getting ready; another smash book

As I prepare for for my trip this summer with students I am continuing my tradition of keeping a smash book throughout the journey.  I can’t wait to fill it!!

We are traveling with Education First Tours (EF Tours) and will be visiting Germany, France, Spain, and Portugal on a 16 day trip.  I have the largest group yet, at 27 travelers.  I encourage them to write about their experiences while we are traveling and I model this with my smash book.  Writing down the little jokes and other things that make you laugh; exploring your feelings as you are far from home in a new culture, recording your memories for years to come…these are the things I tell my students when they ask “what should I write about?”

My Smash Books

Thanks for reading my post!  Read more at Fields of Poppies.  The original SMaSH Book post is here.

the struggle is real

Injuries can be very frustrating.  Whenever I feel the first bit of pain, I tell myself I need to just run through it…it will pass.  When it does not pass, I tell myself…you just need to stretch better.  Next, I tell myself…you just need more ice and some ibuprofen.  This cycle of pain and mental struggle continues for this runner for weeks before I ever consider that there may actually be an injury.  I mean, suck it up, right?

Well, I recently had a hard landing on an obstacle course rope swing.  So stupid.  I simply did not realize the earth was so close and my feet hit before I was ready for them to hit.  The left one hit first, then the right – and my knees bent a way in which God did not really intend.  I did not realize it, but I had just won a slight sprain in the left and deep bone bruise in the right.  Of course, it will be almost 2 months before I get that information.  I assume I need to just “walk it off”.   In fact, that very day,  I then proceeded to repel down a 50 foot wall and continued to walk for hours.

Fast forward two weeks or so.  I am teaching, coaching track, and still trying to run periodically.  My husband counts on me for his workouts.  He doesn’t like to run alone.  I even wrote about what I was experiencing here, so I will not rewrite it.  I will tell you that I thought I was just still recovering from my marathon.

Finally, after 3 weeks of rest and the pain not really going anywhere – I went to see an Orthopedic Surgeon.  At this point, the team trainer fell rather confident that I had torn my meniscus.  After x-rays and an exam, the Dr. felt that was a rather good assumption.  “Let’s get the MRI to be sure and I can do the procedure on Friday.”  (you see, I was pushing for him to go through the process quickly because … well…do I need to explain that?)  When I went back in on Thursday, expecting to get prepped for a procedure on Friday – I mean, I even already took the day off – he told me the actual diagnosis – deep bone bruise.  I sat in shock – all of this for a bruise?  “What kind of wuss am I?”  I asked him.  He assured me that I was no wuss  and that I had a very serious injury of the right tibia.  Unfortunately, no quick fix – more rest, then, more rest.  UGH.

So, I am very grateful that I do not, in fact, have to have surgery.  I am also glad to know that I was not setting some kind of record in the marathon recovery time needed department.  My third blessing here is that I had a team trainer that took great care of me and sent me to the doctor.  I would have NEVER gone to the doctor on my own – such is my suck it up nature.

Before the diagnosis I had set the goal to run my next marathon on October 31st.  He said that he felt I should still be able to meet this goal.  I will keep you posted.

Thanks for reading my post!  Read more at Fields of Poppies.



the few…the proud…the incredibly sore

Educator’s Workshop at Paris Island March 1-4, 2016 for the Recruiting Station of Columbia, South Carolina…holy cow…what an amazing experience.  The sign that speaks 2016-03-03 07.20.02 (2)the mission of the base really says it all.  “We Make Marines”

My participation in this workshop tops the list of professional development experiences and learning  about what I can do to help young people to find their paths, wherever they may lead.2016-03-01 15.26.41

Our group of 30 educators stayed in Beaufort and traveled to the base daily.  We met Marines and recruits and learned what it takes to be a US Marine.  We also were able to experience shooting the M 16, repelling down a 50 foot wall, running the obstacle course, and of course, visiting the pit.

The PIT – a sandy spot that looks like it is ready for a beach volleyball game, but I assure you this is not a fun spot.  PIT, I believe stands for “personal incentive training”.  Now, I don’t know if that is an official breakdown or one of affection.  I know we all thought that some “personal incentive training” could be very effective in our classrooms.

The repel wall… one marine at the top and one at the bottom.  These 2 men are there to make sure you go down safely.  You could pass out and drop and still be lowered without harm.  This did not assuage my fear AT ALL!   So, here is the whole story.  When we first arrived, they put us in formation and said “those that have no intention of repelling please go to the back fence”.  I did not move.  I was in.  The instructor explained what was going to happen and told us to go get our gear.  I walked with the group, but in the room with the gear – I bailed.  I came out empty handed…I just could not do it.  My fear of heights was going to win today.

2016-03-03 09.51.43The Marines that we were working with over the course of the 4 days expressed their dismay as I passed by to join the non-participants.  I stood to the side for the 20 minute preparations of the group – anger growing and frustration brewing.  Not only was I battling my fear of heights, but I had just hurt my knee on the obstacle course (read about that here).  Still, I could not take it any longer and I walked up to my Drill Instructor and said “I don’t want to wuss out – is it too late?”  No it was not.  They went and got gear and got me ready in 60 seconds flat.  As I climbed the stairs the shaking began.  I tried not to think about it as I watched educator after educator disappear over the side.  It was finally my turn.

Marine number 1 hooked me up, told me to step back, and then, just lean back.  I tried and tried.  We were to put our heals over the edge – half on, half off sort of thing.  And then, keep legs straight and do a trust fall – 50 feet in the air – with the guy that is going to “catch” you 50 feet below.  I kept staring into the eyes of Marine number one and listening to the voices of those below – trying to distinguish  that of Marine number two.  I had my first heal over the edge.  As I tried to inch my other foot back, I rocked back and forth, left to right, not really making any progress.  As the anxiety level rose, I had to step from the edge completely again.  UGH!  I repeated this twice.  Seriously?  I was so frustrated that I could not overcome this.  I wanted it so badly!  My Marine was so patient and so good and calming a woman on the edge.

Again, I get my right heel over the edge.  “Now, just move your left foot,” he said.  Sure.     “I’m trying!”  I screamed.  Mental note – do not piss off the Marine holding the rope.   Deep breath.  Finally, I edged the foot back and he said , “you are there – now just lean back.” and in one fell swoop I dropped over the edge.  The exhilaration at all time high in this 46-year-old life – I made it half way down the wall before they stopped me.  My fingers were dangerously close to the rig and we needed to reposition before they lowered me the rest of the way.  Whew.  When I hit the ground it was hard to even think straight because the adrenaline was so high.  I do remember, however, giving a great big hug to Marine number two.

2016-03-03 14.14.57-2

I can see why they make recruits to this.  A trust and confidence builder for sure.  I am so grateful for the experience and to two very special Marines that I will never forget.

“You and Me Against the World”

Released in 1971 –  The song was written by Kenny Ascher and Paul Williams – two men.  I never would have guessed it.  Fast forward 17-18 years or so, after my parents split for the second time and my brothers were doing their own thing,  it was just me and my mom mourning the loss of our family alone, together.

Fast forward to 1993 – my mom passed and I was a single mother with a 13 month old daughter. I often sang this song to my daughter at night when I put her to sleep.

What the song is about: A single mother’s anthem. A mother sings to her daughter about their journey through life together.

My favorite lines:

“You and me against the world,
Sometimes it feels like you and me against the world,
When all the others turn their backs and walk away,
You can count on me to stay.”

What the words mean to me: This is the verse that first pushed me to sing this at night to my daughter.  My mom stayed.  She was a rock, a dependable, persistent rock.  I wanted my daughter to feel safe and secure and to know that I would be present – always – and that she could depend on me and never disappoint me.

This verse also has the hint of how I depended on her.  I put all of my energy into this little girl and our life together.  After my mom died, my daughter kept me going out of sheer necessity – food, shelter, etc.  Then, my daughter kept me going because I wanted to give her a better life and I was the only one in the world that could do it.  We were alone, together.

“And when one of us is gone,
And one of us is left to carry on,
Then remembering will have to do,
Our memories alone will get us through
Think about the days of me and you,
You and me against the world.

What the words mean to me:  I often cried through these lyrics.  Still do.  I wrote this in an earlier post about my mother and another Helen Reddy song – “My mother remains my hero and a visage of strength, powering through life’s challenges with courage, integrity, and conviction.” (Read that post here.)  I never thought anything could ever really keep her down or take her away from me.  I think I sang this to my daughter, in part, to try to prepare us both for the day we will be apart.  When my mom took ill and died 10 weeks later, I had never considered for one moment that she could be taken away from me.  So naive at 22.

I think of my mother every day.  Memories are all I have of her…and ‘remembering will have to do’.  She is in my heart and the heart of my children – even the ones she never got to meet.  They have been touched by her because I have been.

The tears through these lyrics also let me express my sorrow to my daughter.  They allowed me show my daughter that it is okay to be sad and express your feelings…and that life does, indeed, go on.  I would speak of my mother and recall fond memories of her, sharing the stories.  I would tell Alexis that grandma is in heaven and I will see her again one day.  Which leads me to the next verse.


“And for all the times we’ve cried I always felt that
God was on our side.

What the words mean to me: I spoke of God and faith to my small, little girl.  Although my anger towards Him exploded within me at times, and I questioned my faith when such an angel as my mother had to suffer so, and to meet such an ugly, early end – I know that the same faith got me through.  The same faith that God has a plan is the same faith that helped me to raise a beautiful and talented young lady.  I see my mother in her, now – strong, smart, confident, kind, independent, forthright, and loving.  This brings me peace.

Full Lyrics for “You and Me Against the World”:

You and me against the world,
Sometimes it feels like you and me against the world,
When all the others turn their backs and walk away,
You can count on me to stay.

Remember when the circus came to town
And you were frightened by the clown,
Wasn’t it nice to be around someone that you knew,
Someone who was big and strong and looking out for

You and me against the world,
Sometimes it feels like you and me against the world
And for all the times we’ve cried I always felt that
God was on our side.

And when one of us is gone,
And one of us is left to carry on,
Then remembering will have to do,
Our memories alone will get us through
Think about the days of me and you,
You and me against the world.

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