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.

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.

On a Whim!

Recently a co-worker who is a teacher at the high school I teach at stated that he felt teachers that majored in a content area and not in Education wanted to teach on a whim. I did not speak up as I often keep my thoughts to myself in the work place. But I wanted to respond, I wanted to speak up and say, I am not teaching on a whim if I were the whim put me back $40,000 in school loans. I purposefully choose the classes and two degrees that I have to be a well-rounded teacher of the Language Arts.  I majored in Literature of the Humanities at American Military University. The major is built on “The Great Books” philosophy. I read many classical pieces of literature and wrote lengthy papers on each book. I completed a 50 page thesis and took an 8 hour exit exam. I received an MA degree for my hard work and effort.  I earned a MLS degree from Fort Hays State University with a concentration in teaching Reading and English. I write a 50 page research paper on teaching students with learning disabilities how to read using the latest information. In addition, I wrote a 350 page text-book based on teaching developmental reading to high school and college students. I am presently tweaking this book in hopes of pitching the book to Pearson for publication. Lastly, I earned a graduate certificate in Composition and Rhetoric from Indiana University East. I did all of this because I wanted to share my love of Reading and English with students. I also had to pass several Praxis I and II test – which required hours of study and were rather expensive.

I know I should have spoken up when my co-worker made his comment which clearly he made without knowing how difficult it is to become a teacher through alternative methods. David McCullough an accomplished writer of Historical Novels stated on 60 Minutes that some of the best teachers are teachers that major in content areas that become experts on a subject and go to the classroom ready to share that knowledge with their students. I was so impressed that Mr. McCullough shared this opinion with the audience. I wish my co-workers shared this opinion. I face many comments and low opinions from my co-workers about my not being an Education major. They have no idea that I have taken well over 40 hours in Education classes with my work on teaching Reading and Composition and Rhetoric.

Perhaps I should become more vocal in support of my co-workers that are teaching via alternative routes. Teaching on a whim – hardly! Teaching is a difficult job. I rarely see a teacher that teaches on a whim. I do see teachers that are burned out but they soon move on. Teaching can be difficult due to the push for common core with few dollars to support the transition, outdated classrooms and technology, students that are hungry and tired. Teaching takes long hours of planning, preparation, and then grading; I love to teach – I just wish all teachers could appreciate each other and show support than making unkind and not well thought out remarks.

30 days in November!

November is fast approaching as is the challenge to write a novel in a month. Each year I attempt the challenge and each year I fail. Once again I am contemplating whether I should try again or not. I am good at achieving my goals so I am not sure why this one eludes me. To read more about this challenge check out the official website at http://www.nanowrimo.org/. I love to write and I have several works in progress but the idea of this challenge is that you write a novel that is not just lying around but actually start fresh. I think that is what scares me the most. I feel obligated to finish the novels that I have started and the idea of competing one that is in progress seems unfair to my sense of obligation. If I say I am a writer then I need to write and stop living in the dream world of someday. We all know that all too often someday never comes. So there we have it – my decision is made. This year 2012 is the year that I meet this challenge head on and write a novel during the month of November. I will report back in 5 weeks and let you know if I complete the challenge this time. Good thoughts and positive energy please.