Tuesday, August 21, 2012

So, As I Was Starting To Say...Here's Some Wishes!

My original intention was to get specific, wax poetic, become eloquent, if I could, about some specific wishes, and I was carried away with a song in my heart.  Here are some wishes for you that I wanted to pass along that are more straightforward.. As I move into my 6th year of counseling and 23rd year of education, I have learned some hard lessons and had some epiphanies that have helped me survive and some days even thrive.
May you have more joy than pain.
Every year, without exception, there have been wonderful moments of students making it to graduation, getting into the college of their dreams, scholarships being awarded, test scores through the roof after much hard work, smiles of satisfaction on once hesitant or unsure faces, and the awesome march forward from freshman to senior, with so many changes taking place. I have gotten to be around lots of butterflies coming out of the cocoon. The vast majority of my students go onto good things, grand times, and their high school experience is one of achievement and safety. Some days, however, all seems bleak, as a student is found to have cancer, is struggling with divorce, tragic, shattering loss of a loved one, has had to move again to a new place, one step ahead of collection agencies. That they can sit upright, much less get through a day of high expectations is daunting to them, and it is our job to bolster, to strengthen, to intervene. I hope the balance of your day is much more on the positive side. The negative takes so much more juice. Of course, it is so much more important, ultimately, to help students face.
May you find diversion during the course of your day that lifts you.
One of the great fascinations of this job for me has been that no matter how brief, to "consult", kibbitz, gossip, mull over student affairs, the weekend, the kid's game the night before, gives me a boost of confidence and energy. There is laughter loud enough to be heard 100 feet away in our lounge during lunch. Netflix has been turned on during lunch, I will admit, and 5 minutes of Words with Friends can get me invigorated.  Wandering down the hall can be constructive with conversations with teachers and students, and I can breathe better outside the cave, some days. Sometimes, I just go to the door near the back of our offices and stare at the sky for a moment. There has been construction on a seniors' village across the way for the last six months that I have stared at until I have to pull away.
May you find reserves of strength you need to stay true to your calling.
There were approximately 40 days of testing last year at MHS, and there were weeks and weeks of scheduling, then fixing scheduling, then guidance to talk about scheduling, with paperwork about scheduling. It is very easy to start to get a mentality of just grinding out your day, but the problem with that is that your job, what you were trained for, is to talk to students, to offer counseling, to be able to stand in the gap. I wish for you the ability to face with full energy the needs of your students, when they are hurting and lost, even if there is another test to give, another box to pack. To be in the moment with every single student is a very tough thing to do, and then do again and then again.
May you feel satisfied at the end of a long day.
My mom taught 2nd grade for over 20 plus years, starting in education, when I had begun school, as the last of her three boys, and there were two things that struck me every year about tangible things that she gathered from her job, besides sheer accomplishment: presents from her students at Christmas and the end of the year, with "love you" notes along the way and class photos taken at the end, that she has to this day, on the walls of her garage, that she sees going to and from her car. My mom has always been an education hero, along with being a regular hero, and I know that she has memories of every student that she taught. One of the adjustments for me has been that I may have 480 plus students in a year, with an ebb and flow, an in and out, and I can't possibly know that I have made a difference in all their lives on a daily basis. In fact, we have actually commiserated that at least we didn't "screw that one up" as a measure. This can leave me lost feeling, and it can be very frustrating to just not know what happens to all my students. I hope that you can find victories, gain toeholds. see some real results, know that you have fought your hardest, done your best, gone the distance.
May all your dreams come true.
Whatever your highest goals, your most heartfelt desires for this year might be, I hope that they all come true for you. That you feel a peace, a fulfillment, a strengthened resolve to move forward to do this very important, very misunderstood job year after year with grace and fortitude. And, that you have a great time doing it, with laughter at lunch and a cold beverage now and again. I'll buy!

Monday, August 20, 2012

My Wish For You, Counselors.

I grew up on the Eagles, the Beatles, lots of Stevie Ray Vaughan, and I even went through a time of some Sheena Easton and Def Leppard in the college years, but I always avoided country music like it was a bill collector, until the last 10 years or so, as marriage and kids and then my leaving the coaching ranks for the counselor chair took hold of my fiber, pulling me back to my smalltown, work--a-day roots. I started liking a little twang, but I refused to buy a pair of boots.
One windy night toward  the end of May, as I stood on the football field after an emotional graduation ceremony, my first as a counselor, as the lights went out, and fireworks started to go off, I heard the beginnings of a song called My Wish, which I recognized as being by Rascal Flatts. I was finally, unequivocally captured, as I watched seniors in the darkened stadium dance, heard them laugh, run like kindergartners, their robes flapping behind them, as the music played over the loudspeakers with a backdrop of flares and explosions.
A natural evolution was to develop some Dierks Bentley fondness, some Brad Paisley affinity, go back and grab some George, some Clint Black, throw in some Martina McBride, and I had something going on during the long drive from Mesquite to Grandview, while I was finishing my Master's. And, of course, I deepened by knowledge and appreciation of Rascal Flatts, with Amy even buying me a CD that I played to death, with "Why Wait" and "I Will Stand By You" blaring on the way to work many mornings, when I was a little tired and needed some energy and some deep crooning to make sure my voice worked well enough to talk to kids during presentations. I didn't care if anyone saw me emote, either, as I crossed the bridge to make the final run to school.
So, this March, when I saw the Flatts advertised for a trip to Dallas, I snatched up the idea of two tickets for our anniversary celebration in July. A bonus would be special guests Little Big Town, as most of my kids know Boondocks, front and back, and some other guests, which turned out to be Eden's Edge and Thompson Square, and we laid a blanket out on a not-too-hot night and settled in for a great night, although I did find out sadly that Shiner was considered an "export" beer. We made it through the first three groups, with Amy claiming I had developed a little crush on the poufy haired blonde from LBT, but I was really focused on getting to Joe Don and the boys. Things started promisingly, with some Banjo, and then there wa a turn of events that made me go meh. A part of their concert was to have audience members shout out songs, and they did a minute and a half rendition of them. I was a bit off when they zoomed through Mayberry, as Andy Griffin had just died, but then when they made short work of My Wish, I felt myself have some mild but real disappointment.We enjoyed every bit of the remainder of the show, including the encore of Boston's Foreplay/Long Time, which I want to be played at my funeral. Still, I felt the pull of listening to the full song, and I did that on Spotify the next week, along with full versions of about 40 other songs until I was full.
With, that said, it brings me to where I wanted to go, as I believe country music has become fully part of my texture as a counselor and speaks to all of us, with its makeup of great laughter, heartfelt sadness, appreciation for little things on a grand scale, and occasionally a good drinking moment reflected in me from the inside out. I mean, the Beastie Boys still do it for me, and I know the words to some Gotye, but country speaks to me on our level.  And, so, as we get started, I wanted to extend best regard, wishes, to all of you who labor as counselors, in the elementaries with their hugs and pictures that proclaim their love for you, in the intermediates and middle schools where they start to feel great love for their BFFs and their first real crushes, to the high school level, where hormones and testosterone can turn on a dime, and there is such great capacity for joy and pain. I don't want you to feel the slightest bit cheated, so here is the full song, and I hope it speaks to you. I am available for vocalizing this, given time, but you will have to ride wiht me early in the morning on say, a Tuesday, to get the full effect. Here's to you!
I hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow And each road leads you where you want to go And if you're faced with the choice and you have to choose I hope you choose the one that means the most to you
And if one door opens to another door closed I hope you keep on walkin' ‘til you find the window If it's cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile But more than anything, more than anything
My wish for you Is that this life becomes all that you want it to Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small You never need to carry more than you can hold
And while you're out there gettin' where you're gettin' to I hope you know somebody loves you And wants the same things too Yeah, this is my wish
I hope you never look back but you never forget All the ones who love you and the place you left I hope you always forgive and you never regret And you help somebody every chance you get
Oh, you'd find God's grace in every mistake And always give more than you take But more than anything, yeah more than anything
My wish for you Is that this life becomes all that you want it to Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small You never need to carry more than you can hold
And while you're out there gettin' where you're gettin' to I hope you know somebody loves you And wants the same things too Yeah, this is my wish, yeah yeah
My wish for you Is that this life becomes all that you want it to Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small You never need to carry more than you can hold
And while you're out there gettin' where you're gettin' to I hope you know somebody loves you And wants the same things too Yeah, this is my wish (My wish for you)
This is my wish (My wish for you) I hope you know somebody loves you (My wish for you) May all your dreams stay big (My wish for you)