My [redacted] Journey

A teacher's search for inner peace.


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Reflections for the Living


Respite

Our garden of peaceful reflection

June 29, 2016

“I know you are anxious to get on with the business of living, but she’s just not ready yet.  I’ve taken care of her, led her and loved her for over 57 years.  Yet, I never had the heart to prepare her for something like this.”

Dear Readers,

This is the dialogue I imagine I am having with Mr. Uruguay; or rather, the conversation he is having with me.  I have taken up my post on a plastic couch directly across from my dying friend. Should he open his eyes, I would be directly in his line of sight. However, that is not likely to happen.

Mrs. Uruguay is generally seated to her husband’s right, in a recliner of the hospital’s finest plastic.  Now however, she is bustling about on the other side of the room as the nurses are fussing about their patient, “Trying to keep him comfortable.”

The Uruguay’s son is pacing anxiously at the foot of his father’s bed. He was in the middle of shaving Mr. Uruguay’s three-day stubble, as per his mother, when the Nurse Angels flew into the room. By his nervous gait, it is obvious that Mrs. Uruguay’s son is not used to not following his mother’s directions, thus the nervous stutter-steps.

Mr. Uruguay’s daughter-in-law is curled up, crossed legged on the other available recliner, pecking away on her iPad, sending and receiving messages to and from parts unknown. Daughter-in-law is a registered nurse.  So, this appears to be old hat for her.

The Nurse Angels flit out of the room as quickly as they flitted in, and the process of death falls like a hush over the room’s occupants.  And here is where I imagine mine and Mr. Uruguay’s conversation picks back up.

“She needs a little more time to get used to me dying.  I mean, it’s only been three days since we made the decision to stop my nutrition and hydration.  And although she knows I’m dying – thank her for the priest and my last rites, by the way – my lovely bride needs just a little longer to accept that she is going to be alone.  I owe her at least that much.”

And so it goes.  Slipping towards death, just as he was in life, .Mr. Uruguay is still in control.  Mrs. Uruguay is a quick study, however.  And although there is a vast emptiness in her soul, she is beginning to take control of her life and her husband’s death.  It is hauntingly beautiful to watch. And so it goes, and so it goes.

Peace, ~v.

 

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My Joy


sunsetJoy:  the emotion evoked by well-being, success or good fortune; a source or cause of delight.

October 4, 2015

Dear Readers,

As joy settles in and around my soul, I am taken aback at my good fortune.  I have touched the lives of many young people, and this has been a source of great happiness for me.  However, countless young people have moved my soul, and this has been a great source of joy for me.

Why must I constantly search for more? 

Well, dear Readers, that is what is at the heart of the matter.  It’s not that I think I have done quite enough in my teaching of young people and I can rest on my laurels, it’s that I fear I could be doing more.  I have been dedicated to teaching to the point of absorption.  I have painstakingly and methodically set out to be a fine educator.  I’ve taken the time to hone my craft and I’m almost always tinkering at my workbench.  I am in restless pursuit of a greater understanding as to how to better do what I do.  If the key to success is based on extraordinary effort, well then, I am successful.  However, I nearly always fabricate an opposing force to my joy.

Why must I constantly feel out of balance?

I either have or I have not.  I either take or I give.  There seems to be no middle ground with me.  It’s time I look deeper into my life and question where it is leading, who is really in charge, and what’s really going on.  I need to get ahold of the big picture.

What is my sole (soul?) purpose?

I’ve always taken the road less traveled.  I’ve lived my life speaking my mind and seizing the day.  I’ve gambled that being bold would bring me personal power over my life.  Ahh, but somewhere along the way I forgot that true power always comes from God.  It’s through this relationship that I am blessed with fulfillment.  When I begin to believe that I am the source of my accomplishments, problems develop.  When I forget that I am not the source of my power, my good sense is overwhelmed and I become blind to my true intentions.

What are my true intentions?

Although I’ve faltered, I do have the courage of my convictions.  I believe that man is basically good.  I believe that one person can make a difference.  I believe that I can inspire a generation to act upon the goodness in their hearts.  And, I believe I am blessed.

Why am I worried about my future?

I’ve thought long and hard about these questions, dear Readers.  As near as I can tell, it’s time to take a walk with God.  Communing with nature is one way in which I connect to God.  When the words on the page clutter my brain, my wisdom dulls.  When this happens, it’s time for me to appreciate the beauty of God’s creation, Mother Earth.  Watching the sun rise over the mountains, being still and watching the nighttime twinkles in the sky.  Getting up close to a flowering plant so that the bud and I are aware of each other, breathing with each other and for each other.  Man and earth are dependent upon one another.

Why do I lose that connection?

When I can appreciate my connection to God through nature, I can reconnect to the nurturer in me.  I can once again appreciate and care for others.  After all, that’s part of the big picture, to serve others.  To be of service to others is one of my greatest gifts.  I must pray I don’t fall victim to, well, playing the victim.  I oftentimes have developed a “Why me, God?” attitude and plunged into years of selfishness.  I’ve clung to my cloud of oppression and bitterness.  I’ve substituted that for the big picture and it never works.  Selfishness is nowhere in the big picture.

What’s the point?

We were never meant to walk in self-pity.  We were made to rise to the challenges that God has foretold.  Disagreements, hassles, quarreling, arguing, and bickering.  Being at odds with one another does not manifest joy in one’s life.  Being bothered by the differences keeps us from looking for the similarities.  Quibbling over details only derails the peace in which we were all meant to live.

What are my options?

I’m finally beginning to see the balance I’ve been searching for all these years.  I now recognize that I can be an effective educator without dying for the cause.  I can embrace the challenge of teaching without losing myself and my sense of humor.  I can go with the flow without being afraid to go under somewhere downstream.  I can keep everything in balance.

What’s the catch?

Here’s the rub, I must learn to feel my emotions.  That’s what this all comes down to, feeling my emotions instead of constantly masking them.  Truly, this is my answer.  I’ve closed the door to my heart so often that I’ve found it nearly impossible to open it again.  However, through my constant prayers and my faith in God, little by slowly (thanks Skip), I’ve managed to let down my guard and let in my students.

kidsWhat’s changed?

The students are the same, I’ve changed.  I’ve begun to see my students not as empty vessels that need to be filled up.  But rather, as bodies with souls that need to be loved and nurtured.  And it’s been through this love that I have found joy, pure, unadulterated joy!  I’ve found my balance.  I’ve found my inner peace.

I used to think that I wanted to change the world.  But no, I want to teach the children who want to change the world.  There could be no greater joy.  Peace, ~v.


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Begin Again


June 4, 2015

“Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you’ve been through, it’s never too late to begin again.”
Joyce Meyer, You Can Begin Again: No Matter What, It’s Never Too Late

Dear Readers,

I cannot count the times I have had to begin again.  I won’t belabor the point, but, yeah, I’m beginning again.  And although that is the title of today’s post, I have a much bigger issue to discuss with you.

Few people I know will ever know the pain of being homeless.  Fewer still will know the pain of an empty belly.  No, I’m not going to tell you I was homeless, starving on the street.  However, there are too many people in my community who are.  I can help do something about it.

As I sit in my air conditioned home in a city that reaches triple digit temperatures throughout the summer, I am moved to action.  I cannot imagine not having a place to cool off throughout these hot days.  And I can’t imagine not helping where ever I can.

Volunteering is nothing new.  In fact, it’s universal.  I write this tongue in cheek, dear Readers.  However, if you are looking for similarities, and not differences between you and the rest of the world, volunteering qualifies.

I wish I had been more diligent in teaching my own children how important it is to give back to one’s community through volunteering.  I guess it’s never too late.  Hey you guys…Volunteer, it’s good for the soul.  And if you live in the area, hit this place up:

Praise Chapel Food for Families
590 Hancock Rd.
Bullhead City, AZ, 86442
Peace, ~v.

 

 


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Teach Your Children Well


May 7, 2015

Dear Readers,

In Phoenix, Arizona a few days ago, a substitute teacher was accused of assaulting a middle school student.  You can read the complete story and view the video right here, on Fox 10 Phoenix.  The Fox affiliate reports, “It happened in an 8th grade social studies class, a 13-year-old student and a substitute teacher were involved in a confrontation. The student said something to the teacher and appeared to push or bump him, that is when the teacher took him to the ground. Students recorded the incident on their cell phones.”

Whatever your opinion about the teacher, I will neither defend, nor persecute him; that is for people with much greater power than I to decide.  No, I want to discuss the actions of the student and his mother after the incident, when the parent spoke to the reporter.

The mother states, on-camera, “I don’t care what words come out of a child’s mouth, no one should ever put their hands on a child like that.”

And while some of you may agree, the student. while declining to go on camera, readily admitted that “he called the teacher a racial slur before the take down.”

As I viewed the video, I kept waiting for the mother to show even a little bit of shame that her son had shown such hate as to call a grown man the ‘N’ word.  Nope, nothing; not a trace of humiliation.  In fact, the words she uses to acknowledge that her son said anything wrong were, “I don’t care what words come out of a child’s mouth…”  Well, that’s just not good enough for me.  It wasn’t ‘a child’, it was her child.  I was waiting for any indication that she plans on holding her son responsible for his actions.  Even if just to say, “My son shouldn’t have said that.”

Next, the mother states, “He’s 13, and 13-year-old kids don’t make good decisions sometimes…”  Really?  It seems to me that when your child doesn’t make good decisions, he should suffer the consequences of his actions.  Otherwise, how will your son ever learn the difference between a good, versus a bad decision.  If the parent considers her son’s decision to call a six foot five black man a racial slur, and then try and then chest bump him, a bad decision, what are his consequences?  You see, if a thirteen year old makes a decision, and he suffers no consequences, he learns that he has just made a good decision.

Bad decisions equal consequences while good decisions equal no consequences.  My thought, this kid is gonna feel entitled to challenge adults and call names…wait, he already does.  So, tell me, Entitled Kid’s mother, had the teacher not put his hands on your child, what would you have done when the school called to tell you that your son was defiant, pushed up on his teacher, and called the teacher the ‘N’ word?  Would you have said, “Son, your teacher is an adult, and adults don’t make good decisions sometimes, but what you said to your teacher is hateful.  It’s hateful and wrong.  Now I expect you to apologize at once.  Apologize, because I’m not raising children who hate.”

Well, would you have said something like that if the teacher never laid a hand on your son.  I would like to think, that given that scenario, you would, in fact admonish your child.  Fair enough?  Fair enough.  Now, you should still admonish your son.  What your son said was vile and hateful and can only bring destruction, not peace.  Just because the teacher pushed back, it does not negate the fact that your son was wrong.  Your son was wrong, wrong, wrong, and you should tell him.  Then, and only then, will you be able to say that you have taught your children well.  Peace, ~v.

 

 


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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: Be the Change

What change, big or small, would you like your blog to make in the world?

January 2, 2015

Dear Readers,

Check this out, I have been up since 5 o’clock this morning writing my latest blog post and after 8 hours I finally posted it:  You Can Change the World.   Yeah, I know, 8 hours is a long time to take to write one measly post, but I am out of practice.  After I posted, I began to read other blogs that I follow and ‘Change the World’ seemed to be a prevailing theme.  Imagine my surprise when I clicked on the Daily Prompt (see above).

Since I didn’t directly answer the question regarding my blog, I will answer it now.  I would like to see my blog bring a little bit of peace to every corner of the world.

Peace, ~v.
Be the Change


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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 ..

~Safwat

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

صفوت

 

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.

http://flickrcomments.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/i-words/

 


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Danat دانات


This is a picture of the Danat from their website...I did not take this picture...

This is a picture of the Danat from their website…I did not take this picture…

August 27, 2014

Dear Readers,

I am up to the letter “D” in the A to Z Challenge.  Thank you frizztext at the blog Flickr.  Visit his blog here if get a chance, dear Readers.

Of all the places I called home while living in Al Ruwais, I was most impressed with Danat Jebel Dhanna Resort.  The five star resort is located just outside the town of Al Ruwais and right on the beautiful Arabian Gulf.  As you can see by the picture from the website, it was a beautiful view.  Most advertised hotels and/or resorts I have booked, have looked considerably better on the advertisement…but that was not the case for the Danat.

This is the site that greeted me when I came "home" from my first day teaching.  What a welcome home.

This is the site that greeted me when I came “home” from my first day teaching. I did take this picture!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simply looking out my window relaxed me.  And after I was living in my own apartment, I would often go to the Danat to have a nice meal, sit by the water and relax, I even smoked hookah (not on a regular basis, but just to say I did it).  It was by far and away, one of my favorite spots in all of Abu Dhabi.  So when my sister and best friend, Mercedes, came to visit me, I of course, took her to the Danat.

Now for your viewing pleasure, dear Readers, I give you the star of tonight’s post:

And that’s a wrap, dear Readers.  Until next time, Peace, ~v.

http://flickrcomments.wordpress.com/2014/07/29/d-words/