Thursday, December 20, 2012

My Hope For You!

“Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm.”

I don’t know who said this or I would attribute this appropriately, but I wanted to use this quote because I like it and because I feel it is applicable to each of us.  In the past two weeks, we’ve been through so much, but the good thing is that we’ve been through it together. 

We’re much stronger together than we are separate.  It’s tough to take on a situation or circumstance alone. There is comfort in knowing that someone else feels as we do, that someone else is struggling just as we are.  We really aren’t alone- ever!  There is always someone else who has the same sort of feelings, concerns, worries, problems, and fears.  Separate and apart, it can be too much.  Together, it seems bearable.

One of the most touching stories coming out of the tragedy in Connecticut was the story of the six year old who died in the arms of his favorite teacher.  They suffered together, somehow giving comfort to each other, sharing their fear with each other, and in the end, died together.  The parents of the little boy felt so much better because he was with his favorite teacher in the very end.  Little comfort, I’m sure, but comfort nonetheless.

We march through this world together.  We’re really never alone.  Even when it seems as if we’ve had too much, can’t take any more, we’re not alone.  We struggle together, laugh together, worry together, and always, hope together.  We have faith that all will be right, that things will work out and in the end, what seemed mighty and insurmountable, well, it is less because we’ve survived the storm and we did it together.

My hope for each of you is serenity.  To know that you are never alone.  Each of you, yes each of you, are never far away from my thoughts.  I have your back and I take comfort in knowing you have mine.  After all, we’re together.  

Live Your Life, And Make A Difference!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Stones and Ripples

When I was growing up way back when, my family lived on a river out in the country.  Rafts, some swimming before the river became too polluted, tree forts hung in the Weeping Willows.  Big yard where we'd play baseball or football or hide and go seek.  Climbing trees, especially the Green Apple Tree that served our imaginations as a fort, a plane, or for just sitting and thinking.  You get the picture.  As kids when we'd run out of things to do, we'd throw stones in the river to see who could throw the farthest and make the biggest splash.  Depending upon the size of the stone, the ripples would expand until they hit the shore line.  One after another they came lasting for several minutes.  Some ripples bigger, some smaller.  It didn't matter the size really, because the ripples would travel in circles until the momentum would end and the river would calm itself once again until another stone was tossed.

Sometimes I wonder about the stones we throw and the ripples we cause because of those stones.  Are they stones of love and caring and concern?  A smile of encouragement, a gentle pat on the shoulder, a kind word or two, maybe a note to say "well done" or "keep up the good work" or "I noticed . . ."?  Or are they stones cast in anger or indifference, perhaps abruptness causing completely different ripples?  And because ripples travel seemingly for a great distance, who knows what happens when those ripples hit "shore". 

Perhaps in this season of giving, of caring, of compassion, all of us can examine the stones we throw and what kinds of ripples those stones make.

Live your life and make a difference. 

Friday, December 7, 2012


I was thinking about footprints.  

Various shapes, sizes.  Easy to find on a beach as you walk along the shore.  Perhaps not so welcome when you find footprints on your newly cleaned floor.  As a kid, my family would drive to the dunes at a state park along Lake Michigan and we'd see signs requesting visitors to watch where they walk, to stay on the path and not disturb the ecosystem.   

I wonder about the footprints I've left behind and what became of them.  Were my footprints welcomed like the ones at the beach?  Were they seen as an intrusion like the messy ones on a clean linoleum floor?  Did I care enough to not damage the "ecosystem" of the people I walked with?  

Teddy Roosevelt had a famous line: "Walk softly, but carry a big stick."  While I admire TR greatly, I'd like to amend his statement to: "Walk softly, and carry a big heart."  We never really know what happens to our footprints, but if we carry a big heart, they can be lasting, and loving, impressions for people to follow.  Sort of like a trail for the ones who come after us.

Live your life and make a difference. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Desmond Tutu stated: "Differences are not intended to separate, to alienate.  We are different precisely in order to realize our need of one another." 

Sometimes we get caught up in this belief or that philosophy without realizing that we need all viewpoints and ideas.  One of my grad professors told our class once upon a time that the collective mind is always better than one mind, one idea.  I believe that.  It didn't necessarily come easy for me to accept or believe, but I've grown in that knowledge, fostered by teachers, by mentors, and by folks who roll into my life.  I think one of the best gifts or "learnings" we can give to our kids, maybe to each other, is the belief that there is always difference of opinion, difference of belief and difference between individuals.  That difference and the acceptance of difference is sometimes a hard lesson to learn.  But I think kids will learn acceptance and tolerance if we preach it and model it ourselves.  It will cause change and you and I both know change isn't necessarily easy.  It is difficult because change challenges our patterns of belief and behavior, and sometimes when our pattern of belief and behavior is challenged, we take that as an attack on ourselves.  It doesn't have to be viewed or perceived that way though, which I know is easier said than done.

But as Nelson Mandela said, Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world."  Part of that education is reflecting on who we are, what we believe, how we react and why we react.  It's all education really. 

So, let's endeavor to teach ourselves, each other and our kids.  Tolerance is learned behavior.  We can teach it.  I think in the long run, our world will be better off. Don't you?

Live your life and make a difference. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday- more so than Christmas.  For me it has always been associated with family and food, two of my favorite things!   But the concept behind Thanksgiving is really giving thanks and it is that concept that means a lot to me. 

When you think about it, a "Thank You!" is powerful.  I realize there is a time and place for anonymity in giving to or in doing something for someone.  But what is often forgotten is a "Thank You!".  It shows you are appreciative, that you care.  And it seems that in this day and age, caring is often forgotten along with a "Thank You!".  We need to spend more time on giving and caring for one another than we do in our busy, busy lives. 

So here is my challenge to you:  I would like you to think of someone or something you are truly thankful for and give a shout out thank you.  It could be recent or it could be in the past.  Doesn't matter.  For me, I want to thank those I seek out regularly as a sounding board, who keep me moving in the right direction or in some cases, help me to change course.  I appreciate your honesty.  You guys know who you.  Thank you. 

And to all of you, thank you for touching the lives of  kids and for making a difference in their lives, for causing them to smile, to laugh, to think, feel and do.  Thank you!  It's good to care, isn't it?

Live your life and make a difference. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Other Side of the Mountain

I turned 59 this week and when I was younger, always felt anyone in their fifties was old, perhaps ancient.  Well, I don't feel old or ancient . . . yet.  Maybe that will happen eventually.

But I did question what I've done with those 59 years.  Was it enough and was it done well enough?  Two important questions to consider, for you and maybe for you no matter what your age.

Was it enough?  Not sure about that.  I've been a teacher, a coach, a counselor and an administrator.  I know I've touched lives- hopefully for the better- and I'd like to think I made some sort of difference.  Like many of us, I've had both my good and bad days, and if honest, probably some break even days.  Lately, I've tried to be a bit more gentle, quieter.  I've always laughed, but now find myself laughing at myself a bit more.  I look at where I've been and where I am now and shake my head at times.  But I've also become more philosophical about that too.  You see, as bad as the past was, I'm not locked into that because at this moment, at this time, I can choose to change.  If I live my life looking in the rear view mirror, I'd run off the road.  At the same time, it's always nice to check the road you left behind because it gives you direction and reminds you of just how far you've come.  So, I refuse to live my life looking backward, but instead, glance back every so often to keep me grounded and humble.  I'd rather live my life looking forward.  That way, I can see what's coming at me and make choices appropriately.

Was it done well enough?  Oh, I doubt it very much.  But at the time, I think I did as best I could at that time.  Hindsight is always 20-20.  Being reflective always give one pause to consider past decisions and actions.  Best we can do is strive to do better and keep looking forward with a glance back every so often to remind us and keep us humble.

Live your life and make a difference.