January 2019 – I finally graduated college with a degree in Communication from Ottawa University 20 years later, it is finished. Finally, finished.
You know the old saying, “Home is where the heart is.”? Well, it has been co-opted and rewritten for many other concepts and ideas, and after everything that has happened over the past… 4 years… I never thought I would be saying this, but we ARE home. I’ve struggled in the previous months to understand everything that has happened and in truth I am not closed to an answer than i was on day one, but what i have come to know, realize, and accept, is that this is home. Arizona is home for myself and my family. I won’t go into any go the “Should we have left?” or “What would have happened if we had not left?” Those are irrelevant at this point. We have family here. We have friends here. We have support here.
The interesting thing about all of this is, we lived in Oregon for two years. We went to work, the kids went to school, we went to church, all for varying degrees of time while we were there, but the reality that has hit me the hardest in all of this is, THAT was not home. And, really, not for lack of trying… It may have been an extended visit. A temporary residence. Even a “learning adventure.” And in all truth it was not ALL bad. I learned a lot about who i am, Rach learned about herself and those are good things. We learned a lot about ourselves together, and all of this may not have happened if we had not made the transition to Oregon. But tonight, as I put the kids to bed and said goodnight, it became abundantly clear to me that “We are home.” This apartment that we have been in for a week or so, feels more like home than a house we lived in for 2 years… And I am glad for this, proud of this, proud of us for this, mores than I think I have been in a long time.
Well, after everything that has happened over the past few months, add to that work and other issues and struggles we have decided to go back home. We feel that this is the best thing for us and we have made our peace with the decision. The house is up for sale and we have buyers. We will see how this all goes, but the hope is for us to be home the last week in May. Until then, prayers are all we ask for.
The last few months.. alright, the last few years, have been a rollercoaster of good and bad, positive and negative, joy and sadness. Through all of this junk I’ve wondered if we made the right decision two years ago. In the beginning there was nothing anyone could say to me that could ever prove to me that he decision we made to move here was not the right one. People tried, believe me, but i was convinced that thesis where we were meant to be and thats all there was to it. And the truth of the matter is, for all I know this is exactly where we needed to be for the time we we re here, but the truth of the matter is that that time is over and we need to realize that the hopes and dreams that we had for this place are no longer viable and it is time to move forward and move on.
It’s been two years since we left AZ and i swore I would never return to the desert. Maybe there is a reason i never deleted this blog. I promised anyone who said that we would be back that there was no way in hell that i was going to live in AZ again, that I had come and gone one too many times and that we were done with this state and everything we had been through here. Maybe there is a reason that i never changed any of the subpages of this blog when we moved. Because the truth of the matter is i realize now that the place i swore we would never return to, the place i thought I hated and loathed so much is exactly the place where we need to be for many reasons.
If you read the last few blog posts here you will see the pattern emerging and as much as i want to say that they were situational and that they are not endemic of a pattern of repeated behavior at the hands of my bosses and coworkers i would be lying to myself. I’ve watched things occur repeatedly and after so many times and so many situation where you can see the pattern, recognize it before it happens and call the results you are only able to be acutely aware that this entire enterprise has a shelf life and its time for ou to make choices for the rest of your family and ensure their safety and security as being more important than anything else.
That’s where we are now. I could go into more detail regarding the last 6 months and all the nasty, dirty struggles we have been through as a family, but in the end it is all over and we were saved (yet again), by the prayers and support of so many people, most of whom, if not all, reside in that place i said we would never go back to. After all of this we realized that these people, this place, the desert, is exactly where we need to be and so we have begin making provisions and plans for a transition back to AZ at the end of the school year in June. Thesis the only place I have written anything, but i felt it was a safe place to write this down seeing as how no-one ever reads this blog. There are other things, as i have said that i could share, and maybe i will, but for now this is where things stand and i will keep this journey’s events updated as i feel they need to be.
In the end all i/we ask for are prayers. They’ve helped more than anyone knows.
Another school year is a month away. Along with that comes a whole host of new opportunities and options. One of these opportunities are a chance to finish things that I started a long time ago. I am very excited at what this means for myself as well as my family and their future.
Anyone who knows me knows I operate in a very logical manner and am always “planning.” This is how we got the house well lived in in Arizona, this is how we found the job in Oregon and got things rolling here as well. It’s just the way that I work. This new opportunity I have found myself in is no different. This opportunity opens a whole host of new doors for us and I plan to take full advantage of them when the time is right.
I am being purposely vague in this post because a very few select people even know what I am talking about and there are reasons for that. At the same time, I need a place where I can write things out and let them sit and stay. As things progress I will add more to explain and explore the possibilities. 🙂 Be patient.
Summer vacation is supposed to be a time of rest and relaxation for teachers.. or at least that’s what people THINK. The truth of the matter is that you are always working, always planning, always looking forward to the next “first day of school… Even though I am not working this summer for the first time since I started teaching this year is no different… except that it is 100 million times more stressful.
Remember the last post? Yeah, me too. And for a short time I thought things were getting better, and then they weren’t.. and then they were again, and now we are back at weren’t. Granted, I will say this outright and up front, the issues I had with my last job, these are polar opposites. Where my last job was an existence in a micro-managed and totalitarian routine of daily bureaucracy and politics, this is just straight up passive aggressiveness, mismanagement (OK, so that parts kinda the same…), and a place where friendships and personal feelings run the show. I can not exist in an environment such as this.
One day I am told that my bosses are going to do one thing and the next week they are not sure if they can or will because they do not know if they are legally allowed to do it, or if it will affect someone else’s feelings, finances, or friendships.. I wonder sometimes how this has managed to go on for so long and not implode..
But then there is the other part of things where my bosses have brought me in to add structure and transparency, and support, and a base curriculum… so I have done that… but no one knows how to run it. They *think* they do, they SAY they can, but the truth of the matter is when you are working with and for people who have little to no ACTUAL experience teaching authentic Montessori what the hell are we doing here?
So I do all of this work to make things more workable in so many areas… and then that’s it. No one asks for help, no one asks HOW this is supposed to work.. we even have people who have decided that EVEN THOUGH I have created a curriculum that is guaranteed to work, they are just going to do their own thing with no regard for anyone or anything.
The best part is: Remember the “passive aggressive” thing from before? Well, when people do their own thing there is NO ONE to call them to the carpet because people have created an environment of fear rather than one of support and positivity. What the hell man!
So, even though I was TOLD several times that things are going to go in a direction that guarantees stability and progression, authentic Montessori, cohesion and administrative functionality.. things are back up in the air because we d not want to affect people’s finances, friendships, or whatever else they can toss into the mix to affect the decision in their favour. What no one (well, with rare exception of two), seems to understand or want to see is that this is not about the teachers, this is not about the high school attitudes, the drama, and the pettiness, in the end the ones it has the most negative affect on is the students and in the end this affects how we are best able to educate children. This is what kills me. When do we stop and think about them? What’s best for them? Do we even care? And if we do not, then what the hell are we doing with our time, effort, money and lives? (This is the point where I just want to scream…, so I do that in my head, and then there’s this gem of a thought:
For all my issues I have/had with my last job thesis what matters: they gave me a foundation, a useable, workable, PROVEN successful foundation on how to educate towards growth and results. I just feel as if that is just not understood, valued, appreciated, understood.. I don’t know. My boss’s favourite phrase “Nothing is set in stone.” got tossed out again today in a conversation regarding next year.. Really? Because as far as I was concerned, I’ve been waiting for 2 months for things to be “set in stone”. I had NO REASON, other than the repeat knowledge of people’s inability to follow through on what they themselves have said is the best thing to do for students and school, to think that things were not progressing in this direction.
And then add this ti the mix:
On the more personal side of things it worries me that if these changes are not enacted it is going to affect T in the long run. She is not being challenged. She is being taught that drawing ponies, (as cool as her drawing are I grant you), are more beneficial than learning basic mathematics. I could write another entire blog post in the inadequacies (as I see them from my experience) of the “end result of what MY kid is getting). I KNOW I can give her what she needs. My bosses have SAID in no uncertain terms that the thing that is lacking in the LE program is academics.. HELLO!? I can fix that. This is not about me, although that is the way it must seem at this point. I see it like this: I have tools. Proven effective tools. A foundation that holds true and allows for growth and a love of learning. I WANT to be able to GIVE that to the kids in this program, but neither of the current lead teachers are prepared nor are they equipped to do this the right way. As far as I am concerned they don’t WANT to because it is a lot of change and a lot of work.
Change is the big issue here. It is a HUGE struggle and roadblock for this school. Staff, administration.. the only people who seem on board with it are the parents, and they have NO IDEA what it even looks like, they just know they want it. Well, that’s not true, my students going into 4th grade and THEIR parents know what it looks like and that was another fear voiced about my moving: “What about those kids and those parents?”
For me the choice is simple. I gave them the same thing I’d give the new students. They now have that as a growth point. If I can set this as the foundation for the 1st thru 3rd graders across the board then we can keep the growth going. Right now there are parents wanting to run for the hills because plays and ponies are just not cutting it.. and I don’t blame them. However, we can build on this, we just have to start somewhere.
My boss is supposed to call me at some point. Could be tomorrow, could be August, who knows. When he does I’ll know more. I just do not know what things look like long term. I want stick it out and SAY that I took this job knowing what I was getting into and that I was willing to take this on.. but the support I thought I had in this is gone. I have what I believe to be a better, stronger, more focused support, but with all of the behind the scenes conversations (because no one wants to take responsibility and be the adult here and say THIS IS WHAT’S HAPPENING!”) The whole ordeal is just draining me of energy.
All I can do is take things one day at a time and see what the end result is… but at this point I do not know how much faith I have in that result being actual results..
It’s sad and depressing when you make a huge life decision based off of information you are given by others and then less than a year later the bottle is uncorked and everything you thought is no longer.
The feelings you are left with are hurt, betrayal, anger, disappointment, frustration, and in the end the last thing you want to think about is: “What the hell do I do now?” Even more difficult than all of that is when the answer you get in return is: Nothing.
In the end i feel as if the only option I have left is to deal with it, suck it up, accept it for what it is and live each day knowing that the people you thought were on your side are just weak and not willing to go the distance to say what they mean and do what they say. There are the myriad of beautiful speeches extolling their vision and the things they want to see and do, but in the end the are not willing to take the struggle on and be true to that vision. The easy way seems to be the only way and the strength you thought existed in this person is just a front for the fear that holds them back from their true potential.
The weak will never inherit the earth (that’s meek..) and in the end they will only support the things that allow them to continue to live in their safe and comfy illusions.
I get the fact that change is difficult. I’ve been there. held fast by fear and the ‘what if’ of a situation, but in the end what is life, if it is not change and growth? Maybe the truth of the fact is that some of us are stronger than others and our experiences in life allow us to accept change and see the benefits without being paralyzed by the fear that others see as all-consuming.
There is no answer to find, no solution to divine from all of this. In the end all I can do is walk forward and see what happens. In the end I have made it this far and giving up is never a real option. I am just faced with the repercussions of others and trying not to change the way I treat them regardless of their choices. I do what I do because I love it and it is a part of who I am. If others do not see this the same way then this is their issue to deal with. There is only so much I can do for them.
Not that that makes it any easier.
Blessed Mother Olga (Michael) of Kwethluk
Her Life and an Akathist
Note: From the time I saw the icon (above) of Blessed Matushka Olga something resonated with me. I can not describe it, but as others who have experienced this have said, “There was just something about [her]. The holiness just exudes from the presence of the saints of God. This is the same with Matushka Olga.
Olga (Arrsamquq) or Olinka was not a physically impressive or imposing figure. She bore eight children who lived to maturity, delivering several herself, without the assistance of a midwife. Her sons and daughters cannot recall that she ever raised her voice to them. Real People do not shout. With a large family and a husband often traveling to one of the dozen villages entrusted to his pastoral care, Matushka was always busy, but not only with her own household chores.
In addition to sewing Father Nicolai’s vestments in the early years, and crafting beautiful parkas boots and mittens for her children, she was constantly knitting socks or fur outerwear for others. Hardly a friend or neighbor was without something Matushka had made for them. Parishes hundreds of miles away received unsolicited gifts, (traditional Eskimo winter boots, “mukluks”) to sell or raffle for their building fund. All the clergy of the deanery wore gloves or woolen socks Arrsamquq had made for them.
As her children grew up and married, Matushka Olga had more than two dozen grandchildren upon which to lavish her hand crafted treasures, but she never restricted her generosity to her own relatives. Week after week she prepared the eucharistic bread (phosphora), serving as the principle agent by which the created universe was transformed into an offering to God at the village Liturgy. Her knowledge of services was exceptional. Not many Orthodox today have committed to memory the entire service for a major Feast, but Matushka Olga knew the hymns of Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Pascha by heart in Yup’ik. Whenever a visiting priest entered her house, she hurried to don her scarf and approach with her right hand on top of her left, palms upward, requesting a blessing.
Increasingly freed from domestic chores as her remaining daughters assumed more of the load, she traveled with her husband to regional conferences, sharing her experience and wisdom with another generation of matushki. She enjoyed visiting other parishes during selaaviq, but was always glad to return home to Kwethluk. Through her lifetime, the village underwent radical changes. From a circle of small, semi-subterranean sod dwellings, it became a typical Eskimo town with a diesel generator, a grade school and later a high school, a community center, a Head Start program and clinic and several stores. Public radio and television from Bethel, seventeen miles down river, brought news and images of the world into every Yup’ik home. Wood stoves gave way to oil, dog sleds to snowmobiles.
Some years before her death, Matushka began to feel weak and ill but refused to concern any family members about her condition. She did not improve and her daughters noticed her loss of weight. Finally persuaded to visit the Bethel hospital, she was sent on to Anchorage. The specialists diagnosed terminal cancer. It was too late, they said. There was nothing they could do.
Matushka Olga received the news without bitterness or emotion, and returned home to prepare for the inevitable. Her family resolved that medical science would not have the final word, and two daughters left their bedridden mother for Kodiak, where they offered prayers both at Monk’s Lagoon and at the reliquary of St. Herman. Upon their return to Kwethluk they found their mother’s bed empty. She was outside hauling buckets of water from the village well, no doubt to do a load of laundry, or perhaps to scrub the kitchen floor.
For nearly a year her condition returned to normal, but by conference time the following August, Matushka was too weak to walk or to stand in church unassisted. Archbishop Gregory awarded her the highest distinction bestowed on laity in the diocese, the Cross of St. Herman, draping the red, white and blue ribbon and the enameled cross, bearing in the center the icon of Alaska’s first saint, around her neck at the end of the Feast day Liturgy.
Her condition continued to deteriorate over the next several months. She began to prepare for death, instructing her family how to do the things that she had always done for them, and how to distribute her few material possessions among themselves and her neighbors and friends. She had her wedding gown cleaned and asked to be buried in it. She told her sons and daughters not to grieve for her and expressed regret that she had taken a granddaughter into her home, not because she loved her less, but because she feared that the granddaughter might mourn her too deeply. As the end drew near, the grandchildren from distant Mount Edgecombe boarding school were summoned home. An early winter storm delayed them. By the time they arrived she was gone.
The day of her death, the village priest brought her Holy Communion. She sat up in bed, crossed her arms across her breast and received the Holy Mysteries, made the sign of the cross, folded her arms again, lay down and fell asleep in the Lord. It was the kind of death we all request, “A Christian ending to our life, painless, blameless and peaceful…”. News of her passing spread rapidly across western Alaska. Planeloads of mourners began to arrive as the evening Panakhida was sung at the house. That night a strong southerly wind blew forcefully and continuously, melting the November snow and river ice. Yup’ik neighbors from nearby villages came to Kwethluk by boat, an impossibility at that time of year under ordinary circumstances.
Hundreds of friends who came from as far away as Lake Iliamna and the Nushagak as well as from the Yukon and upper Kuskokwim villages filled the newly constructed church on the extraordinary spring-like day of the funeral. Upon exiting the church, the procession was joined by flock of birds, although by that time of year, all birds have long since flown south. The birds circled overhead and accompanied the coffin to the gravesite. The usually frozen soil had been easy to dig because of the unprecedented thaw. That night, after the memorial meal, the wind began to blow again, the ground re-froze, ice covered the river, winter returned. It was as if the earth itself had opened to receive this woman. The cosmos still cooperates and participates in the worship that the Real People offer to God.
(This account really hit home with me…)
Well, things have been a bit weird recently. I spent a little less than a week in TX to visit a friend I’ve known since 2002, and while there received an email with the official job offer from Oregon. Sadly, it was an email and not a phone call. The owner requested I write him an email back if I was interested, (Umm.. YES PLEASE!), and so I responded within 20 minutes and have been waiting for a response back, or a phone call. I plan on calling Monday though, as I called Thursday and Friday of this past week and he was not at the school, I am nothing if not persistent… (ask my wife how long I chased her before she would date me!) More on that when’re there is more to talk about.
On a separate, yet related note, I am finishing my B.A. and I also began my 9-12 Montessori training. There are more reasons for this than I am willing to disclose at the moment, but when the time is right… This is going to be an interesting match up. I am so close to the B.A., and although it is frustrating as hell at times, I think it will be good for me to finish it if I am able. We will see.
Lent 2014 officially started today.
In honour of this I figured it might be a good idea to focus on more spiritually profitable things.
Therefore, I edited a few things around here, added a few pages, and over the next 8 weeks I will be clearing out and cleaning up. I’d also like to finish up work on the two books I have been working on adding to this blog. They are both accessible, although not complete, under the Books on Blog section at the top of the page.