Sunday, April 25, 2010
This is my mother-in-law, Glenna, with my granddaughter (and her great granddaughter), Isabella. Glenna is a warm and wonderful woman, full of strength and love.
She has had a hard life, but has rebounded from her many setbacks. Right now, she is in serious trouble with her health. I wrote last week about her; last Saturday, she had managed to inhale a calcium pill and was in ICU at her local hospital. She spend a couple of days in ICU, then was moved to her own room. However, that didn't last as she developed both breathing and heart issues, and she was placed back in ICU just in time for her birthday on Tuesday.
Yesterday they became very concerned about her heart and moved her to a hospital with better heart care facilities. I am pleased that she has been moved, as I did not trust the other hospital, and believe she is in a much better medical facility.
We visited her today, now that she is settled back in and she didn't look well at all. The doctor is optimistic about her recovering from the pneumonia resulting from aspirating a pill, but says she'll likely need heart surgery when she has recovered her strength.
I am also worried about my husband, Mike. His father died when he was 13 years old, and his younger brother died at 18 years old right after Mike returned home from Vietnam. Mike has a brother and his mother left in his family; his mother has been a source of strength, and a source of annoyance to him all his adult life. He did not do well when my parents died - I am not certain how to put it - cavalier maybe? He is acting a lot like my brother did before my father died... like she will get better without question. But there is a BIG question mark here. She is not strong and has a lot of health problems that could prevent her from pulling out. I wish he would make his peace with her. It can only help her gain strength and help with her healing.
The pulmonary specialist hopes to have her in her own room and to get her walking around by Wednesday. Over the course of the week, they will be doing tests to determine if she needs open heart surgery. I guess we need to take it one day at a time.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Our Open House at school was about play.
One of the most important things in childhood, active play, is being lost. At home, children are spending an incredible amount of screen time at the expense of active, interactive, and creative play. Schools have completely let children down with the misguided No Children Left Behind Act, which has resulted in leaving childhood, mental health, and physical health behind. Because the testing results have economic repercussions for schools, and because these tests are not necessarily developmentally appropriate, schools have cut recess and playground time, as well as art, music and field trips, in order to have more time to drill the skills needed to pass the tests.
This is so misguided and we are developing a nation of children who are emotionally stressed with no physical outlets, and who have lost the art of play. In terms of learning, children are not passive receptacles to have information poured into. Children need to move to process, they need to explore and experience their world. In order for learning to be comprehensive and integrated, children need to be involved in the process, and for children, one of the best ways to do that is through playing.
Somewhere along the line, play has become associated with nonproductiveness. This is far from true. Children are developing their neural transmitters, sensory integration and proprioceptive systems at a rapid rate. They need to move! They need to play. They need to physically experience their environment, manipulate it, play with it with their whole selves, mind, body, and emotions. It is a tragedy to see children who have lost the art of play and who have become so stressed by overload with no physical outlet that they are developing stress related illnesses at younger and younger ages.
Children are natural learners, and when they can learn through play was well as through books and manipulatives, they learn with joy and become life-long learners.
At our open house, my activities were experimenting with bubbles, learning to juggle, and unicycle riding. We had a fantastic time.
This little guy liked to jump through them.
There were other activities throughout the school, art, potions, and yoga to name a few.
Now tell me those children weren't learning. There is a lot of joy to learning with our whole bodies. This is true of adults as well. As I read people's blogs, I see the joy people have as they are getting more in touch with their physical selves, learning to run, building muscles, and getting out in the world hiking, gardening, biking... the list goes on. Get out and play. Play with your children, your grandchildren, your pets and your friends. It strengthens your body, your brain, your family, your friendships, and your sense of well-being.
Experiment, taste the world, and have fun with your life. Experience the joy of play.
Friday, April 23, 2010
I blogged last month about my frustrations with being diagnosed with osteopenia in spite of years of ample amounts of calcium in my diet, running, walking, and weight lifting. You can think you are doing it all right, only to be surprised that it wasn't quite enough or that genetics are stronger than life style.
I also discussed my unhappiness with 'bone building' drugs like Fosamax and Actonel. In a nutshell, I feel like a guinea pig. In my mother's day there was the 'miracle drug' thalidamide, a sedative drug which just happened to be linked with severe birth defects - children born without arms or legs. Then there was the 'miracle' of hormone replacement therapy, which is now linked to breast cancer and does not, as it turns out, prevent heart disease. Now we have 'bone building' drugs. I started out taking them, did more research, and decided not to. From what I have learned, they do not build bone tissue, but keep bones from shedding dead bone cells as they normally do, so they become dense because old bone is not sloughed off. I am NOT recommending to anyone else that they follow this path, but for myself I am choosing a different path. Perhaps if I had severe osteoporosis or wasn't planning on living another 30 - 40 years, I might see things differently, but for now - no.
I found a skeletal specialist, who after testing my calcium and vitamin D levels, recommended I take 1000 IUs of vitamin D. I have also been doing my PT exercises for my hips which include exer-band resistance training and doing wall sits holding a 5 pound medicine ball with my knees. In addition, I have been aiming for 2-4 mile walks and getting in my 10,000 steps per day.
All of that preamble leads up to my annual appointment with my lovely doctor. The results of my dexascan showed that I have gained bone in both of my hips! No Fosamax or Acotonel. Exercise? Diet? Vitamin D? I am not certain what helped, perhaps the whole package. It doesn't matter, I'll keep doing the same thing... I am very pleased with the results.
The rest of my test results were equally pleasing. Blood pressure in the low range, LDL - low, triglycerides - low, HDL - high. Keep getting your cardio and strength training in, take your vitamins, and eat those veggies and whole grains, my friends. It works!
I took my students to see the San Jose Taiko group perform. It was fantastic. I love Taiko, but don't often have the opportunity to enjoy it. Our seats were up in the nosebleed section, but I tell you, those drums sent vibrations all the way through the theater. Incredible!
Here's a Youtube clip of San Jose Taiko:
We had a reporter from the local paper come out to photograph my leads for the play and interview the cast for an article about our upcoming musical. The children looked great in their costumes and make-up. But, even better, they are doing so well with their lines, singing, and acting. I am very pleased with their progress so far! The performances are going to be on May 7 and 8 at a quaint little opera house. It is always a tremendous amount of work, but so gratifying. I love to see the children shine and I love the sense of confidence and accomplishment they get from the performing arts.
I don't think my blog would be complete without a photo update of the baby quail that were hatched in the Younger Group classroom. They aren't our project, but our days aren't complete without oooohing and ahhhhing over the babies.
Here they are with Sockie:
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Antioch College was established in 1852, in Yellow Springs, Ohio. It was, from the onset, a co-educational college, a very unusual occurrence at the time. During the antebellum period, Antioch students were usually abolitionists. Horace Mann, the first president of Antioch,encouraged this sentiment at the college. Mann believed that the students should work hard to contribute to the moral fabric of society, stating, "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity." This became the motto of Antioch College.
Antioch College was a forerunner in liberal arts education. Students were expected to be active participants not only in their own learning, but the governance of the college. Coretta Scott King, Stephen Jay Gould, and Virginia Hamilton are some of the illustrious graduates of Antioch.
In 1978, a decision was made for Antioch to become a university and satellite campuses were developed in California, Washington, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. The administrators became less and less interested in the parent campus in the tiny town in Ohio, and started funneling funds into its campuses and programs on the east and west coasts, and ran the Yellow Springs campus bankrupt.
They shut the doors of the buildings two years ago, closing the buildings without shutting off the water and draining the pipes, leaving them to decay with pipes that burst after a winter of freezing, flooding the historic buildings.
This was a very sad occurrence for everyone associated with the college, the entire town which had been built around the college, and for the alumni, not to mention the students.
After a long, bitter battle, Antioch College made history again when the Antioch Alumni Association bought the college back from the University. There has been a lot of activity on campus, as volunteers and new employees work to repair buildings, revitalize the grounds, and bring campus back to life, to welcome a new batch of creative, energetic, free thinking Antioch College students in another year and a half.
Today, on Earth Day, students from our school, which used to be the lab school for Antioch College, went to celebrate with the new administration and plant flowers to beautify the campus. Honestly, I was teary much of the time - so happy to see the revitalization of my alma mater. It is exciting to see what a group of determined people can do - so many people had expected Antioch College to roll over and die. In fact, I looked up Antioch University on Wikipedia - it referred to Antioch College as 'the now defunct Antioch College.'
It is not in the hearts, souls, or characters of Antioch College alumni to throw in the towel and give up. We are creative and independent thinkers, fighters, and not people inclined to accept things as they are. I am so proud of the Alumni Association for all that it has accomplished!
This was a very happy Earth Day - a double celebration.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
"It seems that when some people talk of compassion, they have the notion that it entails a total disregard or even a sacrificing of one’s own interests. This is not the case. In fact, genuine love should first be directed at oneself – if we do not love ourselves, how can we love others?"
- Dalai Lama
This has been my meditation for today. It is a balance I have gotten better with over the years, but all too often I have given too much of my time to others at the expense of not having the time to follow my own pursuits. Days like today are examples of things veering off course... days when I work 11 hours on a week that I have to work a 6 day work week. I love the school where I teach and work extremely hard to ensure that it is the best possible learning environment for children. My job entails being both a teacher and an administrator as well serving on committees. Sometimes I do not draw the line of where school ends and my personal life begins, in fact, sometimes my personal life all but disappears. Things that center me, music, time with family and friends, hikes in the woods, get lost in the shuffle. This is always a big mistake which, over and over again, I discover I have made after my world spins out of control. I become tired, stressed, and cranky - the antithesis of the effective and creative person I strive to be. I have to be diligent in recognizing the signs that I am becoming too driven at work so I can back off and restructure my priorities to include the kind of time I need to feed my soul and regenerate.
I also think of this meditation when I read some of the blogs written by people in pain, who are feeling like they are worthless, relying on the ideas of others for their sense of self worth. There were years when I felt like that, years that I am glad I have been able to learn from and move forward into a comfortable and cozy relationship with who I am. I am glad for the features of this site that create an atmosphere where people can reach out for support and find it among kind and generous people, people who can affirm that self worth is not dependent upon the judgement of others.
I wasn't going to blog today because I am physically and emotionally exhausted, but I am glad I did. I love my walking meditations, but my walk this morning was a different kind of walk, listening to music and setting my mental tone for the day with song. My meditation seems to have taken written form instead; and it was these thoughts I wanted to share with you.
Genuine self love is the source of the greater love you can share with others.
The gift of time for yourself is the source of having the calm center that enables you to truly have time for others.
Be kind and generous to yourself, and offer yourself patience and forgiveness when you feel self critical. Find the time and space in your life to do the things you love. Keep your body strong and be tender with your heart and soul.
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