Friday, September 21, 2018

Welcome Lucy to our Family

It's been 10.5 months since we lost Oskee. It seems like an eternity and it's been really difficult. AndI have to thank so many of you that have been there for me (for all of us) over the last 10.5 months. Even though I rarely wanted to share my grief, I knew you were there, and I so appreciate the love. I'm not sure I ever adequately thanked everyone for the support, but just know that we felt the support.

At this point, the truth is, I still get misty, fairly regularly, when I think of her. I miss her so much - and at this point, I know that I will always have this part of me that is forever with her over the Rainbow Bridge. She will always have a space in my heart that cannot be replaced. For anyone reading this that's lost a pet, you know what I am feeling and saying.

And if I'm being totally honest, I'm not sure I'm ready for this; after all - I cried again on Wednesday night as Brandi and I discussed whether or not to use Oskee's University of Illinois water bowl.

So that pretty much leaves 2 questions which I figure are on most people's minds. I'm going to try to keep this simple and just answer those questions. First of all, why go through this again?
  • It's primarily for the kids (though Brandi would argue that it's for me). Alon was 22 months old when we lost Oskee, yet he still regularly asks about her...and he loves Paw Patrol. And Ami and Nadav have been asking for a dog lately as well, so all of the boys are on board.
  • Brandi and I believe it is a great thing for kids to grow up with a dog. Oskee was such a positive part of Ami and Nadav's life, and we want the same for Alon.
  • Ami and Nadav will be taking more responsibility and that's a good thing too. I realize that many kids say they will take responsibility for a new pet, and do not, but Ami will have to, whether he likes it or not, because he is often the last to leave the house in the morning and the first to return in the afternoon. He knows this and he is looking forward to it.
  • We miss the unconditional love of a dog - there's something about coming home to a house where a loving pet is waiting there for you. These past months, it has been eerily difficult to come home to an empty house.

The second logical question is: how am I doing this even though I am still gutted from losing Oskee?
  • I have to thank one of you, and I apologize for not remembering who it was - but someone said to me a few months ago that Oskee would want us to give another dog a good home and life - just like we gave to her. There are so many dogs in shelters that need homes, and some how, some way, I guess we are honoring Oskee's memory by taking in another as part of our family. This is the idea that I am clinging to and it is the idea that is helping me through this transition.
Enter Lucy
We ask you to love her like you all loved Oskee. Obviously, we expect Lucy to be different in personality - but so many of you opened your hearts to Oskee from the beginning, and she loved you too. We hope to give Lucy the same loving home, family, and friends that Oskee enjoyed for 15 years. Here we go! Good Times Ahead!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Why I do it....reflections on Shorashim Taglit 2018

I am often asked:
Why do you still do it?
Aren't you too old?
How many trips have you led?
Isn't it hard t leave your family?
How many times have you gone to Israel?
Don't you get bored of seeing the same stuff again and again?

All of the above are valid questions. I mean, I'm fuckin' old. I'd be lying if I denied that at the end of a week of wading through streams, climbing mountains, and touring that I didn't feel some pain in both of my knees climbing stairs. I'd be lying if I didn't ask myself some of the above questions every December when I have to decide if I'm going to lead another summer trip to Israel.

But it's worth it.
And yes, I'm going to try and answer the above questions to show why, at 47 years old, it is way worth it.

I'll be honest. The participants and the staff, at this point, could almost be my children. They are almost half my age. I'm sure they look at me like I'm some relic - especially when I tell them that I've led 16 trips and this past trip was my 18th to Israel.

It never gets old. It is amazing how every hike I have done a dozen times and every sight I see a dozen times seems new and different when reflected in the eyes of a new group of people. To see their amazement, to feel their appreciation, and to answer their questions is really a pleasure. To share my love of the land and the Israeli people is something I cherish, and when I see that love reflected back to me by the American and Israeli participants, it is worth it in spades.

I don't think I'll ever tire of standing on the Golan overlooking the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) or watching the sun rise over the Jordanian mountains from Masada. I don't think I'll ever tire of looking across the border at Syria from the Golan and recalling the heroic stories of the men that conquered that land so the northern border communities of Israel can live in peace. I don't think I'll ever tire of the fullness of my heart the first time I ride the bus and climb the Judean mountains to reach Jerusalem, or tire of sitting on the rooftops in the Old City beholding the holiness of 3 religions - the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Dome of the Rock, and the Kotel (Western Wall). And I know I'll never grow tired of watching the waves of the Mediterranean Sea and walking the streets of Tel-Aviv.

And I know I'll never get tired of the feeling of pride I have that there is a Jewish homeland for my people - and sharing my love for it with new Israeli and American participants. And of course, I will never get tired of my 'rabbinic' role of ceremonially leading Shabbat services and offering to Bar/Bat Mitzvah participants that never had a chance to have one or to have a Hebrew name. This summer, I Bar/Bat Mitzvah'd 7 participants and gave names to a handful of others.

As if those reasons were not enough, I will share 2 specific things from this past trip that make it all worth it. First of all, we had an American participant on this trip that only found out she was Jewish a year and a half ago at age 25. When she found out that she was Jewish and she was eligible to go on Birthright (Taglit), she took the chance to learn about her unknown heritage. She learned that she had an aunt and cousin in Israel and she stayed an extra day to spend time with them. How powerful was the experience? This is what she wrote:

"[My aunt] is 97 years young! She turns 98 on July 20 which also happens to be my birthday (I had her age messed up before). We spent all day crying, laughing, and talking. She is an incredible storyteller with perfect recall of names, dates, places, and specific details. Born in 1920, I learned about everything she had to overcome from anti-semitism to WW2 to hunger, to her father being imprisoned in a Soviet camp for years, to the death of her brother and his life (my great grandfather), to how she came to Israel and so much more. Her father was the youngest of 17 children, but happened to move away from the town they lived in which was contested between Poland and Russia. The land was officially Poland during the war. All 16 remaining children and their children perished in the holocaust. In certain moments of emotion with the pain of talking about these things, she would pause and say “it would take a lifetime to explain everything but I will try” and try she did.

I'm so thankful for the Birthright experience that helped me understand her and connected me to the much larger family she shared with me. Apparently I have a boatload of cousins both in America and in Israel and Russia so more to come on that 😂. Miss everyone!"

In a nutshell, I am so thankful and honored to have been a part of facilitating the experience for her. Well worth it to help her discover her birthright.

And finally, it is worth it because leading the trips allows me to extend my own and spend time with my own Israeli family - not of blood, but family from experience. I am so thankful that 31 years after meeting Didi Remez, I was gifted with another 3 nights to spend with him, his beautiful wife Lilach and their 2 wonderful children who I love like my own. I am so thankful that I was able to spend an evening out with my amazing friend Udi, who I've known and loved for 20 years, and his amazingly wonderful girlfriend Tali. I am so thankful that I was able to spend yet another afternoon with my longtime brother Rick Teplitz. And I am so thankful to reconnect with my friend and participant from 2 years ago, Moshe Alexander, who made Aliyah 2 years ago. And I am thankful for my Israeli Shorashim family - like Tomer, who I didn't get to see this time, but I know I will see in years to come.

Though it's hard to leave my family, and it's hard to trek up mountains, and it's hard to amaze participants half my age with my swift journey up Masada, it is all worth it.

And after another summer, I am so blessed to once again have shared all of this with a new group of 49 participants and 2 staff members who are now part of my Shorashim family. Sometimes I wonder if I'm too old to connect with participants half my age...but from their reactions and comments at the end of the trip, I know that I still can and do. Thank you Bus #933 for once again showing me that our love for Israel and its people is important, and I am still relevant.

And thank you Michael Waitz and Michal Tamim and the rest of the Shorashim staff, and to my wife and family as well, for allowing me to still do this at age 47.

I am truly blessed.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Keeping Our Students Safe - We CAN Take Action

Depending on how an organization and/or news source defines a school shooting, there have been anywhere from 11 to 18 school shootings in 2018 as of February 16th. Maybe the number is lower, but without a doubt, there have been multiple people killed by guns in schools at least twice this year - once in Kentucky and this week in Florida.

According to one ABC News report citing FBI sources, there have been approximately 50 school shootings since the Columbine High School incident in 1999, my second year of teaching - and I'm now in my 20th year as a teacher.

This has to stop. It just has to. In no sane world should kids have to worry about their own safety when going to school; in no sane world should a parent have to wonder if it is the last time they will see their child when they send them off to school; and in no sane world should teachers and school employees have to constantly wonder how or if they would act to protect their own students like American hero teachers Aaron Feis and Scott Beigel did a few days ago at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Unfortunately, at this point, only one thing is clear: for whatever reason, the US Government is unable to figure out how best to keep our students safe in schools.

Before I go any further, I want to make one thing clear: I am tired of pointing fingers. I don't care that Trump may be an ass and/or an incompetent president in anyone's eyes. I don't care to point fingers at GOP members, like Marco Rubio, who receive a ton of money from the NRA. And I am equally tired of blaming Obama, who also failed to protect our children with any meaningful gun regulation or other means. In short, spare me the partisan crap. Nothing has changed in 19 years since Columbine.

So today, I got to thinking. How can Americans circumvent a constitutional law about guns that will almost never change? How can Americans circumvent or engage a government that has been impotent to stop the school violence to this point? What changes can we make, in our towns and schools, to at least TRY to better keep our students safe in school?

What I know is that the only control we have, somewhat, is over our local schools as taxpayers. So what we - you and I - can do immediately is to take stock of the security in place at our local schools and demand the school board and administration do what they have to to make that security EXCELLENT.

I am lucky enough to work at a place that can afford some darn good security. It's not fool proof by any means, but the following list contains some things we have:

1) Vegas style security cameras inside halls and outside the school with constant monitoring. Yes, we really employ a person that sits in a room and watches all of the camera feeds - just like you see on TV and movies in Vegas and other places.
2) At least 1 police liaison on campus full-time. Today I saw at least 3, with 2 cruisers parked in front of 2 of the main entrances.
3) We have a school of approximately 5000 people - but we only have 4 access points, all manned with security full-time. These folks are not armed, but they have walkie talkies and immediate communication with our security apparatus.
4) We have a constant security force that is stationed throughout the school. In addition to the 4 at the entrances, there are 2 stationed in the main commons along with Deans as well as security wandering the halls. I am not even sure how many we employ.
5) Between periods, we have students that walk outside because the building is huge. We have a pickup truck that parks during those times to block any car that would want to 'ram' through this pathway and to monitor students walking about.
6) All adults in the building must wear a visible badge. Guests get a temp badge at entrance points using a driver's license scan.
7) All classroom doors are opened and locked by staff ID cards. They are also set to auto lock in case of a "code red" situation. This might've helped avoid the death of 1 teacher in Florida that was shot ushering kids into his room and possibly working to lock the door from the outside with a key.

Some things we do not have that should be considered:
1) When classes begin, all doors should lock for the day restricting unauthorized personnel unless buzzed in.
2) Increased security staff with training and access to arms in an emergency - teachers or otherwise. While I don't necessarily want armed teachers, I'd be okay with an extra police liaison or 2 assigned to our school full-time. Also, I have seen suggestions that schools put biometric safes throughout the school with access to a weapon by any staff that wants to go through full security and training yearly. I don't know how I feel about that, but I also know that I'm willing to listen to any potential move to increase security for our kids.
3) Yearly mental health screening for teens in junior high and high school - like vision and hearing screening is done in elementary.

4) Metal detectors.

What am I missing? What have you seen at your schools?

Of course, this plan would need to be funded. But maybe, if we're not challenging the 2nd amendment and maybe if we put aside partisan politics, through local business donations, NRA donations, and government funding, we can

make our schools as safe as possible for our kids.

I realize this doesn't solve the gun debate; however, while that debate continues to go around in circles as it has for 19+ years since Columbine - through both democratic and republican administrations - we can take matters into our own hands immediately and make a difference.

I know I'm going to be writing my local school administrators for an inventory of security measures in place.

If you think it's a good idea, maybe you will too - for our children and to honor the memory of the victims and heroes that have lost their lives in school shootings over the last 19 years.


Thursday, November 16, 2017

It's been one week since you looked at me... Oskee #3

It's been one week since you looked at me,
Cocked your head to the side probably thinking I'm crazy.

When you have an intelligent dog, they tend to develop human characteristics. For Oskee, that meant cocking her head to the side when we spoke to her - as if she was listening and comprehending what we were saying. In fact, she probably thought we were crazy the way we doted on her. I mean, I've seen pets pampered, but Oskee - she was queen of the house. She ruled the roost. What Oskee needed, Oskee got. Those of you who knew her well knew this to be true.

But cocking her head wasn't her only seemingly human characteristic. Oskee had this crazy habit of seemingly
being able to sympathize with what was happening in our lives. If I was sad, she tried to nudge my arm as if to say, "play with me, let me cheer you up." If I was stressed, she paced and panted. If I sneezed, she cowered as if she was nervous about my health. But possibly the most impressive thing was the way Oskee got extremely protective of Brandi the first time, in particular, that she got pregnant. Oskee went from my sidekick, to sticking close to Brandi - as if Oskee understood that whatever was happening to Brandi, Brandi needed protection. And of course, Oskee's need to protect us and her understanding of feelings led her to lay obediently near Ami's bassinet whenever company was over and we lived in the city, and to often lay at the foot of Nadav's crib when we moved to Northbrook. Whichever baby was around, Oskee had the need to snuggle and comfort and protect. In the early days, I often napped with a baby in one hand and an Oskee head on the opposite side of my lap. Yes, we doted over her like crazy, but she also loved us to pieces.

It's been one week since you looked at me,
Cocked your head to the side and said, "I'm sorry"

Well, Oskee never really said she was sorry, but if I am honest, I think that she knew it was near the end. The few weeks before we lost her, she would frequently saunter up to me and simply stare into my face, coming close. I sensed a sadness. I guess I never believed she would actually leave us, but the truth is, I think we both knew it was coming and she often came to me, sadly, and seemed to say she was sorry she was leaving me, leaving us.

It's been one week since I looked at her...

I've been holding it together pretty well at work. I made it through the hellishly busy past few days. I was observed by my boss, and I can say that for the first time ever, I wasn't nervous. Usually, I am a basket of nerves before being observed, but this time, I just wasn't. I've been numb. I won't say I didn't care...but I have been pretty much just going through the paces of life without much care. I'm faking it well...for work and for the kids, but Brandi knows I'm still devastated. We cried ourselves to sleep last night after Brandi remarked that we might have to move because the house isn't the same anymore and because the memories are too hard. We assume it'll get easier, but I still don't know if I'll ever be the same.

It's been one week since I held her tight and watched the life drain from her eyes...

I have a lot of memories I still want to record, but those memories are for another post because right now, it's been one week since we lost our Oskee and I'm still crushed, I'm still crying, and I can't write much more.

Oskee, I miss you so much and love you so much. I hope you are somewhere running and chasing your Oskee-ball, pain free and happy. At least that's what I'm trying to picture....

Friday, November 10, 2017

Only the Beginning... Oskee #2

There's a music lyric for everything.  Of course, in this case, when Robert Lamm wrote these lyrics for the band Chicago, he was writing about the beginning of a beautiful relationship. This morning, all I could think about was the end of one. Isn't it ironic? Ok, I'll stop, but not really.

So I'm exposed - I pretty much live my life by quotes from two sources: Music Lyrics and Quotes from Richard Bach. My family will tell you, that when we flip around the radio from station to station playing REAL music, not most of the crap from the last few decades, it takes a nanosecond for me to start singing. In the realm of useless knowledge, I'm a lyric savant.

But that's not why we're here. I'm here to ponder the last 12 or so hours - these were the quietest hours I have spent in quite some time. There's nothing like the absence of the pitter-patter of dog nails on a wood floor to make the world feel hollow. And there's nothing quite like the feeling of coming home from euthanizing your dog to find the Amazon box with the auto-reorder of your dogs treats - her favorite treats that'll never be eaten by her.

Dead inside. That's the feeling I had when I woke this morning. There were snowflakes. Oskee loved the snow. If the sky was cryin' for Oskee, I suppose snow stack of pills, no Alon telling Oskee "no" when she tried to sneak a bit of his waffle or pancake. Silence. Dead.

And it's only the beginning...

Somehow, Brandi and I dragged ourselves to work. As you can see, I'm about as useful here as a stone. The assessments are piling up, and I can't bring myself to look at them. I am being evaluated next week by my boss, and I am starting a new unit - and I have no idea what dog and pony show I'm going to put on for him to justify my competence. We have 2 large literacy committee meetings next week, my passion of the last 5 years, and I cannot imagine standing in front of a group of colleagues right now. I mean, I nearly lost it within 5 minutes of the start of 1st period today.

And it's only the beginning...

In a few hours, I'm leaving with Ami for a soccer tournament in Memphis. We are driving 8+ hours for 3 or 4 soccer games. Last week, I was so excited to share precious moments with my son. Now I dread the silence of the car. At 11, he is quite aware for his age. He watched Nadav (8) for 2 hours or so while we were at the vet. We called to ask if they wanted to be at the vet to say a final goodbye, but they said they already did their goodbyes in the morning.  And when we got home after picking Alon up from daycare, we found that our two eldest boys had made us dinner. It was pasta......and they ended up eating it, but it was the gesture. It was the idea that they knew what pain we were in.  It was the worry they had because I hadn't eaten in 24 hours at that point. And with a weekend ahead of us, I have no confidence that I can be strong for my son - or at least as strong as he was for me last night.

And it's only the beginning...

I can't get the images out of my head. I can't help feeling guilty for what we did - even though the vet said it was time and that she was in pain. But it's the image - holding her for the last time, seeing her lying there for the last's only the beginning and I don't know if the pain will ever go away and if I'll ever be whole again.

For now, I'm dead inside. The house is absent of the pitter-patter. No walks, no playing, no snuggles, no wagging tail.

And it's only the beginning...

And old habits die hard - I can't count the times that Brandi and I looked towards Oskee's couch last night to see what she was up to only to end up feeling dead inside. I awoke at 1am, per usual, but there was no one to let out to pee.

And today, I woke up and it was snowing. Maybe the sky was crying snowflakes which would have been appropriate because for most of her life, Oskee hated the rain. But there was to be no walk, no Oskee chasing me to pull the glove (monster) off my hand, no Alon asking to give Oskee treats after her pills, no Alon telling Oskee "no" as she tried to sneak a bite of his waffle. The sky is crying, and so is Oskee's family, and it hurts like hell.

And it's only the beginning...

I know you're out there. I know you've reached out. Like I said, I can't respond. My eyes hurt too much. I have no words. But yes, Pink, there is somebody out there. I appreciate it and love you all. So many of you loved Oskee and have your own stories and memories, and I know she loved so many of you.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

You Make A Grown Man Cry - Oskee #1

No joke. I got in the car this morning to drive one of the boys to a friend's house, taking a few minutes out of the few precious moments I may have had left together with Oskee, and the song playing when I turned on the car: The Rolling Stones' "You Make a Grown Man Cry." And yeah, that's pretty much true...because Oskee has made me cry...multiple many of you know.

And so here I sit, once again, watching you and crying. And this time, I'm thinking it's real.

Look, I'll be honest: I am writing this for many, pretty selfish, reasons:
1) I don't think I can sit and talk about this over and over with people - even my friends. No offense. I'm a good listener (I think), but I'm not really good at sharing - especially something like this. I'm much better off alone, in the fetal position, in the dark.
2) I feel like I'm better at expressing my feelings in writing. This may or may not be true, but see #1.
3) I am getting old, and though I don't think I'll forget, I want to remember all of the details - and access them easily.

I am not writing this for sympathy. I know that if you're reading this, you care.

But if you're reading this, Oskee is gone. I would be a fool to publish this, only to have to issue a retraction. After all, if you've known Oskee, you know that she's had about 17 lives. When we've thought we were losing her before, she refused to give up. Even as I write this, I am not sure I believe the vet will tell us that she's in pain, that she's beyond saving, that it's time. I mean, SEVENTEEN lives. But she is gone, we are at a loss, and she is hopefully in a better place - running and chasing rabbits like she did in her youth.

And here I sit crying, and thinking about all of the other times I've cried. And I feel like an idiot because I'm crying over a dog - and in this world today, people have real problems. And so many of you are rightly agreeing with me and think I'm ridiculous for crying over a dog. I get it. I'm an idiot, it's embarrassing, and I'm acting like a baby.

But it's also painful. So very painful, and you also understand this if you really know me and you really know Oskee. Because you know that she is my best friend (besides my wife and my siblings). That day we went to the shelter down on Western, and we took her outside to the playpen, and she came right to me when I called "Oskee," she had our heart. She was smart, and she could sit, and she could give paw, and she knew she liked the Illini...and not some stupid name like Xena that the shelter people gave her. So we took her home - after a 2nd special interview because she had been abused and an extra day for the usual procedures and shots.

And while Brandi was off in the business world 4-5 nights a week before she became a teacher (when I thought we'd be rich), it was me and Oskee alone all of those nights in the condo down on Ashland. Me and Oskee playing "Oskee Ball" between the buildings for an hour each night after work. Me and Oskee on the couch while I graded papers at night (and yes, I allowed her on the couch the first time when we had agreed that she wouldn't be a couch dog - I mean, how could I resist my daddy's girl.

Yes, that's how she came into our lives. Before Ami, before Nadav, before Alon - there was Oskee. She was our first baby. The one that taught us responsibility: we can't go to happy hour, we have to get back to walk the dog; we can't just stay overnight, we have to take care of the dog; we'd love to spend the day in the suburbs, but can we bring our dog? The one that watched over all 3 of our boys when they were infants, so gentle and curious and protective.

And this is how she is leaving us - suddenly unable to stay totally balanced last night, a few falls - unable to get back up, unwilling to relax or lay down - seeming fighting to stay with us one more moment. And here I sit, just watching her, blubbering my eyes out, unable to imagine what life is going to be like tonight, tomorrow, the next day. Not sure how I'm going to ease the pain. Not sure what to do with myself. Not sure how to stay strong for my awesome wife and amazing kids.

So many memories I'm probably going to write about when I can't sleep over the next days, weeks, months - but I probably won't publish on FB as I realize most won't really want to read through my depression - I get it. They're mostly for me and Brandi - and maybe for the kids one day. For Alon who loves Oskee but won't remember. For Nadav and Ami who have only known life with her and went to bed last night crying. And for Brandi and me, whose lives have been so enriched by the presence of one sweet, simple, loving being, that we cannot even imagine what tomorrow will bring.

If you're still here, I know you care. I may not be able to talk about it, and I may not respond to messages/emails for awhile, but I know you're there and you care. And I know you'll understand that my heart is absolutely shattered - and I'm not sure it'll ever, ever be fully repaired.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A New Dawn - Post U.S. Election 2016

 "I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying."
                                                                            -Andy Dufresne Shawshank Redemption

It's been awhile since I last blogged, and I suppose there's no time like the present in light of yesterday's election. I went to bed last night and woke this morning to despair. Despair in most of my Facebook feed, despair in many of the faces of my students, despair in the faces of many of my colleagues. And I guess, in light of the results of the U.S. election and the anointing of Donald Trump as president -elect, I fully understand.

But I woke up this morning with a different mindset, one I've seen slowly evolving on social media, one that I knew some of my friends who are our brightest spiritual & intellectual guides (you know who you are) would take: The real work begins now. This is the message that I discussed with my 9th and 10th grade classes this morning, and this is the message that I'd like to remember this year, next year, and into the next election cycle. The REAL work begins now.

As many know, this election cycle has been ugly, and maybe that's an understatement. I've tried to cope with it by joking about it in my own sarcastic way because in full disclosure, I found faults in both major party candidates - faults that made it hard for me to support or vote for either. But that election is over; it's water under the bridge at this point. And now we look in the mirror and ask ourselves: how did we get here?  And the answer is that this is bigger than Trump or Clinton. No matter who came out on top yesterday, the issues would remain. This is about our country's morals and values, it's about uncovering serious issues that have been festering in our country for centuries, for decades, for years. It is about thinking critically about the last year, and yesterday, and getting to work to make this place a better tomorrow for ourselves, for our children, and for their children.

To me, this is not scary; this is exciting and empowering. To me, this election brought serious issues to the forefront and we can no longer ignore them. To me, this gave me an opportunity to stress the morals and values we explore in my classroom - and encourage the kids to examine the past year and think about how they are going to effect positive change in the world. We looked at the electoral map for a bit and thought critically about what it told us (civic/digital literacy anyone??). We made a list, and we talked about action. We are bigger than one man or woman in the White House.

What are the issues we identified together in our brief time? Economic disparity, racism, sexism, educational equity, compassion, immigration, education on diversity for folks outside major city populations, etc. And coincidentally, we are going to follow up today's conversation with reading The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore, and using the book as a Call to Action - what does our world need and what are we going to do about it?

I get it. People are upset. I hear you. Please know, it is okay to lament and to grieve in your own way; however,
when you are done, please join me in spreading the empowering message that this election is a Call to Action. Let's work together to make this country and world even better than the place it already is by examining our issues and developing compassion and understanding. This is the message I will teach to my children. This is the message I discussed with my students. And this is the message I share with you.
all the events of your life are there because you have drawn them there. What you choose to do with them is up to you. Richard Bach
Read more at:
all the events of your life are there because you have drawn them there. What you choose to do with them is up to you.
Read more at:

"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.” 

"All the events in your life are there because you have drawn them there. What you choose to do with them is up to you"
                                                                                   -from Illusions by Richard Bach