My [redacted] Journey

A teacher's search for inner peace.


Bow Out Gracefully

September 17, 2014

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.

Dear Readers,

I think both the title to today’s post and the above quote from T. S. Eliot’s poem, “The Hollow Men”, may be terribly misleading.  I never bow out gracefully and nothing, and I do mean nothing in my life has ever ended with a whimper.  I think I’m beginning to turn a corner, however.  And I have today’s Writing 101 assignment to thank for opening up my eyes to that possibility.

My assignment today is to write about the three most important songs in my life and what they mean to me.  The first song that comes to mind is “Neon Moon” by Brooks and Dunn.  This contemporary country song is an “I’ve lost my love, I’ll cry in my beer at the nearest bar,” kind of song.  I know, I know, dear Readers, you thought me more sophisticated than that.  Well, it just so happens that I love country music.

Okay, so the words are hardly that deep:  If you lose your one and only, There’s always room here for the lonely.  Watch your broken dreams dance in and out of a beam of a neon moon.  However, at the time when I first heard this song, I was in the midst of a tumultuous divorce, ending an even more tumultuous marriage (never one to bow out gracefully) and the music has since stuck around.

The next song I choose is “Sabor a Mi.”  This classic Mexican ballad has been recorded by more artists than I can remember, including my own father.  However, I cherish the version sung by Los Lobos.  I have loved this song for even longer than “Neon Moon.”  This love stems from, yes, once again, the way the music touches my soul and the memories it evokes.

My dad taught me how to dance.  In fact, our dancing together, along with a love of reading, were the two things that strongly bonded father and daughter.  My dad passed away in May of 2001 after an all-too brief fight with cancer.  I was fortunate enough to have a last dance with my dad and it has remained one of my most treasured memories of the greatest man I have ever known.

I graduated from Arizona State University in December of 2000.  My dad was well into his sickness by then, but he proudly watch me walk across the stage and receive my diploma.  He even braved the gathering I had for myself, inviting well over 100 of my closest friends and relatives.  During the evening, my brother, Daniel, put on the song “Sabor a Mi,” as sung by Los Lobos, and my dad and I had what was to be our last dance together.

I remember every second of every note of every lyric that we danced.  I remember what I wore, how I felt, and what he said to me as he slowly, but deliberately led me around the dance floor, “You’re finally letting me lead.”

You see, dear Readers, Bang!  My endings have bang.  I think the tide is starting to turn, though.  Check this out.  The last song I choose is by Van Morrison.  Several years ago, I mentioned to my bother Daniel that I wanted the song “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison, played at my funeral.  It is the same m.o. as the above two songs.  But, I’ve since changed my mind.  Same artist, different tune.  The song I now want played at my funeral, and tonight’s final choice, is “Open the Door (To Your Heart).”

I was on my maiden voyage to the Middle East, unsure of what to expect, when the flight attendant bent down to ask me if I wanted to listen to music.  Why this particular flight attendant stopped to ask me, and only me, is beyond my comprehension.  My flight had over 500 passengers and I was sitting in the middle of a row of five seats.  I wasn’t trying to get the flight attendant’s attention and was a bit startled when she bent down and leaned over to talk to me.  She showed me how to get to the music portion of the entertainment touchscreen embedded in the back of the headrest of the seat in front of me.  She even chose the song, Van Morrison’s, “Open the Door (To Your Heart).  And just like that, she was gone as quickly as she had appeared.

That, dear Readers, was my epiphany.  That was when my half-empty glass outlook on life began to take on a different persona, and I was never more ready for anything in my entire life.

Open the door to your heart

Open the door to your soul

Get back in the flow

Open the door to your heart.

Ah yes, dear Readers, I think I like the whimper.  Peace, ~v.

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Kingman to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

September 16, 2014

Dear Readers,

I don’t know why I went, but I know I’ve got to get back there. There is something that calls me there. It’s not a wanderlust. No, it’s not the urge to travel. And it’s definitely not some deep seeded need to be an expatriate. No, I rather like being a patriot, thank you very much.

So why this desire to go there? Was it the desert calling to me? No, I’ve lived in the desert all of my life. Was it the need or want to experience a culture far different from my own? Again, no; in the United States we are a nation of different cultures and I’ve experienced quite a few of them.

I know, it was the need for a middle-aged woman to strike out on her own and be independent.  That is not even close, because I’ve been on my own and independent for quite a few years now.  So what was it?  What is it still?  What is this insatiable need to live and work in the Middle East?  That, dear Readers, is something I haven’t quite been able to figure out.

The bougainvillea blooms all year round.  The beautiful purple-pink flowers belie the thorny vines that lie just underneath the blooms.  From a distance, with the sun at their backs, and with one eye closed, I can almost picture an Arizona sunset.  The reds and pinks and purples of the bougainvillea and the Arizona sunsets mesh together to make sitting outside in 120°F  (49°C) worth the sweat.

And the sweat…the sweat in the small of my back clings to the polyester blend, black abaya and simply sits there.  The ever present moisture lies on the surface of both my skin and the non absorbent material of my long-sleeved, long skirt, neck high “dress” that I and the other women in this desert town must endure.  However, the material is a boon at keeping out the desert sand.  And that fine grained, almost silt, permeates every inch of life in the desert.  Every inch of life except for my abaya.

My abaya, keeping me chaste and safe from both the male-dominated society and the mountains and mountains of sand that blow through the cracks; and blow and blow and blow.  Blows the wind so subtle that were it not for the fog-like emissions of the oil fields, I would never know it was blowing.

Then, just as suddenly as it rises, the sun sets and the night arrives, bringing with it the murkiness of the fog.  The fog rolls in and over the desert.  It’s time to slip inside and leave the night to the night.  And as I lazily climb the sturdy, sandy stairs to my room with a view, thoughts drift to Carl Sandburg…

The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
…and then moves on, dear Readers, and then moves on.  Peace, ~v.

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Inside the Mind of Twenty Minutes

September 15, 2014

Dear Readers,

Once again I write to you on the heels of a challenge. I’ve always wanted to go back to school and continue my education and now I have. Now, now, don’t get too excited for me, I am taking a Blogging 101 course. Oooo…I just sounded condescending, didn’t I? “Now, now, don’t get too excited for me.” I guess I am really rather snobby when it comes to education, so when I actually said the phrase, “I’m continuing my education,” out loud, Educated Vickie simply winced.

Let me start again:

Dear Readers,

I am really excited to take a course in improving my blogging skills. Let’s face it, I could do better. And truth be told, I could do with more discipline. I am certainly not consistent in my writing. Hence, the course.

Today is the first assignment and I feel I am woefully behind. The assignment is to free my mind. I am to write for twenty minutes, stream of consciousness style. I will edit my typos. However, I will leave the content alone. Even now, Writer Vickie is hyperventilating. I am not sure I can resuscitate her. Hello?

Okay dear Readers, this is the real me. I am kind of disjointed and have waaay too many personalities for many people to understand. (Please do not take this post too serious, as I tend to ramble when left to my own devices.)

I am writing for twenty minutes…twenty minutes…geez,doesn’t it seem longer. Well, yes, I suppose it would seem longer if you were the reader. Sorry dear Readers, I never meant for this to happen. You know, to let you into my mind, such as it is. When I write my blog posts, it is oftentimes very painful for me. Now this part is serious. I have so much locked inside my mind, that it is actually painful for me to put in writing what is inside. And then, when I do put it in writing, I always waver whether I will be misunderstood or understood…please don’t let me be misunderstood. Ha! Remember that catchy tune, dear Readers?

Twenty minutes…twenty minutes. I can remember when I had contractions that were twenty minutes apart. Now that twenty minutes went by like that (Mother Vickie says as she snaps her fingers). Well dear Readers, new and (hopefully) continuing, as you can see, I have several different Vickies inside my head…What? Oh, sorry, Writer Vickie is sneering at me right now. It seems that we have already written that.

It is difficult to keep up with the many Vickies I have to be. Well, I am a logical person, always have been. The implication…

Twenty minutes is up, dear Readers. Please, please stay tuned for tomorrow’s post; and tomorrow and tomorrow. Seriously, not only do I want to improve my writing, but, I want to build my readership. So, stick around. I mean, we’ve been through so much already, don’t you wanna see how it ends? I know Writer Vickie does. Peace, ~v.

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Jerusalem, My Destiny

September 13, 2014

Dear Readers,

Although I’m a few days behind, I am here.  The A to Z Challenge is now on the letter ‘J’, and for me, ‘J’ stands for Jerusalem.  No, I’ve never been, and up until a few years ago, I would have been hard pressed to locate the city on any world globe.  Now however, not only can I point to the Holy City on a map, I can tell you facts about Jerusalem that might even surprise you.  For example, based on the number of people who so revere Jerusalem, it is most likely the most holy city in the world.

Importance:  Judaism

Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, in fact, capital of the Israelite nation.  It is also the city of David and the site of Solomon’s temple.  Jews pray in the direction of Jerusalem, and Jewish prayers call for the rebuilding of Jerusalem as a symbol of the renewal of national life.  At the end of the Passover Seder and the Yom Kippur Services, Jews proclaim, “Next Year in Jerusalem.”

Importance:  Islam

Jerusalem was the first Qiblah for Muslims – the place toward which Muslims turn in prayer.  Jerusalem is also important to Muslims because it is where the prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.  After the holy sites of Mecca and Medina, Jerusalem is the third most sacred place of Islam.

Importance:  Christianity

Jerusalem is important to Christians because it is where Jesus was taken shortly after his birth and where He preached and healed.  It was in Jerusalem that Jesus spent the last days of his ministry.  Jerusalem is also where the Last Supper and the Crucifixion took place.  Most importantly, it is where Jesus’ Resurrection took place.

One city, and no less than three major world religions hold it in such high esteem.  Jerusalem, the Holy City for millions of people around the world.  With such an important significance in common, I can see a day when there will be peace among us.  Until then, dear Readers, there is Just Hope.  Peace, ~v.

I have fixed my eyes on your hills,
Jerusalem, my Destiny!
Though I cannot see the end for me,
I cannot turn away.
We have set our hearts for the way;
this journey is our destiny.
Let no one walk alone.
The journey makes us one.



socsSeptember 6, 2014

Dear Readers,

I’m taking on an other writing challenge.  This one comes courtesy of the blog LINDAGHILL Life in progress

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is the prefix, re-.  Add whatever you want to the end of it and away you go!

I have always wanted to publish a blog post of my stream of consciousness writing.  I couldn’t pass this one up, it is right up my alley, so here goes:

My [redacted] Journey is my second attempt at a blog.  My first blog began as a way to keep in touch and to keep updated my friends and family back home (the U.S.) while I went off to teach in the Middle East.  Long story short, I had to leave the country where I was teaching very, very quickly, shut down my blog and lay low for a time.  When I resurfaced, I began to write and publish a new blog.  My original blog was titled My Journey.  This one I titled My Effing Journey out of anger at having to shut down my original blog.  I knew that title would not suit me.  As it stood, I knew any editor worth his salt would redact my curse word, thus, My [redacted] Journey was born.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines redact:  to obscure or remove (text) from a document prior to publication or release

Remember, relax, relieve and rewind.  Regret, remove, re-use and refuse.  My [redacted] Journey requires them all.  My life requires them all.  Review, re-post, re-blog and repeal.  Refrain, repeat, reverberate, regurgitate.  Realize, reveal, rekindle, and reinvent.  Return and rejoice.

This is a great little prefix, this re- guy.  With him around there is always a re-do, or as we liked to call it in elementary school, a do-over.  Re-do is the only way to get it right:  don’t regret…re-do!  It’s a good thing.  Peace, ~v.


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The Role Models

It is unclear to me how I maintain a "Bully Free Classroom."

It is unclear to me how I maintain a “Bully Free Classroom.”

September 4, 2014

Dear Readers,

I sat down last night to write my latest blog post, wrote it, but couldn’t bring myself to publish it. Something just didn’t feel right. I saved the post and went to bed.

The post I wrote yesterday, but couldn’t seem to post, was about bullies and their bullying behavior. In all my years as a teacher, I have never had such a problem with bullies. Since the start of the school year, I have had more than my fair share of encounters.  It didn’t dawn on me that I was experiencing an unusually high volume of bullying in my classroom, until last week at parent/teacher conferences.

No less than five (5) of my students’ parents brought up the subject of bullying.  Each wanted to know what is being done about students being bullied, teased, threatened and mocked.  These parents conveyed to me that it was their son and/or daughter that were the victims, and had been for at least 2 years!  I was appalled, dear Readers.  I was unwilling to believe that this behavior had not been otherwise stymied by the administration and the faculty, at large.  I was unwilling to believe that, dear Readers, until today.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.  And the good people at my school were doing absolutely nothing about the bullying problem, at least as far as I could tell.  Thus, the evil has been allowed to triumph.  As a matter of fact, not only has the evil been allowed to triumph, it has been allowed to thrive.  How does that happen, dear Readers?  Evil is allowed to thrive when the people in charge, the people that lead the charge, the role models, they are themselves, the bullies! 

In the past 24 hours, I have been bullied by three of my fellow educators.  In the past 24 hours, I have been bullied by three of my fellow educators in front of my students.  Well, no wonder some of my students are such bullies; that is what the adults around them are modeling.  No me.  Each time I was confronted and the bullying commenced, I stood up for myself and said, “We can have this conversation away from the students.”  In which the bully replied, “Never mind,” yet kept on trying to intimidate me.  And I do know that it had an effect on my students, because inevitably after each incident, my students began teasing me for allowing another teacher to speak to me in such a way as to be bullied.  Sigh.

See my dilemma, dear Readers?  I cannot allow this behavior to continue, whether it be my students or the faculty.  And now it’s a race against the clock.  Now, dear Readers, time is of the essence.  I fear I must find a solution, quickly, because today, I stumbled upon one of my being bullied boys.  You know what he was doing?  Yes, that’s right, he was aggressively bullying another student.  (please pray for) Peace, ~v.


I is for Islam

September 2, 2014

Dear Readers,

If it’s Tuesday, it must be the A to Z Challenge.  Today’s letter is “I“, and I is for Islam.

I could not do justice to a description of Islam.  Therefore, I asked a friend.

Islam is a religion that covers all aspects of life .. the political economic and social .. Islam is for all time ..


الأسلام دين شامل لكل نواحي الحياة .. السياسية الاقتصادية الاجتماعية .. الإسلام يصلح لكل زمان



I leave you, dear Readers, with one last quote.

People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Communicate with each other, dear Readers.  Perhaps then, Peace, ~v.



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