Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Getting Around To It

Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow.   No, wait… shouldn’t that be, “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today?”  ~ Thomas Jefferson 

Which are you?   The procrastinator?  Or, like Larry the Cable Guy, the “Git-R-Done” type?

And me?  Well, I’m the sort who’d leave up the Christmas lights until Valentine’s Day… the kind who has been known to wait until almost sundown to throw dinner in the Crockpot…   

The type that thinks like Robert Brault: “I’ve been looking over the list of spring chores I made up last fall, and darned if they aren’t fall chores after all.”

It was on January 2nd of this year when Kat left a comment on my blog, saying that I’d received an award from her.  I immediately made a bee-line for her site and, lo and behold, she’d indeed listed me as a recipient. 
My heart leapt for joy… but what did I do?   I left a comment on her blog saying, “Thank you SO much!”  Or something to that effect.  But I never followed proper protocol in receiving the award.  Why is this? 

For one thing, I didn’t know how to put the award on my site and link back to her.  Instead I let it go, thinking that someday I’d get around to figuring it out.    

And so without further ado here is my gratitude list.  Drum roll…

A big thank you goes out to Dawn at Healing Morning for featuring Pure and Simple in her Spotlight On series…

Corinne at Everyday Gyaan for publishing my story “Candle of Hope” in her series on hope…

Becky Jane at WheelchairDecor for re-posting my story “Defining Moments” on her site.   

Kat at Books, Crafts & Pretty Things... and Mary at Living with Food Allergies and Celiac Disease for the Stylish Blogger Award

Kristen at the spirit that moves me for the One Lovely Blog Award

Sweepy Jean (AD Joyce) at Sweepy Jean Explores the (Webby) World 3.25 for The Versatile Blogger award...

Pamela at Pamanner’s Blog for her original “Shout Out” award...  

Alejandro at Raising Amelie and Melinda at Trailing After God for their indispensable help in showing me the how-to ropes of linking back…   

Last but not least I thank all of my readers, especially those who take the time to leave thoughtful and inspiring comments - some of which have sparked new ideas for future blog posts – so merci beaucoup to a number of you… 

In fact, a recent comment inspired a sequel to “The Journey,” so please stay tuned… 

Back to my earlier questions:

Which are you?   The procrastinator?   Or the “Git-R-Done” type?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Journey

I read somewhere that there are basically two types of people: the destination-driven and the journey-driven.  The first tend to take the fast lane because they’re goal-oriented and just want to get where they’ve going in life without stopping to lollygag or take time to smell the roses. 

The latter tend to savor the present moment and seize each new day as it comes.  These take little thought for the future and focus more on the here and now rather than on their destination.

Which type are you?  Destination-driven?   Or journey-driven?

The Journey

Don’t apologize for being strange
and preferring the back roads to
the fast lane.  Besides, it’s safer
to shun the interstate with its fury

of traffic in a hurry to get somewhere,
somehow, if it means pushing you
out of the way.  Better any day to hit
the narrow ribbon of road where no

one behind you is cursing a bitter
stream of words or slamming his horn
in anger as you meander along at your
own pace, humming “Fields of Gold”

with Sting on the radio, while eyeing a
peaceful landscape with its sequence
of sights changing shape as in dreams:
Spanish moss draped over trees like

bearded giants soon become a tower
of pines.  Grazing cows give way to a
barn darkened with age, steepled by
a weather vane.  Clothes hung out on

a line to dry remind you of days long
gone.  A pond of ducks catches your
eye, slows you down to forty, then
thirty-five.  But what the heck, you

think, there’s no real hurry.  You’ll
make it in plenty of time without
worrying, and if you don’t, no sweat.
You’re just grateful for the journey.

 I’ve always enjoyed Sting’s original version of “Fields of Gold,” but I think I like Eva Cassidy’s just as much, if not more.  Eva enjoyed her journey too, but has now reached her destination.     

So which type are you?  Destiny-driven?   Or journey-driven?  Or some of both?

“The Journey” received a poet laureate award, as finalist, from the NC Poetry Society. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Sky Is….

What does it mean to be “in the world but not of the world?”   Inevitably this phrase will mean 100 different things to 100 different people. 

 To me it means that, though I may have to play along to a certain degree with society’s standards, I don’t have to morally agree.   In fact, my beliefs should set me free from the world’s encumbrances.

"I must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s; I will not reason and compare: my business is to create."   ~ William Blake

It’s that time of year again.    Achievement test time.   Since the mid-80’s I’ve been required by the state to administer the yearly standardized test to my students. 

"Do not worry about your problems with mathematics,
 I assure you mine are far greater.  ~ Albert Einstein

Today my daughter was staring down at her CAT in bewilderment at math questions she’d never seen.   And would never use in any practical way.  

I said, “Not to worry.  Just say eeny, meeny, miny, moe if you don’t know the answer – you have a 25% chance to get it right at any rate.   It’s multiple choice.   Besides, you don’t need that in the real world.    We don’t even use that stuff.   Ever.  We use real life math.”  

 John Taylor Gatto, named New York City’s teacher of the year in 1990, and State teacher of the year in 1991, says of standardized testing: “They lead to no real information about the student, and actually give them a false ranking.   It says people are better or worse than others.  

“Seriously, have you ever gone to a job interview and asked the person interviewing you, ‘What did you get on your standardized test?’  They’d be floored.
 “Parents don’t go up to the teachers who hand out these stupid things and ask what they got on their tests either, because they don’t matter.”    

The way I see it, life is too short to waste on hollow trivia.   Never have I wanted my children to equate success in life with mere academic achievement – though they’ve all tested off the charts.  But I do want them to gain true wisdom and understanding of life issues that matter most.  

I would far rather see them grow up to be a heroic character like, say, Forrest Gump, than any academic snob.  In the world’s eyes, Forrest would be considered an idiot, and yet he is courage and honesty personified.          

When I was in school I remember those tests, which to me were just an interesting diversion from the ordinary class routine.  We sat in hard desks and filled in “right-answer” bubbles most of the day.  Just to confirm how bright or dim we were.  

But what the tests didn’t reveal were our creative, imaginative, intuitive, and spiritual aptitudes – intrinsic in all children before they are forced into robotic learning environments.  These tests never exposed our natural talents or true genius. 

They never offered a clue on what we were born to do, or who we might become.  But instead measured our worth by how well we regurgitated facts, most often irrelevant to our gifts and calls in life.   

Compulsory Education

You know there’s one correct answer
when you take that test.  So you do your
best to get it right, the faster the better,
or you’ll find on your paper a giant red X.
No time to stop and contemplate.  Mark
your answer without delay.  The teacher
is waiting and heaven knows she doesn’t
have all day.  Thirty questions all the same.
Every student should know without
hesitation that the sky is blue.  But what if
today you clearly see a sky of feather gray
or remember an earlier violet dawn complete
with the joy of birdsong?   Or envision
yesterday’s blaze of sunset: harmonious
streaks of amber and pink bleeding across
the horizon.  Oh well, never mind what you
see or feel or think.   Just go by the book
and fill in the blank.  The sky is ____


"He told me that his teachers reported that . . . he was mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in his foolish dreams."

-- Hans Albert Einstein, on his father, Albert Einstein 

So how do you view testing?  Should tests be emphasized as sole measures of students, teachers, and schools?  Should students be labeled as a result of failing a test?  Could these labels be self-fulfilling prophecies?   I welcome your experience, thoughts, and feedback.          
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