Monday, December 31, 2012

Dear Friends,

It's New Year's Eve, so Happy New Year to anyone who might be reading this post. It's customary that we use this time to reflect on the year that is quickly passing into history and ponder what the new year might bring. It's also a time when we (somewhat foolishly) make resolutions that we know for the most part we have no real hope of keeping. If we were going to keep them, they wouldn't be resolutions...they would be habits already, wouldn't they?

That doesn't stop most of us from thinking about how we would like to improve our stations in life, though, whether it is through making healthier life-style choices or making more money by getting a new job or going for a promotion. And I happen to think that considering those things is good for us to do. After all, if we didn't set goals for ourselves--and lofty ones at that--where would we be?

At the same time that I am considering what resolutions I might like to make for 2013, I am watching the news commentary about what is going on in Washington, DC and I am alternately shaking my head  in disgust and dismay and yelling at the TV. I know that yelling at the TV doesn't do any good. In fact, I might consider making it a resolution that I not yell at my TV in the new year. But it is definitely frustrating listening to the guys who have been refusing to make a deal now blame the President for not being willing to make a deal. Really? The same guys who refused to vote last week are now slamming the President for being unwilling to make a deal. Incredible (she writes as she shakes her head again in disgust and dismay).

What I find really fascinating is that what is happening today isn't totally different from what was happening when Lincoln was trying to broker the deal to get the 13th Amendment to the Constitution passed through the lame duck Congress of 1865. (See the movie if you haven't already. It's great.) What is even more fascinating is that according to the biography of Lincoln, Team of Rivals,  in the late 1840's and early 1850's, a party formed itself in response to the unprecedented flood of immigration from Europe (especially Ireland and Germany) during that same time period. The party that emerged in reaction to this influx of immigrants called themselves the "Know Nothing Party" (you can't make this stuff up) and their goal was primarily to delay citizenship for the new immigrants  and bar them from voting. Sound familiar?

So, it seems to me that the current "Do Nothing Congress" is not so far removed given the "Know Nothing Party" of the mid-1800's. Indeed, it would seem that they share many of the views and philosophies of the current Tea Party who has shown a penchant for similar ideas. I have often considered that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Change is hard, and change forced on those who are ultra-resistant to it because they prefer the safety of the known to fear of the unknown makes it that much harder. So, I resolve no more yelling at the TV and staying mindful that the seeming unreasonableness of those in Congress who are determined to obstruct moving into the future are just afraid and deserve my compassion instead of my disdain.

Hmmm. Wonder how long that resolution will last?

Until next time.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dear Friends,

It is almost the end of 2012 and I have decided to come out of my semi-retirement in that I am no longer going to be doing "as little as possible" in 2013. Doing "as little as possible" is what I told people I would be doing when I announced my retirement back in August. I needed a break then. I was so, I was way more than tired...I was exhausted. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, I was just plain worn out. I had given all I had to give during my last year as President of the VEA fighting off efforts to eliminate continuing contract law for teachers in the Commonwealth, and when the end of July came, all I could think of was how much I needed to just rest.

And rest I did! The months of August and September are actually pretty much a blur because I was a total slug during that time. I slept late, I took lots of afternoon naps, I read whatever I wanted and didn't do anything I didn't want to do. I took a couple of mini trips over the course of the fall, and pretty much I succeeded quite well in my goal of doing as little as possible...and I will admit it...I enjoyed every single minute of it.

But 2013 looms in the next few days and I am feeling energized and ready to do something meaningful. I haven't found gainful employment yet even though I have started to put out feelers and am ready for that, too, should it make itself available to me, but in the meantime, I decided I missed writing; and so I am going to be doing some writing. I need to get back into the swing of things to get the writing juices flowing, so to speak, so I am starting a brand new blog and I am launching it in anticipation of the New Year.

Today, I deleted the old blog which I started when I was elected President of the VEA. I hadn't posted anything there since May when I had started to reflect on the issue of time. What I wrote then was that "Time flies whether you are having any fun or not." That remains true. It is hard to believe that five months have lapsed since I left the VEA, but here we are at the end of 2012. The Mayan prediction for the end of the world did not materialize, and we are all looking at 2013 as a new year with many looming problems still before us.

Even as I write this post, for example, the Senate leaders in Washington, DC are scrambling to cobble together some sort of last-minute deal that will hopefully avert the falling off the fiscal cliff or starting down the slippery fiscal slope or whatever you want to call it. It is utterly ridiculous that we are in this position given that the "crisis" is clearly self-inflicted. What a lot of drama is being created along with a lot of totally unnecessary uncertainty for us all. That may be a topic of discussion that I undertake in the next few days.

Which brings me to what I intend to bring to this platform. I have deliberately entitled my new blog, "This & That" because I intend to write about a lot of different topics. Public education and its current state of "reform" will certainly be one topic since that is near and dear to my heart...but I would also like to reserve the right to comment on other topics of interest, so I think I will just leave the title loose so that I may write on whatever tickles my fancy. I hope to be able to write every day, but certainly, I plan to commit to a few times a week.

And so, there is one New Year's "resolution" for come out of my self-imposed hibernation and to join the world at large through this medium. I hope that if you care to join me, you will let me know.

Until next time.