Wednesday, July 18, 2018

A Trip to Philadelphia ~ Memorial Day to the Fourth of July ~ Part Two

These days, I do not travel alone.  I may go to Utah without Jim to visit my children, but other than that, as I have gotten older and have had a few health challenges, I do not like to travel alone.  Utah is a place where I spent many years living, and I have spent all of these thirty plus years since I left Utah returning at least once during the year for a visit, so I am very familiar with my surroundings there.  It is like returning to my old hometown. 

Also, I have friends and family there, so I never feel adrift when I am there alone.  I no longer drive to Utah alone.  I make the one hour flight so easily that I often wonder why I don’t make the trip more often.   Once I am there, I generally rent a car so I have my independence while visiting friends and family.  

Philadelphia 

This year, I made decision I rarely make these days. I decided to fly to Philadelphia alone so that I could attend conference. When we were working, Jim and I went to different destination spots to attend educational conferences. It was always fun to make those trips where we would learn new things, meet new people, and explore new places.  This trip to Philadelphia was different from many of those professional conference trips that we once made.  The conference I planned on attending in Philadelphia, while educational, was a medical conference where I would learn the very latest about living with and treating a medical condition that I have called Frontal Fibrosing Alopcia.  

Jim always so supportive of me in dealing with this condition, encouraged me to attend the conference.  I wanted to make a trip out of it for both of us, yet when we discussed the trip, we decided that he really would not enjoy being at the conference with me, and since the conference was being held at a hotel at the airport, it would be difficult and expensive for him to make trips into the city from the conference hotel to explore the historical sites found in the city.  We even discussed extending the trip so that we could explore the area together once the conference was over. We thought we might rent a car and drive to Scranton, Pennsylvania, to visit my son and his family.  

Flights, rental cars, and hotels are very expensive in the east during the first of June, so that also was a factor that we considered when we thought about making this trip together.  As it turned out, my son and his wife were going to be packing up and getting ready to move back to Colorado about the same time I would be attending the conference.  In the end, it just made more sense for me to travel alone to Philadelphia.  

If you have read my blog before, you may have read my accounts of living with alopecia.  I first wrote about my journey with hair loss in 2016.  You can read that post here:  Hair: A Journey of Loss.  The most recent I wrote can be read here:  Life Lessons Learned from Hair Loss.  

CARF
Cicatricial Alopecia Research Foundation

I attended my first CARF Conference two years ago in New Orleans.  When I was in New Orleans, I made great friends among the wonderful people whom also have some form of scarring alopecia.  One would never aspire to join the CARF community, yet one is so grateful to have a group that offers so much support when one is hit with scarring alopecia.   It is a shock to be hit with alopecia!  I often welcome new members to the scarring hair loss community by saying, “This is one of those clubs you never wanted to join, but you will find it is one the best clubs you can ever join because it is where you find so much understanding, support, and friendship.”

When I finally left for Philadelphia, I could hardly wait to meet all my friends that I had met in New Orleans two years ago.  Some of these friends, from all over the country, have been there when I have called them on the phone and we have talked for over an hour at a time sharing hope and help when it seemed no one else even knew anything about the disease we share.  We send emails, and we support each other online forums. We have an awesome community!

You won’t see photos of my alopecia friends in my posts because this is a condition many choose not to share with others.  I honor and respect the privacy that others wish to have.
********
I posted the following on a private internet support group page when I first arrived in Philadelphia:

I’m here in Philadelphia attending the CARF Conference. Ben and I have a lot in common. I never thought I’d end up looking like him, but FFA hit me, and now he and I have a real connection. I’m looking forward to learning more about this condition from the shared wisdom of this awesome group of people.



Good old Ben and I really do have a lot in common these days.  We share the same hairline.  Actually, Ben’s hairline is not as far back on his forehead as mine is, and he has more hair in the back than I do.  

My forehead is not even a “fivehead” anymore.  It is more like a “sixhead.”  In other words, I need the width of six finger to measure how far my hair has receded.  This is not the look I was going for as I aged!

*********

Once I landed in Philadelphia, I boarded a bus to take me to the hotel and happily realized that my dear, dear friend that I officially met two years ago was on the same bus.  She was the first person I ever spoke to by phone who also had the same form of scarring alopecia that I have.  We “met” over the net because I wrote a blog post about my condition.  Someone else with this condition read my post, called this friend to tell her to read my post.  Once this person read my post, she commented on my blog about what I written.  I read her comment, and then tracked her down, sent her an email, and then we spoke by phone for nearly two hours!  That was two and a half years ago.  I now count her among my dearest friends.  
*********

I saw little of Philadelphia itself.  Most of my time was spent at the conference.  I hope to write about the conference itself later.  I did however make three short trips into the city.  

The first day I in Philly, one of my friends and I took an Uber into the city, did a little bit of walking, and ate lunch while we caught up with each other about life and about our shared hair condition.  She took a photo of me while we were in town.  That’s me wearing one of my wigs while I am standing in front of Independence Hall.  


I learned from ConstitutionFacts.com, that those wig-wearing men whom frequented Independence Hall when our country was first founded were wearing wigs made of goat and horse hair.  Those wigs were seldom washed properly, smelled terrible, and tended to attract lice.  (Yuck)  That is why these wigs were called  “powdered wigs.” The wig wearer sprinkled a powder that was made of “finely ground starch and scented with lavender” over their wigs. (Was this the first dry shampoo?)

I can’t even imagine how heavy those wigs must have felt, and it makes my head itch to even think of having goat hair or horse hair next to scalp.  Scratch, scratch, scratch.  

Ben Franklin was truly a wise man.  He rocked his bald head.  He did not wear a wig.  

***************

My next trip into the city came when on the second night of my conference my son surprised me with a phone call saying that since the flights bringing his wife and baby to Pennsylvania had been disrupted by late flight connections, she was now flying into Philly.  He and his oldest son picked me up after my conference Saturday night dinner, and took me into town for dessert at Max Brenner’s.  What a fun time that was!  I didn’t think I’d get to see these two when I was in PA, but it turned out we had a special adventure of driving around downtown Philly at night while looking for that special place where chocolate addictions are fed by wonderful concoctions heavily flavored by chocolate. 


*************

On the last night of the conference, after nearly everyone else had gone home, one of my dear friends with scarring alopecia whom I met in New Orleans and then was able to spend time with again in Philadelphia, asked me to join her and her mother on a trip into the city for dinner.  We took a taxi to Reading Terminal Market.  What a fun place!  We ended up eating dinner at a place called Molly Malloy’s.  The hamburgers there were seriously the best I have eaten in a very long time!

It had been raining when we arrived at Reading Terminal Market, but since the rain had stopped when we finished eating, we decided to do a bit of a walking tour of Philadelphia.  



I recognized a few of the landmarks from my trip into town with my son Jonathan, so I suggested we go to Max Brenner’s for dessert.  I thought that Google Maps would help us find the way.  I think I also must have been thinking that the guy on the horse was pointing in the direction we should go.  


My friend took a walk through the water fountain...


We then got out to the street where we were supposed to go, but I learned that I am very challenged about direction in big cities.  Actually, I already knew that.  Also, I learned that when following Google Maps, one should make sure that the “walking” instructions are on instead of the “driving” instructions.  Oppps.  There are a lot of one way streets in Philadelphia, so the driving instructions kept telling us to turn when we should not have turned while walking.  

We were very turned around, and we were walking in the opposite direction from where we wanted to go.  My friend and her mother suggested that it seemed we were heading into a neighborhood that didn’t look too safe.  They were right.  Thankfully, a couple came along, and we asked them for directions.  Yep, we were truly walking in the opposite direction from our destination.

We turned around and soon we arrived at Max Brenner’s where for the second time, I enjoyed a wonderful chocolate dessert.  

***********

On my last day in Philadelphia, I only had time for breakfast at the hotel before I had to leave for the airport.  I was sure everyone from the conference had left when I went downstairs, but I was wrong.  As I headed to the restaurant, I heard the familiar voices of a few of my friends.  We all were so happy to have one last time to share a meal, some conversation, some words of support.  Departing hugs were given, and we all promised to meet again in two years for our next conference.  

My trip to Philadelphia was memorable for so many reasons.  I reunited with so many friends, and I made new ones.  As I have said before, some of the most intelligent, successful, and beautiful women I have ever met are the women I have met whom also suffer from scarring alopecia.  There are also some men in this group whom have given so much to make sure we have the support and information we need to deal with this disease.  I can’t imagine having this disease without the support of all of the wonderful people associated with CARF.  I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to attend this conference and spend some time in Philadelphia.

More on the conference itself later...

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Small Treasures

As I search for a tablecloth to place on the table, I came across the small treasure of a handwoven cloth I sometimes drape at an angle across the kitchen table.  Carefully folded and placed at the bottom of the drawer, this cloth seldom is used for everyday use.  Needing to be carefully laundered so that the vibrant colors of blue, yellow, red, and orange remain as true as they were on the day I bought the cloth, it remains tucked away so that it won’t be ruined.  Don’t we all have items such as these?

Today, I need a touch of vibrancy in the kitchen.  I need something that makes me think of cultures that are not my own. I need something that reminds me of days gone by.  This tablecloth fits that need perfectly, besides, I decide, beautiful cloths are to used, not just tucked away in a drawer.

While the tablecloth is a treasure to me, it holds no true value to anyone else.  If a neighbor were to stop by, or a family member, the visitor might note the cloth and might even wonder why I had selected it for my table covering.  They might even ask where I got it, or maybe not.  They might think I picked it up one day when I was shopping at Pier One, or World Market.  

I doubt they would ever suspect that I bought this tablecloth in Oaxaca, Mexico, in the Spring of 2005, when I traveled to Oaxaca to earn University credit from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.  The name of the course was Oaxaca, A Mexican Cultural Experience.  

It seems nearly impossible that it has been thirteen years since I had the amazing experience of traveling to Oaxaca with a wonderful group of teachers from throughout Colorado to learn the wealth of cultural aspects found in Oaxaca.  The class was taught by a Spanish teacher from Colorado Springs whom had spent time in Oaxaca and was familiar with the area and the people.  All of whom took the class were either Spanish teachers or teachers of linguistically diverse students.

As memories of that time came back to me when I spread the tablecloth on my table, soon I found myself revisiting the memories I made by looking at all the photos I took while I was there.  

Photos and mementos.  Those are the small treasures of life.  

I found I even still had the itinerary for the trip!  It is a good thing I have the itinerary  because otherwise, I probably would have already forgotten many of the details of where we went and what we saw.  The first day we were there, we visited the magnificent Montezuma cypress tree known as the El Arbol de Tule , the largest tree in the world.  I didn’t take a photo that captured the size of this tree because I didn’t have a camera that would do it justice.  Instead, I studied parts of the tree and photographed those parts.





We then toured the church nearby called, Santa Maria del Tule, 


Later, we went to an archeological site called Mitla.  When we were near this archeological site, we saw women draping weavings for sale over the fences made of cactus.


Before I went to Oaxaca, a dear friend had told me to make sure I purchased some of the hand woven cloths that I would find.  These cloths draped on a fence were the first I saw.  I did purchase a cloth here, but not the blue one I use as a table cloth.  I purchased that cloth when we did a guided tour of the city of Oaxaca.  In one the parks that we toured, there were many people demonstrating their weaving techniques.  Weaving is a major industry in Oaxaca.

I’ve always loved Mexico, but Oaxaca has a very special part in my heart when I think of Mexico.

This is a photo of Retired English Teacher before she retired!

 Memories flood back of the beautiful colors of the flowers, 


of the beautiful clothing the women wore,



of the colorfully painted buildings where I spent time in the plaza and on the roof top of the casa where we lived for our time in Oaxaca.


I remember the colorful kitchens where the food we ate was prepared, 


by woman grinding the corn used for our tortillas in ancient ways.


The yellows of lemons, the greens of limes added flavor and color to the blue corn tortilla chips that were graciously served to us in a restaurant that offered us a cool respite from the summer sun on the day when I bought this tablecloth.

All of these memories come flooding back to me when I spread this tablecloth across my kitchen table.  

This is not just any ordinary cloth.  It is one of my treasures.  

When I am gone and my children go through my things, will they place any value on this handwoven piece of cloth?  Will one of them think, “I’d like that because I could use it when I have friends over for margaritas and Mexican food.”  

Will they have any idea of the memories this cloth holds for me?  No.  I don’t think they will.  Why would they?  That is just how it is when others look at the small treasures of other people.  They don’t know the meaning that the owner of that small trinket, vase, necklace, ring, piece of cloth, or photograph attached to each sentimental item found throughout the house.  

Photographs, trinkets, pieces of cloth have value because the owner of that item attaches meaning and value to them.  

I treasure this cloth not simply because it is a beautiful colorful cloth.  I treasure it because it reminds me of another time in my life when I traveled to Mexico to be exposed to rich cultural experiences in a place rich with culture.  

I treasure this cloth because it reminds me of a time when I was learning more about how to teach children from  linguistic and cultural backgrounds that were different from mine.  


I had a chance to visit a village school.  As I observed the children participate in opening exercises for the day, I reflected upon how one of those same children would respond to entering my classroom for the first time in the United States.



This tablecloth is just a material item.  On its own merit, it has little value except to add a bit of color to my table. It provides a vibrant background for me to study as I eat my breakfast.


This cloth was handwoven by a woman I never knew whom had incredible skill, great artistic ability, and was able to take colorful yarns and weave them into patterns and symbols that had meaning in her culture.   

Now, that weaving graces the table of  a woman from a completely different culture whom values the cloth as a treasure not just because of its beauty, but it represents honoring the culture and skill of the one whom created this household item.  

I treasure this cloth because it reminds me of one of the classes that I took to earn University credit after I had earned my Master of Arts Degree in Second Language Learning.  This course, Oaxaca, A Mexican Cultural Experience,  taught me so much because I was able to gain new insight into just one the cultures that were represented in my classroom.

I treasure this cloth because it reminds me of the beauty I saw everyday in place I would never have visited if I had not earned an advanced degree and was not in a profession that required me to keep taking courses in my area of study during the years I was teaching.   

I treasure this cloth because it reminds me just how many wonderful experiences I have had the good fortune to have in my life.

Objects found within a home are seldom just objects.  
Usually such objects hold great meaning for the one to whom the object belongs.  

What special treasures do you have in your home that remind you of a special time in your life?



Thursday, July 5, 2018

Memorial Day to the Fourth of July ~ Part I

No blogging has been done since May!  I’ve had a lot going on, so today, I hope to catch up just a bit.

Just where DO I start?  It seems that so much has been going on in my world since the first of 2018 that I just have not had the time, the energy, or the inclination to blog about anything.

Mid-May to Memorial Day

In mid-May, I flew to Utah for to attend my grandson Bridger’s graduation from high school.  I had the most wonderful time celebrating him and his accomplishments and spending time with family.  

Bridger, the youngest child of my oldest child, my son Ryan, is one of those very special kids that has always brought joy to each person he meets.  Honestly, I’ve never met anyone who knows Bridger who doesn’t comment on what a special person he is.  His genuineness comes through in every conversation.  He’s an adventuresome kid with a great personality and good looks.  All of that only takes you so far.  Thankfully, he is also very smart and he is a hard worker who is self driven.  He plans on attending Utah State University in Logan, Utah, next year.  I’m very proud of him and can’t wait to see what the future will bring to him.
Grandma Sally with Bridger
Bridger on the big screen
Son Ryan with Bridger and Daughter-in-law Sheridan

I must admit that some tears were shed when Bridger graduated.  When he tried on his cap and gown, he gathered up his gorgeous curly long brown hair into a thick pony tail as he looked into the mirror  and contemplated how the cap would stay on that head of hair.  As he gathered up his long locks into that thick pony tail, I saw the nape of his neck and instantly saw the exact same looking curls as my daughter Julie had at her neckline.  I then saw a pony tail just like one she would make on hot summer days. Those unique similarities caused me to become overcome with emotions.  I sobbed.  I must admit that I hated bringing a sad reminder to such a time of joy, but that is how grief hits sometimes.  In the tears, I rejoiced that Bridger rocks that beautiful mane and knew that Julie would be so proud of his hair and would say that they were genetic twins when it came to hair.  

I thought of the photo I had of Julie holding Bridger right after he was born.  She was living in Salt Lake at the time with Sheridan and was attending the University of Utah.  Now, eighteen years later, Julie is no longer with us to celebrate this occasion, but Sheridan is now married to Bridger’s father and Sheridan is the one assisting him in his graduation dress rehearsal.  Sheridan met my son at Julie’s memorial service.  I will always be so grateful for the deep and treasured friendship that Julie had with Sheridan that resulted in Sheridan joining our family.

And then, there were more tears on graduation day.  Sheridan has loved Bridger so much and has so loved being his mom that she is really having a hard time with him graduating and going on to college.  Her great boys, Max and Henry, are also a bonus that this family gained when Ryan and Sheridan married.  Max, Henry, and Bridger are as tight as any brothers you will find.  Yes, the smile on Sheridan’s face is bright and beautiful, but her eyes had great big tears falling from them.  Mine did too.  There is a lot of joy and love in this celebratory photo.


There were other great family times that I was able to have while I was in Utah spending time with my daughter and son and their families.  Times like these are treasures.  

Son Ryan, Sally, daughter Keicha, and grandchildren Gillian
Bridger & Regan.

I stayed in my very first Airbnb when I went to Utah.  The place I found was in Layton, Utah, which is midway between where my son lives and my daughter lives.  I loved staying in a place that became like a home away from home where I could stay up as late as I wanted, or go to bed whenever I wanted.  When I got up in the morning, it was great to have a kitchen where I could fix breakfast and make some coffee.  Also, I loved having a comfy couch where I could read, visit, or rest after a hectic day with the family.  This won’t be the only time I use Airbnb.  

Memorial Day is always a difficult time for me and for my family because my daughter took her life on May 29, 2010, on the Friday before Memorial Day.  My children, and those whom love me most and are always the most supportive, know just how hard that weekend and the days surrounding May 29th are for me and family.  I received many texts and calls from my family and friends asking, “Are you ok?”  Or, “I love you.  I am thinking of you.”  I so appreciate the gestures of kindness, concern, empathy, and love.

Most years on Memorial Day I go to the cemetery to decorate the graves, or I try to do a special activity to honor Julie’s memory. This year, I decided not to do any commemorative activities, but instead, I decided to take the day as it came while practicing self-care.  

On the 26th, I took some time to record my thoughts.  I said I was raw.  My emotions were fragile.  I recorded how raw I looked and how raw I felt.  In the rawness, I also recorded how I was rejoicing because I learned more from the great loss of a daughter about love than I ever could have learned any other way.  

On that day, the 26th of May, I also rejoiced because I had yet another day and another summer to look forward to with hope and joy.  I took the day to begin planting a bit more in my impossible garden.  I had flowers to plant.  That always brings me joy.  In my devotions for that day, I was reminded that the Lord’s mercies are new each morning.  I reflected on beautiful scripture card that I keep on my desk.

I love this verse.  I am held by One whom will keep me from stumbling.  What comfort this assurance bring me.

On Memorial Day itself, May 28th this year, we had a picnic in our little village where we live.  The day was warm and sunny.  A neighbor and his wife graciously set up tables in their driveway and in the garage where all of us in our HOA community could visit while eating great picnic type food.  It marked the official start of summer.  I was more than ready to see the season arrive.

As I toured my yard trying to decide where to plant flowers I had to snap a photo of this poor little tree because in many ways, this poor little tree is a perfect representation of the kind of winter I had.  


I planted the tree, a more mature Alberta pine, last fall because I didn’t want to wait for a smaller one to grow.  I had planted a smaller Alberta pine four or five years ago, and it had never been nibbled on by deer.  I observed that mature Alberta pines were thriving all over the neighborhood.  I even saw this label at a local nursery: 
The label gives the name of the tree that I planted, and it states that it is good choice to buy because it is deer resistant.  

I guess the deer in my neighborhood can’t read.  Or, maybe they haven’t had access to the labels and lists that inform gardeners about “deer resistant” plants.  

Several factors figured into the demise of this tree.  We had a terribly dry winter.  The poor deer were starving, and they were thirsty.  My tree was most likely the tastiest looking tree in the neighborhood.  It had been well watered, and the needles must have looked tender and moist and appetizing.  My tree became a food sources for desperate animals.

Desperate creatures do desperate things.  I felt like that tree through most of the late winter and and early spring.  I felt events beyond my control, and people within my family of origin structure chipping away at me.  I felt attacked and stripped as others nibbled away at me when I found myself in a situation I did not create and was powerless to change.  Yep, that tree represented a lot of what I was experiencing this spring.

Quite honestly, during this time, I just didn’t feel like blogging.  I did a lot of journaling.  Writing always helps me when I am going through troubling experiences.  Writing in my journal helps me because by writing in my own personal journal I can record my thoughts, experiences, reactions, feelings, and emotions in a safe place.  Writing gives me a sounding board.  Writing also allows me to sort out all of those thoughts, feelings, and emotions that assail during times of loss, stress, joy, change, or tension.  Writing gives me a chance to reflect, to reconcile my emotions, and reflect upon what is going on in my life.  

Somehow, I got through the difficult month of May.  During the month of May, I also was able to celebrate the graduation of a dear grandson while also having the opportunity to spend time with children and grandchildren.  May brought time plant some flowers, and to spend more time out of doors rejoicing over the beauty found in my neighborhood.  This hillside is just around the corner from my home.  


Just a mile and a half from our home is a beautiful spot that was once a sanatorium.  It is now a retreat center, a nursing home, and the setting includes a cemetery and a church.  I love to walk on the grounds. Truly, I am grateful to live in this beautiful part of the world.  Spring, summer, and fall, I enjoy walking in the special places.  


On the very last day of May, I stopped for a late lunch after running errands and had a serendipitous meeting with a high school friend, her husband, and friend of theirs when they happened to eating lunch at the same Panera where I stopped.  We all lunched together, shared stories and laughter and marveled just how amazing life can be when we have chance meetings and are able to spend time together in rich conversation.


All in all, while the winter had been a rough one for me, and while May had certainly had its low points, it also mostly had some wonderful moments filled with love, family, friends, and milestones.  

More later.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Today, my fellow teachers in Pueblo, Colorado, are involved in the fourth day of a strike.  I hope to write more about this later, but this short post is to serve as an encouragement to those dear former colleagues, students, and friends now walking the picket line.


Each day after lunch I eat one, only one, piece of dark chocolate.  
Today, the chocolates were wrapped in pink. 
 Pink the color the strikers are wearing. 
Each chocolate piece has a message written inside the foil.
Today’s message:

 “Know you have the power within you.”  signed Mom.  

I had just read in my journal about an encounter I had many years ago when I took a stand against power in a school where I taught in the town where the strike is now taking place. I had written a letter to the person in power, a letter I had forgotten about, a letter I wish I now had in my possession, where I had spoken truth to power.  

I told a trusted friend about the letter and worried about the ramifications of having written such letter to my immediate supervisor.  While I still was happy that I had written that private letter where I had said what needed to be said,  I worried about what the ramifications might be in the coming school year.  My trusted friend assured me I most likely would not be confronted because I had spoken truth to power and in speaking that truth I had exposed this person’s less than professional actions that he had taken towards me.  Beyond speaking truth to power and exposing the wrong behavior, he said I had shown this person that

he couldn’t 
intimidate me 
because
I had 
personal power
that was 
willing to confront
his underhanded ways.

Teachers, keep up the fight.

Know you have great power within you
 because you are willing to confront
 those whom would seek to intimidate you
 and silence you
 to keep you from using 
your awesome voices 
for change.  

Stay strong.
Keep speaking truth to power.



Saturday, March 24, 2018

#ENOUGH

Enough
In days of old when I was a student,
or,
in days of old when I was a high school English teacher,
we might have had a word study lesson in English class.

Enough,
an adjective,
describes when need or want is sufficient or adequate.
I have had enough nonsense.

Enough,
a pronoun,
used in place of a noun to denote adequate quantity or sufficiency.
Have you had enough?

Enough,
 can be used as an adverb of degree.
Yes, I’ve experienced enough of this nonsense.

Enough,
an interjection.
Enough!  Stop this nonsense.

The students in today’s schools have lessons to teach the rest of us before they can continue to learn traditionally taught lessons on English, math, science, history, civics.

Enough!
an interjection has become a rallying cry.

#Enough
The symbol and word began to appear in social media sites after the school shooting last month.
The symbol and the word already denote a visual message that stands for:
No more gun violence.
No more school shootings.

#Enough
written on poster board and lifted high,
becomes the symbol for a movement.

#Enough
Using this word as a rally cry,
 students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
 unite, organize,
 and bring together hundreds of thousands of other students
 to march in cities across the nation to send a message to the leaders of this country that they want action against gun violence now.


#Enough,
on poster board is now a
oriflamme for
March for Our Lives.

Marchers lift  oriflammes where the cries of their hearts have been written with these words:
#Enough.


Today, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, rallying behind the use of one word, taught me not a grammar lesson, nor did they teach me a traditional word study lesson. They have taught me how much power there can be when one word is used by many voices to send a message.


The lesson these students taught the rest of us today came out of what they have learned in school.

They have learned, many by personal experience, that schools are no longer safe.
187,000 students have been exposed to gun violence in school since Columbine.

The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School 
 have learned that if there is to be change, 
they must be change agents.

Today,
students across the nation came together under the rallying cry of 
ENOUGH
to teach the rest of us just how powerful a word can be when it is used to send a message of change.

ENOUGH
I could not get enough of watching the beautiful brave students from 
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
use the voices they found and developed after unspeakable horror visited them when 
they attended school on 
February 14, 2018.
On this date, a gunman took the lives of their classmates and teachers in a senseless act of violence.
On this date, school shootings and gun violence became personal to them.
On this day, they came together with one cry,
ENOUGH.

These students learned how to debate in debate class,
but soon they were using the skills they learned in debate class to argue for their cause:
there must be stricter gun control laws in our nation.
The arguments they made for their cause were solid, well researched, honest,  and factual.
No longer were these students just preparing for a debate tournament.
They were preparing to present their arguments on the world stage.
Their arguments were soon heard around the world.

These students had learned lessons in civics about democracy and how it is supposed to work.
Today, they showed us what democracy looks like.

They rallied.
They marched.
They demanded change.

They used their voices to show the world and this nation that our Freedoms are beautiful when we use those Freedoms to strengthen our Democracy. 

**************

Today, I have again been proud to be an American.

I sobbed into the dish towel I held in my hand as I alternately cleaned the kitchen and watched the
March for Our Lives
on television as it occurred in Washington D.C.

I sobbed for the lives lost in a place that should be safe: school.

I sobbed as I thought of the trauma and shock and grief  that the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas experienced at school.

I sobbed as I thought of how this trauma marred their young lives and sobbed as I thought of how they will carry this trauma and will have to make sense of it for the rest of their lives.

I sobbed because I was overcome with emotion as I looked at their beautiful, brave faces.

I sobbed as I listened to inspirational speeches they delivered with an eloquence and articulation that we rarely, if ever, hear in our world of politics today.

I sobbed because I saw their respect for our Freedoms and for our Nation, and for each other.

I sobbed because though they were young, they were wise and wonderful, and they were united, and they were honest, and they were respectful, and they were real.

They were a breath of fresh air which we do not deserve to have because we, the Children of the Sixties, have become calloused, and cynical, and have forgotten what it is like to believe change can happen when people march for what is right.

I sobbed because I again believe that the people can and will rise up and speak against:
 social injustice, 
greed, and 
political corruption.

I sobbed because I saw our 
future,
our hope,
our children,
stand united 
giving a message
that says
#Enough is enough.


This bright, articulate, passionate, organized, and intelligent generation 
truly has given me hope for the future.

I join with them by sending this message:
#enough.
It is time for change.
The lives of our children continue to be at risk.

I hope I’m around for another couple of decades so I can see just what this next generation of citizens and voters will do with the lessons they learned in school.  
For now, on this day, I was so moved, and so proud to call them my fellow Americans as I watched how they were using their voices to inspire change across America.

#Enough
Not one more.
#Enough
Not one more student should die at school.
#Enough
Not one more teacher will have come between a gunman and the students in his or her classroom.


#Enough
No more school shootings.
#Enough
Stop the gun violence now.
#Enough
Protect kids not guns.
#Enough
Stop the NRA.

#Enough
Congress, you must act.

#Enough!
Congress, it is past time.  
You must immediately enact a comprehensive bill that will effectively address the gun violence issue in our country.  

#Enough
Our children have joined arms to 
March for Our Lives.
#Enough
Our children should never again have to run for their lives.
#Enough