Gifted Me

sol#SOL18  The entry below is my first draft of a personal essay I was modeling for my class about being “gifted.”

Use your talents.  They are precious gifts given to you to put to work. ~Robyn O’Brien

I never really thought of myself as “gifted,” but it is true that God has gifted each of us with special talents or “gifts.”  Each has some; none have all.  God gave me several talents.  He gave me the ability to create music,  to be able to express myself well using the written word, and the ability to be a good listener. My talents are different than the talents he gave to my siblings, my friends, and co-workers.

I started taking piano lessons when I was in 4th grade.  My friend, Eileen, played the violin.  When we were in 8th grade, she suggested that I join the orchestra in high school.  I didn’t play an orchestral instrument, but she said that it didn’t matter; they would teach me.  So, I took the chance and learned how to play the string bass at St. Hubert HS.  I was in the orchestra there for four years.  I had a knack for the bass, and I auditioned for and was accepted into the All-City Orchestra in Philadelphia.  

It was during high school that I really started to love music and decided to become a music teacher.  I went on to Chestnut Hill College where I was again in the orchestra.  After graduation I began teaching music and sharing my love of music with children in various schools.  Some of those students went on to develop their musical talents and share them in different ways.  I also used my musical talent at my church.  For many years, I played string bass in church at mass and for special occasions like Confirmation, Holy Week, weddings, and funerals.  

My talent for writing began in elementary school as well.  I always loved to write and even won a contest in 8th grade.  In high school I took advanced writing classes and had a personal essay published in the literary magazine along with a poem or two.  I was always keeping a journal.  I still have many notebooks today.  I think that the best use of my writing talent comes when I have to write notes to people in difficult situations such as after someone dies, or when someone is going through an illness, or just having a rough time.  I am not sure how, but it must be with God’s help, I always seem to be able to find just the right words to give hope or comfort to the person to whom I am writing.

At some point during my teaching career I decided that I really missed writing, and that I was being called to use it again.  I went back to school and got certified to teach writing.  Now I get to share my love and talent with students.  I hope one day they will love writing as much as I do.

I use my writing talents to create poems for my grandchildren for their birthdays.  I started a binder for each one of them.  For their birthday they get a poem written especially for them and a handwritten letter that talks about the things we did together over the past year.  I hope that it will be a memory book for them when they are older.

Lately, I am being called to share my writing with a larger audience.  I have started a blog where I publish at least once a week. I have also made a commitment to work on getting my writing published.  I have sent it to three different places so far this year.  I have one rejection letter and am waiting on the other two.  I am just going to keep writing away and hope that something gets published eventually.


sol #SOL18

Addiction – when you can give up something anytime, as long it’s next Tuesday. ~ Nikki Sixx

Help. I need a 12-Step Program.  Now.

It began as the “Countdown to Christmas” at the beginning of December – pretty harmless – or so I thought! I was glued to channel 740, the Hallmark channel.  I would watch as I made my shopping lists, wrote out Christmas cards, wrapped presents, or just vegged out on the couch.  The fake snow gently falling down did a good job putting me in the holiday spirit.  

The characters started to look so familiar, I swear I had seen them before, and I did.  You see these feel-good movies use the same actors in different roles.  The next thing I knew I was googling the actor names to see in which movie I had seen them before. Since I was binge-watching, my head was starting to spin trying to keep them all straight.  I didn’t understand why it was so difficult.  Afterall, I had no problem knowing the difference between Tom Hanks as Jimmy Dugan in A League of Their Own, or Robert Langdon in The DaVinci Code, or Forrest Gump! I guess all of his characters were diverse enough and movies judiciously spaced that there was no chance of a mix up.

This channel should really be 666 – the devil’s channel!  You say you are only going to watch one movie, but once it ends there is barely a 30 second commercial before they launch into a new movie.  Such a ploy!

I thought I had this addiction licked once I went back to school after the Christmas break, but no!  Next they went from “Countdown to Christmas” to “Winterfest!”  Having the flu and spending so many hours on the couch caused me to fall down the rabbit’s hole again!!  And I don’t even like winter sports or cold weather!

So this is it!  I have now been watching the Countdown to Valentine’s.  Since tomorrow is Valentine’s Day I am determined to quit cold turkey.  How much can one person take of sugary sweet, highly scripted, happy ending stories before they become too optimistic, too happy, too pollyanna?  

On the other hand… when I look at the alternatives – reality TV, evening news, fake news, the state of the world…I may just take the risk and go back to Candyland!

Decluttering Checkpoint

sol #SOL18

When we clear the physical clutter from our lives, we literally make way for inspiration and ‘good, orderly direction’ to enter. ~ Julia Cameron

It is the first Tuesday in February – time to check in on my One Little Word progress.  The word I choose was declutter. As I reread my post from January 2nd, I see that I had some rather lofty goals about decluttering my life!  Well, I guess you can say I am taking baby steps.

So far I have donated two trash bags full of clothing to the Big Brother, Big Sisters organization.  There are plenty more clothes in my attic and bedroom closets waiting to find a new home. I have learned that I cannot wait until an organization contacts me about a donation.  I must spend some time each week going through clothes and household items and start collecting way ahead of time.  This way I will be good to go when I get the call and not scrambling at the last minute.

I also donated a trash bag of old towels to an animal rescue collection being done by the daughter of a colleague.  I had a large laundry basket filled with these “rags” that we were going to use for house cleaning and washing the cars.  I didn’t give them all away, but come on, just how much cleaning does a person really do that would warrant saving that many towels?

Most recently, I cancelled the daily paper.  While this decision was based on the amount of papers we recycle each week as well as the cost, I am a little sad.  I do like to hold that paper in my hand and read about the local news and of course the obituaries.  I know I can get the same news online, but I have been reading the paper since I was a young girl and my brother was a newspaper carrier of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin.  In reality, I “read” very little of the paper and “skim” the rest.  It has to go.

I have been less successful with decluttering my personal life and use of social media, but no worries I still have eleven months to go!

Do You See What I See?

Image result for quotes people who believe in you'       Image result for philadelphia eagles    Image result for quotes about the importance of your words

Today I am tired, but it is a good tired.  It is a tired that comes from staying up late to celebrate the Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl win. It really was a magical season with a fairy tale ending.  There are many parts of the game I could talk about that were noteworthy, but it was an interview I watched during the pre-game festivities that stays with me.

NBC10 sports reporter, John Clark interviewed Brian Dawkins (Eagle’s free safety for 13 years) about being named to the Football Hall of Fame. John asked Brian if he ever thought he would be this great. In his usual humble way B. Dawkins responded.  I paraphrase below.

‘I was blessed to have individuals along the way who have seen small things in me – more in me than I thought of myself. My coach, Emmitt Thomas, would not let me settle.  He kept telling me – you could be this great.  If he were the type of coach who got angry with my mistakes and yelled, I probably wouldn’t be here now. He and others along the way kept telling me what I could do.  I started to hear those words and believe them. That is something we are missing today.  Words are so powerful, and we should be paying more attention to the words we use with our young impressionable people.’

WOW!  How powerful were his words!.  They got me thinking about myself as a teacher and the young impressionable minds entrusted to my care.  I am pretty positive and very rarely get upset with my students.  When I do, I do my best to put a positive spin on my words to make each situation a learning experience rather than a punitive one.  But do I tell them enough how great they are?  Do I help them see in themselves that little something that I see in them?  

I keep telling them that if we want this world to be different it has to start with them.  They are the voice of our future, but am I helping them find that voice?  Am I helping them “not settle” for less than their best?  I hope so, but just in case I will carry the words of Brian Dawkins with me each day and make sure that I keep telling them just how great they can be!