting beyond friendship. Always the best friend, never the leading lady. Lesson learned.

Senior Prom

 What are some of the challenges in your life that have made you become the person you are today?

Continuing the Celebration

“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” (Oprah Winfrey)

Have you ever done this?

Have you ever tried to come up with a list of the things that make you unique? Things that are worth celebrating?

It’s difficult.

I don’t know if it is modesty or humility, or simply an unwillingness to stand up in front of the world and say “This is me. This is what I’ve done. This is who I am.”

Maybe I simply compare myself too often to others, and am unable to see the good in me.

On yesterday’s post, the talented Andra Watkins, who also shares this birthday month with me, wrote this comment:

“You did this. Period. [. . . ]”

Why can’t I just say, “I did this. Period.”? Without the but . . . or the clarification, or the explanation that somehow tries to justify why I am celebrating this particular thing.

Today, as I continue the list, I will try to keep to I did this. Period. (Explaining only enough for you to understand what I”m talking about). Here goes.

12. There’s no way to count the number of words I’ve written, in journals, in stories, in blog posts, in academic papers. Some words remain hidden from the eyes of others, some have been read by a handful of people, and some are just beginning their fearful journey into the light of day.

13. I have completed one novel for middle-grade readers, and one novel for YA/NA. Neither have been published, yet, but I am still hopeful and working toward that.

14. I was nominated for a Po’Okela award (kind of like the Tony’s of Hawaii)  in playwriting (as part of a group of writers) for The Kabuki Mikado.

15. I was also nominated for a Po’Okela award in lighting design for two productions The Staircase and Gertrude Stein and Her Companion. Did I mention that I studied lighting design and almost thought of going in that direction?

16. I was the first student at Smith College to design lights for a faculty directed production.

17. For a year after college, I did a combined internship in Electrics/Stage Management at StageWest, a (now defunct) regional theatre in Springfield, MA.

18. While in Japan, I moved from being told that “I was the weakest teacher” (without clarification) to becoming the Head Teacher/Trainer at a bigger school.

19. Over the past few years, I’ve tried to do something outside my comfort zone at least once each year. These things have included: taking a tap class and performing in a recital; taking piano lessons; creating a piece of art that I actually hung on my wall; travelling with a group of near strangers; attending a conference on my own; and starting a blog.

This is my creation that hangs on the wall.

This is my creation that hangs on the wall.

20. I have a couple of poems published in anthologies, and a few articles published in magazines and journals.

21. It’s impossible to count the number of books I’ve read in my lifetime. I love books. They are the things that I haven’t been able to let go of, despite the weight of moving them. I have slowly weened out my collection, but it always grows again.

That’s all for today. It’s getting harder.

What are some thing that you’ve done. Period?

 

Celebrating 45

A few posts back I wrote about how I have no intention of fading away as I move into the future. Yet, I’m the first to admit that I am the hardest on myself–unable to see my own successes when I’m not quite where or who I thought I’d be. However, my journey into memory through pictures made me decide that I should celebrate the interesting life I have lived. I should acknowledge the things I have done, that make me unique. I should, basically, celebrate myself. Please bear with me as I toot my own horn, because sometimes doing things like this is necessary.

I plan to make a list of 45 (wonderful) things that make me who I am, in no particular order, with details provided if explanation helps. However, I will spread it across several posts because A) I don’t want to bore you and B) It’s really, really difficult for me to do this.

Here I go:

  1.  I was born backwards (breach) which says a lot for who I am now. 😉 In some ways, being breach saved me from a car birth. My Dad used to say that he dropped Mom off (after getting stopped by a policeman as he sped to the hospital) and went to park the car. When he got back, someone congratulated him on the birth of his daughter. A woman, waiting for her daughter to give birth, turned to him and said “How did you do that?” Way to make an entrance.

    Cheeks.

    Cheeks.

  2. I started reading when I was very young (like 3 or 4 or something). Mom says it was in competition with my older brother Steve (who you might know from his many blogs, such as this wonderful post about helping others). I’d like to think my love for words simply insisted on making an early appearance. I vaguely recall people handing me newspapers and asking me to read out loud. I didn’t necessarily understand the words, but I could read them. Sounding out words, and finding meaning in those sounds, or finding interesting ways of putting those sounds together, has become the passion of my life.
  3. That leads to my love of learning languages. All languages. While I’ve lost my fluency in most (including English sometimes) in my life I have studied (and in some cases spoken to some degree): Hebrew, French, Spanish, Japanese, Russian (for a very short time when I was supposed to go on a trip), Slovak (again in preparation for a trip) and a few words in Chinese.  I believe that, if you want to travel, the best way to learn about people is to learn their language. It is the height of ego to expect others to learn English, and make no effort to communicate with the words that represent the culture.
  4. I have visited 8 countries. Now, that’s not a lot, for a girl who dreamed of seeing the world. My list of countries that I still want to go to is large. However, when I travel, I rarely do it just as a tourist. I try to see the country beyond the tourist image. I lived and worked in Japan for three years, and hope someday to be able to live and work somewhere else, even for a short time. My travels have not ended, I just have to find new ways and means to go. Even though I haven’t been to many of the places I’d love to go, I have friends from countries all over the world, many of whom I have actually met in person.

    Red: Where I've lived (although HI has disappeared)Blue: Where I've been
Green: Where I want to go

    Red: Where I’ve lived (although HI has disappeared)
    Blue: Where I’ve been
    Green: Where I want to go

  5. I’ve lived in 9 states and visited 44. I would like to get to all 50, and there are a few I might want to live in.
  6. I have earned three degrees: a BA from Smith College with a double major in English Language & Literature and Theatre; an MFA from the University of Hawaii, Manoa in Theatre (Directing); and a Ph.D from Arizona State University in Theatre (Theatre for Youth)
  7. I have directed 25+ plays at all levels (from beginning actors to professional).While this is one of the areas where I feel like I somehow have failed, I always wanted to direct, and at least I can say I have directed some truly wonderful and challenging pieces.

    The opening scene of CLOUD 9, another play I loved directing, especially because it pushed buttons and promoted discussion.

    The opening scene of CLOUD 9, another play I loved directing, especially because it pushed buttons and promoted discussion.

  8. I have taught hundreds if not thousands of students in subjects ranging from English conversation to writing, from Introduction to Theatre to Special Studies in Drama. I’ve taught at colleges, universities, language schools, after school programs and special programs for adults. I’ve lost track of the types of courses I’ve taught, but they include classes in theatre, writing, honors, and education.
  9. I saved two wonderful dogs from the humane society and they have enriched my life immensely. Even with the begging, the poop, and the constant dog hair.Lizzy & Jasper, 1-1
  10. I found a wonderful partner in life, Nathan, who for whatever reason puts up with my craziness and stands by me even when I don’t want to stand by myself.
  11. We gave birth to an amazing, talented, and beautiful daughter, who surprises me every day.

I think that’s my list for today, as now I’m entering the part where I think “I did this but .  . ” You know, where I start undervaluing everything I’ve ever done.

This isn’t easy, that’s for sure.

Do you ever have a difficult time celebrating yourself and your accomplishments?

Embracing My Birthday Month

This month it’s official. There’s no going back from middle age.

Meanwhile, however, my mind does not feel anything near how old my body is. In order to accept the inevitable, and embrace the reality that more years simply means that I have lived life in a fascinating way, I’ve decided to create a slide show, celebrating me. The challenge to this is that I can’t seem to find a lot of pictures from my early years, but here goes.

Enjoy or ignore as you see fit. I may add more images as I find them

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

At 4am

At 4 am
Darkness is
inevitable.

Not the literal darkness
of a world at rest–
for that is hard to find
as the lights of technology
bleed through
a constant reminder
of human vs. world.

This is the darkness
that leaks out of nightmare
where painful reality
joins forces
with the creatures who hide inside
gnawing at sensitive spots
until your mind screams wake up
or stay in a land filled with
creeping mists
oozing their chill
across the floor
while doomed faces
threaten you
with the failures
of your own mind
and the reality of a world
which prides greed and cruelty
over community
We all pay the price
When we wake into
the inevitable darkness of doubt.

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