30 January 2013

An elementary course on making friends

Today when I got to school one of my students looked up at me and excitedly shrieked, "Messy hair!!!"

After feeling embarrassed for a few moments, I decided she actually must have just felt a special connection to me, since her pretty blond hair is regularly a bit of a rat's nest. And it made me a little more okay with her pointing out that I am sporting a slightly more disheveled look today.

Only second to the enjoyment my students get when my hair is a disaster is how pleased they are when I flip out and jump "5 feet in the air" when the fire alarm goes off. They could laugh about that for hours!

And they did.

Actually.... they still are.

29 January 2013

Demonstrations in liberty

These days there seems to be plenty of room to doubt the "Of the people, by the people, for the people" ideal that has historically been, at least in theory, the backbone of our nation. How much does your voice really matter? How often is the average person heard? Aren't our questionable politicians and big businesses really running the show these days? If you don't make millions, does your citizenship even count?

I know I sound like a pessimist, and there are certainly times when I feel that way. I seriously question at times how much of a difference I can make. And I don't think I'm the only one. That is one factor, I believe, in the increasingly whinny, but persistently inactive political discussions that I hear coming from all directions most of the time. And even if it isn't exactly excusable, it is certainly understandable. Many of us don't feel like there is much we can actually do to make a difference.

But in reality, I don't think it's true. We, all of us, individuals, can actually have a great impact on our nation, our communities and even the world. We just have to know where to look and do the things we really can do. Just as one important, if slightly odd, example are online petitions.

Yes, yes. I know what you're thinking. Those lame emails and Facebook promptings we all get to "sign your support" and "join the petition" to change the world. Can those possibly be more than some cheesy gimmick? Can typing your name on a list actually make a difference? And isn't that a pretty silly and even lazy way to "make a difference"?

Maybe. Yet I still think that, in some ways, these online petitions are actually a beacon of hope and an updated nod to a past of political and social activism that can appeal to many people living in today's digital world. Pledging your support on a petition can make the difference necessary to sway political decisions and show where public opinion really lies on important issues. There are many sites these days like Change.org that allow people to make online petitions and rally for support from unknown strangers who commiserate with the originator's concerns. And together, they actually do change things. From legislation to store policies to justice for the falsely accused or support for causes from around the world, many of the petitions get enough signatures to get noticed at least. And sometimes they even succeed in making an important change! Rather often.

So, is it worth it to sign an online petition? I think so. At least, I think it is if you care about the issue being petitioned and you are someone who think wants to be involved in righting wrongs and affecting change.

Now, I don't pretend that signing petitions, even if you did it all day everyday, would amount to being actively involved in making the world a better place or would suffice in doing our civic duties. There are far too many people who need our help and far too many projects that need hands and brains and hearts invested in making them work. We can and should be involved in every way we can.

Yet, there is something very beautiful about the power of people coming together, even it is just online. Because we do have a say. We do make a difference. And the things you sign your name to do say something about who you are and what you stand for. It is important to make those things known.

By the way, this all came up because of this petition to help save wolves. I signed it and you might want to too. Or not. All I'm saying is, don't discount the small things. In the end, they do all add up. Sometimes I think it is in the small things that we will find the greatest hope.

17 January 2013


Birdie and I finished a marathon!

Last weekend my sister and I flew to Orlando to run a marathon with our aunt at Disney World. It was fun/hard/rewarding/painful/long/awesome/FINISHED! It was especially wonderful running and training with my sister and being there with my aunt. Plus, if you're going to run 26 miles, I suppose Disney World isn't the worst place to do it!!

I have to confess though, I don't think I'll do it again. Too hard on the old body for me! So, after marathon #1, I am officially retiring from my marathoning career. But I'm glad I did it once. Now at least I know I can. And that is something to be pretty amazingly grateful for!

My sister, aunt and I all done!

The whole running crew with our medals!
My aunt's running group let us wear their team shirts..
"Will Run For Food!"
Right up my ally.

06 January 2013

once upon a time it was the year 2012

and in that year I did not die. Though perhaps I went into hiding for a bit. Maybe I haven't come out yet completely. But I can't move on without saying something.

Last year was... not really a year. It was not one. A whole. A unified entity.

I think of last year and I feel I lived so many lives in so little time. It is a little scary. And a little hard to explain--being many people. And yet only one.

2012 started smack dab in the middle of my life in Spain. I rang in the new year with my Spain family in the living room of that house where I lived that part of my life. We celebrated with food and dancing and music and joy. Just a year later and it feels like an eternity ago.
The women of my Spain family!

A reason to go home.  (photo by Spencer Boerup)
A month later, in February, I was home. I was celebrating again. This time, the marriage of a dear best amazing darling friend. It was like being picked up and dropped, for a few days, right into the middle of a life I hadn't lived for years--my friends and family together again for the first time in more than a year for some of us. It was magical. And hard. And wonderful and frightening and short.

Within a week, I was back in my Spain life. Teaching. Traveling. Hanging out with friends and alone and living as if it was all normal and real. Dating and breaking up. Laughing and crying and just being. Until it was done. And there were goodbyes and endings and unanswerable questions about futures. As there usually are.

Half way through 2012. Just turned 25.
Florence, Italy.
I left Spain on my own. I spent my 25th birthday as a tourist somewhere in Tuscan Italy, in the middle of a new adventure that was, for the first time, mine alone. Post-Spain. Pre-NewTucson. I wandered through Italy and fell in love with the beautiful landscapes and churches and paintings and history. I drifted through Paris and was enchanted with everything, even though it was sometimes cold, even in July. I ate the best falafel of my life and entered the homes of great artists and felt like the very air there made the world and people and myself lovelier somehow. I decided that my next language would be French.
(I'm not joking, but I should be.) 

Dad and me at The Alhambra.
Granada, Spain.
Days later, in mid-July, I was traipsing through southern Spain with my Dad. Driving on back roads through beautiful countryside. Hiking through otherworldly rock formations. Floating in the salty sea waters of the Mediterranean. Trying to take it all in. But already being pulled into what was next.

When I arrived in Tucson at 11:30 pm on July 29, I was already scheduled to attend training for my new job at 8 am the next morning. In the most unlikely turn of events, I was already a teacher. A 4th grade teacher at a little charter school. And the next unbearably new part of my life had started.   right at the end of July. Without pomp or ceremony. Without time to wrap anything up or become (re)acquainted with this new home. What was had ended and what would be was already bulldozing a new path I hardly had time to consider before launching myself into it.

The last 5 months of 2012 were a blur. A terrifying, glorious mess. An education and a re-education. A new beginning. A return to the past. I still hardly know what to do with those months. They disappeared faster than my brain could take them in. I was home for the first time in 6 months or 7 years, depending on how you look at in. But really, I was in a new life and a new place, not even knowing the street names (anymore). There was no time to think or process, there was barely time to breathe. Luckily, I had my family. My friends. Such good friends! And zumba classes and running and great co-workers and funny moments and busy-good weekends. I even went rock climbing--a new love!

Then it was over.

Well, sort of. Because the year and the phase are not the same thing.

I still don't know what to make of 2012. Except that it is all a blessing. One more piece of my life. Of my heart. Of my soul. Of who I am and will be. Whoever that is.

With that, I wish you all an abundance of peace and love, wherever this crazy life takes you!