Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Inspirational Teachers--it's amazing how they stick with you

No printed word, nor spoken plea can teach young minds what they should be. Not all the books on all the shelves – but what the teachers are themselves.
Rudyard Kipling

My French teacher in middle school was in her mid-twenties when she was my teacher. I was always amazed by her energy, which seemed boundless in relation to her frustrating, neo-teen students. She was an incredibly passionate person and her interests became more and more apparent in French class when her French lessons veered away from the language to the politics and culture of the third-world locations where the language was spoken. She taught mini-human rights lessons and enlightened us to the plight of NGOs in Haiti. She organized a fundraiser in our class to raise money for Heffer so that we could buy cows and goats for poor families in Haiti.

During my eighth grade year, she started a class called "Teens Around the World". You have no idea how much I regretted not taking this course. I wanted to focus on "real" classes, classes that prepared me for college. And then I figured, when I get to college I could take courses like Teens Around the World. That opportunity never came though and I think I missed out on a class that could have really helped me blossom into the person I am trying to be now.

Her class focused on teenagers around the world and their experiences, particularly in third-world and developing nations. She wanted to expose us to more than just Spice Girls and Melrose Place. Whenever I think about teaching or working in schools, I think about this class and how I wish every school had a course like this. Now, over 14 years after taking her courses, I am trying to implement something similar at the base high school. I'm amazed by how much her passion and interests have affected me now and I think and hope I am not the only one. She was an amazing teacher and I will always be grateful for my experiences in her classroom. I hope the ripple doesn't stop with me though... Here we go Lakenheath!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Little Things in Life: Leave it to Beaver and other great theme songs

Eddie Haskell: Gee, your kitchen always looks so clean.
June Cleaver: Why, thank you, Eddie.
Eddie Haskell: My mother says it looks as though you never do any work in here.
Leave it to Beaver

I've decided to start a new series in my blog about the little things in life that make it great. It will basically highlight actual things that make me happy...

I realized a few months ago that I get really bored with "domestic" duties. Laundry, cleaning, dishes... it all gets pretty tedious and repetitive, right? However, if you've got some music to rock on to, all those little domest-ickies become easier to do. I was walking to the store a few months ago, kinda zoned out, and started playing this little tune in my head. Didn't really pay much attention to it until I realized how much my mood was lifted. And then I recognized the tune! Oh gloriousness, the Leave it to Beaver theme song... Kinda dopey, but it freakishly works. I try not to admit it to too many people but I'm not ashamed... it's a happy little tune.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

My Yoda!

Feel the force!

More character building... is that Gwen?

Or Yoda that was?

Humor is the spice of life. I intend to be a spicy parent. Practicing now.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wedding series: Breaking even Pays off

Reunion after long separation is even better than one's wedding night.
Chinese Proverb

I was searching for family reunion quotes to introduce my blog on my recent family reunion and I had to smile when I saw this quote on a website dedicated to family reunions since my family reunion happened to be at my wedding. I'm not sure which was more pleasurable(/awkward)--the family reunion after thirteen years or the wedding night watching Clint vomit in the sink while this massive moose head stared at me whilst cleaning tomato chunks out of the drain.

Anyways, to the discussion at hand! While Clint and I were tallying up the costs of our wedding a few months ago, I started to wonder if it was all worth it... all the stress over guest lists, lodging, planning. The average U.S. wedding costs $25,000. While we didn't quite hit the average cost, we went well over budget. I couldn't help but wonder, is this one day all worth it?

A few days after the wedding, Clint and I started reading all the cards. They were so filled with love. Amazingly, I managed not to cry during the wedding but when I read my sister's card, the tears were rollin'! She's the most inexpressive person in the family I think... in our family, that is a feat. We're not great with communicating our feelers. Her card was so sweet though. As I continued to read the cards and let her sentiments sink in, I became incredibly grateful for all the hard work we did the last year to make this one day happen. We had not seen my brother Andrew in over 13 years. The rest of us see each other once a year at most. To have a series of days together during which my brothers were helping my mom cook 10 pounds of chow mein and my sister was giggling in a photobooth made everything worth it.

This one day was more than sangria, calla lilies, and table arrangements. This day was an opportunity for my family to act like a family which hadn't happened in years. To have that again was priceless...

Andrew, Ben, Charles, Clint, me, Mama, Louise, Albert 05.29.10

Dear little shit: Don't judge me... or anyone.

Judgment is like elastic, it snaps back at you.

Dear Little Shit;

Try not to judge people, it's really not worth it. Take stock--your mother grew up judgemental, your father didn't. Check out who is smiling more in their childhood pictures.

Let me start over at a different angle. Love really is all that matters. Love, relationships, friendships... those are the things that will matter on your birthday, on your wedding day, when you're sick, when you're alone. Laughter lubricates love. Enjoy little moments, and if you can laugh at yourself, you'll find it easier to judge others less. Let me explain...

Your daddy grew up in a different place than your mommy. Your mommy grew up using food stamps and welfare. Your mommy grew up an "ethnic minority" as they say. Your mommy was also surrounded by other types of minorities. She became very self-conscious of her upbringing. But she made good grades and was praised for them; good grades mattered because good grades led to good jobs which led to financial security grandma couldn't provide for your mom and uncles. Financial security became an important goal. So your mommy learned happiness came from getting praised, and she got praise for doing things that other people weren't that good at. She liked the praise so she did more to stand out. She started to judge others to protect herself when she didn't feel good about life. But as she got older, she found out she wasn't that happy deep down.

Your daddy grew up with parents who were able to provide a more comfortable life for him. He grew up helping his friends and family do things on the ranch and in school. He grew up laughing a lot, even at himself. Grades were important but his family and friends helped him see how much more important the people he loved were. Daddy isn't a very judgmental person. Very few people are like daddy which is why he's so great.

Mom sometimes feels like she missed out on life because she was always criticizing herself to do better and this led to her criticizing others.She forgot to laugh at herself along the way (she still laughed at herself a lot, just ask Aunt Becky and Aunt Adrienne and all the dumb things mommy did in college). But she put a lot of pressure on herself and criticized herself. So then she criticized others because it made her feel better but only for a second. (It's like that adage... if you don't love yourself, you can't love others... or something.)

Grades are still important (very important) but at the end of the day, your report card, your work praise, your percentile improvements won't love you back. Grades don't give your life meaning, relationships do.

So be sure to treat your friends well. If you think you are better than them... then help them. If you think someone else isn't as good as you... remember, they might be better than you at something else. If you think someone else's ideas or values are wrong, tell them why you think so and ask them about theirs. Not everybody had the same chances you did in life so don't judge them for things they can't control. The joys of life will pass by while you criticize.

Be loving. Be open. Be trusting.

Mama Shit and Papa Shit.

Viv's going away; 2008 Bolinas, CA--the night Strom couldn't stop snoring, 
Adrian wanted to cuddle with the mattress, Rogers and Sunny became official, 
and Viv and I watched the seals while the sun rose.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Wedding series: Vows

Together we are better than the sum of our parts.
UPS man, seat 42B

I wanted to post our vows, so when I got sad or mad or just felt like having a pick-me-up, I could reread these, remind myself of what a gorgeous day that turned out to be and remind myself of the feelings I had when I wrote mine and when I heard his. Today, and everyday, I am thankful for these vows and the love that inspired them.

These were too beautiful to only have for one day....

Clint's vow:
I was told by a great friend, 'You know when you love someone fully when you have told them everything and your heart is laid bare.'

Since you appeared in my life, at an occasion similar to this, you have ignited my passion to live. Your beauty and intelligence invigorates my life. Your strength and passion lifts my spirit. You make me a better man.

All that you give for me, all that you do, I promise to do for you, I promise to share with you all that I am; to stand besides and support you while you achieve all your dreams. I promise true faith to you for all my life. As your friend, your confidante, your partner, I promise to
love you.

My vow:
Five years ago, I told myself I would never settle. Five years ago, I learned to have patience and faith in a love that was waiting for me somewhere. Five years ago, I was inspired by the best advice I had ever been given, and it was by a stranger on a plane. When I asked him, how do you know when it’s the right person? He said the most simplest and profound thing; He said, “When the two of you together are better than the sum of your parts, that’s when it’s right… that’s when you’ve found him”. It wouldn’t be for another two years that I would learn the depths of these words.

Clint, it is in you that I learned what love is, how to accept love wholly and to love unconditionally. You make me feel like the person I want to be; and you make me feel like I can be anything. I have loved you since I met you and I promise to love you forever. I promise to be there to console you in bad times and to rejoice with you and bring joy to your heart in the good times. I promise to laugh with you (and maybe at you) to keep our souls young; and to be by your side during the struggles as we grow old. I promise to walk by your side in the light, to lead you in the dark, and to have faith when I need your guidance. I promise to mirror your potential and to support your dreams. You have brought meaning to my life as you brought meaning to those words five years ago—together we are better than the sum of our parts. I promise to never forget that. I love you.