The Clock is Ticking…

H  ow did the holidays get here so fast?

A  few weeks ago we were eating turkey

P  retty soon the stores were filled with Christmas

P  iles of gift catalogs throughout the house

Y  esterday we hung the lights outside

 

H  ow will we ever be ready in time for Christmas?

O  n December 17th we are leaving for Germany

L  ots of things to prepare for our trip

I   f only the next few days would slow down

D  estinations: Berlin, Dresden, Weimar

A  lot of miles to travel to see people we love

Y  es, it’s the trip of a lifetime

S  ee you in 2016!

Teaching and Terrorism

Emotions and thoughts have been swirling through my mind since I heard about the acts of terrorism in Paris this past weekend. Paris is a city I love dearly, having lived there for over a year in the 70’s in my mid-twenties and returning many times to visit.

I first began reading about the banlieues (outskirts or suburbs) of Paris about a decade ago. This was not the Paris I first experienced. It had become a city of haves and have nots, with the native insiders living within the city and the outsiders/immigrants relegated to substandard lives on the outskirts of the city. These outsiders burned cars and trashed their neighborhoods as a way of expressing their frustration and anger.  Eventually things returned to the status quo and their frustration was forgotten.

This past year the news of the violence that took place at Charlie Hebdo, the French newspaper whose cartoons mocked the Muslim extremists, reminded us of that anger. The lives of several French cartoonists and journalists were taken in another outburst of hatred toward French culture. The world responded with sympathy (“I am Charlie Hebdo”) and a renewed vow to celebrate “free speech.”

But this past weekend’s events, in which local terrorists took the lives of over 100 Parisians, remind us again that this hatred is not dead. More extreme and widespread violence has just begun, and we are now wondering what to do next to contain or combat extremists throughout the world.

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This is where teaching comes into the discussion. I am so proud of my profession; moreso than ever. In the United States teachers are the ambassadors of plurality, seeking to find ways to assimilate and educate our newcomers as they arrive at our borders and in our airports.

This is not to say that all teachers welcome undocumented immigrants and their families; prejudice and scorn often rear their heads in faculty lunchrooms. But even those who do not appreciate our tolerance for immigrants understand that our nation was built on their efforts and continues to flourish in many ways because of them. They also understand that building a wall is not the best way to solve the immigrant dilemma.  Supporting the assimilation of immigrant children and their families into our culture is how our nation will continue to sustain its principles of freedom and equality.

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I have often questioned my own beliefs as a teacher of English to immigrant students over the past several decades. But I have always come to the conclusion that becoming more understanding of people from other cultures, while helping their children to become better educated and assimilated, is the only way to continue to build a foundation of trust and strength.

I am particularly proud of my fellow English as a Second Language teachers.  We are often not held in high regard in our own schools or communities because of the controversial work we do, but we are the best advocates in our educational system for making sure that all children have equal access to a good education. Education is terrorism’s worst enemy and the best weapon we have for preserving our values.

Turning 70: The Late Middle Years

I have been celebrating my recent 70th birthday in bits and pieces…by choice. When I turned 60, my family gave me a wonderful surprise party with all my close friends present. Turning 70, however, felt different. It was cause for celebration, but I was in a quieter mood. Unable to make a decision regarding a party, I settled into mini-celebrations instead, so I could spend quality time, at intervals, with friends and family. So far it has worked out splendidly. I’ve been having a few quiet lunches with old friends, a splendid dinner this past weekend with immediate family members, and more lunch dates on the horizon. My family has begun referring to this as my “Jubilee Year.”

Having also decided to write this mini-autobiography in small installments, I am enjoying reflecting on chunks of my life in preparation for writing the next installment. Like any author, I am guilty of picking and choosing the incidents in my life I choose to portray and the details I do or do not include. But mostly, this is a very abridged but honest accounting of my life as seen through the lens of turning 70. Who knows? My 80th birthday rendition might be completely different! (Certainly more risque, because at 80, what do you have to lose?)

So where were we…. Ah, yes. Early 40’s….unemployed, discouraged, two young children I am hopelessly in love with, a husband struggling to provide, and no clue where to turn. At a similarly devastating turning point in my early 20s (see my previous post), I sank into a deep depression which took me several years to overcome. Now twenty years later, I knew I had to take charge of my life and create a new narrative, one that would allow me to succeed rather than give up.

I soon began work as an adjunct teaching a basic Communications course at a community college. I wasn’t making much money, but I was developing confidence. A few semesters went by until I hit a wall. As a favor to my chairman, I had agreed to travel to a a second campus where they needed an additional instructor for the same class. Within weeks of my arrival I was approached by the department chair who asked me abruptly for my resume. I complied and a week or two later, he told me I could no longer teach the course because my Master’s degree was not in the field of Communications. (Mine was in English). I knew he was “out to get me” from his demeanor and lack of civility, so I began to devise a plan.

Someone had once impressed upon me the importance of visualization in achieving one’s goals. I began to visualize how I would conduct myself in my final meeting with this ogre. I thought through the entire process, knowing it would end in the culmination of my job. But instead of being humiliated, I would turn the tables on him. The day of our final meeting, I requested that we meet in a classroom rather than his office (to get him off his throne). As we sat at student desks, side byside, he passed me my evaluation to sign, and I said, “no problem.” I read his evaluation (which was less than enthusiastic, as I had known it would be) and signed it. I think he was surprised at how easy it all seemed. Then I turned to him, looked him directly in the eye and said, “There’s something I want to say before we leave.”

“I have spoken to many of your colleagues including the Dean and several of your peers, and they all agree on one thing…that it is a shame that I had to run into you because you are considered a b—–d by all of them.” His threw his head back, shoved his palm in front of my face and, red-faced, stammered, “Don’t say another word.” I replied, “I’ve said all I had to say,” and with great self-control and dignity I left the room.” Mission accomplished. I was taking back my life.

I was given a new home in the English Department of the community college as a consolation prize and taught there at night almost every semester for the next 20 years. But I still needed a full-time job. I had ended my career at Stony Brook working in a writing center for engineers, where I became interested in teaching second-language learners. I researched opportunities for getting a Master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language and ended up eventually in the TESOL program at Stony Brook where I had also gotten my BA in English, and my Master of Arts in Liberal Studies. It took me three years and was probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, but I did complete the program. The third time’s the charm they say. In my final semester, I applied for a job on LI, was hired and taught ESL there for the next twenty-two years.

Finally I had a career I could sink my teeth into. I love cultural diversity and learning languages, so I was meant for the job. I also believed I could make the most difference in a young immigrant’s life by teaching them at an early age. No one told me I would be considered the bottom of the teacher pecking order in terms of prestige, resources, support of any kind and no appreciation whatsoever for all my efforts, but I enjoyed my students so much, ten to fifteen years flew by. Toward the end of that period, the isolation of being an ESL teacher was beginning to take its toll on me. I was running out of steam and enthusiasm.

Then, one day, she walked through the door. M. was a literacy coach hired by the district to convince the elementary classroom teachers that they needed to revise their methods for teaching reading and writing. Determined not to be excluded from this major undertaking, I asked to be included in the monthly training that was being offered to the mainstream classroom teachers. I became really excited about the ideas and methods that our consultant was sharing and demonstrating and got my second wind as an ESL teacher.

Long story short, I began to include the new methods I was learning in my own practice as an ESL teacher in an effort to make my teaching more compatible with what was being taught in the classrooms. The kids loved the new changes, and I felt renewed. The consultant actually appreciated my efforts and told me so. She also told my principals what a good job I was doing. She invited me to “present” my work with her at an upcoming literacy conference and then there was no stopping me. I was no longer the oft-forgotten and certainly under-appreciated teacher in the ESL room. I was enjoying teaching again, making a name for myself and in 2009 was actually awarded the honor of Most Outstanding ESL teacher of the Year by a local college, and ESL Teacher of the Year by NYS TESOL.

I stayed at my teaching job for five more years. In the third year, the new Common Core Standards were thrust upon LI teachers, and teaching, as we knew it, changed abruptly for all of us. The freedom to decide as a professional what to teach and how to teach it was virtually eliminated, replaced by a curriculum devised by higher-education academics and business professionals who had no knowledge of how to teach young children in classrooms that are diverse, and often contain many children with cognitive disabilities and/or emotional baggage. My students, who also couldn’t yet read or write in English, “underperformed” on the NY State tests, and suddenly I was labeled a Developing (underperforming) teacher. I knew it was over; a year later I resigned.

My glorious teaching career was over. I dove into it with complete enthusiasm, worked hard to become the best ESL teacher I could be, enjoyed the creativity and freedom I was afforded for most of my career, achieved professional status in my field on my own and left feeling saddened by the turn of events. But little did I know that I was soon to face an even bigger challenge.

(To be continued…thanks for hanging in there with me, friends.)

Turning 70: The Early Middle Years

I am not alone in contemplating how I spend my days…my time here on this earth. This lovely poem “Poem of the Day: Poem for the New Year” refers to all the other things I think about every day of my life….

http://thepoetryfoundation.cmail20.com/t/r-l-yktkyhtk-hilklyllkj-u

Last week I unexpectedly found myself counting years instead of sheep during a night of insomnia while contemplating my 70th birthday, which has now (peacefully) come and gone. In last week’s post, I wrote about the events that transpired during the first 25 years of my life, planning to continue the story this week. So, for those of you who are still interested, here it is.

At 25, after returning to California from a year in Paris, I found myself unable to resume my life as it was. Shortly thereafter, I returned home to NY to attend a sister’s wedding. While staying with my family, I got an unexpected letter from my Parisian boyfriend, telling me he hadn’t realized how much he missed me and would come to America as soon as he could. Deciding to stay in NY and wait for him was one of those fork-in-the-road decisions which totally changed the direction of my life.

Months went by until he finally got enough money together to make the trip to America. He and I moved into an apartment on 72nd Street with a friend of his. Thus began a year of emotional upheaval. While waiting for his arrival I had gotten a job working in NYC for the director of the 1975 Best Documentary winner, Hearts and Minds. This was an interesting job and I was glad to have it. My boyfriend, however, was constantly searching for work (off the books). We moved several times, but each move became more and more unsettling and our relationship became very strained. One year after his arrival, we rented an apartment together in Greenwich Village. He had to go back to France because his visa was expiring, but he never returned. In a desperate phone call, he urged me to come to Paris. To do so was impossible. I couldn’t afford the apartment we had rented together; my film job was ending; I had no financial resources; and I was in shock.

This “abandonment,” which is evidently how I experienced his departure, precipitated a death spiral for me. I still loved him, and even though I knew we were having difficulties, I became hopelessly depressed. I understood his reasons, but not his way of dealing with the situation. I soon had to move back to my parents’ home on LI due to a serious health matter. The next several years were the “dark years.” I slowly began to try to put my life back together, began seeing a therapist and got myself back into substitute teaching on Long Island. I was in my mid 20’s, and still felt relatively lost. I had no real home of my own, no steady job, few friends, and no clue what to do with myself. Worse than that, I had no one to turn to for support or advice.

About two years later, I met my husband-to-be in a book publishing class which I was auditing at a nearby university. He was about 3/4 of the way through his undergraduate degree which I urged him to complete. We were together for about three years when I was suddenly hospitalized with acute endometriosis. But I was lucky. The surgeon was able to salvage my ovaries, and he encouraged us to have children as soon as possible because endometriosis often results in infertility.

The decision was made for us; no more procrastinating. A year and a half later, I became pregnant and then gave birth to a ten-and-a-half pound baby boy. We had been desperately searching for a home during the period of the highest interest rates in the country (1981), and finally moved into one we could afford on my due date! We settled into married life. I returned to work part-time at a fairly new job at Stony Brook University, and my life began to come into focus.

I often tell my children that having a family was the best thing that ever happened to me. It grounded me after years of wandering and provided me with everything I needed: a home of my own, a purpose in life, and my own family. My second child, a girl was born a year and a half later and life seemed challenging, but good. I have the pictures to prove it! I was approaching 40 when the other shoe dropped.

Upon returning to my part-time job as a media coordinator in a university continuing-education program, a year after the birth of my second child, I met the “new boss.” Short, shifty and Napoleonic he was completely the opposite of my former boss who was more like a mentor to me. Within a few short months I was called into his office and told I could no longer work part-time and I could “apply for the full-time job if I wished to do so.” It was a gut-punch that I didn’t see coming, although I should have. My female colleagues were all older than me and had stayed home to raise their families. Some of them resented my part-time status. Others were older, single women devoted to their careers. There was no way I could match their dedication. I fully supported the feminist movement, but I was trapped in a time warp with my colleagues. None of them understood my need to work to help provide for my family.

I was facing another fork-in-the-road decision, one that so many women have faced: my job or my family. My commute was an hour-long each way, and I did not see how I could sustain the job. To work full-time meant I would be turning over my young children to strangers once again, and would be able to spend only very limited time with them. I strongly felt I could not do that to my kids. I had reached a dead end.

I learned I was entitled to a “separation year” as per my contract, which I spent as an assistant director in a writing center for the School of Engineering at the same university. One year later I left my job, eleven years after I was hired, with no idea how we would survive financially. My salary was our major source of income. I was in my early forties and at a new low point. But this time I did not become immobilized by depression. I knew I my children needed me. I was learning to become more resilient and independent and to act upon my anger rather than let it consume me. I just needed a new plan.

(To be continued….)

Turning 70….The Early Years

Last night as I lay in bed wide awake with insomnia due to eating and drinking too much holiday fare too late in the day, I counted years instead of sheep. I turn 70 tomorrow, and no matter how you slice it, 70 is a biggie. The very idea of it takes my breath away. The usual remedies, like deep breathing, were not working, so I began to reflect on the 69 years I have spent on this planet. What have I done with all these years; what constitutes a lifetime? These were some of the thoughts I was having, more out of curiosity than stress.

As I began my mental journey, I kinda’ whizzed through ages 1 to 5, since I remember next to nothing about those years when we lived in a mostly all-German community in a three-story walkup in Ridgewood, Queens. My mother had four children, each a year apart, so perhaps I basically just felt like a sardine in a crowded can of other sardines. Then she had two or three more!(No, we were not Irish, or Catholic; we were Lutherans.)

Age 9 is the first really memorable year for me, when we moved to a lovely two-story colonial my father built with his own hands in Bayville, Long Island, a seashore community. The move from a treeless, urban existence to what was still a quite rural environment was culture shock. The local kids made fun of me because I didn’t know anything about playing soccer, and threw spitballs at me in fifth grade. Despite the initial torture, I loved living where I could wander for hours on the beaches becoming familiar with the tides and the creatures that washed up on the shore.

Next big stop was ages 14 to 17, junior high and high school, where I was basically an outstanding student with a very troubled boyfriend. No one could break his spell, and somehow I muddled through and survived intact. On to college, more good grades and this time, a boyfriend the complete opposite of the first. However, like the first one, I felt smothered and broke things off before graduation. In my early twenties is when things got really interesting.

I accepted a graduate fellowship to the NY State University at Buffalo where I soon realized I was in way over my head. I had no idea what I was doing there, and at the height of the Vietnam War, with the guilt of a brother slogging through the jungles of South Vietman to save us from communism, I left my cushy college life with a third boyfriend to live in California where he had a college teaching job. (Do you see a theme developing here?)

I fell in love with California but the third boyfriend didn’t work out either (though we are still very close friends to this day). He was part of an academic community and I was just basically drifting, but drifting in a very beautiful place.
After three years, I could not find steady employment and had burned out on substitute teaching, so I did what any sensible college-educated girl would do at that time. I left for Paris, where a tutoring job (suggested by a friend) awaited me.

At 25-ish I arrived in Paris in a long, red plaid skirt, lace-up boots, long hair and a backpack. I was bohemian chic before there were words to describe it. In a nutshell, it was a very challenging year. I was completely on my own, with limited resurces, no clear agenda and very loose ties to my previous life. About eight months later, just after I decided to leave Paris to return to California, I met and fell in love with a young Frenchman. I postponed my departure for several weeks, until even I realized it was an impossible relationship, and left.

OK. So now I’ve accounted for approximately the first quarter of my life. I hadn’t accomplished much, unless you consider being the first in the family to get a college degree in English and a fellowship to spend a year in grad school to be such, but for a kid who didn’t have two nickels to rub together, I had succeeded in seeing a lot of the world. I marvel even today at how that was possible. But I was now closing in on 30, and that was a scary prospect to me…being single, alone and as Bob Dylan would say:

How does it feel, how does it feel?
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone…

At this point I’m still awake, and still accounting for my years, but the next segment will have to wait until next week. I’ve run out of steam. Are you still with me?

Happy Holidays…But Not for Berliners

Last year, at this very time of the year, my family and I were in Germany to celebrate the holidays with family and friends in Berlin, Dresden and Weimar. Before we made our plans, we spoke about whether it was actually safe to travel in Europe because of terrorist activities that had been happening in Europe. My son urged that we continue to live our lives in spite of terrorism, because ” that is exactly what they want. They want us to stop being able to enjoy the things we love….” It was a compelling enough argument to convince us to go. (You can find my posts about last year’s visit at BarbaraSut.wordpress.com.)

In a nutshell, we had a fabulous two-week stay in Germany. One of my most compelling desires was to visit some of Germany’s world-famous Christmas markets. I had a German calendar a relative in Dresden had given me with a picture of the Dresden Weinachmarkt that so entranced me, I couldn’t wait to experience one. In fact, we probably went to about six markets, each one charming in its own way. We now have six gluwein mugs to remind us of the delicious mulled wine we drank at each of the markets we visited.

Fast forward to this week. Someone drove a tractor-trailer sized truck right into the Christmas market adjacent to the very symbolic Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, damaged by the bombing of Berlin at the end of WWII.

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We were stunned at the news, remembering the joy we experienced exactly a year ago visiting several such markets in Berlin not far from where this tragedy took place. I remarked to my family that I was so grateful we had the opportunity to visit the markets while they were still in their age of innocence…so we could experience them as they were meant to be: joyful, playful, beautiful, magical. Now, like so many other cherished venues around the world, they will be cordoned off by security barriers and special forces to protect those who will be brave enough to visit them. Slowly, terrorism is closing in on our freedoms, checking another target off its list of places people go to enjoy themselves.

Sorry to be such a downer during this pre-holiday week, but this one just hit too close to home. We have since learned that everyone we know in Berlin is safe, but one person did have two nieces who had just left the targeted market only 15 minutes before it was attacked. My son had arrived to begin his year of study in Berlin just a month before the NYC terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. Berliners were very sympathetic with what had happened to America and demonstrated their grief and solidarity in great numbers at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. It’s been fifteen years of enduring these random acts of terrorism which are making the world seem smaller and smaller and less and less safe.

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Peace on earth seems more than ever unobtainable.

‘Tis the Season…

At our house we’re doing the usual things…getting a holiday tree, putting a lighted wreath outside, buying a few gifts for relatives, planning the menu for Christmas dinner. I thought I’d have plenty of time this month to prepare, but somehow I’ve dawdled away some of that precious time. And now…it’s just around the corner!

Honestly, I’ve been seesawing back and forth this winter between what’s happening in my life and what’s happening in all our lives. The world feels different this year to me…as though the turmoil is cumulative and is reaching a point of no return. I am acutely aware of the thousands of people who are migrating across continents because their lives have become untenable where they live. I think about ordinary people everywhere whose way of life is being challenged by the new customs and behaviors of the new arrivals in their towns and cities. I have been thinking about the Native Americans protesting in the freezing temperatures of North Dakota, trying to protect their water rights and maintain their human rights. Every day I read about homeless people scattered in cities throughout the country and children living in third world conditions.

Because the world vibe feels so unsettled, I find it hard to focus on celebration, joy and gift giving when so much seems to be wrong for so many. Like, I suspect, many of you, I have written many checks recently for donations to causes I support, but I can’t help feeling it’s never enough. I try to support a balance of conservation efforts, protection of wildlife, meals and warm clothing for families barely making ends meet, and scholarships for young people who otherwise would have no chance at higher education. I volunteer wherever I feel I can make a difference. I know teachers everywhere are doing their best to keep their students focused on being sensitive to others and engaged in meaningful actions.

But truthfully, I feel overwhelmed. Although I am happy to contribute to help others, I can’t help feeling there’s something fundamentally wrong with a society that expects individuals to make up for what it refuses to provide for those who are needy, and for programs, like energy conservation, that we all need to save the planet. We all know there’s enough money in this country to take care of all of us. So why do we have to play these cat and mouse games with peoples’ lives?

I know we have to hunker down and do what we think is right, and hopefully “this too, shall pass.” I’ve enjoyed several TWT posts lately like “Keep your head up,” which is about keeping the big picture always foremost in mind. And I really am looking forward to time well spent with close friends and relatives during the holidays. But I am very, very disappointed in the direction in which we seem to be heading as a nation.

‘Tis the season…. Friends, I’d love to hear your thoughts in response to that sentence starter.

A Holiday in NYC: Native Art Market and Martin Luther’s 95 Theses

I’ve been wanting to get there for the past five or so years, but every year something interfered. This year, however, I finally did make it to the 2016 Native Art Market at the NYC Smithsonian located downtown in the former Custom House. And my family came with me! I have been awed by Native American arts and crafts for as long as I can remember, and this annual event showcases some of the best Native American work from around the country.

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I am no expert, but from reading the monthly Native American magazine produced by the Washington Smithsonian, I did recognize some of the names at the exhibit tables. Jody Naranjo, a potter; Dorothy Grant, a clothing designer and Denise Wallace, a jewelry designer and crafter extraordinaire were among them. The artist(s) at each table were very friendly and easy to talk to about their craft. We went from table to table admiring the ingenuity, skill and artistry of each participant. But the highlight of the visit, for me, was to meet Denise Wallace who makes some of the most extraordinary jewelry I’ve ever seen.

Ms. Wallace and her husband work together. Originally from Alaska, the family now lives in Hilo, Hawaii. It can take her up to a year or more to complete a jewelry project because she creates unique figures that reflect her tribe (Chugach Alutiiq) which have intricate and sometimes moving parts and are made of natural local materials. She then will and attach a dozen or so of the figures to a belt or a necklace. The total effect is awesome. (See the photo below.) Despite being one of the outstanding representatives of native art, Ms. Wallace is unassuming and friendly and was willing to chat with me for a while. I wish I could afford her work.

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We left the art market two hours later, feeling energized by the craft and skill of the artists whose work we had just seen. Our next stop was the Morgan Library, a place I’ve never visited but have wanted to for a long time.

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Our goal was to see one of the extant six copies of the 95 Theses written by Martin Luther in the mid-1500’s and nailed to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany beginning the debate that led to The Protestant Reformation.

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I was raised and confirmed as a Lutheran. For personal reasons, it was never a comfortable fit for me, though I did enjoy singing the glorious music of Bach in the church choir on Sundays and holidays. My mother, a lifelong Lutheran, had always wanted to visit the birthplace of Martin Luther and other sites related to him but never got the chance to do so. Decades later, after my son spent his junior year of college at Humboldt University in Berlin becoming completely fluent in German, I felt it would be interesting to visit Germany with him, traveling to some of the small cities which are part of The Martin Luther Trail.

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It would be a chance for me to find out about origins of my former religion and achieve a better understanding of how it came into being. The most amazing stop, for me, was a visit to Wartburg Castle, outside the small city of Erfurt in central Germany. It was here that a local Saxon prince gave Luther refuge after he defied the Pope by refusing to recant the 95 Theses. His life was at risk, and his rescuer had him disguised as a monk during the year he spent in the castle. During that year of confinement, he sat in the small, spare room we visited, translating the Bible into German, making the content available to all Germans and Northern Europeans for the first time in the vernacular. The sight of the humble room where he worked, contrasted with the realization of what Luther had accomplished with his translation, really moved me.

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It was awe-inspiring to me that one man, alone, could stand up to the Holy Roman Empire for his beliefs and initiate the birth of a new religion. I mean no disrespect for anyone’s religion in praising his accomplishment, but I am impressed by the strength of his convictions.

In addition to the original document of the 95 Theses, the exhibit included many paintings by a good friend and admirer of Luther, Lucas Cranach the Elder. Also on display were some prints of Albrecht Durer whose illustrations appeared in Luther’s translated version of the Bible. Most of the artifacts, books, paintings and, of course, the broadsheet of the 95 Theses are on loan from various institutions in Germany, and will soon return home in time for the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Some of the other treasures we were able to view at the Morgan included the original manuscript of Dickens’ Christmas Carol, a copy of the Guttenberg Bible, original scores by Bach, Beethoven, Stravinsky and many other composers, and last, but not least, the personal library and sitting rooms of JP Morgan himself.

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It was our first visit to the Morgan Library and we were duly impressed. One could easily spend an entire day or two there and only scratch the surface of this vault of treasures.

We finished the day with a visit to my son’s favorite pub in midtown, The Ginger Man, where we feasted on beef stew, sausage platters, select cheeses, tasty fresh pretzels with mustard on the side and a wonderful selection of beer. My personal holiday season is off to a good start. I appreciated once again that I was able to indulge in two of my passions… Native American art and the history of Martin Luther and the Reformation…in one very full afternoon with my family by my side. Topping it off with a tasty dinner and some excellent brews made for a memorable day. Even after living in New York most of my life, NYC continues to amaze me with its rich palette of experiences, there for the taking. There’s something for everyone to enjoy!

What I Am Thankful For and Hopeful About

This was an unusual Thanksgiving week for me in many ways. It started with a pre-Thanksgiving trip to Atlanta to attend two conferences and visit with a dear cousin and his wife whom I haven’t seen for almost ten years. Thanksgiving Day was spent with neighborhood friends who invited us knowing we would not be spending the day as we usually do with our relatives. The day after Thanksgiving we spent visiting with relatives and their newlywed son and daughter-in-law. The week-long festivities gave me a lot of time to think about what I feel thankful for this year and hopeful about for the year to come.

I am thankful for my immediate family members whom I love for always “being there” for me…
I am hopeful that each of them will experience a productive, mostly joyful and fulfilling year ahead.

I am thankful for being pronounced “cancer free” following a serious bout with cancer exactly two years ago…
I am hopeful that my luck will continue and I will be able to enjoy my renewed health for a good while.

I am thankful for this blog site which I joined soon after my cancer recovery and which opened a door to a new passion…
I am hopeful that I will be able to continue to interact with my fellow bloggers for another year.

I am thankful for the gift of writing I have newly come to embrace after years of doubting my writing ability…
I am hopeful I will continue to grow as a writer and that I will continue to learn from the other writers on this site.

I am thankful for old friends who have continued to sustain me throughout my life and whom I love in return…
I am hopeful I will be able to be there for them in their times of need and I look forward to making new friends in the years ahead.

I am thankful for all those who continue to feel that acceptance of diversity is necessary for our country to remain strong and united…
I am hopeful that a project I am working on will lead to enabling a group of diverse students feel they, too, have a voice in our nation.

I am thankful for all those who continue to struggle for the health of our environment including my son and daughter-in-law who “stood up against the Dakota pipeline by sitting down” at last week’s demonstration in NYC…
I am hopeful that their voices and those of others who care about the environment will be heard and honored.

I am thankful that I have had such a rich and fulfilling (although often very challenging) life…
I am hopeful that in the years ahead I will have new adventures and many more reasons to celebrate life.

I am thankful this year’s election is over…
I am hopeful we can all get on with our lives and continue to fight (passionately but peacefully) for what we believe in and feel we can still make a difference.

Thanks to all the Slicers who have made Tuesday such an important day in my life…
I am hopeful I will be able to continue to Slice with you as long as we all share the passion to keep doing so.