Friday, June 10, 2011

What Would You Pledge And Actually Do?

My assignment for one of my classes this week is to create a pledge to future generations -things that I am willing to do now to help ensure that their future exists and is better than my present. It's an exercise meant to help students focus on the overarching trends of today and examine the impact of our actions on the future. We are supposed to create a pledge of five things addressed at the future as defined by Native Americans - "the seventh generation yet unborn". What do I pledge?

At first look, this is simple.  I want an end to war, hunger, hatred, poverty, and illiteracy. However, there's a catch. I must pledge five things to future generations and create a plan for how I can help make them a reality. It's a little trickier when I must personally do something.  I am not wishing for the unattainable anymore.  I am planning on making a difference. So, what do I pledge?

I truly do want an end to war. Since Taylor will be a Marine for years to come, this is an issue that is close to my heart.  Taylor is willing to give everything to protect our freedom. I want his service to be meaningful and not about oil fields or election results or petty disputes. Countries are destroyed, families left homeless, and entire civilizations doomed by the spectre of war.  Woodrow Wilson tried to insure that there would be no more wars at the end of World War I with his Fourteen Points.  He called for the creation of a League of Nations to settle things peacefully, but politics got in the way.  The Treaty of Versailles was created with such strict punishments on Germany that it created a situation where Hitler could come to power and led directly to WWII. Who our leaders are make a difference.  I pledge to vote in every election and to campaign for politicians who want peace while keeping America strong militarily.

Hunger must be a horrible feeling. I get a headache when I haven't eaten all day and start looking around for some chocolate.  I write that and am ashamed because I know that there are children today who will go to bed hungry.  They haven't eaten anything today.  I teach children like this. They come to school every day because they get two meals/day there free. It is summer now.  Where are they getting food? I pledge to donate to food banks in my area so that there is always a supply of food available for those who do not have the means to feed themselves. This is not the long term answer.  I am giving the man a fish without teaching him to fish.  There has to be more that I can do here to make a difference.

Hatred starts and ends at home. My part in this one is easy.  I pledge to be accepting to all. I am unworthy of the grace shown to me by my beloved Savior, so how can I hate anyone? I will work to create a climate where all around me understand that it is okay to be who you are without fear of judgement or reprisal. Theodore Roosevelt said we needed to reach a time where we are all Americans, not hyphenated Americans. He was right, but it's broader than that.  We need to reach a time when we are all people - not separated by race, creed, gender, nationality,or religion. We are all different and it is okay.

I believe that poverty and illiteracy go hand-in-hand. Education is the number one weapon that the world has against poverty. I pledge to continue to work hard at providing education and educational opportunities to my students. In some countries of the world, however, women are held back based solely on their gender.  They are impoverished because they do not have access to the same opportunities as men. I already combat this by supporting women around the world through I sponsor $25 loans to women in devloping countries to fund their small businesses.  They pay me back over time and then, I re-loan the money to another woman.  It is such a small thing, but as a single female who understands that life is hard sometimes, it helps. I pledge to fund opportunities for women around the world to make the world a better place.

It's your turn now... What do you pledge?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

You Have To Know The Right Words To Make It Better...

What are you afraid of? Snakes? Spiders? Speaking in public? I'm not afraid of any of those. I am afraid of failure. I am heart-racing, palm-sweating, shaking in my boots afraid of failure. I am afraid that I will not measure up, that I will be found to not be good enough, that someone will think I am dumb...Yesterday, I was in tears over it.

I made a bad grade in one of my doctorate classes.  I would normally offer excuses here. However, I have recently finished an article about how when successful people fail they make excuses and thus, do not learn from their mistakes.  So, no excuses.  I made a bad grade because I did not read all my materials. It was completely my fault.  I based my paper off the question asked and did not go to the supplemental material where the details required to answer the question were all spelled out. I have submitted four assignments like this which means I have three more bad grades coming. I cried.

I went to my sister's house to cry on her shoulder and she told me to get a tutor. I don't think doctorate students are supposed to need tutors, I said... She told me to take a break for a few days.  I don't have a few days; I have so much work to do... Maybe this is not my path... I continued to cry. My brother-in-law came in from work, looked at me in tears, and asked what was wrong.  I told him I made a bad grade, that I didn't think I could do this. He is a man of few words. He doesn't wax poetically and go on and on about things.  He simply said "Yeah. You can. You're the smartest person I know." With that, he left the room. That was all it took. I felt better because one person said the magical words.  He didn't hem and haw and try to think of a gazillion things to say.  He simply said that I could do this with such certainty that I believed him. He had the exact words I needed to hear.  Sometimes that is all we need.

Friday, June 3, 2011

It's Graduation Day! It's Graduation Day! Sing It With Me...

Today is the day.  Thirteen years of hard work (counting kindergarten because everything you ever needed to know was taught there) completed. In a few short hours, my baby boy will walk across the stage, shake hands with his principal, administration team, and assorted dignitaries and be a high school graduate.  I am extrememly proud of him. It's Graduation Day!

I stayed home the first two years of Taylor's life. He fought to live when the odds were against him, and I could not bring myself to leave this beautiful miracle that God had allowed me to keep.  When he was two, I went back to work and counted the hours until I could go pick him up from the preschool. I didn't have to count the entire eight hours because the school called and asked me to come get him.  He had sobbed uncontrollably since I had left.  Taylor told me between gulping sobs that he thought I had forgotten him. It broke my heart.  I could never forget this beautiful child.

The first day of kindergarten was a totally different story.  We drove up to the school, Taylor jumped out of the car and yelled BYE!  Ummmm... I think I'm going to walk you in, I said.  He allowed me to do so.  He begrudgingly let me be his overprotective mom. It was my turn for tears.  I hoped he wouldn't forget me as he explored the land of centers. I cried all the way to work.

His elementary school did not hold a kindergarten graduation.  They do, however, hold a fifth grade one to mark the transition to middle school. I remember sitting in the crowd with Taylor's father surrounded by the parents of Taylor's friends and tearing up when the strands of pomp and circumstance started.  Taylor walked down the aisle in his shirt and tie, looking so proud and so mature that I had to fight to hold back the tears. My baby boy was growing up..... and I was going to be one of those moms who cried at graduation.

In middle school, Taylor found his love for running.  He discovered teachers who he loved... and others that he hated.  He visited Washington, DC with his best friends.  He ruled the school. It seemed to last a minute.

High school has been amazing.  Taylor has grown into a fine young man. He remains friends with the same friends from elementary school and has added several new faces along the way.  His group is a wonderfully diverse mixture of guys and girls who will one day make this world a better place.... and Taylor, my Marine, will protect it.  Without a doubt, I have enjoyed every single moment of the journey. And tonight when the strands of pomp and circumstance float across Littlejohn Colliseum, I will cry... out of joy and pride... Those kind of tears are allowed. Afterall, it's graduation day!