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Back to School

17 Aug

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For the past few years, I have taken this time of year to share a few “words of wisdom” to the students, teachers, and parents preparing for back-to-school. While this is only my personal view, I do hope it offers some comfort to what can be a hectic and emotional time of year.

To all the students, be appreciative of the freedom you have to learn. Some children are not as fortunate. Be proud of who you are and believe in yourself. Be kind to those you meet. Some of your peers may have a hard time making new friends or they may be struggling with their own insecurities. If you see someone being bullied or harassed because he/she may seem a little different, step in and do what you know is right. Say, “Hi,” or smile at that person in the hallway. You never know what they might be facing outside of school or battling with inside. Your small act of kindness may make a BIG difference in someone’s life this school year!

To all the teachers, both new and “seasoned,” know that you have been called to the teaching profession for a reason. The minds and hearts of the students you teach will forever be changed. You have been given the chance to be an influence and an inspiration to your students. As hard as it is to deal with the politics and new policies of school systems, just remember why you are there—to educate and provide a safe environment for the young people you have been given. What you offer them today may have a lifelong impact on the person they become.

To all the parents sending your little ones off to school for the first time, stay strong. I know this can be hard. If you need to cry after you take your child to class, let it out. Your kids will be fine. You know this. The excellent women and men who will be teaching them this year will pour into their little minds and hearts. And your children will grow immensely this year.

For those of you with children starting middle school or high school, stay positive and encourage your child. Build them up and be available when they need you. This is a big step for both of you. This year could be a roller coaster of emotions and new experiences. However, your children will succeed with the support of you, their friends, and their teachers.

To the parents of seniors, this year is critical for your child. The journey to college is exciting and challenging. Enjoy the time you have with your senior and get involved in their lives if you are not already. As much as they may seem like they do not need or want you around, they do. Check in on them and ask about school and their lives. Be present. Be encouraging.

Good luck this year and know that each of you have my thoughts, prayers, and support. Have a great school year, everyone!

Spread a little love and magic

23 Jul

I log in and post on social media channels each day, mostly out of habit. These platforms have provided great ways to keep in touch with family and friends. However, they’ve also created cyberbullying and the widespread sharing of utter rubbish. I try to share things that will make people smile or bring a little bit of happiness into the lives of others. There’s so much in life worth living and fighting for. I’d rather celebrate the joy and believe in the magic of everyday life.

My days aren’t always great (today is one of those) and my life is far from perfect or ideal. I do have a loving family and many friends who are near and dear to my heart though. I feel blessed with my life, and I thank God for all He provides. Thank you all for allowing me to share joy with you—today and in the future. Do something nice for someone today. Tell your family you love them. Enjoy the hugs from your children. Call an old friend. Spread a little love and magic. 

"Mickey was simply a little personality assigned to the purposes of laughter."

“Mickey was simply a little personality assigned to the purposes of laughter.”

The Eyes of a Little Baby

2 Mar
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Gretchen smiling up at Daddy | March 2015

“If one feels the need of something grand, something infinite, something that makes one feel aware of God, one need not go far to find it. I think that I see something deeper, more infinite, more eternal than the ocean in the expression of the eyes of a little baby when she wakes in the morning and coos or laughs because she sees the sun shining on her cradle.”
—Vincent van Gogh

I’ve shared this quote with photos of my other children in the past. It is one of my favorite quotes, which my favorite artist happened to share. There truly is something magical in the eyes of a child—the innocence and wonder of life around them—and babies have that glimmer even more so. What a blessing it is to experience God through our children.

Happiness is a State of Mind

5 Mar

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If you constantly complain about everything and only see the negative in life, I honestly feel bad for you. Lighten up and live a little.

Do I complain? Yes. Can I be a negative person sometimes? Yes.

I do not let these things define me, however, and I do my best to provide a positive outlook on life. I often fail at this, but I carry on.

I cannot afford to waste my time being downtrodden and irritable.

Don’t take life so seriously, folks.

Laugh.

Listen to music.

Get up and dance.

Go out of your way to make someone else happy and see how much life gives you back.

Thanks for listening. Now go make it a great day!

Ladies and Gentleman of the Class of 2013

10 Jun

As graduations continue this week for our local public schools, I wanted to offer some words of advice to the Class of 2013….

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In June of 1997 Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich wrote a column titled, Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young. The column was written in the style of a commencement speech, with Schmich offering her own advice for the graduating class of 1997 such as “Don’t worry about the future,” “Floss,” and “Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.”

In 1999, Australian film director Baz Luhrmann (Romeo + JulietMoulin Rouge!The Great Gatsby) contacted Schmich about licensing her words. Shortly thereafter, Luhrmann recorded Australian voice actor Lee Perry reading the column over a dance track to create the song Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen). The track received airplay in the U.S. in 1999 and quickly became a Billboard Top 100 hit.

Schmich’s words of advice still ring true today, and I would like to offer it to Cannon School’s class of 2013.

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sing.

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

Good luck, ladies and gentlemen. May you be successful in your future endeavors. May your lives be full of love and support from your family and friends. We will be cheering you on as you go out in to the world to pursue higher education or begin a career.

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