Love and Respect and Pope Francis

“Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understanding as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

St. Francis of Assisi (Prayer attributed to St. Francis)

Today there a few leaders on our planet who I admire greatly. Although I have NO religious affiliation to the Catholic Church, I deeply respect and am thankful that Pope Francis was chosen the head of the Catholic Church at this time. As it turns out, Pope Francis was chosen as pope on my own mother’s birthday, March 13, 2013. There have been many firsts this pope fulfilled even before he said a word as pope:
Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope and the first Francis ever, and took his name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi of Italy. He is the first pope born outside of Europe since 741 AD and came from the Southern Hemisphere and the Americas. Before he became pope, he was a cardinal in Argentina.

So far, Pope Francis’ time as leader of the Catholic Church has shown the whole world who he is in action: he acts with humility and supports of the world’s poor and marginalized people of ALL FAITHS, and he has been involved actively in areas of political diplomacy and environmental advocacy; he has supported the GBLT community. For me, he is an example of the best of our humanity.

In mid March this year, through the pope, his American representative, Bishop Paul Tighe showed up at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, TX where, the bishop spoke about how the pope and his message is becoming active in Social media around the planet. This is from a 3/19/17 show from

This is an active way that Pope Francis puts out the message of the power of LOVE.

What does the present pope have to do with ME loving and respecting myself? I don’t know about you, but having a human being on the planet who acts as Pope Francis does, gives me hope. He inspires ME to do the next RIGHT thing and be the BEST of myself, not the most petty and selfish, self. I need a good role model who speaks about love and lives from that place. I don’t have to be Catholic to look up to him. I can follow him on TWITTER and feel better each day! Finally today, writing this blog I became a follower of Pope Francis on 4/9/17. It is NOT necessary for me to retweet everything he says, nor believe everything he says, but the spirit of what he says can live through me particularly since I do believe in a higher source in my life, and the Pope’s words help and remind me to be KINDER and more LOVING, more RESPECTFUL towards everyone. Those are VIBES that THIS Planet needs, and I need to be putting out in the world towards MYSELF and others. Thank you, Pope Francis, for showing me in action how I can be more loving and respectful of myself and everyone.

Let me wear my heart on my sleeve and care about myself and others. Sometimes, I can NOT watch or listen to every horrific thing happening on this planet, but I can send LOVE to those who are suffering and dying without having to know all of the gruesome details about what is happening. I can use this Pope Francis’s actions as a way to emulate how to be in the world and be a happier, more respectful, more loving me! And I can seek solace in Pope Francis’ tweets and know that I am not ALONE in thinking this way, and that there are MILLIONS of other world citizens who feel the same or similar to me.

I leave you with this beautiful song by Garth Brooks: “We Shall Be Free”, which was written after the Watts Riots in Los Angeles in 1992.


What Works and Doesn’t Work in Education

img_2221During my 24 years as a teacher and even before that, I experienced what worked for me to successfully reach students. The common ground for most teachers who reach children and students is they care. One of the ideas that I saw work, was prior to my teaching in a school system. I was fortunate to live in another country which values education highly. That is the country of Switzerland.
Most of the European countries put education at the top of the list near health care to provide for their citizens. It was there that I saw and heard of “Apprenticeship”- as a form of training and teaching in certain fields and professions. This kind of apprenticeship has NOTHING to do with the fake “Reality” show of which Donald Trump was a star. This is NOT entertainment.

One thing I witnessed in Switzerland was that their education system provided many paths to education. At 15 years old students went to different tracks in education. One of those tracks was to do apprenticeships in many different fields. In the USA we act like everyone is going to finish the same high school, which is academic. That kind of education does NOT serve all parts of our population. Instead some of those students end up dropping out of school and have no path to employment, which leads them down the road to poverty.

This REAL apprenticeship works to help train students and actually is run by the German Corporation, Grenzebach, in the state of Georgia. At the end of three years the students participating will be certified Industrial Mechanics by Germany. The program begins when the students are 15 years old. Take a listen.

This is from the August 5, 2016 program of Here and Now on NPR radio. You can listen to the podcast. The story is in the First Hour of Here and Now from the 37-40:23 minutes.

You will NOT hear any “You’re fired” in this podcast.

We Americans do not have to reinvent forms of education that work to train people to become skilled workers who can earn good incomes. Apprenticeships have been working well for hundreds of years. As educators we need to just open our minds and do what works, not what is expedient or cheap! Let’s invest in all children’s futures.

As a former teacher I have great respect and empathy for most teachers. This story shows what IS NOT working in American education.

This last weekend I heard another story about GOOD and excellent teachers and why they are quitting before they reach retirement age. This is a REAL problem. I have known many teachers where this has been the case. We usually lose the teachers who care the most because they are so micromanaged by outrageous paperwork and administrative oversight that has almost NOTHING to do with teaching or being an excellent, caring teacher who has made a difference in many children’s lives.

The paperwork has become “soul sucking” as the teacher, Rick Young, calls it. It is pretty sick that after 25 years of great teaching, administrators need to take time away from good teaching and lose people such as, Rick Young, who really cared and worked tirelessly to insure their students’ success.

This is from “Weekend Edition, Saturday, September 3, 2016
The title of the show is:
“A Veteran Teacher Quits Under a Weary Load- and He’s Just One of Many”



“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.”  -H. Jackson Brown Jr.



a Christmas present

This is the season to be giving.  Often we think about and buy Christmas presents for  friends, family, and coworkers.   We might also give food to the hungry, and financially support groups we care about if we can.  The giving I’m talking about is the REST of the YEAR.

clothes in bag

bag of free shoes and other clothing

I mean giving things to others when you don’t use them anymore. Some of us donate to resale shops and nonprofits.  Where I live people do that, and they also just leave free stuff for others to pick up and take.

free tv

free TV set

This person gave away her/his TV set free for whomever wanted it. I like this pass it along thinking and giving. The person even included a manual with the TV set.  I am always glad when I can pass along what I no longer need to a nonprofit resale store that gives people jobs.  I shop there myself. Old school stuff is sometimes better made with better quality fabric and materials than the new purchases of 2015.

One of the greatest stories about giving this year was a story about a little girl from Schenectady, NY.  It is the story of Sa’fyre Terry an 8 year old girl. When I looked online there was a YouTube video that preceded this story which I first heard on the radio last week.

The outpouring of giving to Sa’fyre Terry, who had been through so much, shows us the best of who we are.  When our hearts are open,  we are the most loving we can be. I wish this giving spirit to be a part of your holidays which ever one you celebrate!

Happy Holidays!