Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Well ... ARE We There Yet??


Yesterday marked either the end or the beginning of my 55th year on this planet (I can never remember if a birthday means you've just completed another year or you're starting another one!) and it brought to mind the question - "am I there yet?"  And where exactly is 'there'? Where better to contemplate that than on the blog I haven't updated hardly at all during this passing year!

I guess one of the questions a lot of ask ourselves when birthdays and such roll around is if we've managed to accomplish the things we had hoped to in life and as I look back over the more-than-half-a-century that I've been alive, I can only answer that with a 'yes' and a 'no'. Am I where I want to be in life now?  Not exactly.  Have I done the things I've wanted to do? Some - absolutely - while others are still in the hope-for stage.  Am I where I thought I'd be when I got to be this age?  Oh hells no!

First off, I have absolutely positively NO idea how I got to be in my mid-50s so quickly - especially when my mind is solidly stuck in my early 30s!  Not that I feel at all like I'm in my 30s when I try to roll my oftentimes achy self out of bed in the mornings or when my back starts twinging and my joints start aching if a storm is rolling in but for the most part, I don't feel like I'm as old as I am.  That said though, my memory has started to suffer from major lapses from time-to-time which I am going to solidly blame on menopause which I have the sneaky feeling I'm in.  I'm definitely at the right age to start wading through the hormonal changes that we women go through in our advancing years but it's kind of hard for me to tell exactly what's going on as I had that ablation a few years back and don't have the monthly indicator that so many other women do.

Not that I'm complaining, mind you, as I don't miss that at all but as I've only had the occasional "gee, it seems kind of warm in here all of a sudden" flash and the "oh my gosh, I'm going to bust into tears over that?" sort of moments, I'm just not positive where I stand with my hormonal levels. If not remembering why I walked into a room, being unable to think of the name of someone I've known for years, and not being able to grasp the right word even though it's on the tip of my tongue are any sort indication of those levels, though, then I've been in menopause for over a year now!

But advancing years and menopause aside - am I 'there' yet? Am I at a point in my life where I can say that I'm satisfied with the way things are going? That I'm where I thought I might be when I was a young kid of 18 or 21 imagining what my life might be like as an older adult? Nope as I sure the heck never would have thought that at 55 I'd be twice-divorced with two older daughters still living at home who bicker with each other every chance they get while working in a stressful job where there was no hope of retirement other than whatever Social Security would provide as I live paycheck-to-paycheck.  I don't believe that's exactly what I had in mind as I started down the path of adulthood.

That said though, life could be a lot worse and I am ever mindful of that.  I could have NO job like so many others in this country (including those two bickering daughters of mine), I could have never fallen in love and had children that may or may not drive me crazy from time-to-time, and I could have a lot more physical ailments than a couple of herniated discs that like to predict the weather and allergies that seem to get worse as I get older.

I have had a lot of opportunities that others haven't had including the chance to travel to interesting places where I've met some terrific people along the way who have become dear friends; I have had the chance to not only enjoy my hobby of photography but to share that with others; I have made some fantastic friends though the miracle of the Internet; and I have a decent roof over my head complete with electricity and running water and never go hungry.

Those are things that I am thankful for so even if I'm not 'there' yet it's okay as I'm still moving forward and maybe someday I actually will get 'there'.  Even if I don't though, for the most part, I've enjoyed the journey and I hope the good Lord gives me the chance to continue on it for a few more decades though guaranteed if I ever make it to 85, I'll be sitting there wondering how I got to be in my mid-80s when my mind is still in my early 50s!

Thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday yesterday, I appreciated every single greeting and gesture, and now if you'll excuse me, I do believe there is some cake in the kitchen that just might be calling my name! 

Friday, May 31, 2013

It Had Been Brought to My Attention ...

... by my youngest daughter that I hadn't written anything new on this particular blog in a very, very long time and by golly - she was right! It has most definitely been collecting digital dust but I guess with everything else going on like trying to write two other blogs and occasionally do some honest-to-goodness reading in addition to all of the time I seem to spend at work, I just hadn't even thought about updating here.  Besides, I guess I figured I really didn't have anything of any interest to say either.  Not that something like that ever stopped me in the past of course but this time it did!

So anyhow, here it is, almost the first weekend in June and we're going to be going from cold enough to have to turn the heat back on (again) last Saturday to our first potential heatwave of the year.  Ah New England ... I love you in spite of your lousy weather but I would have loved you more had we actually had a spring of some sort this year!  Alas, no such luck.

What makes it even worse is that I have a wedding to photograph on Saturday - an outdoor wedding in a lovely park on a hill in Manchester which is in a part of the state where storms like to gather.  Even though I get the feeling that it's going to be hot and humid enough to melt fondant (something that doesn't melt easily at all!), I just really hope that we don't get any big thunderstorms blowing through.  I've heard it said that rain on one's wedding day is good luck but I'm thinking thunderstorms are overdoing it a bit!

This will only be the fourth wedding that I've photographed so I'm a bit nervous about it but I've almost got myself talked into not stressing about it and just doing the best that I can.  The nerves come from not wanting to mess up someone's special day but considering that everyone and their brother/sister/aunt/uncle/cousin brings a camera to a wedding these days, even if I mess up some of the photos, there will be plenty of others out there.

I  think I know what my biggest problem is going to be though ... as I was looking through some other wedding images today to perhaps get some ideas for photos, I found myself starting to tear up more than once so I think I can pretty much guarantee that I am going to get all teary-eyed at least once or twice during Saturday's ceremony.  Sentimental fool that I am, I no doubt will find it darned hard to look through a lens with my eyes all watery but I could bet you right now that's exactly what's going to happen!  Guess I'd best make sure I pack tissues along with my other photo supplies!

Anyhow, I think that's it for now, I figured I should at least pop over here long enough to toss up a new post and clear out the cobwebs so that Jamie wouldn't question me anymore about my lack of new material.  Kind of funny how I used to make sure to blog everyday and now I can go weeks and/or months at a time and not feel the least bit of guilt.  Well, at least over here, I still feel guilty about being so far behind on posts for The Distracted Wanderer and Travels With Nathaniel!

Speaking of which, I gotta go ...! 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Good Teachers Should Be Recognized and Rewarded

Throughout the country parents, educators and community leaders are engaged in discussions about ways in which the nation's schools can best educate the next generation to take its place in the workforce and academia, as well as in positions of leadership and responsibility.

Suggestions range from increasing time devoted to specific subjects to adding (or subtracting) time allotted to sports education and the arts, school hours and extracurricular activities. Some professionals promote a particular curriculum while others encourage parents and other community members to become more involved in the students' educational process. The classroom atmosphere, relationship with the staff and even the physical structure of the classroom are subjects for discussion.

One issue for which there is no debate though concerns the importance of successful and concerned educators in the students' school environment. The impression that a strong, dedicated and influential teacher can make on a child's school career is immeasurable. Effective teachers are not only able to present the material in a way that engages and motivates their students, but they can stimulate and inspire the students to strive and achieve.

Throughout the country various initiatives have been created with the goal of recognizing the importance of effective educators as a major factor in providing students with a high quality education. One of these initiatives, the Milken Educator Awards, was co-established by Lowell Milken of the Milken Family Foundation in 1985. Via this award the Milken Family Foundation shares their vision of education as a vehicle that prepares students to succeed in life by providing them with needed knowledge and skills along with a desire to take their place in society.

The Milken Educator Award (MEA) provides public recognition to outstanding educators who teach in kindergarten through the 12th grade. The Award is granted yearly and alternates between elementary teachers and secondary school educators. Award recipients are generally early-to-mid career teachers who receive $25,000 which they can use for any activity that will allow them to further their personal educational goals. This, Lowell Milken believes, will inspire the teachers to continue their high quality work and will allow them to use their award monies to advance their careers, achieve greater successes and stimulate other educators to emulate their accomplishments.

The Milken Family Foundation accepts nominations for the award from a blue-ribbon panel which is appointed by each state's Department of Education. The panel looks for teachers who exhibit exceptional educational talent as evidenced by effective instructional practices as well as by student learning results in the classroom and school, based on standardized testing.

In addition, the panel reviews the teacher's educational accomplishments beyond the classroom such as participation in extra-curricular school events or active involvement in professional or community groups. These activities, the Foundation believes, provide a model of excellence for the profession. The MFF aims to identify educators who offer strong long-range potential for policy and professional leadership, motivate their students and positively impact their colleagues and the community.

Once chosen, the award recipient is presented with the opportunity to join the Milken Educator Network, a select professional community that includes past recipients of the Milken Educators Award, top education officials and education think-tanks. This group continues to impact the nation's education at local, state and national levels by serving as a resource to fellow educators, legislators, school boards and others who shape the future of America's education.