Om Namah Shivaya


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thank You

 I have worked for the Hickman Mills school district for the past 8 years and while there have been some incredibly challenging situations throughout my career, it has always been my passion, my love, and the reason I get up in the morning.  So when the cancer diagnosis came down last May, while I was scared as all get out and worried about myself, I was worried about my students and I knew it was going to be the most challenging situation of them all.  

Thankfully, I had a quick and relatively painless journey.  I had the luxury of finding out at the end of the school year so the tests didn't get in the way much and I was able to face the scariness head on without having to worry about a class or a concert, or rehearsal.  Starting the chemo over the summer afforded me the ability to get used to my "new normal" without the hustle and bustle of the school year on top of it, and it also gave me the chance to get comfortable being bald before baring it in front of my students.  The only thing I had to live full on in front of my students was the mastectomy, but I wasn't overly concerned, even though they were concerned about me :)

After we made it past the really scary weeks, and after I dropped it on my kids, I picked myself up brushed myself off and determined to just live my life as normally as was humanly possible.  That meant getting up each morning, going to school, teaching my kids, going home, washing, rinsing, and repeating.  I didn't think I was doing anything special, and I believe that anyone out there would have done the exact same thing, so it was a wonderful surprise when I was presented with this at our last PD of the year.


My principal said some very lovely words, and it made me cry, then I said garbled thanks and awkwardly sat down.  So here is the real thank you to everyone who supported me through this school year.  

Thank you for comforting me with kind words and concerned gestures, 
for telling me to go home and sit down when you could see I was tired (even if I didn't listen).  
Thank you for accepting my bald head and mangled chest as I wandered the halls with my heating pad strapped to myself, counting down the hours till it was time to go home and take that pain pill.
Thank you for understanding when my energy bottomed out 
and I could do no more then just "be".  

I'm blessed to be who I am, working where I do, with such fabulous people.
I thank you from the depths of soul for the love and recognition behind this gift,
it means the world to me.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My students are the best

As my 8th year of teaching draws to a close (5 and a half days; but who's counting right?), I am reminded again exactly just why I teach.  I wrap my students in love, knowledge, discipline, and humor throughout the year hoping against hope that I am able to impress upon them some life lessons, and how to be a better person in this crazy world.  Yes of course I aim to achieve Drum Line glory, but it's more important that I make lasting relationships with these kids and become one of those consistent adult contacts that they can *always* count on.  

This group of students supported me more than I know how to express, this year.  I will never forget the day that I told "The 5" that it was breast cancer.  Even as the words "It's breast cancer" were leaving my lips, I wasn't concerned about me, I was concerned about *them*.  I was concerned about what this was going to do to them, their season, their dreams, their year.  After the bottom dropped out and the moment of silence passed, they looked at me and said "We got this Mz Stout.  We won't let it get you"  *tear*.  

And they didn't.

                                                                                                                                                                            Thursday evening we had out percussion banquet (pictures).  This is the 6th annual percussion banquet, I believe.  This is something that I do just for them.  We go to the Chinese buffet to eat, talk, laugh, reminisce, and I had out awards.  The awards aren't anything serious, they're more like "personality" awards.  "Comic Relief", "Best Smile", "Where's your stuff?", etc...those types of things.  Everyone gets one (hand made by me), as well as some other little gifts.  I make a speech about each kid as I present them with their award, then we finish eating and go home.  Now, I will be perfectly honest and tell you that I have wished each year for my Line to give me a gift in return.  I know that is selfish, but it is also the way I was raised.  Every single year I was in band/choir/theatre, we gave a gift to our directors at the end of the school year/end of play.  I remember chipping in with the cast of "The Wizard of Oz" to buy figurines for Dr. Boyd and Mr. Holly.  Roses for Dr. Boyd at the "Fantacular", gifts for Ms. Bear, Mr. Smith, Mrs. Cox, was what was done, what was expected.  It was our, the student's, small way of saying "THANK YOU FOR ALL OF YOUR HARD WORK".  If memory serves, I received a gift at the spring concert my first two years, and honestly that was only because I said something to the senior class about getting the head director a gift.  Ever since then, nothing.  Not that I'm complaining, don't get me wrong.  I understand this is a different day and age, and those types of things aren't done much anymore because it's not ingrained in our society anymore to thank those who work hard for you. 

But I digress....

                                                                                                                                             This year I was beyond surprised when "The 5", my boys, presented me with the coolest and most heartfelt gift I have *ever* received from students.  "The Survivor Award".  Not only that, but they put together a picture slideshow for me.  Amazing.  They are so special too me and I can't wait to rock out their senior year and watch it unfold.  So thank you thank you thank you thank you!  You all (the *entire* Line) mean the world to me.  Thank you for the gifts, the support, the love, laughter, and hard work.  I can't wait for summer rehearsals to start and for the new Line to catapult above and beyond the expectations I have set for you.  Love you all.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A whirl-wind weekend in Chicago!

I spent a fast and fun three days in Chicago (and surrounding areas) with old friends and "family".  It was wonderful seeing those old faces, and getting those hugs.  Nothing better.  

I landed Friday morning at about 9am or so.  My most stressful task was ahead of me as soon as I landed.  I had to navigate O'Hare airport on my own;  get my bag, find the train, buy a ticket, get on the train with my bag, get off on the correct stop, *hail a cab* (when the truck have I *ev-er* hailed a cab), and then take a cab ride to Greg's place.  Sounds simple enough right?  *Right.*  I successfully completed all of my tasks in a confident fashion, I thought, right down to hailing a cab.  I got in the cab and said exactly what I was told to say.  The cabbie stars driving and has to ask *me* where that is.  Cheese and Rice.  I *had* to pick the only farking cab driver in Chicago that didn't know how to get to Greg's apartment.  This is awesome.  Finally after a phone call by me, and a look in his book, he got me there and it was still under $10. 


I spent the day with Greg mainly at his swanky pad, just chillin', mainly.  We went to "Urban Burger Barn" for lunch, and passed this sign that struck me as extremely funny.  So much so that I had to take a picture on the way back!  Make sure to Unleash your clients before parking! *laugh*

Then Ben *Po*Tatar picked me up in his Prius, and it happened to also be my first ride ever in one of those cars.  Pretty interesting and fancy.  :)  We scooted the short distance to Ben's pad where I walked into a wicked cool house infused with the very essence of my friend.  Very neat.  Pizza, pajamas, and catching up was right in order for the evening.  I introduced Ben to the show "Ghost Adventures", and he introduced me to pizza topped with mashed potatoes.  *I know right?!*  Believe me when I say it was amazing.  I wish I would have taken a picture of that pizza, and of mine as well.  I had a "white" pizza with chicken, spinach, and artichokes (the mashed potato and sausage pizza was a "red" pizza).  I recommend trying The Piece pizza if you're ever in that area.  Good food.

Saturday morning allowed us both to sleep in, and then another first (this trip was full of them!), Dunkin' Donuts coffee.  In all the years I've lived, I've never had DD coffee.  I can't even tell you the last time I had one of their doughnuts.  The powdered, chocolate filled ones were my favorite.  I might have to rectify this situation some Saturday or Sunday morning here soon. :)  After getting coffee and getting dressed, we walked down to "the bongo room" to have brunch with the Tatar clan.  "Ma and Pa" Tatar, and also Jenny and her husband Bill.  Talk about being overjoyed at seeing some people.  I can't even begin to explain how special this family is too me.  They are so loving, welcoming, friendly, interesting, funny, kind, on and on and on.  I wish I saw them more often, but it was so special to have those precious hours with them and Ben.  Onto the bongo room...

The bongo room is apparently *the place* to get brunch on a Saturday afternoon, and I can see why.  The food was amazing.  We all got our protein dish, I had the "Tomatillo Salsa Scramble", with multi-grain toast, then three "sweets" were ordered for the table.  

There was the banana caramel pancake

The berries and cream pancake; I think that's what it was called.  Quite frankly it was so heavenly that I kind of tuned everyone out and had a mini-love affair with it. 

Then the piece de resistance...the chocolate tower of french toast.  *Chocolate French Toast people!*  This is craziness!  Oh but it was soooo good.    

I had a Raspberry and Pear Mimosa to drink.  It wasn't quite what I expected, but it was good.  

After brunch, Ben took me on a train ride into the city where we walked around in the cold, drippy, foggy weather to Millennium park where we saw the Pavillion, the "Bean", and the waterfall art sculptures.  The fog was fantastic as we walked around the city to the Chicago river, and the Trump tower.  A view of the marquee for the CHICAGO theatre rounded out the trip.  It was a fabulous day with yucky weather but that's okay. 

Sunday finally brought me back into the company of my friend Niki.  She is expecting her first child, a boy, with her hubby Josh and I couldn't be more thrilled for them.  Her and I met in college, a tragedy brought us closer, and she's one of those people in my life who may be far away and I may not see as often as I'd like, but is always in my thoughts.  Her shower was filled with love and stylish gifts (that little boy's gonna be one well dressed little dude!) to make sure this baby boy has a good start in life.  After her shower, we went to the local mall to just walk around, shop, and catch up before going to the airport.  It was wonderful filling the time chatting away with my old friend but bittersweet when it was time to go.  

As they say, all good things must come to an end, and on Sunday evening, my whirlwind weekend in Chicago came to an end as Niki dropped me off at the madhouse that is O'Hare airport and I boarded the plane home bound to Kansas City.  I hope to go back at some point after the baby is born to see this wonderful creation in action as well as the mother and father that created it, and of course to see the Tatar's.  :)   

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

She says it better than I can at this moment in time.  I hope this inspires me to reconnect with my mat and exercise in general.

Yoga SpoiledYogi

Sunday, May 8, 2011

For my Mom

We first met before either knew what the other looked like, 
inextricably linked from the start.
I swelled your belly and took your figure as you gave me life,
while you put your own life on hold for me.
I caused you pain I have no concept of as I was brought into this world,
and caused you a scare from the day of my birth.

Yet you still loved me.

You kissed my scrapes, and listened to me whine,
while just needing a moment in time to yourself.
You navigated me through my childhood with ease, and helped me avoid the pitfalls of adolesence even though I fought you every step of the way.
You let me blossom in high school, always watching with a close eye,
cutting me down to size when I got to big for my britches.

Yet you still loved me.

You sent me to college with a kiss and a prayer
and bit your tongue when it was something you didn't want to hear.
You watched me grow, mature, and love, taking your guidance to the background
but always making sure you were never far away with your love.
I might have done some stupid things along the way, 
in my quest to become a grown-up.

Yet you still loved me. 
I left the nest with the man I was to marry, the love of my life,
as you watched tearfully your baby going. 
You listened to me cry, and vent my frustration(s) over my job,
while reporting the joys of my new life.
The phone kept us linked, like the umbilical cord once did
to record every trip-up, and stumble along the way.
Yet you still loved me.

You poured your love into making my wedding gown
and for that I'm ever grateful, even if it did mean your baby was getting married.
You've helped me navigate many paths in this stage of my life,
and while I may not have always liked the advice, you still love me.
 I gave you another health scare when cancer touched me last May,
I wish I could take that away but your strength carried me through and for that,

 I will always love you.
It's true that a Mother's love knows no bounds, 
Lord knows I've put you through enough in my 32 years.  
Thank you for being you and for being my mother.  
I am who I am today because of your love and guidance.  
I wish everyone could have a mother like you.

Happy Mother's Day

Sunday, May 1, 2011

You wanna talk inspiration? These four are it.

State 2011
Throughout this cancer journey, people have told me I'm an inspiration to them.  It's somewhat confusing to me to think that I can *inspire* someone because I don't feel I'm doing anything special.  I'm just being *me*.  Yet, I believe I understand because these four boys inspire me and they're just being *them*, learning their music, working hard, being good people, and navigating the trials and tribulations of adolesence towards the beginnings of early adulthood.  And not only these four, the rest of my percussion section and other students of mine inspire me as well.  

Raytown 2010
Their hard work pushes me to work harder, to choose intriguing music that not only excites them but makes them better at the same time, and to log longer hours in the quest to ensure they become the best versions of their selves that is possible at this stage in the game.  They inspire me to work on my patience and discipline because what I expect out of them I should give in return.  Yet they require me to rule with an iron fist but that has a gentle touch.  The wonderful thing about my job is that I get to touch the lives of students at all levels, this year it was 5th & 8th-12th.  Next year I hope to have time to spread my influence over the 6th and 7th graders as well. 

Who is an inspiration to you in your life or rather, who do you inspire?   

Districts 2011