Oh the Places You Will Go . . . If You Just Let Yourself

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
― Dr. SeussOh, the Places You’ll Go!

I’m watching (in a repeat airing) the Tournament of Roses parade on this January 1, 2013 and thinking about the year to come, and the theme resonated with me “Oh the Places You Will Go” from Dr. Seuss.

I started out 2012 on a plane to Vienna, heading ultimately to Slovakia, on a journey to find myself and find some purpose.

I ended 2013 sitting on a beach in Waikiki, tears pouring down my face as fireworks celebrated the first year without my Dad being on this earth.

DSCN1735

In between those two points, life happened. Not all of it good, not all of it bad, but all because of the simple fact that I am alive.

I’m not going to give a detailed account of the moments in between but rather try to sum up what I’ve learned over the past, rather challenging, year. I learned . . .

  • nothing ever goes as expected, but the unexpected can bring pleasant surprises.
  • nothing is ever perfect, but with hard work we can learn to embrace imperfection
  • never retrace your steps
  • you are never too old to dream, or to take chances because the unexpected can happen
  • nothing will happen if you don’t make it happen.
  • your past doesn’t have to dictate your present or your future

Tomorrow morning I will be on a plane, back to reality, back to the cold. I can’t say that this has been the most relaxing vacation in my life. Nor has it been the most joyous holiday season. However, I know that what happens next is up to me. and that I want to be able to look back on my life without regrets.

I want to learn from the wisdom of Dr. Seuss.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
― Dr. Seuss

Cover of "Oh, the Places You'll Go!"

Cover of Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

I may not know what the future brings. I may not have resolutions (as I don’t believe in them), but I have two feet, a brain, an imagination, a dream, and a future.

I wonder where those tools will take me.

May you all find peace and joy as your feet carry you forward to new, wonderful, unimagined places!

DSCN1746

Non-Communicative Future

Yesterday morning in my Comp I class I had them share what they had written for the Portfolio Project that was due.  In the portfolio I had asked them to evaluate themselves as students/learners/writers as well as revise one paper and set some goals. I started doing this type of project in another school, and for the most part feel that it is a successful project. I still feel that, even after grading the projects yesterday, except for one thing. Many of my students don’t know how to communicate. Most of them shared their portfolio in as few sentences as possible–not expanding or explaining unless  I asked questions, barely even listening to each other talk. After that, I vamped for the rest of the time (as I had expected it would take longer) talking about learning, why we need to take writing classes, how would they form their ideal comp class, anything that came to mind. (I used up my material for the last class tomorrow, now I have to think of something else).  But, in typical fashion, two or three of them spoke and the rest stared at me in silence. This has been my semester in this class. It might as well have been a class of three people.

I was teaching writing. I helped some of them improve in grammar and the ability to support an argument. I helped some of them improve as readers, or just gain confidence in their ability to learn. That to me is a success.

But many of them still don’t know how to communicate.

In part of the “discussion” yesterday we talked about the changing forms of communication. For example, the fact that more people function by text messages now than any other form of communication. I mentioned how important it was to learn to write proper e-mails and things. Later in the day, I got this e-mail from one of the students in the class:

“Dear Ms. lisa what would be my grade in the class?!?”

That’s it. That was the extent of the e-mail. Now, let’s forget about the fact that they still haven’t figured out that I am Dr. I just wanted them to call me Lisa, but I usually get one of the following: Teacher,  Ms. Lisa, Mrs. Kramer, Mrs. Lisa, nothing, and on rare occasions Dr. Lisa or Dr. Kramer. But, setting that aside, my name is not capitalized. He didn’t sign it. And he wrote this one sentence when I told them that I would be figuring out the grades and let them know on Friday.

Students today do not know how to communicate.

Vicky, at Little Miss Everything, wrote a post today called “My best friend is a screen” that asks if our future will be this

Sadly, I think we are heading to some form of that. I don’t necessarily believe that everyone will be a fat slob (although there is potential for that too). But I do think that we are losing the ability to communicate face-to-face. We are also losing common courtesy and respect for each other, as our skills in face-to-face communication dwindle.  How often have you sent an e-mail and never gotten a reply? Not even an acknowledgment that the person received your e-mail? How often have you made a phone call asking for a return call and never gotten the call back?

I am guilty of these errors myself. I am bad about writing thank you notes and thanking people for invitations. I’m trying to get better. I don’t like to talk to people on the phone, but I will and I will call back. Sometimes I prefer to e-mail, but I always respond to e-mails. I’m not perfect, but I try.

I worry though that we are raising a generation of people who will never try, because they are too buried in their own pleasure. In the self-evaluation I had several students admit to: texting or listening to music during class, or falling asleep intentionally. But then the following statement would be something like, “I respected my teacher and my classmates.”

Is this respect? Where are we headed in a world that does not respect each other or know how to communicate?

Sorry for the RANT! But what do you think?

[Update, another of my favorite bloggers chose to write about this topic today as well. Check out her post  ” A World Without Words”.]

Remembering the Past, Living the Present, Wondering about the Future

I have been thinking a lot about time lately. I have a story, yet to be completely written, that convolutes the past, present and future of the two protagonists in a way that defines them and gives them both strength. That sounds complicated, but someday I hope to make sense of it on the page. Today, however, I’m reflecting on the complexity of time in my own life. Forgive me if my thoughts  take you on a rambling path to nowhere.

Every day I try to encourage my daughter to live in the Now, to focus on the things that are happening at that moment in time and enjoy the adventure.  She bounces from the past to the future in the blink of an eye, and cannot seem to embrace the present.  This makes her constantly worried about something, whether it is missing her friends or making new ones. Watching her struggle with this has honestly helped me ground myself in the present, but only somewhat.

I too, often reflect on the past–either with fond memories or regret. I sometimes think that we look at our past with rose-colored glasses. When living the events, the realities were probably never as perfect as how we perceive them through time. We forget the mundane, and to some extent we forget the pain, and we focus on the moments that make the somewhen seem somehow better than the now.  But, at the same time, I often have the moments that I call “should have, could have, would have” moments; the moments that I wonder if I had done something differently, would it have made a difference Now. I try very hard not to dwell on those moments, but there are times that is very difficult. I find that, being in touch with my past through Facebook (as I reconnect with friends) can make those moments stronger. I wonder, is it better to let your past go completely and not connect with the friends who make you doubt, or to confront the issues of the past in the hopes that you can truly let them go?

I too wonder about the future, but I have no clear concept of what that future might hold. My life has been changing too quickly and taking unexpected paths, so I can’t even hold onto a clear goal. So many books talk about the importance of manifesting your dreams, envisioning what you want in order to achieve your goals. But I’ve lost sight of how to do that. In my past, I believe, I had a much clearer vision of the future. While I have achieved many of the things from the past vision, I don’t know that I have achieved them all, and I no longer see a clear path to the future.

My past, my present, and my future are living and breathing inside me. I wonder where they will take me.

Letter from My Future Self

 

Downtown Durango, Colorado

Image via Wikipedia

 

March 2010

Dear Lisa,

I wanted to write to you to tell you that, in the end, you live a life worth living.  I know that right now you don’t know what the future holds.  Will there be a job, a home, safety and security?  Where will you end up next fall? What does your future bring? What do you really want to do with your life?  These are the questions looming in your head, making you unable to sleep at night. Making you fearful.

Well . . . I’m not going to answer them for you except to say that your life is going to work itself out. If I tell you all the answers now, then you won’t live the adventure.  And part of what makes you Lisa is the struggle, the journey, and finding your way into the unknown. I know, sometimes you wish the answers handed to you, written in the sky. But I also know you (because I am you) and I can tell you that you will look back on this time, and use what you have learned from it, to become the person you truly want to be.

Why don’t I come out and just tell you what happens?  Remember how you used to love the tv show Charmed, and they always warned you not to mess with the past because you don’t know how it will affect the present or the future. Well, that’s true. And if I tell you too much, I may not become who I am today.  You are now asking yourself, who are you? I am a woman who has lived her life to the fullest, followed many dreams to completion, and touched many lives. That’s who you’ve always wanted to be, isn’t it?  I know you’ve said that you want to be someone worthy of remembering, and I think that’s who we’ve become.

So, in all this vague nonsense, what advice do I have? Keep holding onto the dreams, and trust that more will come.  Know that you will get through this tough time, and will move on to better things. Life does not end in Durango, CO.  Hold onto your friends, but more importantly hold onto your family.  And keep writing, it will help you get through this.

Love from the future.

%d bloggers like this: