Saturday, January 28, 2017

Winter Formal

January 28, 2017

As class advisor of Class of 2019, we were responsible for putting on this year's Winter Formal.  Our theme this year was Northern Lights, and I was so happy with how everything turned out!  We have a pretty fabulous group of officers, all of whom put in a lot of effort to make this such a successful event.  All of the girls were there all day for set up, and all but one officer was able to attend (Kylie had a recital in the evening, but put in a long morning with us before she had to get ready for her event).  Marcos, my partner in crime (and work hubby--ha ha!) and I love our Class of 2019 officers!

                    Rachel, Jordan, me, Claire, Aleeza, Alyssa, and Marcos (missing Kylie)

Friday, January 20, 2017

On This Day

January 20, 2017

Today, perhaps more than any other day, the world will be watching our nation.  The world will be watching us.  With baited breath, we wonder what this new administration will bring.  Now more than ever, what we do matters.  How we respond matters.  Don't wait; act.  Silence is tacit agreement. Speak. Loudly and often.  We cannot allow our voices to be crushed under the weight of this Brave New World.  If we don't exercise our democratic right to raise our voices and let our representatives know our hearts, we will lose ground.  We already have.  The march to pick up lost ground begins now.

In his inaugural address, Trump said, "The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action. Do not let anyone tell you it cannot be done.  No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America."

Now arrives the hour of action. Yes.  Now, and for the next four years.  Let's be willing to put in the time and the energy to show what the heart and fight and spirit of America is really about.

Monday, January 9, 2017

And the Award Goes to...

January 9, 2017

On Sunday night at the Golden Globes, Meryl Streep was given the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award and gave what quickly became a polarizing acceptance speech.  In her speech, she exhorted everyone to hold those in power to account on this monumental eve of the changing of the guards in the United States.  She used her spotlight to call attention to our duty and responsibility to question and speak out where we see injustice and to expect our leaders to comport themselves with dignity and compassion.  In part, she said, 

“This instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing.  Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”

The polarizing aspect of this speech is appalling to me.  I find it difficult to take exception to the idea that we should expect the powerful to use their powers for the benefit of all, rather than to use that power to bully others.  There is a flurry of conversation, however, about the fact that those ‘Hollywood types’ have no business politicizing an entertainment forum; they should just, in essence, ‘shut up and just do their jobs’.  How is it, by virtue of their chosen profession, there are people who seem to have decided that they are not entitled to their opinions?  That they are not entitled to share their opinions?  I am not a politician; I am not a legal analyst or a foreign or domestic policy expert.  I have never held a public office, and yet I am an intelligent, knowledgeable individual with valid opinions and insight.  The stakes are high, and my life, and the lives of all Americans, will be impacted by decisions and actions of our President-elect.  Therefore, my opinion matters.  My voice matters.  Why is it that someone like Meryl Streep, or even Jimmy Fallon, Golden Globes host, isn’t entitled to share their opinions as well?  Streep has a career as an actress; it’s not her sole identity.  It’s not the only thing about which she should be allowed to speak.  She is a citizen, just like you, just like me.  She happens to have a very public forum in which to share her opinions and to use her power—the power of access to audience—to speak to and for those who don’t have that privilege.  She is, in fact, modeling exactly what she wishes to see in the leader of her country:  to use her power to model the way in which power should be used in order to benefit others who don’t have a voice.  She did so with grace and clarity, without resorting to name-calling.  Trump, on the other hand, took to Twitter, which is apparently his primary means of communication, to call Streep “one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood” who is a “Hillary flunky who lost big”.  

Streep’s speech was a bold one, because as she was exercising her First Amendment right of free speech, she knew that she was risking losing fans who did not agree with her politics—movie goers who have the right to spend their hard-earned cash at the box office and to speak with their dollars.  She knew that she risked alienating those who did not agree with her views—and she did it anyway.  We HAVE to be willing to put ourselves on the line and speak up for what we believe in, lest our silence be taken for tacit agreement.  So as our President-elect is pushing forward confirmation hearings on a slate of appointed officials who have not yet completed the standard ethics review process, and as Senator Paul Ryan is pushing to defund Planned Parenthood, effectively limiting access to reproductive health and cancer screenings for people who are historically underserved and underrepresented, it is our responsibility to speak out, call our government representatives, and to use our forums no matter how big or small, to continue to hold our government to account.

New Year, New Semester

January 9, 2017

Tomorrow (today, actually, but I haven't gone to bed yet so it's kind of tomorrow) I go back to school after a two week’s vacation for Christmas.  As usual, I walked a fine line between allowing myself to relax and running through the whole host of ‘projects’ that by necessity take a back seat during the school year.  As usual, I didn’t do enough of either.  I’m not going to beat myself up, though; I’ll just keep trying to carve out small bits of time during the semester to take that down time and to chip away at the house projects so that when spring break comes around, I won’t feel that everything has to be done RIGHTNOW.  For the first time this year, my school district ended our semester at Christmas break, so we come back from vacation to a clean slate for second semester.  For the last two days, my head has been spinning with all the things I want to change and adapt for my students over the coming months—how can I reach those kids who struggle to stay connected, how can I continue to try to make the curriculum both relevant and interesting to the kids, how do I help those kids who need a little (or big) push to help motivate them….  I never sleep well the night before I go back to school after some time off.  Looking forward to seeing my kids again and kicking of the second half of the year!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


January 3, 2017

Since Bailey had a cheer gig while we were visiting for Christmas, we actually finally got to see her in action!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Late Christmas With the Mayes and Gaetje Families

January 2, 2017

Schedules were pretty tight this year, so our Christmas with the cousins happened after the New Year.  It doesn't matter to us; celebrating Christmas is about getting together with family no matter when it happens.  Here are some of my favorite pictures from the trip:

Sunday, January 1, 2017


January 1, 2017

My default setting is optimism.  I’m a silver-lining kind of gal.  2016 tested that outlook in a number of ways.  Within my family and within my group of friends, there was personal, financial, and emotional upheaval.  With each new challenge, each new obstacle, I tried to remain hopeful.  I am practiced at seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  And for the most part, I have retained that ability.

The end of this year, however, nearly had me at my breaking point.  The election was disheartening, depressing, maddening—something that found me in new territory.  It’s hard for me to see the silver lining here, to be honest.  The divisiveness and ugliness I’ve seen speaks to a dissatisfaction that has been given voice in an environment that is designed to nurture and grow that ugliness.  It’s a vicious weed that threatens to overtake and choke out anything else if we turn our back on it for even a moment.

Does this sound alarmist?  Perhaps. But what I have realized is that as difficult as it may seem on any given day, we just can’t give up.  We can’t turn our backs and hope for the best.  In a world where hate is being cultivated by the man who will soon take the helm of our country, passive hope is simply not enough.  The only way we can combat the ugliness we see is to actively seek out opportunities to create positivity and unity.  Speak where you see injustice.  Give voice to the voiceless.  Give time, money, and energy to organizations that promote social and financial benefit to the underserved in your communities.  Make sure your local, state, and national representatives know your mind and hold them accountable to vote your conscious as your representative.  Encourage everyone you know to do the same.

This is our new year, and the beginning of a new reality in the United States.  This is the time of year it is customary to make trite and predictable resolutions that generally end in broken diet promises to the self by mid-January.  I am proposing this year that we need to make a different kind of resolution, and be vigilant about keeping this promise to ourselves.  Hope is nice; hope is a lovely sentiment.  But now, more than ever before, we need to resolve to make that hope action, and not rely on passive good feelings.  We tried that in November; it didn’t work.  If we reframe what hope looks like, we have a chance at change—a chance to right the ship.  We have the ability to find the light at the end of the tunnel.  I have a very strong feeling that the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t going to come to us; we’ve got to diligently pursue it.  I’m not ready to give up my optimism.  I’m just going to have to resolve to work harder make it an active movement.  Perhaps that will result in a silver-lining after all.