I love you, you are beautiful, I forgive you, and I hope you forgive me too

My friend recently attended a funeral mass and she was struck by the Priest’s comment that we should tell the people in our lives every day, “I love you, you are beautiful, and I forgive you” I might add, “I hope you forgive met too” such a lovely sentiment. So many times we hold grudges and have hurt feelings, wouldn’t it be wonderful if every single day we simply forgave? Life lesson #1 forgive and forgive often. I know I struggle with a tender heart and sometimes I find it difficult to let things go. I bury my feelings deep, I have a wall around my heart, but in reality, I am protecting my broken heart. When I was young, I had so many dreams for my life that somehow slipped away. I faced many difficulties that I do not often speak about to my friends. My Dad and his best friend died in a plane accident, a broken marriage, a child with mental illness, and the day-to day struggles of a single parent. Sometimes, life seemed overwhelming and people so cruel. My Dad used to tell me that he could fix anything except a broken heart. He was right, he fixed all my hurts, until he died and then my heart shattered. Who knew that in the end my Dad would be the one to break my heart? Life lesson #2 tell your parents that you love them, because life is fleeting. My Dad loved me unconditionally and I love my children unconditionally too. Sadly, they do not love unconditionally in return. I hope and pray that one day they will. Until then, I simply wait and love them anyway. It is often the same with our friends they can be difficult to please. Try anyway – maybe they have a wall around their hearts too. Life lesson #3 we never really know the struggles that someone else is facing. Today, life is so much better. Many of my dreams that I put on hold have come true. Life does get easier or perhaps we develop better coping skills. During this Lenten period, I am trying to keep in mind to forgive, to love, and to appreciate all the people in my life. I hope that one day the people who hold grudges against me will do the same, until then, I love then anyway. Life lesson #4 stay strong life does get easier. To all my family and friends I love you, you are beautiful, I forgive you, and I hope you forgive me too.

Fear and Acceptance

Life is so precious and I think we tend to forget that until our world is rocked by something big and scary like the “C” word. My journey started last year in April when I went to the Doctor about an unusual bulge near my throat. During the test, the Doctor noticed nodules in my thyroid; I had to have a biopsy after the nodules were found. The biopsy was very painful and the wait to find out the results seemed like an eternity. It took three weeks of calling the Doctor’s office before I could not take the wait any longer and I went and picked up the results myself. My results were atypical follicular cells. The diagnosis was later changed to follicular neoplasm. Lesson number 1 is that it is okay to be afraid. I had to repeat every test I had over the past year except for the biopsy. Now it is February and I am scheduled for surgery in March. I must admit that I am frightened BIG TIME. I think I have gone through every emotion there is from denial to acceptance to anger to denial and now to being scared. At first, I shrugged this off with a smile and a joke.

Later I felt abandoned by my friends – hardly a word of care. I was especially angry with one that had recently gone through breast cancer. I thought that I stood by her by calling, going to Church, eating breakfast, and giving her small gifts. I felt that when I needed her she blew me off and compared her malfunctioning thyroid to my cancer and indicated “no big deal.” Now I realize that friendship is not 50-50, sometimes it is 70-30 and I would not change one moment of support for her and I would do it all over again. I now know that in her eyes, I am not a close friend, and that is okay with me. We all see each other differently. Lesson number 2 you cannot force someone to be your friend. I suppose that I have learned to appreciate my true friends and accept the acquaintances for just that and no more. I have learned that I have many wonderful friends that I did not realize before all of this.

I think people get the wrong impression about thyroid cancer, because they think it is the “good cancer”, while it has a great survival rate it also has a high rate of reoccurrence.  After thyroid cancer, people are subjected to test the rest of their lives. Life is forever changed for survivors. Lesson number 3 no cancer is good. I am afraid what will happen in March, but I know that I have a wonderful husband and my mother is there for me too. Life will return to normal and I will survive. Once my thyroid is removed that is not the end of this as I will have to face having radiation and yearly scans. I still cannot believe this happened, but I am thankful for the friends and the family that have shown me so much love and support. Lesson number 4 appreciate the people in your life and let go of the rest.

Looking for a Teaching Position Requires a Leap of Faith

Looking for a full-time teaching job is difficult. There are so many things to constantly tweak and update on your résumé. I feel like I am constantly working on branding myself. Do you ever feel like your résumé is just perfect? I am constantly asking my co-workers what they think and make changes to mine. My supervisor even went over my résumé with me and gave me advice. It seems like an endless process and at times overwhelming. I have to admit with each tweak or update my résumé does look better. The suggestions are wonderful and extremely helpful. Naturally, with each change I hope I have nailed the ‘right’ look. Is there ever a right look? I created a teaching portfolio, posted lesson plans, and videos. I streamlined my teaching philosophy and I practice my interview questions and answers. I recruit my friends to interview me. I continue to take graduate classes to keep my skills current and I teach a variety of college courses. I am ever ready.

This year I took a leap of faith and quit two of my three adjunct teaching positions. I am concentrating on just one job while I look for a fulltime position. I decided that it was hard to look for a position when I was teaching at so many schools. I am hoping that my leap of faith pays off and I find that elusive teaching position. Therefore, this year I decided that every day would be a leap of faith I will do something to work on making myself a better employee be it training, practicing interviewing, applying for a job, or networking. I am committed to doing one thing daily to help me find a teaching position. I grew up in the military – we call ourselves army brats. A friend recently told me that the term sounded negative and she is right. It is these little suggestions that makes a difference. I have worked as an adjunct for at least 15 years and when I do find a job, I will certainly appreciate my position. I know like me that many of you are probably looking too and I say GOOD LUCK! I use a few sites to that I find help me with my job search that I hope you find useful.

1. Higher Ed Jobs https://www.higheredjobs.com/ this site in invaluable you can set up an account and receive emails daily about open positions.
2. The chronicle of education provides a site to store you credentials at https://chroniclevitae.com/ . You can even apply for jobs directly from this site.
3. I use Weebly http://www.weebly.com/weebly to host my web site with my teaching portfolio. I pay a small fee to own my domain at http://www.jacquelineklueh.com/ .
4. Dropbox https://www.dropbox.com/ is a great site to store all of your important documents such as your résumé, transcripts, cover letters, and copies of certifications. I use this as a backup to the vitae service.

The most important thing to remember when you apply for a teaching position is to send all the required material, check for errors and make corrections, and keep believing in yourself. It can be discouraging when you are looking for a position, but something will open up for you. I continue to work as an adjunct and apply for positions knowing that soon the right job will come my way. Don’t give up and don’t take it personally if you do not get a position that you applied for just remember competition is tough. Keep moving forward.

A Second Chance

New beginnings are so exciting. The summer is ending, and rather than signifying a sad event, it signals that school will begin again. Students are eager to return to school, teaches are working hard to get their classrooms ready, and parents are shopping for school supplies. New freshman are entering college and excited about a new start. Summer does not signal the end, no it is a new and fresh start, a chance to redefine ourselves, in a sense, a second chance. I have many friends and family members starting new jobs and I am excited for them to see what new things they achieve.
I love the idea that in life we are given second chances, not just once, but over-and-over again. We all deserve a second chance, we all make mistakes, and we all learn from our mistakes. I celebrate my mistakes, because with each one, I have learned something very valuable. I have learned to love my children, as they are only young for such a short time. I discovered the true meaning of friendships, as fare-weathered friends are soon gone.

In life, I have survived the greatest heartaches the death of my father, the breakup of a marriage, the betrayal of a friend, and the heartache of a child with a long-term disability and yet, I survived, and even thrived. During my darkest moments, I felt heartache and despair, but I recovered and now I know that I can live through bad times and I can learn from them and help others during their bad moments. The other side is joy!

I see the end of summer as the beginning of new hope that life will get a bit easier, that dreams will come true. As I take joy in seeing kids return to school, and friends start new jobs, and family move to new homes I have hope that this year I too will get a full-time teaching job and if not I will preserver. Just as the seasons change and life is renewed, I am renewed. The greatest lesson I have learned with the ending of summer is that of hope that summer will return and life begins again – new.

The research paper: The end of the semester

The end of the semester is close and the students are getting excited about their summer vacation and for some their upcoming graduation. For me it is that time of the semester when I am reading and grading their research papers. I am always impressed with how hard my students work and the progress they make during the semester. At first, they are hesitant at the idea of a fifteen-page paper, but as we work through the writing process, they are amazed at their end products, a well-written research paper, with a solid thesis, introduction, conclusion, and all their arguments proved.

As I handed back the papers on Tuesday, I told one of my student s that his paper was great and he said to me that no one had ever told him that before. He asked if I was joking, and I said no, all the papers are great in this class, each of you write really well. Another student said she had never made above a C in English. It really saddens me to hear my students ever felt discouraged. How can a student write well if they have been discouraged and think that they are poor writers before they even start their papers?

I like to think of writing as a process and that if I look at what a student does really well and encourage them in the areas that they need to work on without discouraging them that they will learn and thrive in my class. I want all my students to succeed by positive feedback not by red pen mentality.

This particular class is an English Composition II class, so most of the students understand the writing process, but I teach other writing classes too. I take this same approach to encourage my students. For my GED students it means learning to write a well-crafted sentence, then two, and finally a whole paragraph. Before long, they are writing a solid essay, which is critical in passing the GED test.

As an adjunct, a part-time teacher, I am do not have the luxury of spending time in my office to work with students, so I strive to be available during my lunch, before, and after class. I am always pleased that many of my students will come and ask for a little extra help. I so love working with these students. I am always sad this time of year, the semester is ending, and I will have to say goodbye. I know that my students have learned and will go on to write excellent papers for their other classes. I hope my positive outlook on their abilities makes a difference to them; I know their positive response to me makes me smile.

Through Books We Can Indeed Time Travel

I often ponder time travel and think it would be so very wonderful to travel through time. To talk to people in the past and in the future. Not to change things but to better understand things. I recently concluded that you can indeed travel through time, at least to the past by simply reading. I decided that I would travel back and speak to De Montaigne and this is what I would ask:

 

Dear Mr. De Montaigne,

I recently read your essays and found them fascinating. In particular, I was fascinated with your essay on cruelty that concentrated on virtue. Sadly, schoolchildren face cruel comments daily. Children commit suicide over these cruel comments; they no longer just shed tears. As a teacher of the learning disabled,   I have seen my students afflicted with terrible pain by the words of other students. You wrote, “one who out of natural mildness and good-nature […] but another who, provoked and stung to anger by insult, takes up the weapons of reason against his furious desire for revenge,” These words rang true to me. I see this daily the struggle to remain calm and unaffected by the cruel words. How true when a child, “after a hard battle finally masters it, is undoubtedly doing a great deal more”. It takes far more thought and virtue to resist the urge to strike back and fight. The saddest for all is the child who loses all virtue and kills himself.

With deep thought I reflected on your comment that we call, “God good, mighty, liberal, and just but do not call Him virtuous:  His workings are all natural and effortless”. You wrote that to be virtuous one needs an adversary. Is not Satan the adversary to God? After further reflection, I see your point that God’s work is “natural and effortless”, therefore, we think of Him as good rather than virtuous. God is not in constant battle. It is society that battles with cruelty and either rises above it or falls to it not God. I would be interested in your thoughts on God’s teachings as portrayed in the Old Testament an, eye for an eye, as opposed to The New Testament’s love your enemies.

As you commented on Metellus, when substantiating your point, “that virtue refuses facility as a companion” and “virtue demands a harsh and thorny road; it desires external difficulties […]”; this clearly is indicative of the point you made at the beginning of your essay. Do I understand correctly, to be virtuous there must be internal or external strife? The execution of Socrates occurred when he challenged the Athenians’ justice. Socrates did not just accept the status quo; he valiantly opposed it. Is this true virtue? When Galileo wrote and published the Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World System, the Catholic Church tried him for heresy. I believe that he admitted to making a mistake in order to receive a lighter sentence. To me, this makes Galileo’s actions not virtuous since he did not did not stand up for his beliefs.

You wrote in your essay on presumption, which also touched on virtue that “truth is the fundamental part of virtue” and “what we say should be what we think”. Again, I am reminded of Socrates that despite his inevitable execution he did not back down. This too supports what you write in your essay on cruelty. The truth is not always easy to speak; there are often severe consequences when we stand up for what we know is the truth.

Sir, I am left with many questions and thoughts. I would love to know what your thoughts are on this subject. Would you be so kinds as to share your opinions? What really is virtue? Is the person who is of good character virtuous? It would seem not as they are naturally good. Is virtue the key to human happiness? Is virtue knowledge as Plato wrote? As I delve deeper into reading your essays, I am confident that I will find the answers to these questions and more. I end this conversation as an avid learner and reader.

Why I Read

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait b...

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait by her sister Cassandra, 1810 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I started reading when I was three. My grandmother in England had been a classical pianist in a symphony and taught at Cambridge University. My grandmother was an elegant woman, very refined, a connoisseur of tea, believed a child should have proper etiquette, and strive for the best education possible.

I was a military brat that moved yearly and sometimes twice yearly. I was probably not the refined little lady that my grandmother had envisioned for a granddaughter but she never let on. She spent hours teaching me how to prepare and drink the proper cup of tea and how to read. Both lessons I have never forgotten and will always be thankful to my Grandmother for taking the time and teaching me.

As soon as I could read a book without help, I was off and running and I do mean that literally. I was eagerly running to the library to find a new book to read. Reading became my best friend. When you move every year there are no friends to play or talk with, let alone visit. I was always the new kid in every school – all 22 of them.

I challenged myself to read more and more difficult books. In kindergarten, we lived in Bicknell Indiana while my Dad served in Korea. I would go to the City Hall every day and venture down to the basement, which housed the library. I read every Beatrix Potter book I could find. I loved her books; my love of Beatrix Potter grew into my live of classical literature. I adored Emily Bronte and Jane Austen. The classics teach lessons about life, decisions, humanity, history, and even about the future. From reading the classics, I understand how people lived and how we should live to be better people.

My time in Bicknell was well spent, for the first time in my life I had friends and these friends I have kept for a lifetime. As my Dad served in Vietnam or was stationed away from us, we would return home to Bicknell and these friends always embraced me. To this day I am thankful for my North Knox friends who may never relies what their kindness meant to me and still means to me to this day. When you are a military brat, you are from everywhere and nowhere. You do not really belong or fit in anywhere. It is a lonesome feeling even to this day.

As a became older I fell in love with other genres thrillers, mysteries, sci-fi, and general literature. I would pick up a book and within a day or two, I would be finished. I always felt like I was saying goodbye to a friend each time I finished a book. In a way, I was saying goodbye to all the characters that lived in my head. I later became engrossed in biographies. I love to read the letters of famous people like Einstein, Newton, and Vincent van Gogh. Reading the letters is like getting to know the most intimate side of each of them.

There are many authors I follow and books that I re-read each year. One of them is Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning”. Each time I re-read a book I see something new, something I missed the last time I read the book. Books provide endless lessons to me on living life with grace. I can’t imagine not reading. I want to share my love of reading with other people that is why I became a literacy tutor and later a reading teacher. I have since earned a master’s in reading and literature. I want to teach about books, have grand conversations with students, and instill my love of reading with them. I am still trying to figure out how to share this love with students who show little interest in a book or a story when I figure it out I will tell you, until then I will keep trying.