Follow Your Dreams

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Seize the day! Take the bull by the horns. Figures of speech, also known as similes, are often used to encourage or make a point. They sound better than someone telling you to try again or don’t give up which is still good advice. I much prefer “Follow your Dreams”.

I recently read that an author should have a tagline after their name. I’ve been toying with Nancy Pennick, Follow Your Dreams for awhile and don’t know if that works or not. It’s supposed to help the reader remember your name and recognize your brand. Who thought I’d have to learn marketing when I started writing.

After a career in teaching, I never thought I’d begin a second as a writer. My dream was to live the quiet, peaceful life and catch up on the things I always wanted to do when I worked, like traveling and organizing the closets.

One of the things on my to-do list was to head out west so I began researching where I’d like to go. The Grand Canyon was a definite must and I was open to other locations. Since we have a timeshare, I decided to take advantage of staying at their resorts.

Our trip was aptly named “Out West” and we began our journey in Santa Fe, New Mexico. There were five of us on this leg of the trip. We started off in downtown Santa Fe, parking next to a broken meter. The meter police happened to be strolling by when we realized it wasn’t working and he said we were fine. Imagine our surprise when we returned to find a ticket on the windshield. Welcome to Santa Fe!

We had covered a lot of ground on that sightseeing vacation 05 028adventure, ending at the Loretto Chapel with its magnificent spiral staircase that looks like it has no visible means of support. That town, rich in art and history, left us with a feeling of truly being out west from the pale red stucco buildings to the southwest art dotting the landscape.

While in New Mexico we visited Sandia Peak in Albuquerque and took the tramway to the top of the mountain.vacation 05 062
It grew dark on the way back down and gave us another perspective of the mountain. A quick day trip the other way took us to Taos and ended that part of our journey.

We hopped in the car for a short six hour drive to Sedona, Arizona. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The road taking us into town was wrapped around a mountain, filled with twists and turns. We screamed like we were on an amusement ride as we descended, later laughing about how it really wasn’t all that bad. My favorite part of being in Sedona was that some of the rock formations had names. Coffee pot was my favorite and as you see in the picture, it really does look like one. Then there were characters from the Peanuts gang, Lucy and Snoopy. She’s up top and he’s lying on his back on his doghouse.

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It was finally on to the Grand Canyon, which I’ve already covered in another post, and won’t bore you again with details. The final leg of the journey was Las Vegas where we were joined by other members of the family. It was an overwhelming place but once we got used to it, we loved it. We called the Paris Hotel home for a few short days getting to travel to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Anything’s possible in Vegas!

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After we returned home and back to normal, I sorted through endless pictures, proud I fulfilled one of my dream trips. Those photos would always remind me I did it.

Just recently a Home Goods Store opened in my city. My sister and I strolled through the aisles and we came across a wicker head of a bull, horns and all. Really, we did. I had to stop and admire it. I told my sister if someone bought that they literally could take the bull by the horns. We had a good laugh and moved on.

But think about it. Isn’t that a good reminder in life? If you really want to do something like change careers, learn to dance, travel out west, go back to school or write a book, you should do it. No one’s stopping you. Take the bull by the horns…or as I like to say, follow your dreams.

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Googus and Nanita

trophy  My dad loved to make up names for people. Not in a mean way but in a fun way. He saw the humor in a lot of things others did not. I think he kept himself amused that way. He had names for some of the guys I dated. He would refer to them as “String Hair”, “Mop Head” and the like. I guess that helped tell them apart.

Dad and I would banter back and forth about a lot of things. We could go on and on about names. When I started taking Spanish in Jr. High, he asked if I knew what my name would be in that language. Of course, I knew it was Nanita. The teacher always called us by Spanish names.

Dad loved to call me Nanita from then on. I always kidded him that if I had a girl, I would name her “Gilbertina” after him.   That would be quite a name, especially back in the 60’s, maybe not so much now!  Dad also loved play on words and his favorite was “Celery stalks at midnight”, laughing as he said it.  Get it? He would always make sure you did.

When I was in high school, Dad and I were bantering back and forth as usual and I came up with a new name for him, “Googus”. It stuck for quite awhile and was later shortened to Goog.  Goog took it all in stride and wore the name proudly.  My cousin and boyfriend at the time also called him Goog. It became a special name. When my sister came home from college, she learned about the name and also called him that.

To me, it was a special name for a special guy. I guess he needed a special name. After a few years, we went back to calling him dad, daddy, uncle and the like. It just happened naturally. He never asked to be called dad or to stop calling him Goog. I think…I hope he knew it was special and derived out of love for him by many young people in his life. There will be a lot of dads in this world, but there will never be another Goog.

Love, Nanita

This is dedicated to Gilbert William Borsch, a great man and father, who we lost too soon. That short time was filled with unconditional love. Happy Father’s Day

Red Hair

baseball guyI just read an article in the sports page that has me fuming. It stated that scouts for baseball teams don’t usually like players with red hair. Really? I hoped it was a joke because the Cleveland Indians first draft choice is a player still in high school that has…wait for it, red hair. The punch line never came and I started to think this could be true. I decided to Google the topic and several stories came up on espn.go.com.

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I should not really be surprised because when my son was little he had reddish-brown hair and people commented on it. It was never bright red or orange, judge for yourself.

When he was in high school he told me in younger years, kids called him “Red” to tease him. I was surprised because my husband and I never knew it happened and he never confided in us.   Now, as an adult, it looks brown. Red highlights are still there.

 

It made me start to think how many other children were bullied or teased because they had red hair. It’s also associated with a fairer skin and freckles, so stereotypes abound. Not much I could do about it but was determined to have at least one character in every book I wrote have a shade of red hair.

There are many tones of red—auburn, dark red, copper, strawberry blonde, light ginger. Some even dye their hair to get that color. Why the fascination? Anything rare or different is unique. Many are striving for that in their daily lives. A quick hair color change may do the trick and let’s face it, it’s a striking color.

According to multiple sources, about 2% of the population has natural red hair, the rarest color in the world. Some areas tend to have more redheads, mainly Northern and Western Europe. People with red hair are thought to be British or Irish descent.

To get scientific, it takes two recessive genes to make a red-headed child. Each parent must carry the gene and then there’s still just a one-in-four chance of that happening. Hair can be lighter at birth, and darken with age.

Fiery tempers, carrot top and the red-headed stepchild, even calling someone a Ginger have been unflattering comments about this hair color. When we see someone with that color hair, we take a second look and that’s okay. But to judge or think someone is different, that is not.

Back to the baseball story…the writer commented that scouts, for some reason, are not crazy about red hair. That is unless the player is really good at baseball. This prospect is really good at baseball. He has the possibility of turning into a phenom one day. When he does, I hope it finally puts to rest the conversation that started during this baseball draft. Does red hair have anything to do with his talent? I don’t see why the two go hand in hand but have to shake my head over this strange development.

I, for one, will be cheering harder for the kid, no matter his decision. He has until July to sign with the team. He may not. He may choose college over the major leagues. Until then, I’m sure he’s going to be asked about his hair multiple times because after all, isn’t that what baseball is all about?

 

 

Salute to Teachers

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Who ever thought teachers would become the first line of defense? I turned and asked my husband that question as we watched the disturbing news of Sandy Hook Elementary. Teachers and children shot and killed. That never crossed my mind when I dreamed of being a teacher.

I hate to use the cliche “Back in the good old days”, but it comes to mind when I think about my first two decades of teaching. The uppermost things on my mind were to write good lesson plans, attend teachers’ meetings and engage children in the learning process to the best of my ability. The doors were open and everyone was welcomed.

That changed after the Columbine shootings in 1999. Suddenly we were all looking over our shoulders. Discussions were held on how and when to lock the outside doors and who to let in the building. The signal Code Blue was established and teachers knew that meant an intruder was in the building. Children were taught to get down and hide behind their desks. Was there really a good way to solve this problem?

When I first walked into my school building, it was the height of  “Open Classrooms” in the late 70’s. For those of you unfamiliar with that term, it was a new style of teaching. Children would move from teacher to teacher in an open, large area and learn at their own rate.

A new wing was built with no walls at my school for that very purpose. Four classrooms were on each side. In a few years, teachers found the noise level too loud and the concept not working so half walls were built to separate the rooms. I eventually ended up in that wing teaching third and then second grade.

As the years went on, a partition was added onto those walls and finally the shared sinks were taken out and the classrooms became totally contained. We still had no doors but everyone was pleased with the results. The shootings were the catalyst to get doors with locks on every classroom. We had now gone from totally open to locked in.

The recent tornado in Moore, Oklahoma is another example of the selflessness of teachers. They used their own bodies to protect their students without giving a second thought. I never came close to a tornado threat like that but we did practice drills.

I remember standing in the kitchen preparation room—because it had no windows—with two other classes. Seventy-five students and three teachers all crammed into a relatively small space. I smiled calmly at the children, shushing them when they became a little rambunctious and reminding them not to touch anything, cringing inside as I eyed all the pots and pans on the shelves above us. In my mind, all I could think about is how would we all survive in there? I mapped out a plan and hoped I never had to use it. The best I could come up with is for all the children to get down and I would somehow cover them up. My heart was with all those teachers the day I heard of the tornado in OK. They didn’t think twice, I’m sure.

Another school year is coming to a close. Teachers are closing up their classrooms and getting ready for summer break. Do they deserve that break? Some think not. Some say they are paid too much for the hours they work and all the vacations they receive. I don’t want to ramble on what teachers pay for out-of-pocket or how many other things they do besides teach. But let me ask you, how can you teach on days when a storm rolls in and a dark cloud hangs over the school and you look into the wide eyes of the children in front of you? You tell them everything will be okay because you’ll take care of them and they believe you. Or what would you do when the lights go out? Sirens wail and no one knows why? Do people really think teachers just keep teaching, ignoring weather, strange sounds, crying or any other disturbance in their day? No, they stop and deal with it. Sometimes they get it right, other times they don’t. They’re only human like the rest of us.

Now retired, I’m still a champion for my colleagues. This weekend I read a headline in our city’s newspaper saying, Drop high-stakes tests and let teachers teach. I like that idea. That’s what we signed up for, to teach. We knew going in it wasn’t going to be easy. A person does not walk into a classroom, teach for six or seven hours, pack up and go home. So much more goes on than that. Light bulb moments, wide smiles after success, wondrous eyes during exploration, and satisfied faces can fill one’s day. Not all are golden moments but we’re there for it all, the long haul, no matter where the day takes us.

So today, take a minute to pause and reflect on all the things teachers do and maybe thank…no make that salute…a teacher.

Teacher