Mi guía…my dad

My dad…mi guía…
My dad died on a Monday, the day before his 67th birthday. His optimism and positivity was contagious. Doctors had told him he had six months to live without conventional treatment last year. Dad followed his instincts and radical daughters’ and brother’s advice….no chemo, no radiation, alternative treatments. So he did amazing. Alternative treatments were working. His faith was uplifting. Fifteen months later, weakness and fatigue kicked in. Being the strong man we all knew, he wanted his strength back so he decided to try chemo… for me, it was a death sentence…given what I have read over and over and over again, chemo will kill more than save a life. Three chemo cycles later, my fear was coming true…dad was dying before my eyes. So my siblings and I became his students of such process..
With dad dying, he validated that there is a spiritual world. He would see things that occurred else where and share with us…such events were completely accurate. My dad’s spirit was transferring to and from his body. He shared so much while he was dying that I shall carry with me literally until eternity.
Parents want to teach their children about life. My dad taught me about life, death, and afterlife.
I feel empty inside, the void…it feels as though I lost an extremity and have to learn to walk and run again. I lack the energy now to continue sharing about my wonderful dad…but those of you out there who have a dad, hug your dad for me.

Sigue siendo mi guía, papa.

Birthday Flutters By….

Another birthday flutters by- your absence, it does not disguise. Happy birthday, Alison. May you celebrate your birthday with your favorite poet…

#WomenPower #PowerfulWriters

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.
- Dr. Maya Angelou

Cancer

When Alison died of Hodgkins in 2005, I couldn’t help but to be filled with regret of not having been there for her… If only I had flown to D.C. to visit, if only……

Now, unfortunately I get a true glimpse of what it was like for her…. My little sister has breast cancer….And my dad is losing his battle with liver cancer… Alison was 32, my lil sis is also in her 30’s…my dad is 66…

Witnessing cancer first hand is a numbing feeling… Helplessness. Anxiety. Anger. Holding onto a miracle. Holding on… I am “daddy’s girl” sooooo, how do I not hold on??? I do not believe there will ever be a cure for cancer… Let’s face it…

Parent Jitters

As teachers we know the jitters that come the night before school starts. Six years ago I learned about the parent jitters, as I walked my son to his “First day in/of Kinder.” As an experienced teacher, I was super excited so my son’s first day became a family event. Family members drove four hours to share that experience with us. Some family members arrived by Amtrak….we were all thrilled. Little did I know that my son’s kinder year would be one of the most unsuccessful years…in retrospect, it has been marked as his “ughhh” year. My son’s complete state of ennui his kinder year has me reflecting, once again; however, now it is my daughter’s turn…her first day of kinder is tomorrow.

My son’s experience eventually led me to a Dual Language option which proved to be successful for him. Now my two kiddos are in such program. Yet, the jitters I feel are heightened…

Well, tomorrow is my daughter’s first day in/of Kinder…. I pray that she will be safe, happy, safe, nurtured, safe, challenged, safe, and safe. I pray that she feels at home and has a nurturing teacher. As resilient as kids may be, they tend to remember fragments of their kinder year…. Happy, safe learning! Am praying for the absolute best…

Tic-toc, tic-toc
Time zooms by 
According to the clock.
On your 40th birthday, 
I wish the clock I could rewind…
Wish to retrieve those joyous moments that we once called,
“Our Songs of Innocence” …unbeknownst to us, 
those moments were truly our “Songs of Experience.”
Your patience with my questionable euphemisms I shall remember. 
Happy 40th Birthday, my lovely Alison! Tanjoubi  Omedetou Gozaimasu! 
You my dear are not forgotten! 

I dedicate this one to you: 

Eternity 
He who binds to himself a joy 
Does the winged life destroy
He who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunrise

-William Blake

Tic-toc, tic-toc
Time zooms by
According to the clock.
On your 40th birthday,
I wish the clock I could rewind…
Wish to retrieve those joyous moments that we once called,
“Our Songs of Innocence” …unbeknownst to us,
those moments were truly our “Songs of Experience.”
Your patience with my questionable euphemisms I shall remember.
Happy 40th Birthday, my lovely Alison! Tanjoubi Omedetou Gozaimasu!
You my dear are not forgotten!

I dedicate this one to you:

Eternity
He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy
He who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunrise

-William Blake

Am delighted and honored to share via Mr. Gary Soto himself:

The Gary Soto Literary Museum is housed in the Old Administration Building, 1st floor,​​​ West Wing, at Fresno City College​​

Free tours will be led by Gary Soto​​​​ on May 6th 2013​​​​ at 3:30 & 4:30 PM. ​​​​​​
Future visits can be arranged through the College Activities Office (559) 265-5711.​​​ Also see www.garysoto.com​​​​​

You Might Be an Online Teacher If This Shoe Fits:

YOU MIGHT BE AN ONLINE TEACHER IF…

You panic at the sound of thunder because you know you have to turn off the computer.

“Sheesh…how did it get so late?” comes out of your mouth at least once a night.

The verbs, “cooking and cleaning” are not in your vocabulary.

You know the meanings of the terms, “digital dinosaur,” “digital immigrant” and “digital native.”

You think that looking out the window is a form of entertainment.

You get flushed and excited when you hear the beep that signals, “You’ve got mail.”

You live in your PJs and fuzzy slippers.

You don’t know if it’s hot or cold, rainy or sunny outside.

“Turning in early” means anytime before 2 am.

You watch television via YouTube or Hulu.

You think of doing the laundry as a social event.

You understand Internet verbs, such as “Facebooking,” “Myspacing,” “Youtubing” and “Twittering” (aka “tweeting”).

You believe that cereal is a meal any time of the day.

You identify schools by their Internet domains.

You have difficulty reading anything that doesn’t have hyperlinks.

The concept of free time scares you.

You use smileys to communicate approval of your colleagues’ ideas. J

You have so many usernames and passwords, you don’t have a clue who you really are.

You believe that your colleagues actually look like their avatars.

You buy Visine in bulk.

Your best student demonstrates her intense passion for a discussion by typing IN ALL CAPS.

Your back is hunched from sitting slumped in a chair, not from carrying heavy tote bags.

You realize your students have forgotten the difference between “surfing” and “researching.”

Faculty meetings are held in a chat room on a Friday night.

You take your laptop on vacation and actually work.

You don’t remember your last “weekend off.”

You can email and cook at the same time.

You find yourself citing websites in conversation.

You have ever attempted to track your own progress across the Internet.

You rate coffee shops by the availability of outlets for your laptop.

You tell the time of day by looking on your taskbar.

You regard ibuprofen as a vitamin.

You have given up trying to keep your documents and files organized and are now just trying to keep them all in the same general area.

You have accepted guilt as an inherent feature of relaxation.

And my personal favorite because it is SO me: You live 500 miles away from your school and you commute to class in your running gear.

Now What?

Last Thursday was my niece’s birthday. Having spoken to her Thursday night on the phone, I woke up Friday thinking about Christmas activities that I could prepare for my own kids, nieces and nephews. I even tweeted about the beauty of childhood while I waited for my son to gather his stuff for school. From the time I drove, dropped off my son at school, I returned to my car and learned about the horrific news about Sandy Hook Elementary. My heart sank. My hands shook. My first instinct was to return to my son’s school and get him. Was I exaggerating? As a parent who taught elementary school for over one decade, I was at a crossroad. Connecticut was clearly the other side of our nation, so why did this nightmare bring me to uncontrollable tears and want me to remove my son from his school? I didn’t pick him up until after school. I just waited with the world to hear every account of this baleful, horrific incident.

 

The thought of a short essay question (from two years prior) then came to mind.

 

Two years ago, while in graduate school, I was given a short essay question: What is the one problem you see in our educational system? I wrote a short essay about it. As I now reread the essay, I am disillusioned. My response to that essay question then is now invalid. School violence is a nation’s problem, not a school districts’. School violence stems from kids’ home environment. I do not know- nor care to know- what home environment Lanza had, it’s too late. So, since our schools can’t possibly be fully protected from external violence, then what is left to tackle? Take the weapons perpetrators use? Absolutely. In the short essay I wrote two years ago, I clearly missed the most common denominator: firearms. All, with the exception of two students, had a firearm. How can we educators in every educational campus standup to firearms? We can’t.

Frankly, as I reread the essay below, I can’t help but to feel stupid. School violence is now a pernicious disease; its antidote is in the hands of our politicians- that is a scary thought.

 

Can School Violence Be Stopped? (written in 2010)

Having taught a wide range of students for a decade before becoming a parent, I assumed all educational issues would come with ease. While pregnant, I would often ignore unsolicited advice given to me by veteran parents. Then my son was born and I was humbled; all educational issues became instant worries. Now, the one unsolicited advice that resonates after eight years is, “when your son starts schools, make sure you warn him about school violence.” Needless to say, the current educational issue that is important to me as a parent and educator is school violence. Because school violence is both an internal and external problem in education, it must be addressed by parents, school staff, and communities.                                                                                                                                                    Unfortunately, ten years post Columbine, school violence still captures our attention; for example:  Heritage High School (Atlanta), a student wounds six with a gun.  Santana High School (Santee, CA), two students die and 13 are injured when a classmate opens fire. Parlier High School (Parlier, CA), a student deliberately struck and killed another student with a vehicle. Ahwahnee Middle School (Fresno, CA), seventh grader died of head trauma caused by a fight with a classmate. Forkner Elementary School (Fresno, CA), a 9mm semi-automatic handgun was found in a second grader’s backpack.  These are only a few of the countless examples of school violence.  Let us not exclude all the deaths that have recently occurred due to bullying. The above is evidence that parents, schools, and communities must tackle this dire issue.                                                                                                                      

School violence is an external issue due to lack of parental guidance. Taking the time to talk to one’s child about his/her school life makes a difference.  Information about the Columbine incident revealed that parents of the shooter and his accomplice “had no idea that their children were creating a bomb in their garage, or target shooting for that matter” (articles.latimes.com /1999). Their tragic example should implore all parents to guide their children and get involved with their school life.  If lines of communication with the school seem closed, parents must open them. “Studies show that youth are less likely to misbehave or engage in violent acts if parents from their neighborhood are visible on campus” (Aboutteens.org). Thus, school visits should be incorporated in our daily routine. In doing so, parents can ensure that their children have healthy friendships. Whether your child is a bully or a victim of such, parents must be aware of signs of both (displayed aggression, negative behavior(s), low self-esteem, excessive alone time, and/or anger management issues). In addition, the simple acts of checking your child’s backpacks and/or viewed internet websites can help in parental guidance.

As an internal issue, school staff must first acknowledge that school violence exists in their school. According to the CA Department of Education, not all school counties are trained to undertake the bullying issue. All schools have some form of violence (social banter/hurtful teasing, pushing/ shoving, subtle negative body language). Thus, every school must take part of program that trains all staff and students to prevent school violence. All schools are trained to handle a crisis, but not to prevent it. One way to prevent violence is identifying it before it occurs. Teachers must identify students with lack of parental guidance and seek proper help for him/her. Know the students. Schools must also promote positive home-school relations through constant, interactive communication so that parents feel comfortable turning to the school for help. School staff and students must know how to recognize the warning signs a student might be headed for violence in order to prevent it.                                                                                                                                                                      

The issue of school violence must also be addressed by the community. First of all, policymakers must address lax school administration policies on discipline. Policymakers must create stricter discipline policies. Also, enforcement of existing school-site discipline and procedures must be physically reviewed; policymakers should conduct school visits to physically check for implementation of existing policy. All schools must be held accountable for their policies by policymakers. Just as citizens are cited for traffic violations, administrators must be cited when their policies are not  implemented.                                                                                                                           Overall, violence in the school environment is detrimental to learning; it affects the scholastic achievement of all students. Hence, it affects us as a community. School violence impedes school reform and academic achievement. Teachers cannot teach and students cannot learn when violence crosses our path. Parents, school staff, and community leaders have the power to create a safe school environment.  We are all part of the triangular problem as we are the solution in preventing school violence. 

To Say or Not to Say…

Just read this article, again. Thank you Giuliana Rancic for objectively stating what should NOT be said to someone going through this heart-wrenching disease. In fact, your suggestions can extent to individuals not knowing what to say to family members who are witnessing such disease second-hand. I do not have breast cancer. However, I have always considered it the “sisterhood” disease; I have participated in Run for the Cure events and in other minor ways to fight against it. To say I flipped out of my shoes when my little sister was diagnosed with HER2 Positive Breast Cancer three weeks ago is an understatement. Recently, a parent at my son’s school asked me why I have been absent from school events? I made the mistake of sharing that I had been traveling 300 miles to see my little sister who has breast cancer. This person’s response was “Wow. You drive 300 miles? Be careful driving…” This individual then narrated, what felt like an eternal, story about a car accident he had years ago. In all sincerity, I did not listen to his story. I couldn’t tell you where he crashed, although he had told his story with such gusto. My mind asked and commented 1,000 questions as this person spoke. I can say I had an out-of-body experience. Luckily, my four-year old daughter snapped me back into reality by pulling my arm to take her to the bathroom. In any case, thank you Giuliana Rancic and Prevention.com for posting this so needed list. I will pass it on.

http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/giuliana-rancic-weighs-her-breast-cancer-diagnosis?fb_action_ids=463488980360868&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582

Before Disneyland Half Marathon, I met Team in Training. Raising money to end Leukemia & Lymphoma became my mission in 2007, two years after Alison became part of the spiritual world. San Francisco reminded Alison and I of Nagasaki; we called it the hybrid, cosmopolitan metropolis of California.

Nike Women’s Marathon was born in San Francisco. This run benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I needed to reach out to Alison…this would be it! Once upon a time I ran full L.A. Marathons in my mid 20’s, so why not attempt to do it again in San Francisco with Team in Training? So I signed on with Team in Training, raised money to fight Leukemia & Lymphoma, and trained for months to run/walk a Full Marathon in 2007!

Life has a way of explaining what we cannot see…after suffering several miscarriages, I learned I was pregnant one week before the marathon…which was the reason I ended up run/walking the half…

Synchronocity! Carl Jung’s theory would explain the rest…my daughter was born early sharing Alison’s birthday weekend hours apart. Here are pictures of NWM, 2007…

This last weekend, I returned to RUN the Half Marathon in San Francisco…stay tuned for the video..

In memory of Alison who lives in me and all the lives she beautified with her presence! Tomorrow, October 17th marks the 7th Anniversary of her passing onto a world we all will someday see, but only wonder about today…