Monday, June 27, 2016

I can Breathe, breathe now.

Recently a friend of mine reminded me that I used to blog a long time ago.  Yes, I did!  I had forgotten about this little blog spot until she brought it up.

So much has been weighing me down on so many different levels. The past few months have included many life changes....

Another friend, he tells me to Breathe on a regular basis...

This past week was my first attempt at YOGA.

I am finally learning how to BREATHE.

It is not easy.  Letting go of tensions on exhale.  Finding my center.  Listening to myself breathe in and out. Trusting my balance.  Pushing myself to stretch my muscles and my mind to where they have not ventured before now. Listening to my heart beat and the sound of air going in and out of my chest. Focusing inward, and distancing myself from outward "noise".

I've had a Don Draper moment, only my YOGA is in a hot room and not overlooking the ocean.

During difficult times in my life I have found my strength by listening to the music of U2. 

Today I gravitate to a song from U2's album "No Line on The Horizon".  There is nothing right now that I need, other than to Breathe.  These words resonate with how I am feeling....

"Every day I die again, and again I'm reborn
Every day I have to find the courage
To walk out into the street
With arms out"

"Neither down or out
There's nothing you have that I need,
I can breathe, breathe now..." U2

I've found grace inside a sound

I found grace, it's all that I found 

And I can breathe
Breathe now

Sunday, October 4, 2015

I Dreamed Of Africa


She is the Dreamer....

I've made so many changes in my life, and there is so much to catch up on, but suffice it to say I am FINALLY able to realize one of my dreams...


Back story:

In 1981 my step-dad came home from work one day and said we were moving to Southern Africa.  This was before the internet and google.  This is when we found out info at the library in books and encyclopedias.


I was a 16 year old girl in my sophomore year in high school in California.  The last thing on my mind was moving away from my friends and everything that I knew.  Needless to say I went begrudeggenly.  What choice did I have?

It didn't take me long to fall in love with a country and its people.

Africa is where I also fell in love with U2.

We lived in Maseru, Lesotho.  A landlocked country in Southern Africa.

It was the 80's.  I didn't understand Apartheid.  I was a 16 year old kid who grew up in California and New York.

At first I attended an all girls, Afrikaans speaking, boarding school called Eunice in Bloemfontein, South Africa. ( long story, another post).  Mid year I changed to the school in the same town where my parents were living in Maseru, Lesotho.  Machabeng International High School was where I was going to finish my high school education.

I made many close friends at Machabeng.  Many of whom I have kept contact with via Facebook, and now WhatsAp.

In 1983 I left Maseru, Lesotho with two suit cases and went away to college.  My family was still living in Lesotho.  Unfortunately my step-dads contract ended while I was in school.  I had planned on coming back to Africa to say goodbye to my friends, however my parents came back to the USA before I was able to do so, leaving my heart broken.

A part of my heart has been in Africa ever since.

I have been dreaming of returning to Africa for 32 years.

During the past 3 decades I have been waiting for an opportunity to make a return trip to Lesotho.  A few years ago while looking thru a magazine I saw this photo:

It has been hanging on my refrigerator ever since as a reminder that not only is Africa important to me, but to Bono.  I can't even explain the pride that I have to be a U2 fan, and to know that one of the people I admire most in this world has made a difference in the city where I went to high school in Lesotho.  How random is that??

My dream will be realized.

On Tuesday October 6th, 2015 I begin my journey to mend a place in my heart that has been missing.  I am nervous.  I am excited.  Mostly I am overwhelmed and feel so blessed.

My journey begins now.


My favorite all time book:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My Roxy

Today was one of the most emotional days as an adult that I have experienced that I can remember. I have always had a canine friend in my life.  Today my Roxy died unexpectedly of kidney failure.  She was only 3 1/2 years old.  We adopted her about 2 1/2 years ago.  I miss her terribly.

My post the day her adoption was finalized:

I know on a spiritual level she is out of pain and now in doggie heaven.  That being said, it does not negate the feeling of loss that I have right now.  She has been my shadow and companion.  She loved being with me everywhere I went, even in the car.  I feel at a loss because it was so unexpected.  

My history of Dalmatians goes back to 1973 when our family got our first one, Shu-hu (meaning lightning in Japanese).   She was bred with my grandparents male dog (another dalmatian) , Laddie.  We kept one of her puppies, and Myrtle became MY first canine best friend in 1975.  Shu-hu died while I was in college after living to a nice old age.   Steve and I met in 1989.  At that time I was working in an animal hospital.  A dalmatian came in and needed a home.  Libby was then added to our new family.  So we had Myrtle and Libby.  Steve decided to get a dalmatian for me for Valentines, and Firedog was added to our growing pack.  For a short while we had 3 dalmatians.  Myrtle died at the old age of 17 years young.  

In 1993 I drove across country from California to Massachusetts driving a moving van with 2 dogs (Libby & Firedog)  and my friend Kacey in the cab of the truck.  Both dogs loved moving to Boston and this was their first time seeing snow...  In 1998 we found out that Libby had cancer, and she died from complications after living a long healthy life.  So now Firedog was the sole dalmatian in our family, however we had added Stewart (human) in 1996 and Spencer (human) in 1998.  In 2000 when we sold our house in Manomet,  the fireman that came to inspect our smoke detectors noticed we had a dalmatian, and told us that at a prior house he was at they had a dalmatian that needed a home because the people were moving from a house to an apartment.  I made a call to Steve, and we added Spain to our family.

We moved into our new home in North Plymouth in April 2000, and in June Firedog had a massive stroke and died right in front of us at home.  It was very traumatic.  Blessing come, as we now had Spain and he was the lone spoiled canine friend in our home.

In 2010 Spain passed away of old age.  He led a full life, like all of his past predecessors.  

At that point Steve and I made the commitment not to have any more dogs.  My heart was broken and it needed time to heal.  We decided that having a dog was too much, and that we would "like" the flexibility of being able to go away on week ends or on vacation and not have to put a dog in a kennel. Well, 10 months went by, and we never went away.

What did I do?

It was December 2010, and I went online to www.Petfinder and searched for Dalmatians.  I found one at the Dedham Animal Rescue Center in Dedham ( near Boston).  I called on a Saturday night.  She had been listed there for 3 weeks, and I thought for sure she was already adopted, & that they had not updated the website.  I spoke to a volunteer & they said she was available.

Spencer & I drove up to Dedham after church.  We took her outside and walked her around for a bit and made an instant connection.  Spencer and I sat on a boulder and chatted for quite a while.  He was hooked.  It was love at first sight.  We could not put her back in the cage.  We asked to take her home.  They said we could have her for 72 hours to make the decision.   We called the next day and made the necessary arrangements to keep her, as now she had become a member of our family.  It was that quick.  It was certainly meant to be and we were so thrilled with her.   The name they had given her at the shelter was Jessie,  but we decided to change it to Roxy.

Thats my chain of dalmatians:

My heart aches because it is broken.  This is my first experience with loosing a pet at a young age.  All of the other losses were expected as my canine friends had long full lives.

This came out of the blue and has hit me like a ton of bricks.

I miss my Roxy.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Zero Tolerance ~ School Safety A~Z

School Safety Policies need to have a  ZERO Tolerance for:
  1. Weapons
  2. Violence
  3. Drugs
  4. Alcohol
As long as common sense is used by administrators, ZERO tolerance polices need to be in place to insure consistency of discipline when the above have been violated.

Monday, April 29, 2013

YOU ~ School Safety A~Z

As parents we need to teach our children how to be observant  and aware of their surroundings.  That way if they notice something out of the ordinary, they can report it to an adult or to YOU as their parent.

Riding the bus to and from school is an extension of the school day.  YOU can teach your children to ride the bus safely.

YOU are VERY important in School Safety!!

YOU need to educate yourself on School Safety!!

YOU should be asking your Principal or School Administrator to see The Safety Plan for YOUR kids school !!

YOU need to take responsibility in teaching YOUR children to be safe.


What else do YOU think YOU can do to promote School Safety?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Xenos ~ School Safety A~Z

Xenos is a word used in the Greek language that one of the meanings is "enemy stranger".  

10 ways to keep Xenos (Enemy Strangers)  out of our schools:
  1. Implement a School Safety Plan.
  2. Lock all entry ways into the school building.
  3. Identify EVERY person who enters the school.  Staff should have badges also for entry.
  4. Approved visitors need to be identified by wearing a badge or sticker so staff and students know they are allowed in the school
  5. Security Cameras at entrances and exits
  6. Practicing of Lock down drills
  7. Publicity to the community about school safety 
  8. Keen awareness of surroundings.  
  9. Reporting to authorities of any threats or odd behavior of individuals
  10. Create a community of kindness and respect
We cannot anticipate every move of someone that wants to cause harm, but we sure can ready ourselves so if the unfortunate event happens we can have minimal loss.

Warning Signs ~ School Safety A~Z

There are many warning signs around us.  Signs that tell us to slow down while we are approaching a curve, or a speed bump.  There are warning signs on a bottle letting us know that the contents are hazardous that warn us of the effects of the product.

What are the warning signs of a person who wants to cause harm at a school?

In an article by Peter Langman, PhD that was printed in the Forensic Digest Winter-Spring 2012, he discusses the research he has found on the Warning Signs of a School Shooter:  

  1. If there is a direct threat, Take is seriously.  School officials need to contact the police and let them take necessary actions.
  2. If a student admires or is obsessed with prior school shootings, you need to be concerned.
  3. School assignments can foreshadow future events.  It is hard to predict this indirect threat, but any assignment that is suspect should be addressed and the proper authorities should be notified if  there is concern.
  4. Obsession or collection of weapons ie guns or knives or violent material (books on making bombs) that they have at home.
  5. Online texts or posts of their obsession or intent to cause violence.

To read the entire article : School Shootings: The Warning Signs

Friday, April 26, 2013

Violence ~ School Safety A~Z

Simply put we would not need a School Safety Plan if there were not violence in our society.  This is one word that I wish did not need to be defended against.

Unfortunately for us we need to be realistic and deal with the violence that occurs in communities.  It is essential to be knowledgeable about potential harm that can occur in our schools. Addressing issues of violence is of the up most concern.  Children cannot learn if they do not feel safe.

When I was a kid there were 3 television channels.  The most violent thing I remember seeing on TV was the Road Runner dropping an anvil on Wild E Coyote.  Today there are hundreds of channels for people to watch, and there is no limit to the amount of violence one can become exposed to visually.  I believe that the constant exposure to scenes of horrific violence whether in be on TV, movies or video games, desensitizes the human mind and spirit.  When this is done human traits of empathy, sympathy and kindness are replaced with anger, aggressiveness and violent behaviors.  

How does this have to do with school safety?  Children and adults are becoming desensitized to the violence that they have either viewed or played in video games.  When kids come to school they act out their aggressive or violent behavior.    Children are shaped by the environment in which they live.  

When your child is watching something violent, or if you are watching violent movies, think about the impact it will have on their future.  You might want to change the channel and find more uplifting entertainment.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Utilize Resources ~ School Safety A~Z

There are so many resources on School Safety.  The key is UTILIZING the resources  and putting them into action by using the tools that are available to schools.

I have compiled a list of resources that should be available to school districts.  I hope your districts are utilizing them!

  1. School Board  (making polices on school safety)
  2. Safety Committee (See prior post)
  3. Partnership with Police Department and other State Law Enforcement
  4. Communication and partnership with news agencies
  5. Professional Development for Staff on Emergency Procedures
  6. Parental involvement
  7. Online information shared with school administrators to keep unto date on current events
  8. Data from Lock down drills
The tools are useless unless Utilized.

Did I leave something out? 

What other resources are your school districts utilizing?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Training ~ School Safety A~Z

In order for procedures to be put in place in a real life setting training needs to occur for those who will lead the actions.  Staff members need to be trained on what is expected of them during a lock down.  Students need training and information on what they need to do to follow the direction of school staff.  Security issues change and it is imperative that training be consistent and constant.  It is recommended that an agenda item regarding Safety be on every administrators meeting with staff.  Keeping up to date will ensure that our children are in the safest place possible.  Training and professional development will enable staff to learn and hear from safety professionals to be up to date on current developments in the school safety field.

Boston was a great example of training:

"All of the routine disaster rehearsals, coordinated training, and special awareness of the types of injuries they would be treating meant that clinical staff were poised to act. These well-practised plans undoubtedly served to minimise injuries and loss of life."

Monday, April 22, 2013

Stay in Place ~ School Safety A~Z

stay in place - be stationary

A stay in place is when an action is happening, those in the periphery or area affected are instructed to STOP, stay where they are until the action is over and the authorities have deemed it safe to proceed.  For example a "Stay in Place" might be called if a medical emergency is happening in one area of the school, and in order for that emergency to be cleared all surrounding classrooms need to keep the children inside the room and hallways clear.  Medical personnel can quickly get to the emergency without running into kids during class change overs.  The classroom can carry on as usual and instruction can still take place during a "Stay in Place".  This is unlike a regular lock down where everyone goes to the safe spot in the room or area.  After the emergency is over, school officials make the announcement that the situation is over, and regular movement can occur in the school once again.

This just does not happen in our schools.  This past week in Boston a "Stay in Place" was ordered to Boston and surrounding towns while there was a manhunt for the suspect in the Boston Marathon Bombings.  Residents were instructed to stay in their homes while law enforcement went door to door clearing neighborhoods searching for the suspect.  I bet this is the first time many people had heard the term "Stay in Place".  Even after an area was cleared, residents were even instructed to stay in side for their safety.  Many times staying inside and not evacuating is safer, it depends on the situation.  Again listening to law enforcement is critical.

I can not emphasize how important it is to follow instructions.  They are for our safety.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Rachel's Challenge ~ School Safety A~Z

Today is April 20th.  Fourteen years ago today 2 students at Columbine took the lives of twelve students and one teacher in the largest school massacre in the United States.  School safety changed that day in districts across the country.

I do not want to focus on the negative event that happened that day because that would give credit to the two young men that caused so much harm.  Instead I want to use this opportunity to highlight the positive contribution that one of the survivors of the school shooting has done to make schools safer.

Craig Scott is a survivor of this horrific event.  He was 16 years old when it happened.  Ten years later in 2009 he visited Plymouth Public Schools.  He presented a program called "Rachel's Challenge".  His sister, Rachel, was the first one killed that April morning at Columbine High School.  I was fortunate enough to meet this young man.  He truly is an inspiration to me.

Below is from the Rachel's Challenge web site:

I know that with kindness and respect towards one another we can make a difference in the lives of others.  To read more about Rachel's Challenge, visit the web site:

Friday, April 19, 2013

Quick Response ~ School Safety A~Z

A quick response is critical in school safety.  If  an an emergency is taking place, the sooner law enforcement or emergency personnel can get to the school, the better the outcome will be for safety of the children.  Time may seem like it is going by slowly, but seconds matter.  It can mean the difference between life and death.  Timing is very important, that is why schools practice lock down drills.  They also record the times involved for each step of the drill.  That way procedures can be reviewed and adjustments can be made if necessary.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Partnership with Police ~ School Safety A~Z

I cannot emphasize how important the partnership between the police department and the school department is to school safety.

A few years ago I attended a full day workshop titled " Educating the Traumatized Child".  One of the presenters spoke about the need for communications between the police department and schools.  He gave a great example of a incident where a man was arrested for physically  hurting a woman by hitting her with a gun.  The man was hauled off in cuffs, the woman was taken to the hospital.  The 7 year old kid accompanied his mom to the hospital.  They returned home around 3am, the son was put on the bus at 8am.  This happened on a Thursday.  Friday morning the kid was talking at school about a gun.  Tuesday the mom was called into the principals office and the police were notified that they needed to check the home for a gun because the kid said he had a gun.

What was wrong with this scenario?

There are many things.  First and foremost the child witnessed a traumatic event & then went to school the next day.  How could he have been learning while I am sure he was thinking about what had happened the night before to his family?  There was no communication between the police department and the school department.  It took the school from Friday until Tuesday to address the issue.  Too much time.  What if the kid really did have a gun on Friday?  Three days is a lot of time & something terrible could have happened, but luckily did not.

The point of the example was to talk about what needs to happen between a police department and the school department.  Communication is key to the partnership.  Now in Plymouth MA,  when there is a police action and a child is present, the Sargent makes a phone call to the school department.  We have school resource officers in our district, and communication is made to them of any situations where children may have been present.  This way administration can check in with the child to make sure they are ok, or if they need any help or attention.  It is also helpful to know why a child might possibly be acting out if they had had a bag night the night before.

Secondly, a partnership needs to be in place in order to have successful lock down drills.  Open communication and working together for the safety of our kids is top priority.  When we do lock down drills in Plymouth MA, our police department works with surrounding towns law enforcement, County Sheriffs department and State Troopers to make sure there is the back up if needed, and that information is recorded.  That way we know who is available in case of an emergency.  That is part of the drill.

Plymouth Police Conduct Emergency Lock Down
Plymouth Public SchoolS Safety First

Lastly the partnership is critical because we want our students to have a friendly relationship with the police and not have a negative perception of law enforcement.  It is a common occurrence to have police cars outside of our schools, and that is not a bad thing.  Prevention and education are part of the partnership.

Does your school district have a good relationship with your Police Department?  Do you really even know?  Ask your principal.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Options ~ School Safety A~Z

In discussing school safety it is important to discuss as many different options or scenarios as possible.   While we may not come up with every situation, we need to plan accordingly and think of how to minimize as much risk as we can.  There are many options on how we can proceed with lock down drills and communications, it all depends on the situation at hand.  Flexibility of a well trained team will help anticipate any emergency, and provide the options for success that are needed to keep our kids safe at school.