Saturday, February 4, 2017

Finding Fun in February

This past week, I was able to get away for a few days and go up to Sedona to visit my dear friend, Emilie.   It is always so good to see her and even when we haven't been together for awhile, it seems like it was just yesterday that we were.   

Emilie was a teacher at Gilbert Elementary when I first started as the principal.  She was one of the best teachers ever and I loved being in her classroom and seeing the community of learners that she built.   She loved her kids and they loved her and so did her parents.

Emilie comes from a large Basque family.    Her family reminds me so much of mine.  I have been to a couple of their reunions through the years and they are much like ours in many ways.

 Em has two great sons, John and Joe.   Both of them are now married.  John and his wife live in Cottonwood and Joe and his wife in Flagstaff.   Joe and Dara recently opened up an incredible restaurant named Shift.   We joined Em's better half, Greg, there for dinner on Wednesday night.  It reminds me a lot of Cafe Roka in Bisbee and the food was very different and very delicious.

There was so much snow in Flagstaff and the drive up was incredible.   I have never seen that much snow in the area.   The only problem is that in Flagstaff, the snow has become dirty.   Walking around downtown was a bit scary as it is icy and wet. 

We walked both mornings that I was there and it was so beautiful.   We walked around the Oak Creek golf course and the red rocks are in incredible.

Of course, we talked, laughed, danced and drank a bit!!   We never seem to run out of conversation at all.    I so enjoy my time with her and hope to be able to get back up there soon.

Thanks, Emilie, for two wonderful days and nights!!  I was able to relax and unwind and that was much needed! 

And as an added bonus, I got to go to lunch with my friend, former principal and former "big" boss, Sherryl (Henning) Valentine.    It was so nice to see her and talk to her before heading back to Gilbert and my new work!!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Another Visit to Douglas

This past Friday, I made another trip to Douglas for a funeral.   The last two times I have been down there it has been for a funeral--not a good reason to go, but because of the wonderful relationships I made during my five years down there, it was important for me to go.

This one was for a dear friend from high school, Angie Acedo Rivas.    We had reconnected during my time in Douglas and she was an incredible photographer.  She took pictures of the area around our cabin which I will always treasure.   Angie was one of the nicest and kindest humans I have ever known.   
The church was filled, which was a tribute to the kind of person she was.   I felt so badly for her three sons.   They lost their dad a few years ago and they are still young.     

Two of our former classmates spoke at the end of the service.  One asked to have all of the class of 1967 stand up.  It was so nice to see so many "old" friends.    Growing up in a small town is a unique experience at so many levels.

I went down on Friday and was able to go out with two of my dear friends, Carol and Lisa.  We went to the Gadsden and then to the Legion to meet some of my friends. 

At the Gadsden, I met the new owners.  It  is so great that someone bought this beautiful historic building that remains a huge part of the Douglas community.

After the services on Saturday, a reception was held at the Elks Club.  I was able to visit with more friends.

Every time I go back to Douglas, it continues to be a really good thing.  I met so many incredible people during my five years there.   Those relationships mean the world to me.

Saturday afternoon I drove to Tucson and spent the night with Elise and Jessie.   That is always the highlight of anything I do!!   I love my time with them always.  They are the best of friends to me.  We went to eat at Outback and talked and laughed.    I am not sure what I would do without them in my life!!

I am back home now and went to see Teresa.   She was glad to see me, but was a bit out of it.    I guess the good thing is she didn't realize I hadn't been there for two days.

Have our first business meeting as Board President on Tuesday.    We have a long agenda and it should be interesting.    

Saturday, January 7, 2017

My Favorite Children's Author

Many of you who read my posts know how much I love the children's author and storyteller, Carmen Agra Deedy! Her book "The Last Dance" is my all time favorite book ever. It is a beautiful book about the circle of life and the importance of family. In the story, the grandfather tells his grandchildren that everyone has the right to three things in life:

To Dance. The great thing in life is not so much to dance well, but whether one is willing to dance at all.

To Sing. Even if you sing off-key, the crow has as much right to a voice as the nightingale.

To Tell Stories. Those we love are never really gone as long as their stories are told.

I love that Facebook and blogs allows us to share the stories of those we love who are gone.

Carmen has become a friend and we are working on her coming to Gilbert in the spring of 2018. She is inspirational as a storyteller to kids of all ages, but she also touches adults. I absolutely love her and she is one of the most amazing people I know. Yesterday she left me a message saying she would be honored to come to Gilbert. Her schedule is so full so it will be a year. I will be working to get funding to pay for her. I have seen her have kids in the palm of her hand from kindergarten through eight grade as well as adults.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Welcoming 2017

I don't usually make New Year's resolutions as I find them kind of ridiculous!   However, this year I am going to set a goal of writing more on my blog.   I enjoy writing a lot, but there are times when I get "writer's block" and I don't seem to be able to come up with anything interesting.

For New Year's Day we had a family dinner with my family, Judy and Teresa. This is the second time that Teresa has been here since she went to the group home at the end of November.   Of course, the pugs (especially Diego and Lucy) were so glad to see her.   

I had worried that she would not want to go back, but she was fine with it.   She is always so sweet, but her mental decline continues.   I was trying to explain to Patrick as he was asking me about her long term memory.   It is hard to tell because it is very hard to have a conversation with her about anything anymore.  She nods her head and smiles a lot and sometimes will say things.  She still continues to try hard around the friends and family that she doesn't see every day.   It is a lot of work for her and I am glad she doesn't feel that she has to do this with us.

I try to get over to her house every day for a short time at least.   I have made it most days and will continue to make visiting her a priority.    Now that we know she can come over to the house, I will try to have a nice dinner some Sundays of the month.

My walking is important to me, but I have slacked off a lot in the last month. I have had trouble sleeping since I started taking care of Teresa as we were up a lot in the night and then I couldn't go back to sleep.    With her here, I had to be up with her when she would get up in the mornings and that was never consistent.

Since she has been gone, my sleep patterns haven't gotten any better.   I had gone to the doctor earlier and he told me that caregivers often get health problems because they don't take care of themselves.   He gave me some meds to help me sleep.    I couldn't figure out why I was feeling strange over the last few weeks and had no energy.   I thought it was just from lack of regular sleep and the stress of the care giving and then having her move out.   I have never felt like this before.   A friend told me that she had taken the same meds for a while and that they had a really bad effect on her.  So I looked up the meds and it kind of answered a lot of questions.  I quit taking them Thursday and I can't believe the difference.  I WILL NEVER take anything like this again.

So I guess my resolution if it can be called that because I was really doing well until the last month is to get my walking done each day.    I may not try to get 10,000 every day of the week, but will make sure I get a good walk in no matter what.

Yesterday it was cold and dreary but I went out and got a little over a mile in which I thought was good.   There is a farm close by and as I was walking down one street, there were a whole bunch of roosters and chickens out. This happens often but it is funny to see them in a subdivision just walking around.

A week from tomorrow is the first Governing Board Meeting of the New Year with a new board.   There are three new members of the board.   I am looking forward to this new endeavor.  I also know that it is going to be difficult at many levels for many reasons.   However, I will continue to look at the big picture and always do the best I can for our future generation!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year 2017!

I was remembering tonight the many wonderful New Year's Eves that I spent with my wonderful cousins.   We usually went to Durant's (or as my mom called it, Duranti's) for dinner and then back to Yaya's.  I would always spend the night there.   It was so fun with Tony and Yaya, Pat and Phil, Cecilia and Jay, and others through the years.   I miss those times as they were the best.   I am so grateful for my cousins and I miss both Tony and Phil.    New Year's Eve will never be the same for me!!

This has been an eventful year.   I have posted so many times about my wonderful Aunt Teresa and the decisions we have had to make for her in these past few months.   I went to visit her today at the group home.   She is in wonderful place, but when I got there today, she said she was almost ready for me to take her home.    She hasn't really asked that much since she has been at the home, but it still gets to me when she asked.   The last month she was here at my house, she asked every day that I take her home.   I have said this over and over again, but at the end of 2016, I still believe it.  I HATE Alzheimers!!   It is such a sad way to to spend the end of your life's journey robbed of the dignity of your brain.  But she is happy and in a good place.   I love Kathy and Joel, the caregivers.  They are so good to her.   Although I wish that this had not happened, I know that this was the best we could do for her at this point in her life.  

Tomorrow, January 1, 2017, I will officially be a Governing Board Member for Gilbert Public Schools.  Although I was sworn in earlier this month, the term doesn't start until tomorrow.  I am excited and a bit nervous about this new experience in my life.  I just know I will do the very best that I can always.

Yesterday I had lunch with one of my former Gilbert El kiddos.   She is amazing and is doing a lot politically in Arizona.  I am so proud of her and so glad to have reconnected with her.     That is the best part of this journey for me--to see so many of my former students doing so well.  I have such hope for our future because of these wonderful young adults.

It is a quiet evening for me.  I am "home alone" and it is certainly not anything to make a movie over. I have relaxed and watched some football and a couple of shows that I had not seen before.   It is so weird to just sit and relax.   Haven't done that for awhile and it has taken me a bit of time to get used to this new phase of my life.

The good thing is that I can fix anything I want for dinner.  I had thought about ordering out, but decided to make cauliflower and cheese soup.   I have experimented with this recipe for quite sometime, and tonight's came out delicious.      

There are a lot of fireworks going on.   The pugs have been okay, but Maya keeps barking.  I know I won't make it until midnight, but will put the doggie door down when I go to bed in hopes to keep them from barking and running outside!!

I am hopeful for 2017, but am still worried about the climate in our country right now.  I hope that what is going on leads to some dialog so that we can get past some of the awful "stuff" that has happened over the last year.   We need to be accepting and kind for all.   It is sad that having differences of opinion has lead to so much contention.     My hope is that we can come together and figure this out before it is too late.  I HATE HATRED!!!

It is almost the New Year in New York.  I will be awake for that, but hope to be asleep before it happens here in Arizona.  My sleep patterns have been so off for the last several months.    And that takes its toll.

I am so thankful for the wonderful family that we have and the incredible circle of friends that I have.  It is what is most important!!

So HAPPY NEW YEAR and hope that 2017 will bring peace, understanding and acceptance for all of us!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Embarking on a New Endeavor

It doesn't seem possible that 2016 is almost over.   It has been an eventful year is so many ways.     I have been thinking over the last few days about all that has happened this past year and the new adventure that I am embarking on in less than two weeks.  

I have written about my dear friend, Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch in the past.   She is one of the most amazing humans I know.   I had posted one of her quotes awhile back about the importance of listening.   She believes that there are three things that are important in any pursuit--one of them being active listening.

I love the other two and know how important all three are to being successful in any endeavor. 

""First embrace your own story, because you can not understand where you are going until you have understood where you have been. And when you think no one knows, remember YOU KNOW! So hold on to that as your measure of ethics."

"Often in our pursuit for future endeavors, we unintentionally create distance from our past. Instead, take the good things that helped contribute to who you are today and integrate that into the workplace in a positive way. For example: if you learned something in a unique and effective way, teach someone else that technique."

"Embrace the story of others."We sometimes think of diversity as us versus them, but everyone has a story."

"Letting down your guard in business is never an easy task. Besides wanting to maintain a certain professional tone, we all have our own pre-existing notions about one another-which can sometimes be a barrier that blocks us from being open to different ideas. Remember, when working together you are all on the same team! So, drop those notions and focus on combining your differences for the good of the business"

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A December to Remember

I am not a big fan of all of the hoopla of the holidays.   Never have been other than when I was a little kid and my kids were little.   I don't like to decorate and more than decorating it is taking down the decorations that I hate so I haven't done any decorating in awhile.

This year with Teresa being in the group home was especially difficult.   It was our first Christmas not knowing what to expect.    We were able to take her to Christmas Eve at Yaya's and she came to my house for Christmas dinner.

I was a bit nervous about that because it was her first time being here and I wasn't sure what she would remember or if she would want to stay. The pugs were so excited to see her, especially my black ones because they were in Douglas with us.  It was really cute to see how they all reacted when they saw her.  She was perfectly content and was ready to go back to her home after dinner.  I don't think she remembered being here or at Yaya's but we will all cherish those memories.

December also brought the swearing in for the GPS Governing Board.  I can always count on my family to show their support and this was no different.   Even my friend, Patty, went down to the County office for the swearing in.   We went to lunch after to celebrate and it was a very nice day.   I know that I have a big job ahead of me, but I will do the very best that I can with some very difficult decisions that I know are going to be coming up in the next four years.

A former student of mine from my principal years invited me to a very special event.  He met his girlfriend when they were in fourth grade at Gilbert El.    He wanted to propose to her in the classroom where they met.   He arranged with his former sixth grade teacher to set it all up.   I was so privileged to be there and so touched that I would be invited.   I have absolutely loved the reconnected with so many of my former students from when I was a principal and how incredibly supportive they have been to me.   I have heard so many of them tell me that what was important was that I knew every child's name, I had lunch with them at least once during the year when they were the Top Cat, and I gave them a birthday balloon on their birthdays.   Other than the balloons, nothing else cost any money and the balloons were not that expensive.  It proves my belief that relationships are what it is all about.   

Yesterday I spent the day figuring out how to minimize the tax bill I will have to pay for selling the rental house in Mesa and then reinvesting that money in a house for Patrick in Oakland.   Tax laws definitely hurt the middle class in my opinion.   It doesn't seem quite fair to get dinged for something like this.    Fortunately, I didn't make any money on it when I rented it and put quite a bit into improvements so I don't think I will get hurt that badly for it.    But no matter what, it was worth it for Patrick to have a nice home to live in and not a studio apartment.   Oakland is gentrifying so it is a great investment.   People can't afford to live in San Francisco anymore and Oakland is so close that housing is really starting to become expensive.   It is amazing how much different the market is here compared to there.    It is a really cute house and they have made it a home.

For the most part, 2016 has been a good year.   What has been the most difficult is watching the mental decline of my dear Aunt Teresa.   In just one short year, she was able to be left alone for periods of time, to not being able to be left alone at all, to having to be put into a home with the care that she needed that I was unable to provide.   Although it was such a difficult decision, it was the right thing to do for her.    She is happy there and is very well taken care of by the people who own it.  I miss having her here, but we go see her just about every day.

I hope that 2017 will be a good year in many ways.  I pray that Teresa does not suffer and that she is able to have some dignity in her life. I hope that my tenure on the Board will be positive, even though I realize that decisions will be criticized.  I know that I have always done the very best that I could for children, teachers and staff and I will continue to strive to make the best decisions possible.  I went to lunch with some friends on Monday and this was in my fortune cookie.  Don't usually pay attention to these, but this one was interesting, to say the least: