2-2-22 3 things

The day before it all goes down. The next 2 days I will be in a court room with my husband to cut the final threads of a 30 year trauma bond. It’s been almost a 2.5 year brutal journey. Tonight I am grateful that I spent the last 3 years learning how to turn my will over to my higher power because I truly am powerless over an alcoholic/addict. I thought I had learned that a long time ago, but I guess I forgot. Tonight I will rest well; I am grateful for the amazing people who surround me as I continue recovering from emotional and mental abuse. Tonight I will sleep well; but I am most grateful today that by dear friend, Bon Bon, did not suffer terribly through her recent bone biopsy. Tonight I will sleep well. Please pray for full remission for my dear friend. #choosejoy #gratitude #3things #moveforwardwithpurpose #justbringthetruth #iamenough

In His hands.

God Bless Mr. Gale Wendell Marshall

Last Sunday I read the obituary of a man that changed my life – dead at 68 years old after over 40 years of teaching.  His words and kindness supported me through my toughest times as I always remembered the way he made me feel as though I mattered, as though I had value.  He taught me compassion and how to listen.  More importantly, he taught me how to be, well, me.

1985  We get used to the way things are sometimes and just don’t realize that there may be a better way – especially when we are young.  Children and teenagers often do not know of hope and future due to lack of life experiences – or, unfortunately, due to dreadful life experiences.

My parents loved me and had no idea what was happening to me and I was always too scared to tell them – so typical.  I did not want to hurt them. I began high school much like I completed junior high and elementary school – by blindly walking through the motions –  being driven by the choices made around me, about me, to me – rather than by my own choices. This is what I thought life was. I was soft spoken and painfully shy and always trying to make someone else happy. I believed I had no control, no voice.  I felt worthless, lost, and invisible.  I was suicidal. Enter Mr. Gale Marshall.

1987  As he taught me to value myself,  I began to realize that I do have a future.  I began to find my voice and test it out.  As I tried to decide what I wanted to do with my life, I continued to struggle; I barely graduated high school due to attendance issues.  I did not have adults in my personal life that knew how to get to college and my parents could not afford to send me, anyway.  Unfortunately, the guidance counselors only spoke to those that knew what to ask.  Through the years Mr. Marshall greeted me with care and concern and always took a moment to check in – always willing to listen.  His genuine compassion reminded me daily that I mattered and that I could do whatever I set out to do.  I graduated and decided that I wanted to be the one to find the invisible child.  I wanted to be a teacher.

It took me nine years to earn my degree – that’s a post for another day.  When I won District Teacher of the Year in 2015, the speech I gave to the auditorium full of teachers described the impact Gale Marshal had on my life.  It was not one intervention or a specific act, but rather who he was every day that saved this little girl.  He had no idea the impact he made. No idea.

Thank you, Mr. Marshall.  May you rest in peace knowing that every day I try to continue your work and continue to seek out the invisible children in my classroom and lift them up with love. God bless you.

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“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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“I Am Woman”

Released in 1971 – I was merely 2 years old when this song was originally released, but it found its way into my life through my mother.  After my parents divorced I heard this often – maybe because I was finally old enough to listen.  It has become my personal anthem, as well.  Any adversity that I face, any time I struggle – I put on this song and scream it out over and over again.   Often times, the adversity that I actually face is missing my mother – who passed when I was merely 22 years old.  I cannot hear it and not think of her…I cannot think of her and not hear it.  She remains my hero and a visage of strength, powering through life’s challenges with courage, integrity, and conviction.

What the song is about: These lyrics are simply about the strength a woman finds in herself.

My favorite lines:

“Oh yes I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman”

What the words mean to me:   My life experiences have led me to the depths of despair and I have been able to crawl out of the darkness, time and time again.  I am empowered by my victories, as well as forever scarred.  My mother would tell me all the time that “God never gives you more than you can handle”.   And she favored “that which doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger”.   Her strength of faith in herself and God speak to me through these lines.

“As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land”

What the words mean to me: My mother’s heart overflowed with love and compassion for all people.  She did not see race or class.  She did not look down on others – ever.  She embraced everyone with patience and love and always tried to help those in need.  She’s got the whole world…in her hands.

“But I’m still an embryo
With a long long way to go
Until I make my brother understand”

What the words mean to me:  I take these lines quite literally, often, when I am trying to connect to either of my ACTUAL brothers. Good grief.

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 I Am Woman

By Helen Reddy

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
‘Cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again

[Chorus:]
Oh yes I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman

You can bend but never break me
‘Cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
‘Cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul

[Chorus]

I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land
But I’m still an embryo
With a long long way to go
Until I make my brother understand

Oh yes I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to I can face anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman
Oh, I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong

I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong
I am woman

Songwriters: HELEN REDDY, RAY BURTON
© Universal Music Publishing Group

 

the wrong kind of goodbye

As a teacher I am used to saying goodbye.  Students move in and out of the district, always coming and going.  Farewells naturally occur at the end of every school year as I pass along my little cherubs to the next lucky soul that gets to touch their lives. Often times I ignore my feelings of loss and try to focus on the next batch of students that lie in wait.  However, when I lose a student to death…well, that is just the wrong kind of goodbye.

I recently attended the funeral services of a sweet young lady named Danielle.  A senior at my high school, she had yet to see her 18th birthday, had yet to recieve her diploma, had yet to live her dreams.  I taught Danielle when she was a freshman and although there is a certain detachment that occurs between student and teacher when the student is no longer a regular in the classroom – there is always a connection as our life paths have crossed.

Filling the needs of students drives me as a teacher.  Sometimes I fill their minds with knowledge and growth.  Sometime I fill their heart with love and acceptance.  Sometimes I fill their bellies.  Sometimes, honestly, I don’t know what I am doing or if I am making a difference in their lives at all – but they always, always make a difference in mine.  I carry hope for all students that enter and leave my classroom that they live long lives, find joy and love, reach their goals, and live free from despair.  So, when I say goodbye to them because they move on to another grade – I never really say goodbye – until it’s the wrong kind of goodbye.

Danielle drove off the road and into some trees.  Two passengers also died.  One survived.  Danielle’s speed led to the accident and an unforgiving road on a sharp turn sealed her fate.  Our community loses too many young people to these roads.  We say too many of the wrong kind of goodbyes.  As I sat at her funeral service and looked at all of the beautiful flowers, I was surrounded by current and former students. Oddly, I focused on a wasp thavasflowers-colorful-sympathy-casket-spray_maxat had found his way into the chapel.  This wasp, rather than hovering on the mounds of colorful blooms that were gathered around the coffin, sputtered at the ceiling as if trying to escape the pain and suffering in the room.  I remember thinking that his flight path was staggered and haphazard; misguided and misdirected – simply all over the place, as if a strong, shifiting wind kept him from going his intended direction. It seemed so symbolic of life sometimes.  Determined, however misguided, he pounded himself into the white ceiling again and again to no avail – no escape.  Eventually, he gave up and landed on the chandelier and remained motionless, as if he had found peace.  When the preacher began to speak I lost sight of the wasp as I focused on the words of the man.  Tears do not scare me, nor do I shy away from public displays of emotion, especially in a situation like this.  But, I was trying to be strong for the students around me.  So when I found myself overcome with emotion I searched for the wasp again in an attempt to distract myself. However, much to my disappointment, I could not find the wasp.  The wasp was gone.  The wasp had found his way out; he was free.  Right then, as my eyes swelled with tears, I realized that Danielle is also free.  She is free from all of this pain and suffering.  Her struggles have ended and she has found peace with her Savior. Still, I remain, looking at her grieving parents, and cannot help but feel that this is the wrong kind of goodbye.

When I returned home I did as expected – I hugged my chldren, cried into their shoulders, and told them that I love them.  I spoke to them about speeding and reckless decisions.  They are teenagers, afterall.  “Please don’t ever do that to me,” I told my son.  “I would be lost without you,” I told my daughter.  They heard my message; they felt my love and despair for Danielle and the wrong kind of goodbye.

 

**The featured photo is of a banner that the students signed as a way to help them greive and say goodbye to their friend, their classmate. Sadly, this has becomre tradition.

 

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“The Heart of the Matter”

Released in 1989 – I was in my early 20’s when I first really heard this song in small bar in Miamisburg, Ohio.  Sitting with friends, drinking, I found myself lost in the lyrics.

What the song is about: The lyrics of Don Henley’s song reflect on a lost lover that has moved on and one man’s attempt to move past the pain caused then and now.  It’s about forgiveness and learning how to move on beyond the pain, not just from a lost love – but from pain in the world.

My favorite lines:

“There are people in your life who’ve come and gone
They let you down; you know they hurt your pride
You got to put it all behind you ’cause life goes on
You keep carryin’ that anger, it’ll eat you up inside”

What the words mean to me: The heart of the matter – the bare, base meaning of it all – is forgiveness.  Forgive to have a peaceful heart.  Forgive so that you can live.  You are more than your anger. This song just pounds forgiveness into my head and helps to remind me that I have to let go of the angst in my heart.  None of the people I thought of that night were ex-boyfriends.  My issues were much larger than that. People suck – get over it and move on. Do not give them the power to change you – Just love them more.

“What are all these voices outside love’s open door
Make us throw off our contentment and beg for something more?”

What the words mean to me: These 2 lines stand out more now that I am 46 – and not 20.  Love can make us happy and content…yet sometimes something on the other side calls to us.  Other side of what?  you may ask.  Other side of anything, really.  The other side of our contentment – just other – not this, but that.  We struggle as we age, wondering is this it?  Sometimese we have longings that we can not understand.  Some find the answers in faith, some find the answers in family or work, and some never find them.

“The more I know, the less I understand”

What the words mean to me:  These lines need no explanation beyond ignorance is bliss.

Heart of the Matter – full lyrics

By Don Henley

I got the call today I didn’t wanna hear
But I knew that it would come
An old, true friend of ours was talkin’ on the phone
She said you’d found someone
And I thought of all the bad luck and all the struggles we went through
How I lost me, and you lost you
What are all these voices outside love’s open door
Make us throw off our contentment and beg for something more?

I’ve been learning to live without you now
But I miss you sometimes
The more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I knew, I’m learning again
I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the heart of the matter
But my will gets weak, and my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness, forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

These times are so uncertain
There’s a yearning undefined and people filled with rage
We all need a little tenderness
How can love survive in such a graceless age?
And the trust and self-assurance that lead to happiness
Are the very things we kill, I guess
Pride and competition cannot fill these empty arms
And the world they put between us – you know it doesn’t keep us warm

I’m learning to live without you now
But I miss you, baby
The more I know, the less I understand
And all the things I thought I’d figured out, I have to learn again
I been tryin’ to get down to the heart of the matter
But everything changes and my friends seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness, forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

Oh, there are people in your life who’ve come and gone
They let you down; you know they hurt your pride
You better put it all behind you, baby,  ’cause life goes on
You keep carryin’ that anger, it’ll eat you up inside, baby

I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the heart of the matter
But my will gets weak and my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness, forgiveness
Even if you don’t love me

Songwriters: MIKE CAMPBELL, DONALD HUGH HENLEY, JOHN SOUTHER, JOHN DAVID SOUTHER

© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

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loss

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David Cole Reynolds 1966-2016

Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend

Today I am attending the funeral of my childhood friend, Dave.  Much like a brother, Dave would taunt me relentlessly.  He would laugh with me and joke around.  He would often threaten to beat up misbehaving boyfriends or anyone that made me upset.  When Dave smiled his whole face smiled and his chuckle infected everyone around him until they, themselves joined in the laughter.  Dave was the first boy to ask me to marry him.   He would tell me that all he needs is a good woman and he would straighten up  and do right.  I suspect he slung his arm around many a young lady and professed the same.  That was Dave – but it was nice.

I have known loss in my life.  Great loss, in fact.  My mother, Grandparents, my mother – students and former students, my mother, other relatives and acquaintances – did I mention my mother?  But this one begins a new chapter for me – this is my first real friend to go to the grave.  It hurts and confuses me greatly in unexpected ways.  Of course it hurts.  But the unexpected confusion compounds the impact of the loss.

Dave died at 49.  49…my mom died when she was 49.  This age – this fact affects me and I do not understand why.  Maybe my being here has nothing to do with Dave at all, but with the loss of my mother. I remember him playfully hitting on her, too.

Even though he remained one of my bother’s best friends, I have not seen Dave in over a decade.  But his life so touched mine during our youth that it seems as if he just left my house.   I regret not visiting Dave in the last days of his life.  It seems ridiculous to make the trip for the funeral now, but not for the life last week.  Selfish, too, I suppose.  I could not bare to see him in any other fashion than what is pictured above.  Healthy, smiling, happy.  Surprisingly, his death brought me back to my hometown.  I moved from this town shortly after my mother’s death in 1993 and have not really been back since then.  The rest of my family lives elsewhere so there really has not been a reason to return.  Until now.  I imagine Dave’s family will be a bit confused to see me and not my brothers.  I need them to know what he meant to me.  I need them to know it, and I need to say it.  I feel the loss.

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