My [redacted] Journey

A teacher's search for inner peace.


For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow


I’m all about the love.

November 16, 2016

*Names in the following post have been changed.

Dear Readers,

Respect is overrated. In fact, at times, it is quite inconsequential. I can think of several nouns I would rather have from someone than the ‘R’ word; peace and love naturally come to mind. Unfortunately, our world is sorely lacking in all three.

When I was younger (much, much younger), I was fond of saying that I would rather my colleagues respect me than like me. And I have always been confident enough in my skills to ensure that my coworkers would do just that: respect me. Boy was I wrong!

For the past year, I have noticed a definite shift in the attitude of my students, collectively as well as individually. There is certainly more bullying and less kindness on display in my classroom. Indeed, I have oftentimes pointed this out to my most unruly classes. The school year is nearly half over and I have finally gotten my students to take me seriously. I’ve had to prove myself over and over again to not only earn their trust, but, yes, their respect as well. But as any teacher of middle school students knows, it’s one step forward, two steps back. And sometimes it’s not my students that are tripping me backwards; it’s my fellow educators.

There are certain male teachers at school who seem to command respect by their mere presence. Something about a deep, throaty voice and a six foot frame that registers with middle school kids. I was always able to put the fear of God in my own children with my “look”, but it never quite worked with this bunch of students. I’ve even ventured to ask my students why they behave for Mr. Down-the-Hall but not for me. I’m not going to tell you their answers, but I’ve come up with a few of my own.

We live in a male dominated society. Like it or not, men are valued more than women. I try to not let that bother me, but it does. It especially bothers me when Mr. Down-the-Hall undermines my authority in front of my students. Instead of accusing me of dismissing my students before the bell rings, why can’t Mr. Down-the-Hall wait until there are no students around, mine or his, and ask me what happened that my students left early? Why? Because if Mr. Down-the-Hall had waited to ask me what happened, instead of accusing me of letting my students out early, I would have told him that as soon as I turned my back, my students (all but two) rushed the door and were halfway to the bus before I even knew they were gone.

These same students would never deign to pull such a stunt with Mr. Down-the-Hall, they’re too afraid of him. Alas, I am envious of the fear he commands. “If I could just have a teeny bit of whatever he has…” I muse, and sometimes cry. And today was one of those days.

Today was one of those, “I am sick to death of putting up with the lack of respect from pipsqueak, prepubescent would-be reprobates!” And Mr. Down-the-Hall just added to my frustration. I willed myself to stay angry to stave off the tears. “I will not cry on my way home. I will not cry on my way home. I will not cry on my way home.” Then I began to think.

I began to question where I had gone wrong. When had I begun to be ineffective? When had I lost the respect of my charges, if in fact, I ever had it? All I ever really wanted was respect. Respect, respect, respect. My respect mantra was still looping through my mind when I stopped at Panda Express to pick up tonight’s dinner. My anger began to subside (the anticipation of food often does that to me) and I began to soothe my soul.

Instead of telling myself what I didn’t have from my students, I began to tell myself what I did.  I have my students’ trust; they trust me to lead them in the right direction. I have my students’ laughter; they not only laugh at me, they laugh with me. I have my students’ love; they love me even when I don’t think they do. And as if on cue, I see one of my students, standing in line behind me, with her family. I was pretty sure she hadn’t seen me, and I didn’t want to embarrass her, so I was going to pay for my food and quietly slip out the door. It was enough for me to know that I was making a difference in my students’ lives. And, hey, at my age, I can STILL improve my character, I can stop the tears AND the anger, and I CAN be good to myself. Yea me! What had started out as a miserable evening was turning into a pretty good night. And it was just about to get even better.

Lost in thought and heading for the Panda Express exit, I almost missed my student stepping out of line and heading right toward me. She was walking with arms outstretched, smile on her lips, twinkle in her eye; my heart melted. I stopped and we enveloped each other in well-needed hug. We said, “Hi,” and “Bye,” and I was out the door. It was then that I finally let the tears flow freely down my cheeks. To hell with respect, my students LOVE me. And that, dear Readers, is what makes the world go ’round.

peace, ~v.  








My Favorite Muffin

May 12, 2015

Dear Readers,

Today is one of those days I have put on my “Some Day” calendar.  You know what I mean:  Some day I’ll lose those last 20 pounds.  Some day I’m going to go on a cruise.  Some day, some day, some day.  Well, some day I will be the mother of a college graduate has arrived.  My daughter graduates tonight from my alma mater, Arizona State University.  I would like to take this space and this opportunity to let her know how proud of her I am.


Congratulations, college graduate!  How does it feel to meet another one of your goals?  I knew you would do it, you always do whatever you set your mind to, I admire that.  I also admire so much more that is you, it is hard to enumerate, but I will try.

I admire that you are stubborn; you stand your ground when you believe in something.

I admire the way you connect with little children; they flock around you because they know you love them.

I admire the way you took care of your sister when you lived in California; she always felt safe with you.

I admire the way you took care of your sister when you both had to change schools; she took it the hardest, but you made sure she felt safe.

I admire the way you stood up to me when you knew I had a problem; you made your decision and you never backed down.

I admire the way you live your life; no regrets, no excuses, no looking back.

I admire your loyalty, your beauty, your mind.  You have turned out to be a pretty amazing young woman.  Of course I know your faults, but today is not about that.  Today is about your achievements, and you should be proud of yourself…I know I am.

One last thing, you have to know how difficult it has been to write this post.  I must have started typing a hundred times.  Every time I started to typed, my eyes would begin to water.  Yes, I’m a baby and oftentimes too sensitive, but then again so are you (something else I admire).  However, the reason this has been so difficult to write is because I do not have the words to describe how proud of you I am.  I know I just said it, but it hardly seems enough.

I love you, Muffin.  I wish you nothing but the best.  Go and make the world a better place, I will always be here for you.


Our Mom

p.s. I admire how much you love your mom.  Peace, ~v.


I Love You More Than More

I love you more than more, ESS.

I love you more than more, ESS.

September 8, 2013

Dear Readers,

Have you ever noticed the way small children hold onto a kitten or puppy that they love?  They wrap the little guy firmly in their arms.  They hug and squeeze and hold tightly onto the object of their passion.  Unfortunately, an intervention, of sorts is usually required to save the life of the almost loved-to-death animal.  In all of their exuberance, small children tend to (almost) squeeze the life out of the very thing they love so much.  I am practically there, dear Readers, squeezing the life out of very thing I love so much.

Daily Prompt: The Excitement Never Ends Tell us about the last thing you got excited about — butterflies-in-the-stomach, giggling, can’t-wait excited.     

… telling myself I’m gonna be alright
Without you baby is a waste of time

It is a waste of time, dear Readers to try and convince my heart that we will survive without him by our side.  It seems that I have an addictive personality and the more in love I fall, the more in love I fall.

You can’t undo a fall like this
‘Cause love don’t know what distance is
Yeah, I know it’s crazy

I fell in love and I fell hard.  The distance between us has only served to reinforce my love, yeah, I know it’s crazy.  But whether it’s 7 miles or 7,000 miles, love is love and the heart wants what the heart wants.

But I don’t want “good” and I don’t want “good enough”
I want “can’t sleep, can’t breathe without your love”

I don’t and I can’t.  Nothing average about me, so why would I settle?  I wouldn’t.  There’s nothing like that can’t catch my breath kind of love.

Who cares if you’re all I think about,
I’ve searched the world and I know now,
It ain’t right if you ain’t lost your mind

Yes, he is all I think about.  And yes, I have lost my mind.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

…I don’t want easy, I want crazy

I am crazy in love.

I wanna be scared, don’t wanna know why
Wanna feel good, don’t have to be right

This is the kind of love I want, dear Readers.  I don’t want to be right, I want to be in love.

There’s no such thing as wild enough,
And maybe we just think too much
Who needs to play it safe in love?
Let’s be crazy!

The greater the risk, the greater the payout.  Go big or go home.  The brightest stars burn the hottest.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder.  I could go on dear Readers, but you get the picture.

“Dear Lord, do You think I could fall in love one more time before I die?”  Enter ESS and my prayers were answered.

Excitement, I mean real excitement, curl your toes, stop your breath, leave your heart in your throat excitement is what I’ve got.  And I will not let it slip silently away.  I am in love.  There is no greater excitement.  Peace, ~v.


Fractured Fairy Tales


Once upon a time in a land far, far away there lived a handsome prince.  The handsome prince was in love with a beautiful queen from a land far away from his own…Isn’t this how they all start out, dear Readers, fairy tales, I mean?  Whether we admit it or not, and I certainly will, we are all looking for that happy ending, life tied up in a pretty little bow, the happily ever after.  However, the reality is more likely than not more suited to an allegory.  Allegories are stories in which the characters and events are symbols that stand for ideas about human life, so says Merriam-Webster’s.  Generally speaking, there is a moral to the story.  Some of the most easily identifiable allegories in literature are the collection of Aesop’s Fables.  Take the story of the Tortoise and the Hare.  The hare represents those of us who are always in a rush, no time to stop and relax, leading blindly.  Whereas the tortoise represents those of us who plot and ponder, slowly but surely reaching our goals.  The race represents life itself.  The moral of the story?  Slow and steady wins the race.  If we are determined to win in life, slow and steady would be the way to go.

Fairy tales are fine for make-believe.  However, real life is more a series of allegories.  The people we meet, the places we go, the things we do are more a representation of lessons to be learned.  And these lessons serve to help us to help ourselves.  Fairy tales serve to lull us into the belief that we will be rescued one day by a knight in shiny armor.

So why am I giving you a literature lesson today, dear Readers?  As it turns out, I have a point.  When I was much, much younger, I believed in fairy tales.  At 14 years old I was in love with KC.  For those of you out there who scoff at the notion that 14 year olds can fall in love, you were never I love at 14.  I assure you, I was in love.  And I was quite certain KC loved me as well.  It was such a tender and precious time in my life.  He made me laugh, he walked me home from school, and he carried my books.  We could talk for hours or sit completely silent and still enjoy each other’s company.  You know this is going to end badly, right dear Readers?  As it happened, my knight had a chink in his armor; KC had a girlfriend and she was pregnant.  It was 1979, and the only way he saw clear to live up to his obligations was to marry her.  What do you suppose the odds are that these two teenagers lived happily ever after, dear Readers?  The last time I saw KC was in May of 1980.  However, throughout my adult life, I would hear a bit of gossip here, a little story there about the direction KC’s life had taken.  Sadly, there was no happy ending for this couple.

In the summer of 2002 I was preparing to attend my 20th high school reunion.  I had recently heard that KC was divorced and living back in the small town in which we attended high school.  “Perfect,” I thought.  I was going to make it a point to see him.  Although certainly not still in love with him, I did want to see if he remembered me and our time together.  I certainly did.  And yes, dear Readers, could there possible be a happily ever after for me and my white knight.

My reunion was scheduled for the last weekend of July 2002.  I arrived in town on Thursday July 26.  I wanted so badly to ask anyone and everyone if they knew anything about KC.  I never got the chance.  I heard a group of my former classmates talking about KC.  I surreptitious listened in on the conversation.  My heart dropped and my stomach churned as I heard the word, “Died.”  Dear Readers, my knight had died the day before I had gotten into town, July 25th, 2002.  My belief in fairy tales died the next day, July 26th, 2002.  (RIP Kenneth Dale Candelaria, b. 24 Oct. 1961, d. 25 Jul 2002)

It is now 11 years later and my disbelief in fairy tales has held firm.  I am now in love with an Egyptian prince and I am his queen.  Allegorically, ESS represents unequivocal joy, the Middle East represents my struggles, and our love represents the crop we will harvest.  You see dear Readers, if ESS and I stand even the slightest chance of being together, it will take an enormous effort on both our parts.

If I were to finish the fairy tale I began at the beginning of today’s post, the prince would rescue the queen from all of her struggles and they would live happily ever after.  But, life is a series of allegories.  The moral I wish to learn from  this one is, “If you fight through your struggles, you will encounter unequivocal joy and you will reap a harvest of love.”  Here’s hoping, dear Readers.  Peace, ~v.