Life seems ponderous at times, and definitely overwhelming with so many negative things happening in the world. But doing one little thing CAN help make a difference. Find one small thing you can do to change things for one person or for a few and do it. There is no lack of choices to help you find something that fits your skills, knowledge and abilities. Do it today.
I like to write upbeat things for all of you, but this is heavy in my heart and I want you all to read how important this message is, and to do everything you possibly can to help.
When we think of bullying, we automatically think of it happening only to children, but it is not at all true. It happens at all ages, all races, and all cultures. It happens in schools, in workplaces, and out in society in general, as well as with seniors in senior living centers. It happens in the military and in places of worship and spirituality. There is not a place that is safe from bullying.
I have seen it first-hand and have been subjected to it as a child, as an adult working, and definitely as a senior in my living places. And I have seen first-hand what it does to others in my area, from 13-year-olds committing suicide to adults jumping off the overpasses on freeways, or on a lesser scale, children taking away the food of other children or soiling or tearing their clothes, or sometimes breaking glasses or destroying the school books and tools of others. It is perhaps one the most widespread things happening to people today.
What can you and I do to help stop this horror? What causes it? Are the people doing the bullying lacking in what they need to the point where they are taking it out on others? Lack of food, clothing, or perhaps lack of appreciation of them as human beings at home or on the job or jealousy of them in their neighborhoods when they have achieved something good. A man is bullied in his own yard by neighbors and by the police as he picks up trash. The newspapers are full of these situations.
Let today be the day I stop any bullying I see or hear. Let me be brave and not afraid to face the bullies, even those who have bullied me. Let me not wait for someone else to do it. Let it begin with me. And so it is. Thank you most kindly.
A couple of ordinary people, Anne and Richard
In this world of ordinary people, extra-ordinary people, I am glad there is you. I wish each and every one of you extra-ordinary people the very best life has to offer for the New Year and all the Years to follow. Some of you may think yourselves ordinary, but in my life, you are miracles, and you are sacred. Thank you for the many gifts you have brought into my life.
This photo is a baby girl named Anne, and it is some 76 years old approximately. Oh how she loved to be read to aloud, or how she loved to “read” her own little books. There were never enough books, and her favorite person to read to her was her Grandma. She was still sitting on the floor next to her Grandma in her rocking chair. And Grandma would tell little Anne stories to capture her memory and to make her days memorable.
I dedicate this story to my friend Jennie, who teaches preschoolers at a private school back East. Her favorite way of teaching is reading aloud to the students, something they all love so much. She combines it with so much creativity. One day, she was asking the children if they wanted to have a new story, and instead of telling one child who was talking a lot, she told the children if they wanted a story to say “Ravioli, Ravioli.” It changed the climate immediately and all the children began to say that.
I am so glad I grew up loving to read. To this day, it is perhaps one of my most wonderful adventures in life. I hope any of you who have children will take the time to read to them as much as possible. Let them pick out books from the library. And teach them to ask in funny ways such as “Ravioli, Ravioli!”
Courtesy of Pexels.
The life of a child is magical. It is almost unbelievable that something that starts with an egg and a sperm can grow into something so complex and full of so much potential. They are sacred.
I have worked with children for more than 15 years as a substitute paraeducator, instructional aide, and teacher in various California districts. These days have been some of the best days of my life. Every time I get a new child or a classroom full of children I feel as though life is giving me the best gifts a person can receive. My children have been all ages of special needs – physically, developmentally or emotionally challenged, or a combination of any of those things. But I use the word “challenged” instead of disabled because disabled suggest that a person is unable to do things, which is far from true, even in the most severe cases. With consistent assistance, the children CAN learn at some level.
In one of my classrooms as a paraeducator, I served as a one-on-one for a little boy who was autistic and nonverbal, and he had braces on his ankles and feet. He also had to have special liquid frequently to help with his digestion. Although he had these challenges, he was generally cheerful and seemed to have a good sense of his own abilities. The only area that was a challenge was when the children went outside for their exercise.
The braces made it difficult for him to walk very fast at all, and running seemed out of the question when the aides would play a sort of baseball with a big rubber ball and “bases” leading to the home plate. They would throw the ball and the children would run from base to base, trying to get a home run. The little boy I had charge of seemed to see this as a time to “watch” as the other children ran. When his turn came up, he would stand watching, but not try to move forward. This day I took his hand, held it tight, and encouraged him to keep going. We managed to get through all the bases, and at last made a home run. We had two more turns, and each time I held his hand tightly, encouraging him all the way.
Soon we were sitting in the grass resting as the game was over. I turned to him and told him “Wow! We made three home runs!” Suddenly he grabbed me around the neck with both arms and began to hug me until we both fell over. I knew it meant he was so happy because he sensed his victory.
I will never forget that day. As he got into the car and his dad began to drive him home, he reached out with both arms and threw kisses at me. I will always have a smile in my heart when I think of that child.
The Learning Tree Classroom Door Decoration by Anne Copeland
In my lifetime, I have come across two teachers who have been the best teachers I have ever known. The first one I knew as a young teenager, struggling through being a shy person, and one with very little to inspire me at school.
She was a young teacher, very pretty and she drove a red convertible Corvette. We all loved her. She would bring photos and newspaper clippings and jazz music to the classroom, and we would all write about it. She taught us so many things just by all the things she was introducing to us.
After one of our writing assignments was being handed back to us with our grades, when she got to me, she whispered in my ear, “You are going to be a great writer.” My heart soared and my paper had an A on it. I went home smiling in my heart, and the first chance I got to have money to pay for it, I got some business cards that said my name and address with “Writer” on it. How clearly and easily I had made that decision.
Years later, I ran into an old classmate from that class and I told her about how great that teacher was. And then she told me that the teacher had told all of the young people in the class including my friend the same thing. What a lasting legacy she left with all of us. I wish I could ever find her again to thank her.
I have another more recent friend I met in an online correspondence course, The Silent Eye Mystery School, a fantastic class that involves Archaeology (one of my degrees), History, Philosophy, Psychology, Science and Spirituality. Three wonderful people founded and run the course: Steve Tanham, Sue Vincent, and Stuart France. We have been traveling via posts all over England studying all the great ruins, the churches, the castles and the amazing forts. All three of them have written lots of fantastic books.
In one of the posts online, I met a lovely lady named Jennie, and she is one of the most dedicated preschool teachers I have ever known. https://jenniefitzkee.com/author/jlfatgcs/ is her writing, and her blog is called “A Teacher’s Reflections.”
Jennie writes: “I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It’s the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That’s what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease’s bestselling book, The Read-Aloud Handbook because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.”
I would like to give each of these women some sort of certificate of honor if I could. I have worked in the school districts myself, and I appreciate a truly incredible teacher as these two women have been. Thank you both for helping to make a positive difference in young lives.
Photo courtesy Pixels.
I have five rose bushes in pots in my yard. It is interesting to watch the way they grow (or don‘t). These were rescue rose bushes – I got them in one of those very cheap way–too–late–for–bare–root–roses sales and they were literally bare root – no sawdust or other wrapping to protect them. It looked as though the grower simply plowed up their fields, threw the survivors into a box and brought them to the store. I looked carefully through all the ones that were available and picked the ones that had some signs of growing or trying to grow.
Watching the five rose bushes grow is a good analogy for life and how people choose to live it. Of the five rose bushes, despite great care and love, watering and fertilizer, one of them didn‘t even try to make it and died within days. It just plain gave up, for it had plenty of green, and it could have chosen to grow, but for whatever reasons, it didn‘t even give it a try. I took it back and the store let me pick out another one, so again, I brought the new one home and gave it the same treatment.
This one didn‘t look THAT promising – it had two spindly little greenish–white twisted branches coming out, but somehow I felt good about it. I wasn‘t wrong either because it took in all the water, the fertilizer, and everything it could get and it put out the largest leaves and healthy red–green leaves, and lots of them too. It was really pumping to grow with everything it has. The leaves and stems quickly reached up as if to catch every drop of available sun. This rose bush is not only was going to make it; it was going to outpace all the other ones as if in a race to be the biggest and strongest.
One of the rose bushes had green on the trunks and it looked healthy, but it is as though it hasn‘t made up its mind whether to grow or not. It just sat there with its green trunk but it hadn‘t even tried to put out any branches or leaves. It almost felt as though it was waiting for someone else to do its work.
Still another of the rose bushes was green, and it sort of sat there for awhile, and then finally decided to grow. It took a longer time, malingering day by day, seeming a little hopeful as it held onto its green for a long time, but then it finally just gave up without any little fight to survive.
The fourth rose bush tried too, but it was a such a timid little thing. It too had the greenish white branches, and it it put out little sweet leaves, but kept them close to the trunk as if needing to protect them from everything. It grew slowly, as if not quite sure of each step it took like a baby that tries to take its first steps but has to hold onto the wall for security, not knowing how to trust its own self to make it .
The fifth rose was taller than the rest in its trunk, but it just put out one spindly branch and it had leaves, but only a couple and it grew so slowly that I often forgot to look at it to see how it is doing because my eyes were drawn to the most robust of all of them and how truly hard that one was trying.
I always think about these roses when I think about the challenges I hear that people are having in their lives and the ways they handle them. I think about the ways they chose or chose not to go on and live fully no matter what the circumstances.
Like that robust rose bush with its huge leaves reaching out to grab everything it could to live fully, it was a trash rose to start out with as all of these were, but it was determined to go forward and it will make it in life and to be a rose that would cause people to admire it for trying so hard. Even if this rose didn‘t get regular watering and fertilizer and a lot of good sun, I have this feeling that it would be the kind of rose that would grow between cracks in pavement. It really wants to live and nothing will stop it as long as there is even just a little trunk and roots left. What kind of rose bush would you be in this life?