An old church along the side of a country road wore white clapboard siding and soft blue hand carved trim. Most of the windows were open to the elements and wasps played in the breeze which ruffled the lace curtains. Reflections of a perfect fall sky and aging window screens created a pastel effect. Simple beauty remained for an explorer to find and savor.
Monthly Archives: September 2012
Until facing a test, we’re probably never sure how strong we can be. Living up to expectations, acting with courage, standing under fire, surely these are challenges that require inner strength. But, sometimes on a day to day basis, self protection is not our first item on the to do list; what’s really more important is being open. Letting down our defenses is not easy. Sometimes,we may not even be aware that we’ve placed thick walls to hide who we truly are, or that we’ve established a moat to make others keep a respectful distance. Often , allowing ourselves the freedom to just be whoever and however we woke up that day is a true test of strength.The more we make that choice, our armor dissolves and we grow .
No one would seriously believe or accept me as a member of a roller derby team. I wish I could say it’s because of lack of daring or not being mean enough but, it’s really a matter of my age and physical condition ( or lack thereof). I mean, being born in New York I have my share of loud voice and get out of my face attitude. Unfortunately that’s not nearly enough so instead I go to watch. Sitting on the floor during a match takes what little guts and agility I have to move out of the way or end up at the bottom of the heap. I hope this is a partial excuse for the graininess of the photos. I think they’re more dramatic and urban this way. I have decided that what makes the skaters daring are their names, so I’ve been working on mine. At first, the list was lengthy, but you know when you find IT. I thought it might be Shop and Drop , Death by Digital, or Digital Diva, but it has to be Reality Check. Now I need to find the right clothes.
As I looked at this photo, the word shelter kept coming to mind. Long outreaching branches tangled with lacy Spanish Moss touch the ground. It would almost feel like hiding behind a mother’s skirt. Open and safe at the same time ,it is a curious combination. Often the places we seek shelter close us in and while trying to protect us, they become confining.It is a difficult balance to achieve both for ourselves and for those we love. How do we offer that listening ear or tender embrace without the advice, warnings and I told you so’s ? How do we know when the net or training wheels are no longer needed? Do we push ourselves to take chances and risk leaving our safe place, or continue to tell ourselves we aren’t quite ready yet ? Worse , do we keep our children close in fear that they will travel too far from us or realize that they don’t need us as often? Understanding that seeking shelter is a choice makes a difference. It’s a comfort to know one is available if there’s an emergency or time is needed to regroup. It’s reassuring that we can offer it to those in need, but at it’s best shelter needs to be defined and sought by the individual.
When the days become weeks without my noticing, it’s time to slow down.When I’m so busy doing rather than being, its time to take a breath.Imagining a silent hill top where I can stand tall, stretch my arms to the sky and listen to the whispers in the wind will settle me.Rather than wandering to find my place, I created my own from a black and white photo and a scan of a citrasolved magazine page. This will do until the real one magically appears.
Nearly hidden by nature’s overachievers, a tin roofed cabin sits silently except for an occasional creak or shudder when bullied by the wind. Its struggle to remain standing and mark its place is a testament to the memories it protects.No longer shaded by the neighboring oak, but reminded daily of its sacrifice, the cabin dreams of the day it will once again provide shelter and warmth to a family. As unlikely as that dream may be, it remains .
Power of a Photograph
A form of visual poetry –
In an unrehearsed dance between black and white.
If you can listen with your eyes,
The story hides in the shadows.
Where tricks of light
Make the obvious invisible,
Give substance to memory,
And place time in the palm of your hand.
As a teacher, I hear much debate on the fate of education and our future. People have decided that teachers don’t teach and students can’t learn , and that there are myriad reasons why. I can’t imagine it’s that easy to list all the problems, focus the blame and write off a generation of children. Are there differences between now and back then ( as long as you can tell me when back then is) ? Of course! Has computer technology changed our lives, the way we learn and the world we know? Absolutely! Do children still want to feel good about themselves and what they are learning? Do parents want to feel pride in their children’s accomplishments? Those needs remain the same. What is different is how much any one person wants to invest. Not in terms of of money, but of support.Mentors, volunteers, people with specific skills can all improve education. Parents need to reinforce appropriate behavior and goal-setting. Saying that they didn’t like math as a child does nothing to help when their child faces difficulties.Our children have a desire for instant gratification which we as parents in a rush to give them everything and solve their problems for them, and computers which have made our world instantaneous have fostered. Our society feeds the idea constantly that it’s ok to want it and the time to get it is now.Our children in turn have learned little about perseverance , but it is a skill that can be taught.
Our communities need to value schools and education rather than treat teachers as a political enemy or as a tax problem .Our media needs to see value in communicating the positive accomplishments of the majority of students and not the antics of a few. Our teachers must be open to trying new ideas, then embracing and building on those strategies that work. Should teachers be held accountable? Yes. The issues of accountability require further examination and evaluation must be comprised of a number of tools.Should the decision about a teacher’s proficiency be based on a drop-in evaluation on any given day or a state created test that bears no relevance to the demands of today’s society ? No, not unless everyone else’s job performance is evaluated in the same way and that our goal is to turn out legions of students with basic skills and no creative or problem-solving skills.There are issues of trust and direction which need to be identified and discussed . So ,is a return to the good old days the answer? No, there were so many who had no chance for an education, many who faced discrimination, and others who suffered by being labeled unable to learn. Surely we have come far enough to see the growth and that there remains a long road ahead . The journey will be easier if there are helping hands and positive voices along the way.
My class and I have been learning about innovation and problem-solving strategies. One of the most effective methods is to look at things in a new way. You might turn something upside-down or turn yourself upside down. Somedays you just need a fresh way of seeing, like Proust’s comment about new eyes. Sometimes you need to take a breath and imagine what another person is feeling and thinking. Whenever I find myself feeling disconnected and/or insensitive, this photograph reminds me to take another view, to notice the beauty I might be missing.Just as dawn broke and I shot this photo, I saw the beauty in an area which looks dull and repetitive from the highway.I had totally missed the bigger picture.
Part dream, an old frame in an musty silent basement provides the setting. The image, a female statue reflected from an art museum window in the park provides the character. Now all that’s missing is the plot. Did she escape her life in marble? Or remain sentenced as a hostage to her beauty and the adoration of an artist? Did she recognize herself in the image created or had she always pictured herself differently? Seeing those hidden flaws that we all focus on too often when they are invisible to others? I like to think that she notices a portal and that she is preparing to spring forward and run towards her life.