Hallelujah Highway

Celebrating the Journey

Why I walk: Happy Sweet Sixteen to my March of Dimes Baby! ~ Rae

16 years ago on this very day, March 10th,  I almost died.

I know that may sound dramatic. Usually if asked, I tell people my first pregnancy was a little rough and my baby was born a month early.

BUT, 16 years ago I did almost die.

My pregnancy started off perfectly. I did everything right; I formulated every last detail. I had dated my husband for 3 years before we married. We then waited another 3 years for our first child. I planned my delivery for April, the perfect teacher pregnancy schedule, because I would be able to get 5 months off with the baby. I even gave up my one vice, soda, for my child’s well-being.

I had it all figured out. If I had a girl, she would be named “Audrey Rose” because of my admiration of Audrey Hepburn and my love of reading (there is a really twisted book titled Audrey Rose- don’t judge me!). My potential boy’s name would be “Blake Edward” after my father.

I wonder if God chuckled at all “MY” plans.

I was determined to be the toughest pregnant woman ever with no complaining or whining. I was not going milk my condition, because women have babies every day. So, I read all the books; I quietly bore the Charlie Horses; I endured the strange cravings. When I had to pull over on the freeway and open my door to hurl or dash frantically from my classroom to the bathroom, I never grumbled. I did everything the doctor told me (although someone could have warned me about the first ultrasound visit with the wand- YIKES!). I tried not to get frustrated when the sonogram was inconclusive about the baby’s gender even though I really wanted to know. As long as the baby was healthy, I took it in stride. I fully accepted all that came with being pregnant.

I never griped at the doctor’s office either, which is why my condition almost went unnoticed. My 22 week appointment started as usual. The nurse dutifully recorded my blood pressure and weight. The doctor measured my belly and in 5 minutes we were finished. As she walked me out, she asked how I was feeling. I exclaimed everything was great…except I was a little swollen. She told me that was normal but for some reason she decided to check how much. She took me back into the exam room and really looked at me.

You know those super cute pregnant women with adorable bellies and fashionable clothes? YA- soooo not me!  I gained weight everywhere. I am not kidding! My ankles, my face, and even my fingers became enormous. In addition, my 1998 fashion forward maternity overalls were not kind to the Pillsbury Dough Boy look alike I had become. By the middle of my pregnancy I was uncomfortably huge. I began wearing my husband’s sweatpants and tennis shoes with the laces removed.

It is never a good sign when a doctor gasps as mine did when she noticed my legs. She consulted my chart and actually read my results. My blood pressure was off the charts high and I had gained 10 pounds in 3 weeks. She had me come into her office (again not a good sign) and informed me that I was suffering from Preeclampsia, commonly known as Toxemia. She put me on bed rest for the duration of the pregnancy. I nodded my head like I understood what she was saying. Preeclampsia meant that the baby would probably need to be born early to prevent a stroke she explained.. I nodded again and went home in a stupor.

Actually, the rest of my pregnancy became one long daze as I worried about my baby’s well-being and progress. Here are a few highlights I remember: I had a sonogram every week and never once could the baby’s sex be revealed (the BRAT!). I continued to gain weight and looked like a character from Eddie Murphy’s Nutty Professor movie. At 24 weeks, I had to register at two hospitals for delivery- my local hospital and the hospital nearest me that had a NICU capable of dealing with a baby born before 32 weeks. I recall each week being a milestone: 24 weeks meant the baby had a 50% chance of survival; 27 weeks meant a 95% chance of survival with intense medical support; 30 weeks meant the risks of birth defects, vision issues, and cerebral palsy decreased, but lung development would be an issue.

At 30 weeks, my blood pressure remained high and I had immobilizing headaches. My pregnancy brain felt like it was filled with fog from San Francisco. I remember thinking I should pack my hospital bag, but since I could barely function- that never happened. On two occasions I was nearly admitted to the hospital for inducement. Yet, every day the baby was allowed to stay in utero was another day of much needed development.

Suddenly, on March 9th there was no more waiting. I was losing consciousness and Magnesium Sulfate was no longer keeping my blood pressure under control. I was on the verge of Eclampsia. My platelets were so low that if I started to bleed, I would not clot. The baby was 36 weeks old. I was admitted and my labor was induced at 3:00 pm on a Tuesday afternoon.

The doctor told me two “wonderful” pieces of news:
1. It could take up to 3 days for the labor to fully take hold.
2. I could have no epidural because my platelets were too low.

That was when I virtually lost my mind. No pain meds?????? UGG. I was not one of those brave women who wanted to have a natural birth. Nope, I jokingly and repeatedly asked my doctor if she could knock me out and wake me when it was over. By 6:00 am on Wednesday I was fully dilated (so much for the 3 day theory). At 9:23 am, my beautiful baby burst into this world angry and crying. There was no better sound than her shrieks.

Her head fit into the palm of my hand.

Her head fit into the palm of my hand.

My Audrey Rose was born 4 weeks early, weighed in at 5 pound 13 ounces, and was 19 inches long. She was small and jaundiced, but she was able to breathe on her own. Though this journey had not followed the map I made, the destination was nevertheless paradise.

I found out later that the medical tests and treatments Audrey and I received were developed in part by the research funded by the March of Dimes. It breaks my heart to think about what would have happened to both of us if I went through this pregnancy 50 years ago. The March of Dimes charity impacted my life without me even knowing it or asking for it. While my case had a happy ending, there are other babies and families that need the March of Dimes to continue their important work to save babies lives!

Audrey is why I walk in the March for Babies campaign. Your child is why I walk. I walk so that all babies are given a fighting chance for a healthy start.

I walk because Love is a Verb and what doesn’t kill me makes me motivated.

For more information: http://www.marchofdimes.com/

To donate to my campaign: http://www.marchforbabies.org/RaeDunn

sweet sixteen

Sweet Sixteen!

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Well Mr. Know it all Frost – What if there are more than 2 paths? ~ Guest Blogger Kory

 Welcome – Special Guest Blogger Kory. She is a fellow traveler on the highway who both Kristi and Rae adore! 

As I have been traveling my life’s roathe road not takend, I’ve recently come to a standstill in the middle of a fork.  Yet instead of two different options, it had several.  Which one to choose?  I was confused!  I was excited!  It was troubling as conflicting emotions were running both through my intellect and my heart.  I was indecisive.  

Let me say that again…I was indecisive.

That has never happened to me before.  I usually have a goal in mind and that’s the road I travel.  I may glance at the other roads as I saunter, but I never doubt my decision. I live in the now.  Yet as I gaze at these multiple roads before me I realized I needed help; I needed advice. So I sought out my confidants…my girlfriends.

After their initial remarks such as, “We’ve never seen you like this” and “this is weird”, we finally got down to business…how do I solve my dilemma? As I listened to their input I realized they were just as puzzled as I was.  However, there was one prominent question that stuck with me:  “What do you want in the long term? What is your final goal?”  I pondered the answer to this question for hours and I finally came up with an answer: I don’t know.  I don’t have one.  And in fact, I don’t want one.  This was quite a shock to me.  As a teacher I always direct my students to have both short term and long term goals and now I’ve become a hypocrite?!?  Will my life now fall apart and I will go on wandering aimlessly?  Ironically- I’m quite content and happy with the right now.  So what if I don’t have a long term goal?


What I’ve discovered is that I am a pseudo-professional student.  I love to learn!

  • Take more university classes to get certifications and credentials?  Check.
  • Take more workshops to get a deeper understanding of teaching and curriculum?  Check.
  • Go to advisory council meetings to bring county and state goals to my classroom?  Check.

And there’s many more.  Then I thought back to another question that stuck with me “How do these help me reach my long term goal?”  Well…it doesn’t…Since I don’t have one.   Still, I live in the now and they help me with the now.  My long term goals have not appeared to me yet…no apparitions, no glimpses, no anything.

And for once I’m totally fine with that.

When I reflect upon my life I realize that I’ve always been a short-term kind of girl.  Those kinds of goals are more attainable, there are more of them, and thus more celebrations of achievement!  Conversely, long term goals are fussy, so far off and thus seem almost unattainable.  I want to live a long comfortable live, full of the wealth of family and funds.

Yeah…unattainable?  kory

Or only attainable at retirement age?

That is just too far off.  I like celebrations of achievement!

So as I stared at the all the roads ahead of me I didn’t choose the “one less traveled”.  My roads all looked the same.  That’s when I realized that it didn’t matter which road I headed down, they are all me “living in the now” and they are all “short term”.  So as I embark on the first step down my chosen path, I can still see the others running parallel to me on my journey.  Will they disappear forever?  I don’t think so.  They will still be there.  We will have our intersection again.

So screw you Robert Frost.  My roads are all bright and sunny and inviting.  So no matter what I choose I will be happy and live a full life.  And that has made all the difference.

road not taken 2

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You’re Not the Boss of me! ~ Rae

I have never seen myself as a “boss” or even a potential boss. The thought actually scares me. I feel that I am in no position to tell someone how to do their job or to get lost if they don’t do it right. When anyone asks what I do for a living I still say high school English teacher, because in my soul that IS what I am even though I haven’t been in the classroom for the last 4 years.  Officially I should say I am a school district administrator, the Coordinator of Secondary Education. Sounds so fancy right?

Whatever my title may be I see myself as a minion, a person who’s job is to help my fellow teachers with their jobs. I am comfortable with the idea that my purpose is to serve those brave teachers who battle against ignorance every day. That job feels noble and honorable.

Yet, I have heard some people say I am their boss. My friends make the joke but some teachers have said it in seriousness. It makes me shudder.

I am not sure what makes me so uncomfortable with the idea. Maybe it’s the idea that some equate being a “Boss” to having “Power”. I do not crave power nor need it. The concept of having “power” makes me think of when I taught my former students the moral of the play Antigone, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  I have had bosses in the past who were worthless and made my job harder than it needed to be.  It worries me when I work with those who seem power hungry. Being a “boss” seems to have the potential for someone to lead by fear and not example.

Power

Hmmmm —- LEADING. Maybe that is the difference between a tyrant and an inspiration – the way a person leads?  Some individuals lead by example, some lead by non-example and others lead by domination or apathy.

While I cannot see myself as a boss, I can see myself working on becoming a better leader.  And if I am to be any sort of leader I will choose to be a Servant Leader. I do not want to tell others what to do. I would rather come alongside them and work with them towards solutions or completion of tasks.

 I would rather work with a large group of individuals with differing opinions that strive to come to consensus than dictate what I, in my simple limited view point, think everyone should do. True – sometimes having too many “cooks in the kitchen” can seem tedious. However it is often the outlier who brings the most creative idea or who sees the flaws in the plans of the many. As a Servant Leader I would like to make sure everyone is heard before decisions that affect everyone are made.

I realize there are times when decisions must be made, and there are times when co-workers are not holding up their end of the job. There does need to be a boss who can make the hard choices and hold accountable all who work together. We all get that.  Perhaps it is a balance between knowing when to direct and when to listen? Perhaps it is the flexibility to move from decision maker to conversation starter?

Maybe being a decent boss is about being able to tell when to lead, when to follow, when to guide, when to decide and even when to ignore….

I still have a long way to go before I feel I have mastered any of that. For now I will continue to try to be a servant leader and if I ever do feel confident enough to become a “BOSS”, I pray I will have the balance and not search for power but instead search for ways to lead that inspire.  For now my heart still believes being a teacher is the calling I have no matter what title I may have.

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She is not Mine ~ Rae

she is not mine

 

When she grew inside me

I whispered to her

The great plans I had

And how I would always keep her near

 

When they placed her on my chest

I clutched her close

And swore to always

Protect her and guide her

 

When she toddled by my side

I held onto her hands

To support her and steer her

To exactly where I wanted

 

When I watched her walk down long halls

With a backpack much too big

And then sit at her first desk

I admit I cried a bit

 

When she ran off to middle school

And began to think about boys

I bit my tongue

And tried to listen more than talk

 

And now as I watch her reach for the steering wheel

I wonder where the future will take her

And what path she will take

How I wish I could pick it for her

 

But she is not mine alone anymore

She is becoming her own

And while that is a beautiful thing

My empty arms ache

 

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The Bionic Woman ~ Rae

bionic

A few years ago, I was a high school English teacher, new teacher support provider, Department Chairperson, Yearbook Advisor, wife, and mother. The yearbook company representative teased me about how much I had on my plate and asked me where my cape was. I pointed to the pink Superwoman cape hanging on my wall and said, “Right there!”  While laughing so hard he almost cried, my rep told me he had been using that line for years and I was the first one to actually have a cape.

It still hangs in my office.

In March, I had neck surgery to have a cervical disc replaced with a synthetic disc made of titanium and gel (So darn amazing!).  Now, I joke that I am the bionic woman.

There are many articles, websites, blogs, and commentaries that explore women trying to be a “Superwoman” but then they ended up being overwhelmed, exhausted, grumpy, and overextended. These articles and commentaries sometimes berate men for not stepping up to the plate or bemoan the fact that women must do it all.

I totally get it. I do that. Sometimes.

Sometimes my depression kicks in and I am a bump on a log.  

But …

What if I like doing it all?

What if I want to be a heroine like Wonder Woman? 

I learned something about myself during my time of recovery after my surgery: When my body forced me to rest and do nothing for a month, I ended up resting and doing nothing for 3 months. Now that I am back to work for the last 3 weeks, I have 15 major projects and umpteen little ones and I am almost back to my old self.

It’s as if Newton’s “Law of Motion” is like real or something!  My body and mind do tend to stay in motion once I get myself going.

My old self does include sometimes running around like a crazy person.  I am working on Power Points to present to new teachers that could really take 15 minutes, but I am adding all the bells and whistles to try to make it interactive and funny.  I am filming beginning of the school year videos
that really don’t need to be done, but they are so much more fun than the other real work I am supposed to be doing.

I am going to let you in on a little secret. I LIKE my cape. I like being busy because the busier I am the more organized I HAVE to be, which is a much better version of myself than the bump on a log. I like the feeling that I am somehow “saving the day”.

All Moms are super!

All Moms are super!

Ironically, while in the process of writing this piece, I was assigned another project.  This new project involved some heavy lifting and just about sent me over the edge. My OMG rant when like this, “I just had surgery. I can’t lift over 20 pounds. Dear Lord, what am I going to do?  I am NOT She-Hulk.”

After my internal rant, it became clear to me. I may want to be superhuman, but I must be ready to admit when I can’t be. So I asked my team for help and every single member offered assistance. It was a magical moment stronger for me than the titanium in my neck. I learned I have to set boundaries and keep everything in balance: my work, my hobbies, my family, and my time of rest.

So I will:  wear my cape proudly, take it off when I need to, and admit when I need help.

P.S. I look good in that cape.

 

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The Road Turned, And….

kristi

Then the road turned, and…

I stopped writing.  Life got busy, and I hate writing about being busy.  All of us are busy.  We all have obligations that tear us in different directions and what reader wants to read about another woman’s busyness.  I took on a new teaching assignment, was finishing a teacher leadership program, and handling my responsibilities at home.  In order to keep my sanity, I let writing (and exercising) go.  I dug in and worked hard, and now I am back to writing on the blog with my soul sister, Rae, because writing is a part of who I am.  It helps me make sense if the world around me and it captures my life’s journey. ~Kristi

blog2

 The road turned, and…

I was pulled over by LIFE. My spiritual PEACE officer handed me a hefty citation. Apparently, I was driving too fast, too hard and something had to give. What gave was my body. So for the past 4 months I have been healing physically (and emotionally). Fortunately, I live in an era with remarkable health care. Likewise, I have an amazing support system at home and at work that have allowed me to get out of the driver’s seat for a while and focus on my health (and sanity).  So, now equipped with a bionic neck and a clear head I am merging back onto the highway.  I hope you will be willing to ride along with Kristi and me as we maneuver through this crazy, never predictable next leg of life’s winding road.                                                                                           ~Rae

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The House that Love Rebuilt ~ Rae

Scan_Pic0005-001

I have fallen in love with my husband. That’s not to say I didn’t love him before, but this time it is different.

We were married in 1996 and our wedded life started out normally.  Fast forward 10 years to a very rough patch from 2007-2009. Things got bad. My husband started staying away from our home as much as possible and I started to be happy to see him go. The relationship had become toxic as we couldn’t have a conversation without fighting.

There was the “car incident” that revealed how childish and immature we were behaving. We were fighting and had reached the point of yelling. My husband pulled over and told me to get out in the middle of a not so nice area.  I huffed and puffed, and got of the car and off he sped. Now, I knew darn well that he would drive around the block and come back to get me, but I am the “Passive Aggressive Queen”.  So I ran to a nearby grocery store and hid. I waited, practically giddy with mischief as I peeked through a store window and sure enough I saw him driving through the parking lot. He began calling my cell phone over and over which I ignored.  I called the one person I knew who would drop everything and come get me, my crazy best friend. Nikki raced over and I went off with her on some errands. My cell phone rang persistently. It wasn’t until my mother called that I answered.  As a last resort, he had called my parents to see if they knew where I was. I assured her I was fine and would be home later as I thought, “I sure showed him.”

The absolutely worst part of this story: both my daughters were in the back seat of the car during this whole escapade.

Toxic- right?

We split for a while and he moved into our motorhome (in our back yard). We were miserable. We both visited lawyers to go over the process for divorce. We just about gave up.

Just about.

I went to a therapist. He went to a therapist. Eventually, we went to marriage counseling together. And our marriage was saved.

Just about.

We have been a work in progress ever since. We had said and done awful things that we both regretted but now made us guarded. We circled around each other on tiptoes. We kept our defensives up. We stood with one foot in the relationship and the other foot ready to run out the door.

Then something wonderful happened.

My husband shattered his right leg at work. Hold on! That’s not the wonderful part. The wonderful part was that through his recovery I was able to become a selfless caring wife. It began as I took care of him. I made him a cheesy gift basket filled with random items that he might need or want during his stay in the hospital.  He was out of work for 4 months and couldn’t even walk for much of that time. So, I packed him an ice chest with breakfast, lunch, and snacks every day. I cared for him; in return, he began to lower some of his walls.

During this time, my stubborn husband would walk when he wasn’t supposed to; drive before he should; and tried to do all his normal activities. One evening, the whole family was out in the front yard enjoying a nice summer night. My husband lost his balance and began to fall. I tried to run across the drive way screaming like a banshee to catch him! Fortunately, he was able to catch himself with his crutches and did not hit the ground. The four of us spent the next five minutes laughing hysterically at the sounds I had made as I tried to run.  As my husband caught my eye, I saw something had softened in him.  Even though I ran like a crazy person my husband could tangibly see that I cared about what happened to him.

Then something else wonderful happened.

I somehow hurt myself. Again, not the wonderful part.  From early fall to midwinter, I bounced from doctor to doctor trying to find out what was wrong with me (physically- not mentally- that would take a lot more doctors).  Finally, a surgeon determined that I need surgery on the 3 bulged discs in my neck.  I didn’t notice at first but my husband was doing more and more things around the house for me. He was being sensitive to my pain and did everything he could to make me more comfortable. He even let me sit in HIS recliner! When my surgery date was set, my husband immediately told his work that he would be taking a short leave to take care of me.

Anyone think God has been trying to get our attention over the last year(s)?

It was there. It was there even in the worst times. Love did not leave our marriage; it had just been pushed to the side by our selfishness.   I knew he would not abandon me in the ghetto.  We both could never seem to pull the trigger on the divorce gun we were waving at each other.  He moved out, but not really. It was only when we truly put each other first, that LOVE was able to fill our hearts.

  • In sickness and in health —  Check!
  • In good times and in bad – Check!
  • As long as we both shall live- working on it!

easter2013raeray

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Do I Really HAVE to Love my Enemies?

enemies

I made an enemy last week. I didn’t mean to, want to, or try to, but none the less we are now mortal foes. I still stand behind the actions that I took; I know I was in the right, but I HATE when people don’t like me. It is one of my personal flaws: I try to please everyone and make friends with everyone. I try to assume the best intentions of others and am usually the peace maker in a hostile situation. And of course I still mainly handle strife as a Passive – Aggressive Queen.

But not when it comes to 3 things: my family, my faith and my students.

So I accept this enemy and plan on killing her with kindness.

Yep – that is my strategic battle plan and I am confident that it will work because it has worked for me in previous skirmishes.

I learned the power of this plan 3 years ago when I faced another adversary. This opponent was confusing, conceited and cantankerous! Worst of all, he was my supervisor at the time and kept making decisions for teachers that were ridiculous.

On one particular occasion he made an announcement about how the English teachers needed to assign a standard to each and every question in a test bank containing over 20,000 questions. My fellow teachers all looked at each other frantically, like – DO SOMETHING! So as the English Department Chair I politely tried to point out that the task he was assigning was a phenomenal undertaking and was actually unnecessary for several reasons that I pointed out. He turned and snarled at me, “Ms. D- you presume to speak on a subject of which you know naught about”. The entire room gasped, because basically he had called me stupid. Apparently my 15 years of teaching didn’t count for anything. I sat down and glared, mulling over how I could passively aggressively get back at him… eventually.

mercy on your soul

This situation and others caused me to practically loathe this supervisor. In fact I was becoming almost obsessed with my anger towards him. He had become my nemesis. These feelings of venom were beginning to consume me and a very wise mentor of mine started to notice. She warned me that my animosity was hurting me WAY more than it was affecting him. Then she told me what she did when working with difficult people.

She prayed for wonderful things to happen to them.

At first I tried to argue with her. I countered with a wink, “You mean you pray for them to fall down stairs or to get a really bad ingrown toe nail, right????”

She stayed firm and insisted that she prayed only for blessings and good things to happen to them and for them.

I was not convinced. It took me awhile to follow this advice, but eventually I saw that I was becoming poisoned by my feelings. Finally, I begrudgingly prayed.

I prayed for him to be successful. I prayed for him to be at peace. I prayed for his health. I prayed for him to make friends (not surprisingly he didn’t have many). I prayed for him to win the lottery (hey- if he did then he would leave my work!). I prayed for weeks and a miracle occurred.

No- he didn’t win the lottery. Instead I was freed. I was no longer consumed by him or by anger. I was more at peace than I had been in months. I was able to enjoy my job once again and let his continued shenanigans roll right of my shoulders.

The rest of the school year passed and I was able to focus on positive things and was no longer controlled by rage.

In the end I won that war for several reasons:

1. I knew I was right- he even had to admit it at a later meeting.
2. I stopped giving him the power to affect me.
3. I behaved in a way that stayed true to my professed Christian beliefs.

AND THEN at the end of the school year a true miracle occurred.
        

                   He got promoted…
                                      

                                     in another school district…

                                                                             located 8 hours away from me

So this new enemy doesn’t stand a chance. I am going to pray her straight into a happy retirement.

In Jesus’ name,
AMEN.

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9/11: Not Forgotten~ Coach D

9-11

One month after 9/11, I was scheduled to sing the National Anthem at an Anaheim Angels baseball game.

As I hob knobbed behind home plate, warming up my voice and shaking hands with people & players, I noticed a couple who was passing out buttons to people, cameramen, and Angel players.  I became curious as to what the buttons were all about, so I walked up to the couple and asked them about it.

It turned out that this couple had a daughter, who was a graduate student at Boston University.  The father went on to say that his daughter, Lisa Frost from Anaheim was on the way back to California from Boston when her plane crashed into the 2nd World Trade Center. They were placing buttons of their daughter on people to commemorate her life.

There was a 2nd button.  It was a picture of a Marine.  I asked Mr. Frost who it was.  He said it was Sgt. Stephen L. Bryson.  I asked who he was.  The dad said, “This man is my hero.”  “He was one of the first soldiers sent to Afghanistan and he died trying to kill the mother$%#@’s, that killed my daughter.”  His eyes started to well up.

Then Mrs. Frost, eyes full of tears began to tell me the story of Sgt. Bryson.  She said that Sgt. Bryson had recently had a little girl.  She was born 1 week after his death.

She went on to say that when she read about him in the paper, she felt the need to try to contact his widow, for she had lost a daughter, and the little baby lost a father.  She spoke with her on the phone. As they talked they found out that they lived only 3 blocks away from each other!

Now they see Mrs. Bryson and the baby all the time, and have actually “adopted” her and the child as their “Family.”

I was frozen for a moment for I wasn’t expecting to hear this type of story minutes before singing the anthem in front of 55,000 people.

Finally I found the courage to ask another question.  “I’m I father of a 9 year old daughter.  She’s right there preparing to videotape my rendition of the Anthem.” “Do you have any advice for me?”  Mr. Frost called my daughter over and introduced himself.  Then he looked up at me, grabbed my shirt and said, “LOVE HER!” Then he began shaking me and repeating those words over and over again, “LOVE HER….LOVE HER…!” I said, “OK.”

I asked Mrs. Frost if it would be ok to wear the buttons of Lisa and Sgt. Bryson when I sang the anthem.  She looked at me…. didn’t say a word.  Then she began to pin the buttons, side by side, over my heart. Tears of pride streamed down her cheeks.  She patted me on the shoulder and said, “Break a leg.”

I needed to hear that, for I was so caught up in the moment that I didn’t think I could regain my poise to sing. That brought a smile to my face.

I asked them if I could dedicate my rendition of the anthem to Lisa and Sgt. Bryson. They couldn’t answer me.  They just cried and nodded “yes”.

As the public address announcer called out my name, “Coach D”, I never felt prouder to be an American.

After the rendition, I immediately went over to my daughter, who was standing a few feet in front of me with the video camera. I hugged her, and told her, “I LOVE YOU!”

Mr. Frost just nodded and smiled.

As I look back on that moment I sometimes think about the fact that 55,000 people were at that game.  Yet no one knew this story was taking place right in front of them.

There are other stories.

 I ask that you not forget the Lisa Frost/ Sgt. Bryson story.

A follow up to Mr. and Mrs. Frost’s story:

Unfortunately, a few years after 9-11, Mrs. Frost went into a deep depression, began taking heavy prescription drugs and alcohol.  Mr. and Mrs. Frost divorced, yet remain friends.  A couple of years ago Mr. Frost stopped by her house to drop off some food and found her unconscious in her swimming pool. Thankfully, he got there in time and was able to save her…

Losing a child…one is never quite the same…

Coach DGlenn Dumas, “Coach D”, is a Career and Technical Education instructor that teaches Computers, Retail Marketing and Careers. He has been teaching for 16 years.  “Coach D” also has an educational CD called “Winning with Times Tables”, where he teaches kids their multiplication tables through music.

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The Passive Aggressive Girl’s Guide to the Universe (again)~ Rae

For our one year anniversary I am reposting one of my favorite Pieces. I had so much fun writing this post! Plus it really caused me to do some soul-searching and I definitely grew because of it. That is not to say that I am no longer A PAQ- because I totally still am!!!

PAQ2

The last few weeks I have been dealing with anger. Not the passionate rage of an injustice that demands action but rather the sneaky little, snippy annoyances that build and Build and BUILD. Everything gets under my skin and it all propagates, gathering up like a storm from The Wizard of Oz. Little things like the tone I think I read in an email, to the fact that there is no toilet paper on the holder (Doesn’t that make you want to scream?) start to drive me slowly insane.  Confession time: I do not handle anger well but most people would never know it.  I tend to smile and nod, while secretly plotting my revenge upon which I will most likely never act. Instead, next time that person who made me livid asks me for a favor – oh I will do it, but maybe a little bit slower than I could. HA, that will show them!!! Then one day, when I can’t take it any more so I explode in a rant that my poor husband has to listen to over the fact there is no Diet Coke in the fridge.  He doesn’t even drink Diet Coke….

I now proclaim myself the Queen of the Passive Aggressive Universe.

To prove my sovereignty of this magical kingdom I will share a tale of my passive aggressive past that haunts me still.

20 years ago (dude- that makes me sound old) I worked my way through college as a “Formal Wear Consultant” at the local tuxedo shop inside Sears. This was a fabulous job. I was able to work around my college classes and mostly I dealt with joyful scenarios such as weddings and proms (However, I do now contain copiousness amounts of useless information about Tuxedos. Also, I have serious issues with gentlemen’s pants length- the back of the hem should fall to where the heel meets the shoes, Guys- WHERE THE HEEL MEETS THE SHOES!).

So one day while I was busy formally attiring the world, the Security Nazi, I mean “Loss Prevention Specialist”, rushed into the tuxedo domain and pointed his finger at me announcing that we needed to talk. Realize please, I was in the middle of helping customers.  My mind raced all over the place. I thought oh no, who died? What happened that could cause this beast of a man (and he was huge) to need to speak with little ole me? I was worried sure, but not scared, because I knew the perfectionist in me would never allow me to do less than stellar work. My heart trembled, because I just knew a tragedy MUST have befallen someone I knew.

He escorted me to his lair, I mean office. There he proceeded to read me the riot act and write me up with an official looking document that would be placed in my “Permanent Employee File”. ME? I never even had detention in high school.  My head spun and I gasped for air. What could I have possibly done to make him this angry and put my glittering employee record in jeopardy? Had I been caught shop lifting, one might wonder? Was I rude to a customer? Oh no my comrade, my heinous crime against humanity involved parking. That’s right; you read that correctly, “PARKING”.

I had not parked in the official parking zone of the Sears parking lot. And why- you ask- would Miss I Follow All the Rules not park in the appropriate place? Frankly because, I didn’t know that there was a designated parking area. The company I worked for rented space from Sears. Not being an official employee of Sears, I had never received the employee training that included the very important detailed section on parking rules and regulations. I pleaded my case: I didn’t know. I hadn’t even parked in the front parking spaces thereby stealing prime spaces from customers. The lot was huge and never full. He remained un-swayed and didn’t show an ounce of mercy. He took me out on a walk of shame to the parking lot to physically point out where I should have parked. He made quite a show of gesturing at the lines on the ground. He seemed to have a talent for pointing. I even wondered if showing mastery of pointing was part of the employee interview process for his position.  “Here” he snarled, “Not here” he pointed. I struggled to hold in the tears that threatened to fall as I promised, swore on my dog that I would park appropriately from now on.  And I did… for about 2 weeks…

Then my distress and dishonor turned to wrath. The kind of passive aggressive ire I am a Jedi master in. By golly, I showed him. For the rest of my tenure at the Tuxedo shop (4 years) I parked exactly ONE space over from where he had indicated on that dreadful day. There were no official lines or landmarks that separated the employee area from the rest of the lot. It was more a general area in the back of the lot. Nevertheless, I remembered exactly where he had pointed (repeatedly) and parked one spot to the wrong side of it. I smiled a little bit every time I did it to.  Honestly, I am smiling right now as I remembering my satisfaction of winning that battle, at least in my head.

Obviously if 20 years later I can still remember this event vividly, it reveals that I have not let this issue go and just how poorly I deal with my anger. Also with the last few weeks weighing heavily on me, I knew I needed help.  I decided to do some research and compare “The Passive Aggressive Queen’s Guide to the Universe” that I live by (and wrote) to the more mainstream healthy approaches to dealing with anger to see how much therapy I am really going to need.

My Comparison:

According to the article “The Dos and Don’ts of Dealing with Anger” there are 13 ways to handle anger well.

“The Dos and Don’ts of Dealing with Anger”`

  1. Do Count To 10 (Or 100)
  2. Do Forgive
  3. Do Distract Yourself
  4. Do Take A Deep Breath
  5. Don’t Deny That You’re Angry
  6. Do Write About It
  7. Don’t Stomp Or Storm
  8. Do Exercise
  9. Do Practice Compassion
  10. Don’t Send An Email When You’re Angry
  11. Do Try To Be Grateful
  12. Do Talk, But Not Right Away
  13. Do Consider Prayer

According to “The Passive Aggressive Queen’s Guide to the Universe” I am annoyed that there are 13 items on the list. Isn’t that unlucky? What happened to the magical number of 10 for lists of self-help?  Furthermore, my obsessive compulsive self also does not appreciate the way the list switches back and forth from DOs and Don’ts without a pattern. Either list all the DOs first and follow with the Don’ts or switch off every other one- DO, Don’t, DO, Don’t etc… Come on people. My annoyance level =13.

The Passive Aggressive Queen’s Guide to the Universe

  1. What if a Passive Aggressive Queen (PAQ) counts to 3000 and still wants to stick a fork in someone’s eye? Instead PAQs will count 10 ways to get even that the person will never realize came from the PAQ.
  2. PAQs forgive the person who annoyed them. Maybe. Someday.
  3. Squirrel. PAQs can distract others from the real issue with finesse (UP movie reference).
  4. Oh PAQs can breathe it usually gets faster and faster like an evil genius of epic proportions or a woman in labor.
  5. PAQs Deny, Deny, Deny and SMILE.
  6. Ok, well here I seem to be in agreement, even if it is years later.
  7. PAQs throw grandiose hissy fits behind closed doors.
  8. PAQs ask- would I have to put down my cupcake? If so I am out.
  9. Dang it- I admire compassion. Just not for my parking lot nemesis. He gets NONE.
  10. Emails are the perfect passive aggressive response for a PAQ. It’s fantastic since we do not even have to be in the same room as the enemy. (Seriously, I definitely need to stop sending emails while angry. I always regret it later)
  11. PAQs are always grateful I have so much in my life to be grateful for: a wonderful family, great friends, a good job. I am also grateful parking lot brigadier never caught on to my diabolical plan.
  12. Avoid, Avoid, Avoid. Passive Aggressive Queens don’t ever talk about why they are angry. Well at least not about the REAL issue.
  13. MAN- now God has called me out. I hear you Lord; I hear you. I will try to work on this about myself. AND I will stop parking in that same dang spot every time I go to Sears even now. Let it go my fellow PAQs, let it go.
  14. (I just couldn’t leave it on an uneven number) EVENTUALLY PAQs realize they need to deal with themselves and their approaches to anger. Of course everyone gets peeved and stressed, that is normal. It is how a person deals with it that makes her either a Passive Aggressive Queen or just a Queen.

Be a Queen (or King) my friends. Be a Queen to your love ones and your enemies.

And for Pete’s sake watch where you park.

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