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Posts Tagged ‘thanksgiving’

Short and sweet today.

If Your Actions Inspire People to Dream More, Learn More, Do More and Become More, Then You Are A Leader ~  John Quincy Adams

There are people in my life about whom these words could have been written.  The circumstances for each are different and the leadership is often born by walking through the fire of adversity and coming out stronger. May God bless them as well as those who come to mind for you.

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It’s been quite a while since I have blogged. The days at work have been full with lots of meetings after school. I’d forgotten just how little time one has when working full time – no complaint, just fact. I’m still re-learning how to make it all coordinate.

It also seems a bit odd writing in a blog that is titled in part “a journey through unemployment” when one is employed. I shan’t let that bother me, however, as I have felt that many of my comments have been about the common experience, the universal truth, the “everyman” aspect of our lives that goes beyond a particular event, like unemployment, though that was the inspiration for me to put word to paper.

I started out wanting to talk about this last day of the year and was curious to learn when January became the first month since I remember learning somewhere, sometime that the year used to start in March (hence, September being 7th month, etc., through December as 10th).

Off to Wikipedia I went and learned that January has been used as the start of the year since 45 BC and was named for Janus is the god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings, endings and time, a most fitting identity. He is often depicted with two faces; one looking back in time while the other face looks forward.

I look back on my year. While there are certainly more happy times than sad, I am ready to move on. I am sure yours looks about the same. Some of you have had more joy than you ever expected in one year; others, more sadness. Some may be welcoming a new baby into the world this very evening and some of you may be saying your goodbyes. Some have celebrated glowing reports after months of fighting illness. Some are just beginning that road as the doctors’ reports begin to come in. The list is endless, and only you know where you are on the continuum of life.

As I ponder all of that, is there perhaps some deeper meaning to the need to welcome in the New Year with fireworks, loud noises and cheering and to do it precisely at the midnight hour?

Do we need a moment in time when we can say, “the old is past away, and the new is just beginning”? Perhaps we do.

I wish you peace, love, joy, and especially hope as we welcome in 2011.

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There’s a small cove along the Piscataqua River that separates New Hampshire from Maine. It sits on the east side of the Spaulding Turnpike with a path along the landside and a number of sailboats moored away from the river’s strong current. I’m told that those moorings are rented from the State of NH at some ridiculously low amount per year and that they have been passed down through families because of that.

My breath is often taken away as I come around the entrance ramp and momentarily see that cove at about a 30-degree angle, something not really visible when traveling either north or south on the Spaulding Turnpike. The angle and speed of travel would make trying to take a photo not only silly but also dangerous, although often I wish I could.

Occasionally the sun is so bright it blinds my eyes for a moment. Sometimes there is a bit of fog settling just about the water and light enough to still see the boats. My favorite is when the tide is way out so that the land is exposed and wet, the sun shining from the east. Sometimes the fog is quite thick making the boats appear ghostlike.

From my view yesterday, most of the boats are now gone. Very soon, the trees will take on their fall finery and then shake the leaves away with the winter chill. The view will be different but no less beautiful. Today’s view was very merely gray as there was fog; but while it was hidden, I stand secure in my knowledge and experience that the sun is still rising in the east.

Nonetheless, every morning is a new chance to view Mother Nature doing her work. And so it is with our lives. Each and every day there are examples of God’s love for us. Every day has its own blessings, some repetitive, some unique. It is for that reason that each Seacoast Peers for Careers meeting involved an opportunity to share a blessing for the week as a chance to stop and pause and reflect.

Yet again, I reflect on the words from the Book of Lamentations (3:22-23): “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness.”

… and I raise my heart in thankfulness …

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Gratitude is an attitude that hooks us up to our source of supply. And the more grateful you are, the closer you become to your maker, to the architect of the universe, to the spiritual core of your being. – Bob Proctor

My husband Bob went to check the Powerball number in Sunday’s paper. Lo and behold, whose face should greet him below the fold but mine — yet again. Fame is so yesterday. Yawn. Tee hee. Those of you who have been following my story know that I have been mentioned in a number of articles during the two years I’ve been out of work.

Seriously, along with a young man with a few years of teaching experience, I had been interviewed because of losing our jobs. According to the article, Laid-off area teachers scramble to find work, some 200 teachers had been laid off statewide this year with the southeastern and northern ends of New Hampshire the hardest hit. Fortunately, Lee Sims (the other teacher in the article) was able to quickly find a position at a local private school. Others, of course, are not so lucky.

Even more unfortunate will be the students who will bear the brunt of the loss of teachers and programs.

It was mentioned in the article that I am returning to work in my former school district. A position was created this spring for a K-12 Technology Integrator. Funding was sufficient for a 60% position that would deal with grades 7-12 to support the Maine Learning Technology Initiative one-to-one laptop program. Because I had the experience, education, and certification, I was offered the post.

While it has some components of my former job, it is not the same. Instead of responsibilities for integration, small group instruction, staff support, hardware and network for grades 6-8, I will be working with solely with teachers in two buildings facilitating technology use in their classrooms.

While I would not have turned down a full-time position, I have come to realize that part-time is a good thing at this point in my life. It allows the best of both worlds. I am working at something I enjoy. Yet, I’m hoping to be able to have some time with Bob when he’s not working and also continue doing empowerment group facilitation with Seacoast Peers for Careers.

Things have changed in two years, including me. There are new applications and new expectations. Some teachers I don’t know at all; some know me very well. That’s both good and bad. There’s a new superintendent with her own vision for the district.

What hasn’t changed is my enthusiasm for my craft and gratefulness for all these new blessings in my life.

It’s a new day and a new school year! Here we go!

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I have been thinking the last couple of days about friendship and the juxtaposition of words from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and a chant learned at a women’s retreat.

Bradbury’s book was the book group selection for September 2008, the first meeting after my job loss when emotions were still quite raw and the realization that I would no longer be with folks who had gone beyond colleague and become friends. While the book seems an unlikely source, Bradbury’s words resonated in my spirit. Of course, I am blessed to have others in my life for whom the words are just as a propos; but I felt driven to share my thoughts with a few folks.

Of the hundreds of emails I send and receive each week, I saved this one dated September 8, 2008, and quote it for you here:

“Good Morning

I have been reading Fahrenheit 451 for my church book club and have found it most interesting and pertinent to today.

One paragraph seemed a bit out of context with its depth but struck a chord within my spirit that I wanted to share with you …

We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses there is at last one which makes the heart run over.

We may reach a point in our relationship where because we don’t share the same experiences any longer that things to chat about may be a bit more difficult; but yet, I know for each of you, that magical piece has happened that makes my heart run over.

Enjoy the beauty of this day.

Love to you, my friends”

Fast forward to retreat 2009, led by Jean Shula, who spoke to us about how the 3 Mary’s impact us as women (Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary of Mary and Martha and Mary Magdalene). It was a fascinating discussion and is the subject of an upcoming book.

As part of our closing worship service she taught us a chant which we sang while standing in a circle touching hands with the person next to us. We repeated its words to each other as we moved around the circle. WOW, what impact! What a realization then and now of the blessings of people to whom you can say,

Listen, listen, listen to my heart’s song,

Listen, listen, listen to my heart’s song:

I will never forget you; I will never forsake you;

I will never forget you; I will never forsake you.

As I was researching this evening for an audio copy of the chant, I discovered that it was written by an Indian Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda, and has often been used as a lullaby by Indian mothers for their children – Makes me wish I had a young ‘un to rock and makes me realize yet again that LOVE goes beyond politics, economics, and theology – love goes to the soul and is beyond our comprehension in its vastness.

I think of my friends from Shapleigh, my sisters and brothers from St. John’s UMC, those in my life dealing with major illness whom I may not get to see again, friends from other times and places in my life, family who have passed from me in body, family who are friends, friends who are as close as family, my son, daughter and daughter-in-law, my husband of 43 years (without whom I’d be less than I am), and feel so small on the one hand but so large on the inside with the love in my heart.

Shh, listen, listen, listen. Can you hear it? It’s my heart’s song.

Shh, listen again. Is that yours joining in the chant?

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Each week when Seacoast Peers for Careers meets I ask the participants to share a blessing for the week – something good that happened. These are especially meaningful when they occur BECAUSE of unemployment. My blessing last week was very simple: I had exact change, no more, no less.

Although the air was quite cool, I had the sunroof open on my car while driving from an appointment to the weekly meeting of Seacoast Peers for Careers. It was warm and sunny enough in the car that stopping by my favorite ice cream stand seemed like a good idea.

I pulled in to Dover Delite thinking about which flavor of Shain’s of Maine ice cream I was going to get – chocolate, chocolate oreo, or my latest discovery, java crunch. When I checked my wallet, however, I had two singles, one dime, and nine pennies – 21 cents short of the $2.40 needed for a kiddie cup.

Darn.

I looked in the pocket of my purse, the glove compartment, the token holder, all to no avail.

Darn again.

I went back to my purse and fished around in the bottom, under the sunglasses, the tissues, and the Chapstick. What did I feel? I pulled out some change – 2 dimes and 1 penny. Golden!

Two singles, 3 dimes, 10 pennies. I had exactly enough! Thank you, God! (Talk about granting the desires of your heart!)

As I savored every bite, it was that much sweeter because of my “miracle.”

Once again, it’s the little things that count for so much.

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Last evening our doorbell rang. There was a woman asking about the house next door to us, which has been for sale since fall and has not been regularly occupied for about two years. The owner had been around a few weeks ago to move out some things; but other than that, there has been no activity.

The woman has driven by the house a few times and noticed a cat in various windows and was concerned about it. My husband asked about the coloring of the cat, and it matched the one reported missing about 3.5 weeks ago by the young family that recently moved in across the street.

The realtor listed on the sign lives locally, so my husband called her and explained the situation. She came down with a key. A few minutes later, our neighbor was inside trying to capture his long-missing cat who was doing all it could to hide, energy apparently not an issue. We’re assuming that the cat must have gone inside when the doors were left open during the partial move.

I’m not sure I want to know what the cat has been eating and where it has been resting; but from what Bob said, while it’s a bit scraggly, it doesn’t appear to be any the worse for the experience.

Two parents, four kids, two dogs, and one cat, are all home safe and sound on the Sunday night before school vacation.

All is well with their world.

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