Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas 2016 - Dear St. Nicholas

My Dearest St. Nicholas,

Each year, I thoughtfully pen my letters to ask for my Christmas wishes. I also enjoy letting you know I am at peace and I do feel the joy this time of year brings. There are moments, though, when I miss those I loved and want heaven just a little closer to home. But, I will trust as to why Angels were given wings.

Santa, this year I will ask for understanding. I have realized many often suffer, sometimes in silence, with profound heartache during this season. Their sorrows are etched into hearts that have broken. Their tears, held back, are locked away behind eyes that smile but without the joy that can make them sparkle. Would you mind, Santa, asking others to understand and be patient and loving? It may be the kindest gift given to someone who's sad.

Their reason for sadness is uniquely their own. Perhaps loved ones will not be touched, their hands not held in grace at Christmas dinner. Little ones without a lap, in which to nestle, on Grandpa's favorite chair. Family and friends with arms aching to accept a precious hug from children who have gone too far away. There are dreams that have faded, dimmed by clouds of doubt and hopes that sank with the weight of reality.

I understand the sadness and I pray for even the smallest sliver of light to brighten their darkest moments. I, too, will miss seeing eyes that smile with joy and long to hug, if only to embrace just one last time, those who are gone. I know they are with me, my heart tells me so, but my hands cannot hold theirs and those are the tears that sting the most.

So, Santa, I ask - as I do every year - for peace to embrace the broken hearted. For His light to shine in tear filled eyes and for hands to be joined with those who are here - or perhaps in prayer if you find yourself alone.

Merry Christmas, my dearest St. Nicholas.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

I Love You, Mom

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. There is no one I consider more worthy of holding that most honored name. When I hear the word 'mom', to me, it means strength, integrity, understanding, and love. It means trust and stability. You, Mom, have been the beacon of light on my darkest days, the safe place to land after the countless falls I've made, the hand that reached out and took my own when my heart and head battled for my life's direction.

You have managed, and perhaps on many days simply coped, with the heartache no mother should ever have to endure. Yet, your spirit for life and family remains so strong. It's remarkable, really, and in so many ways you're the greatest thing I have to look up to.

Thank you, Mom, for all that you are and I love and trust you like no other.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas 2015 - My Letter to St. Nicholas

My Dearest St. Nicholas,

In the corner of my living room, standing tall, my Christmas tree, with twinkling lights like fallen stars from heaven, reminds me that angels, shining brightly, are here, still with me despite having made their journey home to God. The ornaments, each one with a story to tell, are touched by me and joyful memories are somehow whispered through my hands and into my heart. Soon, the presents will be nestled below the piney boughs and I cry just a little remembering there will be fewer gifts this year - angels can't unwrap presents. Yet, I still feel the peace this time of year brings. I also feel the tears and wish I had a tissue.

I don't want much this year, Santa. To ask for peace, love, and joy, I must first bestow it upon others to know its true value and what it means to me. What I will ask of you is help in overcoming, if they cannot be removed, my fears. Reassure me that in giving love and joy, I will receive, or perhaps achieve, peaceful comfort that sometimes feels as far away as the stars pinned to heaven's gate.

And, Santa, I don't worry often, but ask that my children are kept safe from harm. The world hasn't, yet, figured out how to be peaceful, full of joy, and all-loving. So,  if you would help me share the kindness at home, with my family and friends, perhaps these selfless virtues can overcome a selfish world. Allow me to see the big picture, one of peace, love, and joy. Help me understand it is painted one brush stroke at a time and that the story is written one word at a time. Allow for words that are chosen carefully and with kindness and consideration.

And, to be kind to you, Santa, my gift to you is a tissue because tears can sting the edges and fall from eyes that often see little peace, love, or joy. But, on occasion, a different kind of tear wells up and I pray it is a happy one.  These tears are like the lights on my tree, glistening with memories, telling a story whispered by angels who shine with the hope of peace.

Merry Christmas, Santa. And, yes, I do believe.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

My Mom, My Inspiration, My Hero

Mother's Day has passed but this isn't just about celebrating my mom only on that day. It's about the respect and honor I have for her everyday. I love my mom and I'm going to share with you who she is and what she means to me all the days of the year.

I'm getting older which translates to, in a scary way, that she is too. It's not often enough I let her know she was, and is, the most solid foundation upon which my life was built. She gave to me all the things she knew I needed to live my life with proper values, good morals, and integrity. She also allowed me freedom to make my own choices and either reap the rewards or suffer the consequences. And she loved me through both the joyful or sorrowful results. I've never doubted that. She is the only person I have ever fully trusted; she made me feel safe to do so.

I wanted to be a veterinarian, or maybe it was a nurse or a teacher, when I grew up. Well, I am grown up now and I've realized all I ever really wanted was to be a mom - one like my mom is to me.

I pray I can be that safe place for my own children. I love them without conditions and  there are no boundaries to put limits on my devotion or dedication. I want to live with no regrets that will haunt me, to feel no emptiness, and to know I had given all so my spirit is filled with peace.

If I am only half of the example my mother has been, to have but half of the influence on my children as she has had on hers, then I will know, and feel satisfied, I am completely whole.

(I made the choice to include a photo of my mom. I'm sure I'll suffer the consequences when she sees that I've done so ❤️).

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Common Core Math Just Doesn't Add Up

Ugh! Common Core Math. It's supposed to explain the logic behind the answers to a problem. It's supposed to allow an understanding of the concepts behind WHY the chosen method works to solve everyday problems.

I'm not a mathematically savvy person. I think in 'words', not 'numbers'. If number solving, crunching, manipulating - or processing in general - is required, I manage. But, I'm not using anything special, such as logic, or  a deeper knowledge, to verify the correct amount of change is given when I buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks. What I'm processing is, Dunkin Donuts is so much cheaper when I use my 'Perks' Rewards Card. Clearly, not the logical choice.

Let me give some examples of Common Core Math situations I found online and how they compare to the "old method" - the method I learned back in the day. I found these examples on the Foundation for Excellence inEducation .

Elementary School Example

Previous Math QuestionCCSS Math Question
Each shirt costs $4. How much do 3 shirts cost?Each shirt has 6 buttons. How many buttons are needed to make 7 shirts?
This question can be answered by a “count-all” strategy, in which you don’t need to know your multiplication tables by memory to get the right answer.
I will now apply Karen's logic to this. Previous math question...answer is $12. CCSS math question is much more complex. First, I'm not making shirts (I went to the store to buy them). And if I'm buying them, why don't they come with the buttons already sewn on? What kind of a place sells shirt with no buttons? I'm never shopping here again. Answer is: I just saved $12 on 3 shirts I really didn't need anyway.

Middle School Example

Previous Math QuestionCCSS Math Question
Donna buys 40 apples at 35 cents each. She eats 2 apples and sells the rest for 45 cents each. How much money does she make?Donna buys some apples at 35 cents each. She eats 2 apples and sells the rest for 45 cents each. She makes $4.40. How many apples did she buy?
This question only requires use of simple arithmetic.This question requires use of an algebraic equation.

Karen's logic, and as the math is getting more complex, I will simply state: if Donna wanted only 2 apples, why did she buy 40? And if she thinks she's fooling me, she's not. So, no matter which method, Previous or CCSS, I'm going to find where she paid only 35 cents per apple, buy them all, put her out of business, and sell pies  I never liked her anyway.
Previous Math QuestionCCSS Math Question
A bird flew 20 miles in 100 minutes at constant speed. At that speed, how long would it take the bird to fly 6 miles?A bird flew 20 miles in 100 minutes at constant speed. At that speed: (a) how long would it take the bird to fly 6 miles? (b) How far would the bird fly in 15 minutes? (c) How fast is the bird flying in miles per hour? (d) What is the bird’s pace in minutes per mile?
This question requires one calculation, using a formula.This question requires a series of calculations and reasoning. It measures if students understand why the formula works.
As for the bird scenario, above.  Unless it poops on my pie, I'm not worried about it.

High School Example

Previous Math QuestionCCSS Math Question
If 3(y-1) = 8, then what is y?What are two different equations with the same solution as 3(y-1) = 8?
This question is an example of solving equations as a series of mechanical steps
And, finally, the high school example...I simply have no words!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Little Girl I Know

There is a girl I’ve come to know. She is about 8 or 10 years old. She is shy, quiet, and introverted. This child went through a world of emotional hurt by the time I met her. My heart breaks for this child. 

I do not pity her for all that she is. I only want to love her, to hold her close, and tell her that she will be ok. 

No one chooses to be a victim at such a young age and when she became one; no one gave this child the love, support, or help that she desperately needed. Those closest to her couldn’t understand. Things got lost in the translation from the child’s voice, or perhaps in expression, to the adult ears and eyes.  She, being so young, didn’t know how or what to ask for in terms of help. She simply told what had happened to her and then…became invisible.  She didn’t choose to be invisible, it was just what happened. 

Her voice was not heard, her tears were not wiped away, and her pain was not seen. Most importantly, though, her ‘truth’ was not believed or validated. 

She realizes that those she told are not to blame nor are they held responsible for not understanding. She knows they loved her as best as they could. She believes they would have done all that they could have, if they had understood what needed to be known.  

As a result, this little girl hid. It was easy – she was, after all, invisible. 

This little girl experienced a great many rejections along her difficult and lonely way.  After a while she stopped asking, and even hoping, for her needs to be fulfilled.  This caused the emotional hiding she perfected in order to preserve even the smallest amount of what may have been left of her ‘self’.  In the process, though, she destroyed the very thing that she so needed to be validated – her truth and, also, that she could believe in herself. 

I see that little girl and I have made a promise to her.  I have vowed to love her, and to listen and support her truth. 

I visit with her sometimes and share her pain, and wipe her tears. I hold her and tell her she will be ok, that I will take care of her. This child needs nurturing and I know I am the one who can provide that. 

The little girl has much healing to do but she is making progress. I listen to her and know she has a voice that must be heard. I fill my heart with her truth and know that, within my heart, her truth matters. She will feel that she is important and that she doesn’t have to hide any more. I can see her, and I can hear her, and I do love her. 

This little girl…well, she still lives inside me even after so much time has passed. 

There were many years, probably close to decades, that I hid from this child.  I wanted to be invisible so her pain couldn’t touch me.  I wanted to pretend that who she became just wasn’t real. So I ran, I hid, and then I’d escape all over again. 

I’m tired. The race to escape has exhausted us both. So, I made the decision to stop and stand still for a moment – just long enough to turn around and look this wounded child in the eyes. She doesn’t scare me anymore, but I know that she is scared.  She is afraid of not being heard or validated and she needs to not be alone anymore. 

We have finally caught up with each other. As a child, she needs to be believed, loved, and for me to listen and pay attention to her feelings.  As an adult, I need to let this child know that we will be ok and that she can, and will be, and is the most important person worthy of love, respect, and validation of her truths.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Content, I Am

Content to be amid flower and trees
And meadow where plush grass, with ease,
Waves to summer's docile breeze

Content to see full moon pinned high,
An opal brooch clasped to velvet sky,
Which holds her stars for gazing eye

Content to know sun's rays will grace
Each day its warmth upon my face
With comfort gentle in embrace

Content to trust true tides of oceans
Which quiets seas, calming emotions
Bathing shores in rhythmic motions

But content, my heart, forever to beat
Sharing God's wonders of quiet retreat
Where only with Him is faith complete

Christmas 2016 - Dear St. Nicholas

My Dearest St. Nicholas, Each year, I thoughtfully pen my letters to ask for my Christmas wishes. I also enjoy letting you know I am at p...