Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

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Another summer has arrived in my life, another school year has ended, perspective rolls in once again.  I am starting my fifth year as the educational technology director for the North Platte Public Schools.  During that time we have gone through 2 superintendents and currently have an interim while we sort out who will be best to lead our instructional team in the future.  Technology in the district has increased and improved, but we have much more to do.

Within this big picture view are some little things that have profound influence on quality of life.  There are so many troubles out there in this big old world, and it is nice to have some tender mercies around to lighten the load.  We got a puppy in the spring and had spent all the time and energy it takes to bring him along as a member of our family.  We determined that the time was right and that we would have the summer to train him and enjoy him.  School ended for my five children on May 18th and my wife followed the next day after wrapping up her school year as a speech-language pathologist.  I have an extended contract that runs into July; so, I continue my service as we ready the district for a new school year.

On May 26th our dear, new friend Shadow was hit by a truck and we had to put him down.  Needless to say, the Memorial Day weekend took on a whole new meaning and was not filled with happiness and joy.  I grew up on a ranch in western Wyoming and have spent my life around animals.  For me, I have seen them come and go, but there are always a special few.  Shadow was one of them.  My children and I have had a special opportunity to reflect on the short life of something that became important to our family.  It has not been easy, but they are learning that it gets easier as each day passes.  This learning is profound, meaningful, and lifelong.  It will never be measured on a standardized test, and my children have learned more from this experience than an entire year of school will ever hope to bring.

We get in such a hurry in life that we forget to enjoy the things that are going on around us.  Events, people, pets, our surroundings often slip by like the scenery we view in a speeding vehicle.  We don’t notice, or cherish the little things, the special things, until they are sometimes taken away without a moment’s notice.  This can be the summer that Shadow died, or it can be something else.  I’m not sure what that something else is as of yet, but our family is searching.

I know a few that visit this blog from time to time, and your visits may be less because I post less.  It is because I have been too busy living life and that’s okay.  I hope you are all having a great summer, but if you are sad I can understand how you feel.  Your sadness may be greater, more profound, and more serious.  Take comfort in the fact that your sadness comes from the loss of joy.  Remember the joy and get it back someway, somehow, as soon as you can.  Goodbye Shadow.  You brought my family true, honest, joy.  Thank you.

I have been contemplating my personal learning network (PLN) as of late, and I have shared my off and on dealings with such tools as Facebook, Twitter, and the like.  As an educator, a PLN is vital in gaining new ideas, sharing, seeking support, and maintaining all sorts of human relationships that get one through the days, weeks, and years.  I have never been a good giver over my digital PLN, but living as a taker has helped me to survive.

Sometimes people come along and give you a good shot in the arm when you least expect it, and two gentlemen did just that for me many months ago.  Dale and Jarred were two new teachers, just finishing up their programs of study at university.  Last year was their first year in the classroom, and now they march along in the second.  I had followed these teachers, and visited with them on rare occasion, but I lost them for a bit (my fault).  I backed away from my digital PLN to gain some perspective, that I never quite found, and added them back today.  Hopefully they will take me back.

Chances are good they didn’t know I was gone, and that would be my fault for being a taker.  That’s okay.  I need to take from them, I need their enthusiasm, I need to hear of their struggles and triumphs, and I need to be ready to offer encouragement when I think they need it.  That encouragement makes me a giver.  Support is one of the great benefits of a PLN.  It comes from strangers, those you least expect, but they become familiar:  they become family through one’s PLN.

We come to the end of a calendar year.  This is a time of reflection for many, and a time to set new goals.  I’ve been thinking about goals, been taking stock of the past, and wondering how to navigate the future.  I have been looking for perspective.  I was referring to my PLN via my RSS feeder to find some wisdom, and Dale provided just the perspective I needed in the following video (Dale and Jarred:  Thanks for finding me many months ago even though you didn’t realize I needed to be found!):

You can follow Dale and Jarred on Twitter:  @DaleHolt and @JarredRowe and learn from them at “Not Your Average Teacherhttp://notyouraverageteacher.com/

They truly are not average, they are great!!!

Sadly I have belatedly learned of one of my great mentor’s death.  He lives on within me, in my mind and in my heart.  Leonard Bruguier was a great friend, first and foremost.  He was my professor at the University of South Dakota during the early 1990s.  I spent many a morning or afternoon in his office discussing history, life, and family.  We kept in touch off and on.  I would stop by to visit when in South Dakota.  I later found him in Mexico (Thanks to the www).  Leonard was a descendant of the great Yankton Sioux leaders Struck by the Ree and  Chief War Eagle.  He was a veteran of the Vietnam War and a decorated Marine.  I admired Leonard and respected his counsel so much.  I will dearly miss him.

The following are Leonard’s words to me a few years ago as I faced a new change and challenge in my life.  It is just as he typed it, and they are valuable words of wisdom from one of the greatest men I have ever known. God be with you until we meet again.

“well, your occupation tale sounds like another adventure best taken and not rued forever. i might have ants in my pants and happy feet but one thing i do practice is memories, and i carry them brightly in mind. i try to remember all those places and maybe that’s why i am able to smile today. working with other people in enclosed places with mucho politica is difficult, and as your ancestors know, who knows what’s over the horizon. us sioux b dat way!!!! the onliest thing i can say about that is always try to go and be where you can have a loving relationship with yourself and your family. but, never forget, somebody has to assign the stall cleaning details. that is sometimes an aggravating task, so make sure your heart is part of the equation on the next move. it would please me no end and continue to make me smile to see you finish your doctorate. that’s my biased opinion from the cloistered ranks of academia.”  Leonard Bruguier March 16, 2007

2002

I have been, sporadically now, blogging for three years and have now moved into the fourth.  Time has passed very fast, and I have been wrapping my head around that ticking sound I can hear from our “bird clock.”  25 years ago to this very day I entered the MTC in Provo, Utah for a 3 week training that sent me off to the then Colorado Denver Mission.  I spent time in northwestern Kansas, in the mission office in Littleton, Colorado, in Grand Junction, Colorado, and finished off in Cheyenne, Wyoming with responsibilities over Kimball and Scottsbluff, Nebraska.  That all seems like ancient history to me and especially to my young children (Remember there are 5 children, and some of them aren’t young anymore – Hannah soon to be 18!).  Much has been accomplished in my adult life, but my youth set the very important stage, or foundation, for all that has come to pass.  Time is what allowed it all to happen.

2009

As a historian I am always amazed at the process of looking back and how age provides perspective.  It is difficult in our youth to grasp the past or find interest in it.  When we are young time is slow, especially on a warm summer day fishing beside a meandering stream.  Imagination plays a larger role in our lives as youngsters, and its too bad we lose some of that along the way, or at least forget to imagine.  I imagine great things ahead in my life and my family’s life.  I can see a future wrought with challenges, but I also have the perspective to realize that all things can be overcome.  That’s what I like about being here in my mid 40s.  As a doctor recently stated to me, “You have half your life ahead of you.”  Interesting to think about and quite exciting at the same time!  What will it bring?

I know that the choices I have made in the past are benefitting me greatly at this point in life.  Sure, there have been bumps in the road, but this old world deals those on a daily basis.  There will be many more choices along the way, and I hope to enjoy and reap what I sow.  My children are in the same boat, and my dream is that they feel somewhat the same way I do when they reach this point in their lives.  It’s nice to be a part of their growth, and I enjoy helping them speed through time.  It is fast, fun, and fantastic!

Our local Waldenbooks is closing, is closed, it’s going away, gone.  We are in a changing world where media has become available at the click of a mouse.  I can’t say I don’t understand why the store has closed.  Trends seem to make this inevitable especially in small town America.  So, what to do?

We still have a library if you want a good book, and the library card is cheap!  My kids love to go to the public library.  They also loved to go to Waldenbooks, but those days are over.  Our family has a Barnes & Noble account online, and we order books from Amazon, etc., but there is something about the tactile process of perusing a new book.  It gives you time to get the idea of what it is about, it stimulates your imagination as you look at the cover art, and now we will have to drive several miles to get that opportunity.  Sure there is a used bookstore in town; yes, there are new books at Walmart, but well, you know.

I grew up in a place where there was no bookstore.  The library was “the bookstore” and it was a 15 mile drive one way, but my Mom took us there, often.  I spent time in schools that had huge libraries compared to the middle school and elementary libraries my children attend today.  My home has more books, on shelves, available to my two youngest kids than they have at their elementary school.  So, what’s my point?

Waldenbooks has closed, and I think maybe the library might too!  Oh it won’t happen all at once, but the Kindle and other handheld devices are bringing a slow death to the printed word.  Is this bad?  If the power goes out, yes!  That will never happen:  Haiti.  Not every child has access to a Kindle nor can go to a Waldenbooks or Barnes & Noble, but for now they can go to the library.  As we know there are more than books, there are computers hooked to the internet, and there are people.  The greatest resource are the people.  Hopefully, if a kid lives 15 miles away they have a mom, dad, grandparent, someone who will take them there, to the library.  Hopefully.