White Lines and Getting Buzzed

Getting Buzzed… it happens almost every time I go on a ride around Douglas County.  Most people give me three to six feet of space, even on a narrow road… but there are always one or two people who feel compelled to get dangerously close. Sometimes they yell to get off the road or lay on their horn in anger.  It is as if I am riding my bike to ruin their day… I am actually riding my bike as recreation and exercise, and I try my best to be as close to the side of the road as is safe.  Often from your car you can not really see what the shoulder looks like.  Knowing the roads around Roseburg, as only a cyclist can, I know where the shoulder is covered with gravel, glass, large cracks, or is eroded away.  To me it is better to maintain a fairly straight line then jolt out abruptly when these obstacles appear.

That white line has nothing to do with where I should be riding.  The road belongs to me as well as any motor vehicle.  The white line is just the edge of the road, it is not a bike path. I pay my taxes and should be allowed to use the roads without fear of angry motorists.  I am less likely to need medical care as a result of weight, blood pressure, or heart issues. My rides benefit my health, my family, my students and my community because when we take care of ourselves we are taking care of all those who depend on us.   If I can safely ride to the right of it, I will… but if not, I am not doing you, as a motorist, any favors by being unsafe.

When I rode yesterday not one person buzzed me!  People gave me so much space, smiled and waved… maybe they knew that, like them,  I had been waiting for some smoke free air.  I was able to enjoy a ride, and maybe seeing me out there made them appreciate the clean air from a different perspective. Perhaps they even considered celebrating the smoke free air that same way.  If we all grabbed our bikes and went for a ride our community would be healthier and happier…

Give it a try and maybe we won’t be getting buzzed so often.

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Sometimes Dishes Break

Sometimes dishes break… even the ones you love… the ones that you have cherished for years,  saved for special occasions, or something brand new… sometimes they just slip out of your hands, get bumped by someone who was a bit clumsy, or tip because they were teetering on the edge, and before you know it, you are sweeping up the broken bits of something that can not be fixed…

When I was first married I broke a lot of things… my husband would get upset and tell me that I just didn’t care enough about this, that or the other thing… He would get upset with me and I would be hurt or angry and try to defend myself… what a waste of energy… that attitude, that we made mistakes or had accidents because we didn’t care almost cost us each other… we went through a rough patch, developed a new vocabulary to deal with small hurts without letting them get big and and soon it just became our little joke… when something would crash to the floor one of us would say something about not really liking it or not caring about it…  we would pick up the pieces together and move on…

The truth is, some things can get bumped and just in the nick of time they can be caught before they crash to the floor… life is like that… a constant catching as things topple over… a bit of super glue to mend what was not caught soon enough …. and when you really cherish something that has shattered, you can still pick up each piece carefully and create something completely new and even more beautiful… a mosaic

If you don’t use the things that you love, they can never be broken… but they can’t really be enjoyed either… Some of the most beautiful mosaics can be created from things that have been broken… remember that…. And always look for the joy

SEX is Not a Bad Word

“Sex is NOT a bad word”… I shouted this… in my classroom… to 6, 7 and 8 year old students…. everyone froze, but only for a flash.  So, I had to shout it again, with just a bit more volume and conviction.

Moments earlier a concerned child told me that a classmate found a bad word in one of our library corner books. ‘Oh, my!’, I said… and I went to take a look.  Being unable to find the word myself (or the book), I instead, found the finder.  They were not going to talk and would not utter the word found, but they did point to a book that was a class favorite.  It was one of our heaviest hardback books, about 12″ x 18” and over an inch thick… a child’s encyclopedia of animals.  It really is a beautiful book, full of colorful, realistic drawings and photographs of all animals from amoebas to humans… it has tons of interesting facts and quite a few scientific words. My students pour over its pages, showing interesting pictures to friends.  It would not be uncommon for three or four students to be gathered around this book oooooing and aaahing for a whole reading period.  I grabbed the offending book.

A buzz was in the classroom, because everyone knew that our class favorite had a bad word in it, most of them had been shown the word, and the book may be put away behind the teacher’s desk (a veritable black hole of confiscated crap and stacks of books and papers) never to be seen again.

Here is how this went:

“What was the bad word”

“I don’t remember”

“You do, what was it?”

“I am not going to say it.”

“You can tell me, what was it?”

“It is a bad word, I am not allowed to say it.”

“It is okay to tell the teacher, you can tell me the word. You are not in trouble.”

“My mom said I am not allowed.”

“Okay, let’s find it in the book and you can show me.”

At this point he turns to an easily found page towards the beginning of the book (he had obviously become an expert at finding it from showing the rest of Room One the offending word).  It was the page on protozoans, sponges, or maybe some other basic sea creature and had a beautiful diagram of one such animal, labeled with all of it’s parts… Right there at the bottom of the page was the word, with a line connecting it to a blob inside the organism… SEX cell… There it was.

Okay… here’s what happened next…

“Ah, I see. That is not a bad word. You CAN read me that word.”

“No, I can’t.  My mom said it is a bad word and I am never allowed to say it.”

“But you can show it to everyone in class? Hmmmmm. I think you can read that word to me, because this is a science book in our classroom and I am asking you to read it. You can do that.”

…. we sat in silence for a long time… My student was set on not reading the word, I read it, I explained what that word meant in the book, and finally, in frustration, I shouted out “Sex is not a bad word” – twice… And then “Everybody stop what you are doing and meet me on the rug! Now!”

Quick as a wink, there they all were, staring at me as I held up the offending book.  We had a big discussion about what that word meant in that context… That humans are born to be either the male sex or the female sex, we all have a sex, and also sex is the word we use for how animals reproduce… then we talked more broadly about words and how many words can be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depending on how you use them and who you are speaking to. Words like stupid, hate, ugly, pig, rat and more can be used in a good way or a bad way… It was a deep lesson for young children, but our favorite book was back on the shelf and we have not had a ‘bad word’ incident in a while… No shit. 😉

Never Give Up!

Never give up… the show must go on.  A lesson confirmed by my 17 year old son last night at his final performance of his senior year.  Just as he was about to go on stage for his last ‘big number’ his mic went out.  Panicked, he was trying to change the batteries and finally just pulled off the battery pack, tucked in his shirt and stepped on stage.  The band is really amazing, but without a mic on, the singers are almost impossible to hear.  He knew that… and he knew that this was his final performance.  He told me that all he thought about was that no matter what, he would be heard.  And he was.  He sang much of his part up an octave so he could really belt it out.  The adrenalin rush pushed him beyond what he had done during every rehearsal… and he made it work

So, this is the lesson… at our time of crisis… when things are not going our way… don’t give up… that is the time to sing up an octave and really belt it out!  Do not let the band drown you out!  This current political craziness is threatening to silence us at one of our most important moments… sing loud, sing strong, and put it all out there… Never give up and always be heard!

 

Yes, certainly…

I love my job.  Every day is something different, a challenge, and often a joy.  Teaching young children I have the power to make a difference in their lives, the lives of their families, and hopefully an impact on society.  If you have read my blog before you know that I have very strong political opinions… I am a liberal, believer in universal healthcare, pro-choice, anti organized religion, LGBTQ supporting, science believing, spiritual, singing, dancing, mother, wife and teacher.  Most of those things I leave at the door.  I do not bring my politics and  other controversial beliefs into my classroom or impose them on my students.  I just don’t. It wouldn’t be fair or right to do so.

When my students cheered because Trump won the election I said that many people were happy and that I hoped he would be a great president.  I try to promote the idea that all presidents wanted to make our country a better place for us all. We wrote our letters of congratulations to President Trump on November 9th, and mailed them off to Trump Towers… it would have been nice to get some recognition that they were received, but oh well.

I am not giving up on what I believe is right for our country.  I am working in my own way to support the causes I feel most passionate about, to write, and to motivate… but I am also wanting to challenge the ideas of the opposition.  If we don’t continue to challenge them, if we just sit by quietly as health care is lost, people are rounded up, and our education system is decimated we will have no one to blame but ourselves…  But that is not what this post is about.

This post is about what we can do in our own towns and communities to create the world we want to live in and to leave to our children.  Sadly, not everyone is willing to do what is necessary… but in my small sphere of influence, I am working to make it happen.  The things I teach in Room One can be a guideline for making a better society… So, this is the beginning of a series of Room One rules that illustrate some core ideas about how to do just that.  Here is just one of my rules and my thoughts about why it is important:

  1.  If you get out of line you can have your spot back.

For years, teaching young children, I would hear ‘He got out of line, he has to go to the end!, ‘He got out of line and now he is trying to cut me!, or (with a bit of a shove) ‘He is trying to squeeze back in!’… I have heard many teachers tell their students that if they get out of line they would have to go to the end. In fact, I used to say that myself.  It just felt sad and sometimes I would make an exception… But now, in Room One, if you need to get out of line because you forgot to grab your coat, get a drink,  tell someone something, or for no good reason, you just need to say please hold my spot.  When you get back to the line you say, excuse me, may I have my spot back and the person is supposed to say (we practice this), “Yes, certainly.” Even if you forget to ask someone to hold your spot you can get it back… That is the rule.

It is not about eliminating conflict or complaining, it is not about where you stand in line or the reasonableness of why you got out of line… it is about treating other people the way you want to be treated.  If you get out of line for any reason would you like to get your spot back?  If you forgot to grab bananas at the grocery store, you might leave your cart in line and run back to get them… imagine if when you got back someone had shoved your cart aside?  You want to be treated kindly. So, in Room One, everyone gets their spot back. It is polite.  It is the right thing to do.  It makes people happy and it is easy.

How can this apply to the world?  Imagine the on-ramp of your local highway, imagine the line at the bank, post office or market… imagine what is the right thing to do and make that happen… we have moved away from worrying about others’ feelings – political correctness has become a bad word – the pendulum has swung – pushed by some very angry people who would never give you your spot back… Time to push back and show what it feels like to say “Yes, certainly”, and really mean it.

 

 

Wear Your Hat!

Okay, it is Day Two… we are all searching through FaceBook to look for pictures of marches across the world, find out how many were there in support of LOVE and denouncing Trumps hateful ways, and basking in the glow of rallying millions to stand together.  Now what?  Perhaps, like me, you live in a town where the majority of people have a different idea, that you are more alone in your opinions than you were as you marched yesterday.  What can YOU do to keep the movement going and to create a dialogue?

Wear your hat!  If you didn’t have a pussy hat at the march yesterday it is not too late.  Make one today… it is so easy.  Just a long pink rectangle folded over and sewn up the sides… I’ll attach a link to the pattern… if you can’t knit or crochet, you can just get some pink fleece and make two seams.  Wear it when you go out, show that you are in solidarity with the marchers without saying a word.  You don’t have to wear a shirt that says something controversial ~ it is just a hat… and if people watched any news yesterday, they will know what it means and if they have a different point of view, it just might spark a conversation (hopefully not a confrontation).

People who were on the fence or didn’t vote in the election will be the most easy to talk to… they are the first people to begin that conversation with…

So, on Day Two start talking (or keep talking)… keep wearing your hat! I have to dry mine out first… it is soaked from the pouring rain at the march in Eugene!

https://www.pussyhatproject.com/crochet/

 

 

Laughable

There comes a point, when you are listening to the news or watching a press conference, that you shake your head and begin to chuckle.  At times like these, you may even talk to yourself… asking if it is really possible that those words or actions just came from our soon to be president.  Each day brings a new statement in a sound-bite, from one of his outrageous yes-‘men’, or in 140 characters.  Time does not need to tell if he will be the same person he was on the campaign trail, if he will make our country the laughing stock of the world, if he will lead us down a slippery slope as he looks out for number one… he will.

Like a train wreck, it is hard to look, but also hard to look away… I watched our current president laugh during an interview years ago… he was facing tough times and difficult circumstances ~ really nothing funny about it~ but when he was ‘called out’ by the reporter, he said that if you can’t laugh at the absurdity, if you can’t keep your sense of humor, if you can’t chuckle and shake your head, you are doomed.  I will not be doomed.  I will continue to watch the train wreck, to be a bit shocked, but also to shake my head and laugh.  The absurdity of Donald Trump actually being the president is enough to send me into hysterical laughter.  Keep fighting the good fight… but don’t forget to laugh

Maybe I’ll see you at the march.  I’ll be the one wearing a ‘pussy hat’ and laughing.