Monday, February 18, 2013

Game Day

My senior year of high school I joined the track team to be with my friends. I didn’t expect much from it, but I wasn’t playing lacrosse that season and I wanted an easy way to spend time with my friends. I joined the throwers on the field team and began throwing discus and shot put every day after school. Because I made the varsity team, Cabrini was interested in me as an athlete, and my freshman year I joined the cross country and track team. Unfortunately, after my freshman year, the track team was cut to due to budget and a lack of interest among students. I thought my field days were over, until I found out that my school here has a track and field team, but they were short on coaches. My roommate, Allison, had thrown in high school as well, so we offered to take the field team and train them.


I love being outside with my kids every day, and we have so much fun. Already there is so much talent, and it will only get better as the season progresses. On Thursdays, we have what is known as “Game Day”, where all the students come together no matter what event they do and we play a game together. Last week we played “Capture the Flag” in a game that extended all over campus. It was a blast, running and screaming all over the place. The first game I managed to elude the other team, but in the second game, I got tagged while scaling a fence. That’s right, I scaled a fence. Or, tried to…since I got caught and all! My kids thought it was hilarious, and I was guided to the swing set that was “jail” to wait eventual freedom from one of my teammates. 

Technically, according to the rules of the game, my team lost because the other guys got the flag first, but in reality, no one lost that game. I saw my kids come together to work as a team and try their hardest to have a good game. We plotted and planned our moves. Kids sacrificed themselves to the other team in order to give their teammates a chance at getting the opposing flag. When someone fell down in the mud, three hands were there to pick them up. When someone was freed from jail, there were slaps on the back for the attempt at catching the flag.

By this point in the year, I shouldn’t be amazed with what my students are capable of, but I still am. They have proven themselves to be the most genuine human beings I have ever seen. One of the students that I have in class was on the other team and he was the “guard” for the jail. When I was captured, he was laughing and teasing me about it, and things like that make me so happy. This is the student who is going around the school trying to convince other people to join the team. I heard him as I was walking back from the teacher’s lounge with a cup of coffee the other day: “Why wouldn’t you want to join? Ms. T is the coach! She’s awesome!”

My kids think I am awesome. They are not afraid to tag me out in a game, or tease me for going to “jail”. They leave me gifts for Valentine’s Day and laugh at the way I say “water” (hey, Philly!). They love my baby turtle and vie for his attention (he only pays attention when they feed him). In the classroom, and on the field, these kids are the ones who are awesome. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Reflections on Retreat

It took me a while to think about how to talk about the retreat, what to say and what to leave out. How to sum up a fantastic weekend in one blog post, but I think I've finally managed to work out something cohesive that sums up my experience.

Waking up groggy at 4 in the morning for the drive to Albuquerque was not what I would list as fun. Getting on the plane and landing a few hours later in Oakland, CA was much better. I boarded the plane with excitement for many reasons. I had never been to California, so I was excited to see the Pacific Ocean and dip my feet into it. I also hadn't seen our Sacramento MVC members since August, so I was excited to see the four of them and their support people, some of whom I had met at orientation.

We landed on a Thursday and spent that Friday exploring San Francisco, which was about 20 miles from where we were staying. Something else checked off on the bucket list; I've always wanted to go to San Fran. Allison has an awesome picture of me looking like I am crushing the Golden Gate Bridge, so I will try to get that from her when I can. It's one of my favorite photos!

Driving across it was also pretty cool, though. I often think natives of areas that have big groups of tourism must think we are crazy for obsessing over something they see every day. Oh, hello, NYC.

While in San Fran, I had what I think are the most delicious french fries that I have ever had. And, I toured a WWII era submarine, the USS Pampanito. I was nearly ecstatic when I saw it, and was able to convince the veteran manning the ticket booth to let me in at a student price because I was a history teacher. He was awesome! (I love San Fran)

One of my friends had served on-board a submarine while he was in the Navy and I sent him numerous messages telling him about it. I think I am too tall to be a submariner. I hit my head about 6 times on the tour, but it was totally worth it. I am going to pull a history teacher move here, and tell you that if you have a piece of history like this near you, check it out! It's too good to miss, and it really brings history alive.

The rest of our retreat group arrived while we were in the city, and we all made our way back to Moss Beach for the opening of retreat. HELLO OCEAN! The room I was staying in had a wide window view of the Pacific. I opened every window I could find and let the ocean air come in. For me, water has such healing properties. I love large bodies of water, and especially oceans. It is hard on the Reservation sometimes because there isn't easy access to water, and that it where I feel I draw a lot of strength.

The Pacific is beautiful. I like where we stayed because it wasn't commercial. We stayed in house owned by the Sisters of Mercy in a family neighborhood. No boardwalks or vendors or litter on the beach. Just beauty. There was a path that ran along the top of the bluffs, and I ran along it in the mornings, when it was quiet. It was perfect. I found a bench set in the trees that allotted me a fantastic view of the beach, and seal cove. Watching the baby seals in the morning, as they basked in the sun filled my heart with insurmountable joy at what I was experiencing. I was able to meditate and pray without distractions and take in the fresh, beautiful days. 

Seal Cove as the sun sets. 

There is much that could be said about the retreat, both private and for everyone to know, but I find myself not wanting to talk about it too much. We talked about things that were funny and light, and also those things that were deep and hard, sometimes hurtful. When I decided to join a volunteer organization after graduation, all I could see were the positives. All my friends who had done service after graduation had loved every minute of it, right? So I would love every minute of it, right? Wrong.

What I am learning this year is that I am an individual. Or, I knew that before, but I am learning more about what it means to be individual. I have learned that not everything this year is going to be perfect, or fun, or easy, but that it is okay. I don't regret joining Mercy, and I don't regret where I was missioned. I was called here for a purpose, and almost everyday, something happens that reinforces the idea that this is where I am supposed to be. Maybe, for even longer than a year. I am not sure, but I am really trying this "open heart" concept and living each day in the moment. I will figure out where I am meant to be, and more importantly, I am figuring out that I don't need everything laid out in front of me to get answers. 

One of the best things that happened on the retreat was that I met an angel whose name is Dorothy. Dorothy is one of the support people for MVC Sacramento, who found out about my textbook issue. I have about 40 students and 11 textbooks. Basic math tells you why that is a problem, yes? Having only known me for less than a day, she offers to buy my classroom new books. NEW BOOKS. Can I repeat that? NEW BOOKS. I need new books. I need books that don't talk about when Clinton was President. I need books that I can send home, that I can actually use in class, that aren't missing pages. NEW BOOKS.

I love you, Dorothy.

That more than anything, speaks to me the volumes of Mercy.


A close second was tide pooling with Sr. Libby. 
Maybe this East Coast girl is going West!