Tag Archives: dreams

Living With Dreams


“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” 
James 4:14

Thirty-nine years ago today my father passed away suddenly, less than a day after we buried my thirty-two year old brother-in-law who died of cancer. When you spend a week and half sitting in a funeral home making final arrangements for two people of your immediate family, life has a way of changing you. Not immediately, and sometimes not even in ways you can understand or explain. But it does change you.

It’s hard to believe so much time has gone by and even more difficult to think about everything they missed and everything we missed sharing with them. We lost a part of our future and past in a matter of days. I don’t know if we ever really recover from loss or just throw a blanket over it to allow us to function each day. We carry on, we laugh, we welcome new family members, we enjoy life because there is no other choice. We live for the living and for ourselves. Still, there’s always a hole, always moment in days where we stop and maybe smile at a memory or what they might have done or said about a family situation. Or the way life has changed so much over the years.

Here’s the strange part of the story…

A couple of weeks before my Dad died, I had a dream. In my dream, I saw him in a coffin at the funeral home, exactly as he appeared after he passed away.
Ten years earlier, my grandfather, (my father’s father), died unexpectedly. A couple of weeks before he died, I had a dream. In that dream, I saw him as he appeared in the coffin. My grandfather lived in Brooklyn so I had never been to that funeral parlor. And yet, when I walked in, everything was as I had seen it. In detail. I remember it very clearly.

A couple of days after my father was buried, I told my mother about both dreams. For obvious reasons, I had never told anyone about them before. She wanted to know why I didn’t tell her. She wondered if there might have been something we could have done if she had known. But as soon as she said the words, she understood.

You can’t alter your life chasing those types of dreams, just like you can’t alter your life chasing what might have been. There’s no time for that, no secret recipe for the secrets of life.

So hold the ones you love close. Those that are here and those who are not. And if the ones who are here don’t understand, hold them closer.





Side Roads

Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast…you miss the sense of where you are going.
Eddie Cantor

Most of us live, or have lived, busy lives. When we were younger, we’d get up each morning and move through the day almost robotically at times. Driving the same route to work, performing the same tasks, seeing the same people, driving home, running the same errands, keeping the same commitments, sometimes rushing through dinner to get to the next appointment with or without children, maybe an hour or so to relax before we go to bed and start it all over again the next day. Sometimes even weekends call us. Work, games, obligations. It’s a cycle. More for some than for others. It’s just how things seem to be these days. There is no real down time. The opportunity to relax on a regular basis doesn’t seem to exist any more, at least for many.

There are roads I have travelled for years, and until recently, I never slowed down enough to really see what was around me. There are side roads I never took. I always wondered where they led and what I would find if I traveled them but there was always someplace to be. Always another time. Always.

Not long ago, as we were traveling to an appointment, I chose to take a detour. Soon after, I took another, and then another, until I found myself finding different, more beautiful ways, to get to the same place. It just took a little more time.

Life is like that for so many of us. We pursue a career, lifestyle, family, home and any additional extras  we may have envisioned for ourselves as we move through life. But we rarely, if ever, take a side road. Life sometimes moves too fast for us to pursue a different dream, to learn a new skill, to find enjoyment in different places. Only when we get a little older do we have the time to reflect and breathe. But it shouldn’t, or doesn’t have to be that way. Life paths are a choice.

Cecile Andrews once wrote, “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary can breathe.” Breathe enough so we have the time to pursue other avenues or dreams. To really enjoy and appreciate family. To not miss the sense of where you are going, or who you are.

To take side roads.



We Don’t Need No Education


In a 2016 national survey of college freshman, the number of students who say they will major in education has reached its lowest point in 45 years. Just 4.2 percent intend to major in education compared to 11 percent in 2000, 10 percent in 1990 and 11 percent in 1971. Combine that with poor rates of teacher retention in public schools and I think it’s safe to inform Houston that we have a problem. Baby boomers are leaving the profession and there’s no one coming up to fill those spots.

Anyone care to guess why this is happening?

Let’s start with the fact that we are raising a generation of students who feel entitled and believe teachers are powerless to control them because of litigation threats. Students have little respect for their teachers because their parents show little respect.
Parents don’t want to hear the truth about their child so bad grades are the fault of the teachers and not due to a lack of effort by the student. As a result, grade inflation is sometimes easier than arguing to deaf ears. It must get tiring for teachers trying to raise both the student and the parent. How sad is that?

So why enter a field where salaries fall well behind other professions also requiring advanced degrees?

Why enter a field where student/teacher creativity has now been replaced by standardized testing which changes every few years in order to benefit those marketing the product at the expense of children.

Why enter a field where we make evaluations based on a single test instead of a body of work over a period of months? Because everyone is a great test taker, right?

Why enter a field where teacher bashing has become a popular pastime headed up by some ignorant politicians whose only purpose is promoting their retaliation agenda against a union who decided not to back their election campaigns?

The students entering college today are the generation of no child left behind. They are the ones who remember teachers opening a manual and reading/teaching from it with no sense of creativity allowed. Young people especially in this age of technology, want to feel they can be creative in whatever field they choose to pursue. They’ve already experienced the teaching field from the other side of the desk and they’re not impressed.

Finland probably has the finest education system in the world because in large part, they pay their educators well, respect the profession and allow for creativity while keeping the workload and class sizes low. As a result, their system attracts some of the best students to the teaching field.

Most people think teachers are overpaid with lots of time off, short work days and great benefits. If anyone thinks that’s true, I’d ask you to go up to a dozen or so teachers and ask them if they would encourage anyone to choose the teaching profession today. Considering the perception that many people have of their easy lives, their answers will probably surprise you. If you’re brave enough to stick around they may even elaborate their reasons for you.

We have an education problem in this country that no amount of standardized testing is going to correct. It’s like saying the Johnstown flood could have been prevented with a patch of concrete.

Lets stop the insults, begin holding our children accountable and support ways to educate our children properly. Because as we all know….

a mine es a terble ting to wayste. 

The Aspirations Of A First Grader

I substituted today for a first grade class and one of their assignments was to write a few sentences about what they wanted to be when they grew up and why. Some were pretty standard though their reasoning was interesting. Genders are listed in parentheses.

(B) I want to work in Starbucks because I love their S’mores cappuccino and I’ll be able to drink it whenever I want and sometimes for free. (I was going to ask if he took only decaf but I understood soon enough that the caffeine was well into his system. Thanks, Mom.)

(B) I want to be an Engineer or a Construction worker because I like trains and bulldozers. (There’s logical reasoning there somewhere.)

(B) I want to fix cars because my Dad likes to fix cars. ( I asked if he’s ever allowed to do oil changes and he said no, just brakes. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?)

(G) I want to be an artist because I like to draw and dream and make people happy. (I asked her if she drew something in the past that has made people happy and she said, yes….an apple.)

(B) I want to be a firefighter because my Dad is a firefighter and I love him. (I looked for the tissues after that one. It was the way he said it that got to me)

(G) I want to be a doctor because they make lots of money or I want to be a dentist because they help get teeth clean. ( I guess doctors are in a different income bracket than dentists who apparently are only in that profession for clean teeth.)

(B)I want to be a soccer player because I like kicking balls and I want to be a basketball player because I can do moves. ( Yeah, I know a few people with those same talents and they are not mutually exclusive.)

(G) I want to be a vet because I love all kinds of animals and like to take care of them or I want to open up a pet hotel with my cousins because I like the sound of it. (Hmmm.)

(B) I want to be a plumber because my Dad is a plumber. (I asked what kind of things his Dad does as a plumber and he said… plumbing things. Silly me.)

(G) I want to be a teacher because little kids are fun and difficult and they run around a lot and are difficult to control and it’s hard to count them when they run wild so because of that I won’t give them homework. (I didn’t know how to argue with that logic, I just wish I knew about it many years ago.)

(G) I want to be an astronaut because I can float and bounce or I want to be a janitor because it looks like fun. ( As opposed to floating and bouncing? I didn’t have the heart to tell her that there are plenty of people right here on earth that float and bounce without going in into space. But she’ll figure that out eventually. Why spoil the dream at such a young age.)

(G)I want to work in a hospital like my Mom. I asked what her mom did and she hesitated for a few moments and said she was a doctor but she owns the hospital. ( I didn’t want to argue.)

(B) I want to be a crab fisherman and go on a big boat in the Bering Sea and get bounced around by really bad storms or typhoons. (I asked him if he’d ever been on a big boat before on the water in a storm and he said no but he can’t wait to go on one and get thrown around. I was going to ask a followup question but really, where do you go from there, especially when you’re staring at a child who has a scary glazed look n his eyes?)

(B) I want to be a doctor and help people who are hurt. (At least he’s in it for all the right reasons unlike our doctor/dentist friend above.)

(G) I want to be a spa helper and make people pretty. I want to do toes and my brother will be the boss and my sister will do makeup and my friend will do massages and hair. (You can’t argue with someone who wants to make people pretty)

(B) I want to be a chef and own a restaurant called Famous Chef and only make junk. No healthy food. (I’m thinking he meant junk food and not junk, but I can’t be sure. )

So there you have it.

As for me, I wanted to be a baseball player when I was in first grade.  How about you? What did you want to be?





Anticipation Or Surprise?

I enjoy the fun of anticipation and surprise, as long as the end result is something I’m looking forward to experiencing.

As an example, surprising me with a skydiving gift when I have a fear of heights and knowing the jump would probably kill me, is not on the top of my bucket list.


Also, the anticipation of having root canal is near the back of the concert hall in terms of experiences.

images-1Now that we’re clear, lets move on.

I like surprises. I think they’re fun and creative and gives everyone an opportunity to watch you stare into space with your mouth open for a period of time, as your mind races with the appropriateness of how you should respond to this unexpected pleasure.


Trips, parties and gifts can all be lumped in this category. Sometimes I think the person giving the surprise is more excited than the person receiving it. There is anticipation for the giver in arranging the surprise and seeing the expression on the face of the person receiving it.

And that’s my point. Anticipation.

Because while I really like surprises, I love anticipation. There is a different kind of excitement when you know you’re going to be doing something in a month, a week, a day, or an hour, that heightens the enjoyment of it all.
When I go on a trip, part of the pleasure is planning it, speaking to friends and family about it, imagining what it might be like, reading stories, looking at pictures and sharing that excitement with the people with whom you’ll be traveling. If someone gave you a trip as a surprise, while you would still enjoy it very much, you will have missed all those moments of anticipation and excitement that the other person felt.

imagesI think that holds true for adults as well as children, because regardless of our age, we are all children when it come to anticipating something special.

Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not suggesting that surprises are a bad thing, I’m just saying that if I had a chance to have a dish of ice cream, I’d rather have a dish of ice cream with strawberries and hot fudge rather than just plain.

And I’d love to know in advance that I was going. That way I could smile like the child in the picture above, for as many days or hours or minutes that it took to get there.

But that’s just me.

How about you?


No Bologna

There’s this little story about two co-workers who walked into their company’s lunch room, sat down next to each other and began unwrapping their respective lunches. While one started eating almost immediately, the other stopped and just stared at his meal. After a few moments, the man who was eating noticed that his co-worker was shaking his head and mumbling profanities under his breath. So he put down his sandwich and asked if there was anything wrong.

The despondent co-worker continued to look down at his meal while explaining, “Everyday I come here and have the same thing for lunch; a bologna sandwich with mayo, mustard, lettuce and tomato on white bread. Everyday.”

The man who had been eating took another bite of his sandwich, shrugged his shoulders and said, “Why don’t you just ask your wife to make you something else?”

The man looked up with a defeated look on his face. “Because,” he said slowly, “I make my own lunch.”

Unfortunately, too many people continue to make the same bologna sandwiches each day. While its true that circumstances may sometimes limit their choices, it’s also true that those same circumstances sometimes serve as a convenient excuse to remain where they are. As a result, they become too comfortable or insecure; too fearful or unsure of their own potential. They remain in the same job, relationship, town or career, even though their minds scream otherwise. Until one day they realize they’ve settled for less and their lives have been a steady diet of the same bologna sandwich.

A noted sports psychologist, Dr. Steve Peters, once said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

Too often people lose sight of that simple fact. So ask yourself these questions. What is it you really want in life? What do you have to do to get it? Where do you have to go? What are you willing to risk? Whom do you have to speak to or be with? Are you settling for less? Do you believe in yourself? Are you confident enough to ask the question, find the answer and search out the solution?

So let me ask you once again. What is your main thing?

Got the answer?


Now go get it.

Celebrating Life

Brittany Maynard died quietly on Saturday, surrounded by her husband and parents after battling a brain tumor for almost a year. One day later, Lauren Hill celebrated the “best day of my life” on a basketball court in front of ten thousand people, knowing her own brain tumor was in the next room of a wide open door she couldn’t close.

Brittany and Lauren never met in this life. Never shared their struggles. fears, defeated dreams or the arms of someone who knew what the other might be feeling…. and desperately praying for. And yet, I’m sure they watched as each became the face of their individual causes and, with much difficulty, stood on the mountains and floors of their respective dreams. Along the way, they touched tens of millions of lives, showed us that living your life is winning the battle, inspired others fighting the same odds and generated dialogue about how to live…and how to die.

People who have never been told they only have one more season to live have offered their opinions about how death should be met. I’ve always taken exception to those who presume to know what they would do in situations so far down in their pockets they can’t reach them. While there are moral and ethical questions that help to guide our lives, to those who have never been there, immeasurable pain and suffering was always somewhere else when we stood on a table and proudly spoke about our beliefs to others. As the saying goes, it’s never scary to die one day. It’s scary to die today. What each of us will do that day remains to be seen.

I’d like to think that my beliefs would guide my decision if I were ever in that awful position, but quite honestly, I don’t know how I would feel. So I don’t judge Brittany’s decision to die on her terms or Lauren to live on hers.

I would rather celebrate the lives of two young women who followed their dreams for as long as life would allow. Who told their individual stories with dignity, honesty and a passion to live. Though they never met in this life, they came together on a single weekend, holding hands to bridge the days of life and death.

Some would say that was coincidental. Some would say.