How Does Brexit affect my favorite shows Game of Thrones and Outlander?

The world is an uproar!  And after the shock of all the voting in the UK and trying to understand the consequences and just how it affects the United States, today I suddenly wondered, what does Brexit mean for two of my favorite shows, “Game of Thrones” and “Outlander”? Will we fans be forced to stop seeing Jon Snow or never again look upon Jaime and Claire after waiting decades to get their characters on screen?? Please tell me it isn’t so! How can Politics change my television choices??? Obviously, a lot.

As a political junkie it gets me really annoyed that the masses, evidently across the pond as well as in America, don’t think, research, or do their homework before they decide to vote. I don’t understand it.  The last article I read said that the folks in the UK wanted to revote now because they didn’t understand the consequences of what might happen!  REALLY????  And all I could think about was what if that happened in America if a certain reality TV star wins the election. The consequences would be horrifying! And then people would say, “Gee, I didn’t think it would be so bad.” or  “I didn’t realize he didn’t know anything about world issues.”  I don’t want that to happen in my country!!!

Is it so difficult for people to THINK before they decide to vote for “unorthodox” candidates who either don’t understand politics or who want to start a revolution without thinking ahead about the possible consequences their vote might cause? (Yeah, that IS what happened in the UK!! And we need to learn from their hastiness.)  Because like America, many of those voters didn’t really understand what they were voting for. Political decisions affect every aspect of our lives!! And people had better understand the fall out before they cast their votes. Just listening to a dynamic speaker, or someone who sounds great isn’t enough. (May I remind you that Hitler was a master orator?)

Ya know…Revolutions sound amazing, but guess what? In reality, not only can they affect our food supplies and possibly cause our economy to plummet or stagnate, (If we follow history). They also can affect our art, music, theatre, literature, and now our technology, as well as our film industry. Yes, our movies may get cut back, changed completely, or disappear entirely from lack of funding. So yeah, our  votes can affect not only our economy, but our internet, our schools, and our spoiled daily lives which include what we watch on television and go to see at the movies.

And yes, we have become a spoiled society who protests for one thing thinking how radical we are and how it will change our country if we start over and rebuild, so we vote for a revolution and a drastic change. But, you see, we also are a society who likes to stream movies on our phones while we sit in the car, use the restroom, or take pictures of our food in restaurants and post it to everyone in the world. Surprise gang.  RARELY, can you do that in a revolution!

And, what if those films we love so much can no longer be made??? What if, our favorite television shows are cancelled because they cannot be filmed in certain countries or are just too costly to make? And what if,like Cuba, for decades, we can no longer have access to world news or  internet? Yeah, revolutions sound great but they are usually messy and dirty, and not the stuff that movies make them out to be. They are not glamorous!!!

The same millennials who are protesting to keep fighting for a certain senator long after he gave it his all and lost fair and square, would not be so happy if they are too stubborn to cast their votes for the Democratic Nominee and thus handed over the election to the bigoted option running for the GOP. (Who they don’t seem to care for either.)  Those young protestors could quite easily be left standing in bread lines without their cell phones. How would they survive then??? Because the GOP’s candidate would certainly put us in a worse situation than the UK is in. But, hey, don’t worry.  The rich will still have their golf courses.

I personally live with a daily reminder of just how terrible it can be when a majority of people vote for a bad candidate.  In Florida alone, we lost millions of dollars and thousands of jobs because Governor Rick Scott refused to renew the Florida Film incentives. So now all the movies and TV shows that were made down here in our lovely climate all year long, were forced to set up in Georgia. I know because my son, who was working steadily down here and bought a home locally, now rents it out and works in the Atlanta area. I get to see him a few weeks out of the year and that is heartbreaking for me as his mother.  I miss him.  It has had disadvantageous affects for Florida economically, but thankfully, no global complications. However, it was an unnecessary outcome stemming from poor decision making prompted by uninformed voters. So while Florida lost millions of dollars and put thousands of employed people out of work, the film industry regrouped and bought hundreds of acres of land and built studies in Georgia and they are giving  thousands of jobs to Georgia locals.  All jobs and money that would have all gone to Florida’s folks. So voting for the wrong candidate affects more than you think. It affects every aspect of society!! And in this case it affected our public schools, our government jobs, and our local film industry totally disappeared when it was thriving and producing jobs. All because a GOP candidate had plenty of money to make great commercials and got people to vote for him, even though he wasn’t the best person for the job..

I don’t know about any of you, but  I personally love my little inconsequential life just like it is. I am a retired teacher who volunteers for a non profit organization that helps children. I write curriculum for the bluapple poetry network, I take art classes, I write a blog, and I enjoy my three grandchildren. I earn a small teacher’s pension and get a little social security after teaching for 36 years. My life is not extravagant, but it pretty much how I planned it to be and I like it. It’s safe, it’s filled with joy, and I can pay my bills and pretty much afford everything I need. I can get HBO, Starz, and Netflix to watch my favorite shows, I can download kindle books on my iPad and my iPhone, I can use an app to order my groceries on days I am ill, and because of my access to everything on the internet, I am able to order anything on line, even Disney DVD’s that are no longer available commercially,  from eBay, for my grandchildren. Life couldn’t be better and I think I am really a very lucky woman.  And, guess what? I don’t want any of that to change because some people didn’t take the time to THINK before they cast their votes.  I don’t want an incompetent  Presidential candidate to win, nor do I want a revolution.  I just got back on my feet after the Bush years where I lost everything. So my life under the current administration has gotten back on track and my senior years ahead will be wonderful if all goes as planned.  But now watching what is happening in the UK is an eye opener to what might happen here if the wrong person gets into the White House.

I urge voters to do their research as I would tell my former students.  Use 3 to 5 sources on any topic you look up on the internet, because crazy people as well as competent ones write things on line. Seek out the truth and be careful what you wish for.  Don’t think a revolution will solve all your problems or that a candidate who had a reality show actually understands world affairs.  Learn from history that we need to look to the past just as much as we need to look to the future to seek our answers.  And vote wisely. Sometimes we have to vote for the candidate who is the best but may not have been our first choice. Sometimes we have to vote against rather than for, and sometimes we can actually make a progressive change in history with our votes by voting in the first female President of the United States.  Sometimes we CAN make things even better!!!  And perhaps, THEN we all can hope that “Game of Thrones” will still be on HBO!  And that we can go to the movies and enjoy a new “Star Wars” Film.  May the Force Be With You when you VOTE!!!

http://www.ibtimes.com/what-brexit-could-mean-game-thrones-outlander-other-shows-filming-uk-2386433

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A Funny Thing Happened To Me At The Food Market!

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A funny thing happened to me at Doris’ food market today… I was standing in the check out line and I took a glance at the man in front of me loading up his groceries. It occurred to me that he was extremely handsome. I mean, VERY good looking. He wasn’t a kid, or an elderly gentleman, but a ruggedly, attractive  guy over 40 who had captured my attention.

Now this is NOT something that ordinarily happens to me at the check out line when I buy food. I run my errands and don’t gawk at men. Especially since I shop for groceries near a senior community, so the majority of males who I see shopping for dinner are either in one of those go cart apparatuses or are using a walker. (Not that there is anything wrong with that. After my accident two years ago, I too was restricted to those devices for a few months. ) But, because I either see young kids or really old people where I shop, I don’t think about hunky men. And I rarely ever see a handsome man that turns my head at the food store. I just don’t. In fact, I don’t go clubbing or out looking for that sort of thing. I might go to a Sherlock Holmes lecture, a poetry slam, or a Shakespeare festival now and then, or check out a science fiction convention, but Klingons and old Jedi Knights are not especially sexy to me. So, I admit it, today I couldn’t help but stare while I loaded up my food on the check out counter. And this unusually handsome fellow looked as yummy as the Italian pastry he was putting on the conveyer belt. Delicious!

And just as my mind began to wander…. I was brought back to earth by him speaking out, “Hi Pop, I got all your groceries loaded for you.” And there walks up an older gentleman with similar features who was the reflection of what this man would probably look like 25 or 30 years down the road. I glanced from father to son and realized that while the son was giving me heart palpitations, the father just looked like a nice older gentleman. And then something dawned on me that was horrifying!!!

I suddenly realized that most likely I was closer in age to the father, then to the son. Yep. I looked closely at the father and he was probably in his late 60’s or early 70’s, putting his son right around the age of my oldest child. And instantly I felt like a dirty old lady… and rather silly. And I began to laugh and could not stop.  The cashier and the two men turned and looked at me rather puzzled and I just stated through waves of laughter, “Don’t mind me, I was just thinking about something funny.” And the men proceeded to check out while I continued to giggle and cover my mouth because I couldn’t contain my chuckles.

When it was finally my turn, I greeted the gal behind the register and she was now  laughing because I was. (We all know that laughter is engaging and catches on.)  “You seem to be having a lovely day,” she smiled.  And I responded still stifling my laughter, “Yes, I certainly am.”

And so, today I had a real slap in the face of life. We really don’t perceive ourselves as we are and we don’t ever feel old on the inside. And I think I understood what most men and women who are in their 60’s probably find to be true. That we are likely more physically attracted to younger people than to those our own age. Unless of course you are fortunate enough to still be in love with the same person for decades. Then you don’t seem to notice the aging. You see the person behind and beyond the exterior. And that is a wonderful gift.

I remember not noticing how gravely ill my younger son’s father looked at the end of his life because I didn’t really see the dying man. Instead I thought about the young man I fell in love with because it was his eyes and smile that stared back at me. That was much easier to bear than the person who had dwindled down to skin and bones. We see what we want to see. And love truly does blind us to age, illness, and even sometimes to flaws.

But as a single woman in her 60’s, who doesn’t go out looking for anything in life except enriching my heart and mind, I don’t really think about attraction very often. The love that engulfs me is that of my children and my grandchildren. I am still working on changing the world, getting Hillary elected President, making sure gun laws are safer .. so who has time for that dating nonsense?

But, today I realized that the handsome 40 something man at the food market looked mighty good. REALLY good actually. And when he glanced at me, most likely the truth is,  he probably didn’t think anything at all, or if he did, he may have thought I looked a little like his mother. And that’s pretty funny.  Oh here come the giggles again…

**Clarification: I am not in any way putting down men my age. They are all adorable in the same way women my age are beautiful. We are, what we are! And the years of wisdom we have gained are a thing of beauty in itself!!! Peace out. xo 🙂

Zombies Love Jane Austen

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Zombies Love Jane Austen

I have been a Jane Austen purest since I was 16 years old. Ever since I opened the novel “Pride and Prejudice”and became acquainted with the self assured, gutsy heroine, Elizabeth Bennett and the dashing Mr. Darcy. I fell in love with those two characters and the novel, which has been my dearest friend for over five decades. So, when my youngest son informed me that I would genuinely enjoy the film, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” I scoffed at him and thought he was crazy. I mean how on earth could I lower myself to watching such balderdash, and yet… I was intrigued. Plus, I simply couldn’t resist the challenge. And guess what? My son was right!! I just finished watching the movie and I LOVED it!! I never thought it would be a film that I’d even like, let alone love, but I did. It was terrific! (For a Regency Zombie/Jane Austen film.) Yes, I admit it, I really, really loved it!!!!

I am still trying to figure out how the director managed to pull off such perfect Regency costumes, impeccable period etiquette, with such flawless finesse, while using adept British actors who could in one moment switch from civility, to fiercely taking down zombies with a sword! Honestly, it was stunningly brilliant! And I’m not even a horror film fan. And no, I don’t watch “The Walking Dead.” It’s gross. In fact, the only Zombie movie I ever liked was the one called “Warm Bodies” and that was because it was a clever comedic take on “Romeo and Juliet.” I avoid gory, icky horror movies at all cost. But this one was different.

There was something really wonderful about this movie. Or should I say, something delightful about how they infused Jane Austen’s magical dialogue into the middle of fighting disgusting Zombies. And they did it while using direct lines from the book!!! That’s what had me hooked. So even though the sub plot was a Zombie battle/take over, the protagonists looked, sounded, acted, like the beloved characters I have come to know so well over the years. And the lines the characters spoke, were the same exquisite phrases that I know by heart. That was the best!!! It really was well done. Imagine seeing Darcy and Elizabeth go back and forth using Jane’s dialogue, while watching out for the Undead or beheading a zombie wearing a bonnet in perfectly coordinated Edwardian pantaloons!!! It seriously worked!!! Really!!!

And unbelievably, the romance between Darcy and Lizzy was beautifully captured as well as the relationship between Jane and Bingly. Yet, they were killing zombies right and left. But somehow, it all blended together like a waltz. Picture the ball scene, gracefully dancing and reciting those perfect Austen words one moment and then slicing the head off a zombie the next. Hard to imagine? I thought so too until I saw the film.
Not only did I love it, I’m going to buy it and watch it again! The DVD will happily join my Jane Austen collection of books and films. And on one rainy day when I don’t want to venture out doors, or I am tired of all the channels on television, all the movies on Netflix, or shows on HULU, I will reach up on my shelf and slip in the movie again and watch Lizzy and Darcy go after Zombies while they have their intense repartee with one another.

I think what I loved the most about this movie, was that this strong, kick ass version of Elizabeth Bennett really represented the character I imagined when I first read the book when I was about 15 years old (In the mid 1960′s). It was Lizzy’s strength, independence, unbridled honesty, and how she spoke her mind (during a time when women were usually quiet and submissive) that I admired. She was unbelievably brave and thus became my favorite literary heroine. Somehow, the strength of this particular Ms. Bennett, through her masterful fighting skills typified what I had seen in her character from the very beginning. And possibly why I have always adored Austen. She created women who were intelligent and she made her female protagonists strong and uncompromising, even while they politely curtsied. It’s why I like to read about powerful female heroines in novels, or enjoy seeing leading ladies with courage, and why I want a strong female President. Jane Austen created women like that on paper. And here we are a few hundred years later and Lizzy Bennett is still kicking ass. (Except this time she’s killing zombies.)

If you love “Pride and Prejudice”, you will enjoy this film. If you like Zombies and Jane Austen you will really love it. And that dear readers, is “a truth universally acknowledged”……

Seniors For Safety!

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Seniors For Safety!
Whether you call us #SeniorsforSafety, #Grandma’sforGunControl, or #BoomersforBanningAssaultweapons, we are a force to be reckoned with!
We are mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and grandfathers. We are women and men who have reached the age of wisdom, and want to share how easy it is to CARE rather than KILL!

We have protested by holding hands and singing peace songs, we wore flowers in our hair and said “Make Love Not War.” We are the Peace generation and WE have had ENOUGH of this sickening gun violence! We have had enough mass shootings and massacres. We are fed up because each time there is a gunman who was able to purchase an assault weapon without any difficulty, our loved ones die. And we won’t stand for it any more. The NRA does not own Us!!! And we MUST protect our children and grandchildren if Congress cannot.

Our children, our grandchildren, our sisters and brothers, our husbands and wives are dying daily from gun violence and we want it stopped. NOW!
Did you hear that Congress? Are you listening Republican Senators? We are watching you.
We have waited patiently hoping you’ll do the right thing. We have given you chance after chance to make us safer and each time you have let us down. But we have finally had enough!

THIS time we will see how you vote, and this time America will fight back. Not with assault weapons, but with weapons of the heart and mind. We will kill you with our voices and our votes. Your death will not be physical, but political, and your role in Washington will no longer exist if you refuse to protect the people you pledged to serve.

Yes, this time, you will need to use common sense and your heart when you vote. If someone is on the “No Fly” list then they should not be allowed to buy a gun or war weapon! Weapons of war need to be banned. Only our military need to have assault weapons, not the guy down the street. Too many innocent people have died because weapons of war are easily attainable.

Senators, you were elected to work for US, not the NRA! YOU work for us. WE are your bosses. And if you cannot do your job, we will make sure you lose that job. Come November the name of every senator who voted against “NO FLY NO BUY”, and the banning of assault weapons, will no longer be our representatives. We will vote you OUT!

So, please, protect our country. Listen to the people of America (and your elders), because “Seniors for Safety” is telling you to vote to make safer gun laws. We don’t want to lose any more of our precious children and grand children. We have had enough!!!

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The Tony Awards

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The Tony Awards has been a wonderful uplifting treat after today’s tragic events that occurred in Orlando this morning. I have spent the entire day aching inside for the wounded and the dead, feeling numb and broken. I even took a long walk and attempted to push away the pain, but to no avail, it lingered on. Until finally, I clicked on the TV to discover that the Tony Awards were on and suddenly, my sorrow lifted.

There is something quite magical and wonderful about the Theatre. It’s extraordinary performers, the incredible music, the dance numbers, the brilliant scripts and the overwhelming creativity that emanates from a room filled with talented artists. So, as I try to forget the shattered lives in Orlando and watch the brilliance of these Broadway entertainers, I am transported from tears to joy. And I needed to feel that joy after the sadness of this latest massacre. The largest mass shooting in our country’s history. So is it any wonder that Broadway opened my heart again?

You know, one of the most beautiful aspects of The Theatre is the uniqueness of each and every actor as well as the unity of the ensemble players. I think that is what I miss most about being a part of that world. Their total love and acceptance for one another. Each show creates a family. Everyone depends on one another, they trust one another, and they care about one another. Their color, their sexual preference, their gender never ever mattered. It was their professionalism, their generosity and caring for each other that made such an impact on me and allowed me to fall in love with all that is Musical Theatre when I was younger. Nobody was ever judged by any of the things the outside world viewed as odd or unusual. Behind the curtain there were only performers. Each one there to do the job of entertaining. And in the process, a great play, a superbly executed line could be life changing for those who experienced it. Shakespeare wrote, “All the world’s a stage.” If only the entire world saw all people they way theatre people do.

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You Know You’re A Teacher When…

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You know you’re a teacher when it’s summer vacation and you still wake up in the morning thinking about a fabulous lesson you’ve just created in your dreams. A lecture that could change the lives of the students in your classroom.
BUT, you realize that you were BORN to teach, when you are retired and this phenomenon still happens. When you suddenly wake up with a smile on your face after having had an epiphany of an outstanding lesson that clarifies a concept so perfectly, that the mind of a small child suddenly understands an abstract notion that he or she previously had difficulty grasping.

This fall it will be three years that I’ve been retired and I still dream that I am up in front of a classroom of children interacting with them in some form or another. They ask me questions and in my slumber I have to think out of the box, and off the cuff, and come up with answers that explain their wonderful queries better than any textbook ever could. And as I am posed with these questions, I try to figure out a way to make my replies fascinating enough to motivate the students to do the very best at whatever subject we are learning in my dream. And they MUST acquire this knowledge with enthusiasm and gusto or I haven’t done my job adequately. And so while sleeping, I gather my thoughts and reach for guidance from the countless souls of all the past educators and mentors to help bring me the quintessential answers that might satisfy the insatiable curiosity of a child.

I think I started having these dreams in the early 70’s when I first became a teacher. When I realized that I needed to have a pad of paper and a pencil at my bedside to make sure I didn’t forget any detail of the visionary lessons that came to me during the night. (Before I could just type it on my smartphone.) Then I would awaken and run to my trusty typewriter (Because computers weren’t around back then) and jot down my ideas. I am sure hundreds of those lessons are still around in folders or in cabinets since they were shared at gifted meetings all over Broward County since the mid 1970’s!! Many have been retyped onto a computer and made to look graphically beautiful, but some still have typewriter ink that has faded like my contemporaries who are now all retiring from the field of education. All these lessons were created from my imagination and my dreams because my aspirations were to continuously make learning a thing of beauty for my students.
I used these ideas for all the grants that I received, for the lessons I wrote, and now for the curriculum I create for educators to use and implement with their students.
** I often wonder that if in a teacher’s dreams, the great writers, poets, scientists, and performers, all unite to become our muses. If they form a partnership of sorts and in unison secretly chuckle as they share their wisdom to the universe and wait for a teacher to listen. To hear their brilliance in a rainstorm, or in the whistle of the wind, or perhaps in the flight of a bird, the shadow of the sunlight as the waves crash upon the shore. All inspirational, all miraculously innovative, and all leading to creativity. Somehow, good teachers never fail to hear the thoughts and ideas of the masters who came before them and continue to learn from their greatness.

When I was younger I used to wonder what happened to brilliance when the geniuses of the world died. I couldn’t believe that minds so profoundly remarkable could just stop. I came to the conclusion and to believe, that they must continue to exist in some form. And that out there somewhere in the universe is Einstein and Newton, Shakespeare and Tolstoy, Austen and Conan Doyle, and now our precious Maya Angelou. And that all their wisdom is floating around the Heavens just waiting for us to pluck it out the sky. So that each of us can absorb a small portion of their brilliance and bring it to our students.
We teachers always use our brains to come up with an idea to fill the void when needed. Be it a storm day when students can’t leave the building due to dangerous weather conditions and their fearless leader has to keep order in a creative way. Or when a badly written lesson from the provided textbook goes totally wrong and needs instantaneous teacher improvising and improvement. Yes, a teacher has to constantly come up with an alternative version that works to meet the needs of her particular students each and every day. There’s creating lessons for those children who are behind because they learn differently and cannot grasp concepts that others might find simple. Or the gifted students who already know and understand more than the basic textbooks and need to explore topics far beyond the curriculum. A teacher draws upon her muses to find all the lessons in her head and feeds those hungry minds with her wisdom to help them learn.
Isn’t it ironic that State officials haven’t figured out that all children think differently, learn differently, and are composed of uniquely different gray matter to varying degrees of intellectual ability? They just don’t get it. But classroom teachers do. They understand.

So, this morning I awoke and had one of my wonderful, vivid teacher dreams. My students and I were sitting on the floor in a circle and we were coming up with the most amazing vocabulary words imaginable. The faces of my students from all 36 years of teaching were gathered around me. All smiling, all raising their hands and asking me countless questions. So folks, I have another lesson to write…Because I need to answer those questions. I guess I better get busy and start creating…

 

The Beat of My Own Drum

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Today I was Inspired.

I heard an interview with an author I greatly admire,

And when she was asked why she was drawn to the unusual, to the paranormal…

She explained with honesty and simplicity,

That vampires, ghosts, and werewolves were nothing more than a metaphor for those of us who walk on the sidelines.

Those of us who feel like we are on the outside of society looking in.

And I had an epiphany for my entire creative existence.

My whole life I have felt like I was on the outside. Different.

That everyone else was walking in a straight line, a set path, while I veered and swayed to the left of it and danced my way through life fighting past the looks of concern, scorn, or sheer misunderstanding.

Always searching for those rare moments when I felt the welcoming acceptance from a select few who understood my dance.

I recall being but a young child and proudly getting up in front of the class bursting with anticipation and determination.  Excited about learning, and burning inside to share my science report to my peers who were waiting patiently with their tiny hands folded upon their wooden desks in neat little rows.

It was the 1950’s and a time of great speculation and fascination with outer space. An exciting decade in which to live. But an equally cruel and unforgiving era as well. I tried my best to follow all assignment rules, but could not stop there. I always had more to contribute, or so I thought.  Too much energy to contain, too many ideas for every task I was given. How was I to know that children were supposed to curtail their curiosity when they ran out of paper?

I had a need to share my child-like visions in drawings and proceeded to show my masterpiece as I stood before the class with great trepidation…

But to my dismay, my schoolmates’ eyes were focused on my teacher’s scrunched up angry red face, and not on the image I held with pride.  Miss Rich stood stern and tall and pointed to the corner of the room with condemnation, rather than the adulation which I had craved and thought was well deserved.

My fearless leader saw none of the imagination in my renderings, and had no understanding of my impish enthusiasm. Instead, she proceeded to punish me for veering off the path of rules.

I was sent into the corner of shame. Or that is what she thought.  But little did she know, that the corner had become my own special place of retreat.  A place to work off my outbursts of enthusiasm and innovative ideas that she did not often endorse.

And as I stared at the cracks in the wall that I had begun to embrace, I saw people, places and wondrous things, which swirled and danced in my head. I wrote stories and poems in that corner instead of atoning for the sin of thinking out of the box.

It was the 1950’s after all, and no one was supposed to veer off the learning path to the left.  And yet I did.

In art class, my elephant was purple not gray, so once again I was yelled at and punished for not following the rules.  But, still I refused to change my picture because I wanted my elephant to be purple! Just like the stuffed animal my father brought home to me and who sat on my bed at night to comfort me when my dreams took me to scary places.

I twitched and turned and moved about, which annoyed just about every teacher I came to know.  All because I heard the beautiful beat of a drummer in my head… pounding out a rhythm that made me want to jump and dance as it beat louder and louder… reverberating up into my brain with words and images that had to be written down or drawn.  It didn’t matter if no one else could hear the beat of my music. Because I could hear it.

Yes, vampires, ghosts, werewolves, and me! We all heard the music. We all were on the outside looking in, drawn to the beautiful sweet melody.

Sometimes, even when I was supposed to sit still and stay quiet in school, I couldn’t hold back. When the music became thunderously loud, I HAD to get up and dance, No matter what consequence awaited. I had no choice but to express myself. I had no choice…no choice at all… dancing and breathing were one in the same.

Because you see, where the music played, was a happy niche filled with light, love, and acceptance just outside the line where I stood.  If only I could get other people to join me. Then perhaps their distain and confusion would disappear if they would just find the courage to take one step on my side of the straight and narrow line.

Maybe then they would see that the world was much more colorful over here.  That the music was louder and all the instruments played non stop all the time. Sometimes out of tune, but that never seemed to matter.

The Instruments continued to play in my head…They blared on; drums, violins, harps, trumpets…. each one entertaining me with a symphony of notes, sometimes in words, often in colors, and it was always beautiful!!!!!!

And then one day, a very kind English teacher applauded after I shared a poem that I had written, and he pulled me aside after class.  He took me by surprised when he stated. “You don’t belong in my class. You’re special. You need to be placed with the advanced students. Why on earth has no one ever addressed this before? Why were you overlooked?”

I sheepishly told him I thought it was because I talked too much, and that previous teachers said I was too much trouble. I confided that I usually wrote my poems and stories while in the corner being punished, and that nobody ever heard them but me.

He smiled and let me know that he would fix things and that from now on I would feel at home in school.  And so that very day in 7th grade, when Mr. Wilson, a frail thin man with a smile as warm as freshly baked cookies, heard the rhythm of my music, it was then I began to realize that sometimes others could feel what I felt, see what I saw…

But, in reality, it didn’t happen very often.

I thought that as I started to grow things would change and the sound of my music would disappear…But no, I still heard the beat. And when I transitioned further on in middle and high school, the world was a very confusing place….I watched as our beloved President Kennedy died and Martin Luther King was yearning for his precious dream to come to pass…And I wrote it all down in words and turned them into songs and tears.

As the music continued to beat louder in my head my very close friends and I wrote what was in our hearts, and formed a band to tell the world how things should be if only people would listen and hear our music.

My classmates thought we were crazy because girls weren’t supposed to perform like boys. Girls didn’t play guitars. It just wasn’t done. Not in 1966… But we did it anyway…

As the beat blared thunderously in our heads, it was now vampires, ghosts, werewolves and rocker chicks…. who wanted the world to change and let equality reign in our songs.

And then in college as I sat with a sea of people tightly blending together and holding hands… a rainbow of colors heard my song.

I understood then that there were other vampires, ghosts, and werewolves out there trying to change the world too. Apparently more then I had ever imagined.  And I felt empowered and basked in the strength of numbers convinced that we could indeed change the universe together as long as everyone heard the beat.

A special literature professor named Mrs. Keenan took me under her wing and approached me with tears in her eyes one afternoon at the end of class. She gazed directly at me and confessed that she looked forward to reading my essays because they spoke to her heart. She told me my enthusiasm made her  feel young again and she begged me to never stop writing.  Dear, caring, Mrs, Keenan revealed  that when  submersed in my words, she felt like she was Juliet, Elizabeth Bennett, Rosaline all rolled into one. I can still see her smiling and hear her voice almost 50 years later.

This dynamic, beautiful lady played a monumental role in why I became a teacher. Her supreme joy in teaching affected every pore of my being and I lived and breathed literature while in her class. Her love of the written word glowed from her very spirit and washed over her students like a spring rain…. and inspiration thrived in one tiny room on campus, and danced in my head when she defined the works of Tolstoy, and Chekov. Life was divine and everyone felt like an insider within the confines of her classroom.

But, life is filled with twists and turns and as I grew older and settled down, I strained harder to hear the music.  There was marriage, motherhood, work, divorce and putting food upon the table.

At the end of the day, my weary senses were somewhat dulled and the music quieted down.

I had to rely on the sparkle in my son’s eyes for the songs to find me again. They were always there you see…just hiding in the darkness when life’s pain and struggles overshadowed the joy. But right behind the laughter of a child the melody continuously plays.

The hardest times were during my early teaching years when I was told to stop being so creative and to follow and conform to the rules.  To only use text books and throw away my innovative thoughts and ideas. To tear down my 3- D bulletin boards because it made the other teachers look too ordinary….And I didn’t understand.  Nor could I stop.

Because with each child’s face the music became louder and louder again.  A symphony sprang up from every student …

And when I gazed upon their smiles, my own beat emerged louder than before.

And so when I closed those doors behind me and faced the wave of children crammed into their tiny desks, I understood.

I finally knew why I had been given the gift of being able to hear the music.  Of being able to dance to my own beat. It was to let the children before me hear the music too and to give them the opportunity to create their own dance, their own rhythm.

I knew that no other child should have to be stashed away in a corner to hide their creativity or pretend not to see the whirling cracks in the wall. And that my purpose was to inspire my students and let them create all the purple elephants they wanted.  I WOULD let freedom and creative thinking inside the walls of MY classroom.

And so I did… And 36 years later when my superiors asked me how I was so successful, why my students in particular always did so well….I smiled. I told them it was because I allowed the children to think for themselves! To write down their ideas and hear the thoughts that were inside their heads and to trust themselves.  To know that their own personal voice was always something they needed to listen to.  And most of all, that in my room…they would always be safe.

They could hear their music, or dance their dance when they walked through my door. They could write and say all the things they weren’t supposed to do traditionally…. Because inspiration creates knowledge and perfection happens when students are inspired.

How ironic that at the end of my long career, I finally received recognition for being unique.  Suddenly, I was considered a wonderful educator. And yet, my methods had not changed, just the data that recorded the scores. It wasn’t until technology put a number on smiles and happiness and equated them with percentiles, did administrators take notice of my gifts.

Ironic, because had they listened, they could have heard the music the moment they opened the door to my room….And still…. deep inside I felt that I was among the vampires, ghosts, and werewolves not being understood.

Oh, the children understood, let me be clear…children always understand.  Just like vampires, ghosts, and werewolves, who always dance to the beat of their own drummer… Living on the outskirts of society.

I realized today as I write my first attempt at spoken word poetry, that those who are the visionaries, the innovative souls who may look a bit different, sound slightly off kilter, laugh at things others might not hear or see…

They ALL Listen to music that is not apparent to everyone’s ears… Those are the souls who can change the world for the better….

Those are the individuals who see what others avoid….

So, bless the vampires, ghosts, werewolves and the teachers…. they are my inspiration.

They keep me hearing my own music and the pounding beat of my own drum. …And for as long as I hear my own beat, I will keep on dancing…

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