When Pencils Need Sharpening

We were born. We didn’t have a choice.

We didn’t enroll for this class called “LIFE.”

Why would we ever want to “unenroll”?

We might miss something unexpected, something better.

Yes, some days all the hallways are the same.

They lead to the same old classroom,

the same old teachers.

Pencils get dull.

The roof leaks.

Trash cans get filled. Emptied.

But then on the big cork board in the hallway, we see something new.

“New construction in progress.

We are expanding!”

So even as we sneeze through the dusty air,

step over the nails,

hold our hands over our ears as the hammers pound

and the saws whiz

there’s a new spring in our step.

Something better is coming.

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image credit

via Enroll

Ashes to Dreams

A meager end of one’s desires

Helpless, falls within the fires

Softly heard the silent pleas

For targets reached with greater ease.

 

Bemoan the loss of relinquished goals

That lay defeated upon the coals

As sparks take flight and seconds clash

They cruelly wither and turn to ash.

 

Rising yet above the flame

Release of who or what to blame

To plant again a seed accrued

From hopes of life and dreams renewed.

-CDW

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via Meager

Trying to Break Free: A Lesson in Determination

Mom has given me cherry-flavored Lundren’s throat lozenges for my sore throat. I keep them in my coat pocket. At playground time, I am the most popular girl at the swing set.

It is springtime. We have an incubator in our lunchroom. It has chicken eggs in it, real chicken eggs that you can’t eat. Each day I go first thing to see if the eggs under the warm light have started to crack. I picture little fuzzy yellow chicks coming out to greet us after they have broken free and clear of their eggs. I picture nestling their fuzziness in the palms of my little hands. It will be the best day ever in this boring kindergarten class. We wait.

Meanwhile at the same time:

April 16, 1963: While jailed in Birmingham, Alabama for leading anti-segregation protests, Martin Luther Kings writes a letter that says, “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” “For years now, I have heard the word ‘Wait!’ It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This ‘wait’ has almost almost always meant ‘never’.”

We wait until Mrs. Perry gets tired of them. She throws them out! She gave up! I am sooo disappointed. I realized then that some things don’t happen the way you want them to. Eggs don’t hatch if you give up.

I kept thinking that maybe we could have helped those baby chicks be born. It was all so unfair.

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photo credit

daily post prompt: Egg

The “CAN” Polish is Free

“Getting older is inevitable: Aging is optional” – Christine Northrup

I know, I know. It’s hard sometimes to get motivated to eat right and exercise, not only our bodies, but our minds. But since I’m about to scroll down another line to hit the year I was born (lucky cursor), I thought I’d find some inspiration.

Aging is a relative term. Some might feel their life is almost over when they hit the big 30. Others, like me, understand that we knew very little at that time.

As actress Helen Mirren said, “Your 40s are good.  Your 50s are great.  Your 60s are fab.  And 70 is f*@king awesome!”

Want to keep your get-up-and-go getting up and going? Ponder these:

— “For the unlearned, old age is winter; for the learned, it is the season of the harvest.”   ~Hasidic saying

— “I believe the second half of one’s life is meant to be better than the first half. The first half is finding out how you do it. And the second half is enjoying it.”  ~Frances Lear

— “None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.”  ~Henry David Thoreau

— “I am appalled that the term we use to talk about aging is ‘anti.’ Aging is as natural as a baby’s softness and scent. Aging is human evolution in its pure form.”~ Jamie Lee Curtis

— “The great thing about getting older is that you become more mellow. Things aren’t as black and white, and you become much more tolerant. You can see the good in things much more easily rather than getting enraged as you used to do when you were young.”    ~Maeve Binchy

— “We don’t grow older, we grow riper.” ~Pablo Picasso

— “You’re either marvelous or you’re boring, regardless of your age.” – Morrisse

— “Laughter is timeless. Imagination has no age. And Dreams are forever.” – Walt Disney

— “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be.” ~Robert Browning

 

Accept and be loyal to yourself.

And remember, that WON’T and CAN’T are two entirely different kettles.

The CAN polish is free.

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photo 1: Royal Free Stock Photos

Painting 2: by Claude Joseph Bail (1862-1921)

Daily Word Prompt: Loyal

What does it mean to educate?

It means having a sister like mine. Words cannot express how proud I am of her. Pat has forever changed the lives of so many people including the ones who struggled and fought to be the first in their families to receive a higher education. Well done, “Dr. Witherspoon.” Well done.

Love always,

Your baby sister

P.S. Thank you for reading to me when I was little.

 

reference for following article:

Liberal Arts Dean Patricia Witherspoon Retires

Last Updated on August 30, 2017 at 4:15 PM

Originally published August 30, 2017

By Laura L. Acosta

UTEP Communications

 

When Javier Aguilar-Garcia met Patricia Witherspoon, Ph.D., nearly four years ago, he was wandering the halls of the Liberal Arts Building searching for a University 1301 class.

UTEP College of Liberal Arts Dean Patricia Witherspoon, Ph.D., (right) retired in August after 17 years at UTEP. Witherspoon and UTEP President Diana Natalicio (left) hold a caricature of Witherspoon by Nacho L. Garcia. Photo by UTEP News Staff

(UTEP College of Liberal Arts Dean Patricia Witherspoon, Ph.D., right, retired in August after 17 years at UTEP. Witherspoon and UTEP President Diana Natalicio, left, hold a caricature of Witherspoon by Nacho L. Garcia. Photo: Ivan Pierre Aguirre / UTEP Communications.)

As a freshman at The University of Texas at El Paso, Aguilar-Garcia was still finding his way around campus. At the time, the first-generation college student had no clue that Witherspoon, the passerby he stopped to ask for help, was the dean of the UTEP College of Liberal Arts (COLA). She smiled warmly and directed him down the hall.

Their paths would cross again a couple of years later when Aguilar-Garcia served as a COLA ambassador under Witherspoon. For two years, Aguilar assisted the dean at events, such as the college’s Pre-Commencement Awards and Hooding Ceremony.

While the Juárez native no longer needed directions to class, he began looking to Witherspoon for guidance about his future.

“What I learned from Dr. Witherspoon would take hours for me to say,” said Aguilar-Garcia, a multimedia journalism major who expects to graduate in December 2017. “I learned the value of hard work, to always be true to myself, and to not be afraid to think outside the box. She knows there is something special in each of us.”

Aguilar-Garcia was among the many students Witherspoon mentored over the past 17 years at UTEP. She retired from the University in August 2017 after a 36-year career in higher education.

“I came to UTEP for the students,” said Witherspoon, who led COLA since 2011. “I was impressed by these students who will do so much to get an education, and who understand so well that an education transforms not only an individual but a family.”

Witherspoon joined UTEP in the fall of 2000 as chair of the Department of Communication.

During the Dean’s Legacy Lecture this spring, Witherspoon recalled that shortly before she started her new job, her oldest son, Terry, told her that the people at UTEP really wanted her to come to the University, and she better not let them down.

Looking back, she said, “I hope I didn’t.”

At UTEP, Witherspoon hit the ground running. In 2002, she established the Sam Donaldson Center for Communication Studies, which provides academic enrichment for communication majors, communication programs to high school students, and continuing education and training for media and communication professionals.

The center’s inaugural event, “An Evening with Sam Donaldson,” in 2003 attracted top journalists, including Dan Rather, Helen Thomas, George Will and Ted Koppel, White House press secretaries and major news stations. The event raised more than $100,000 for the center’s endowment.

“That was a wonderful evening to remember and to honor Sam Donaldson, but it was also wonderful to see (these journalists) come out and hear about UTEP,” Witherspoon recalled.

In August 2008, Witherspoon was named dean of the University’s Graduate School. She held that position until 2010, when she became acting dean of COLA, UTEP’s largest and most varied college with nearly 7,000 students. A year later, she was appointed the college’s dean.

“There are lots of programs, lots of departments, lots of students, not enough faculty, and not enough staff,” Witherspoon said. “That is the beauty of the College of Liberal Arts; there is so much diversity here with the arts, the humanities and the social sciences.”

UTEP Senior Executive Vice President Howard Daudistel, Ph.D., was the college’s dean before Witherspoon. He said that under Witherspoon’s “extraordinary leadership,” the college strengthened its many student success initiatives and strived to continuously improve all of its academic programs.

“Dr. Witherspoon was a vigorous advocate for the many diverse departments and programs in the college and worked hard to recruit the highest quality faculty to support these programs,” Daudistel said. “Always attentive to student needs, Dr. Witherspoon was deeply committed to UTEP’s access and excellence mission while also supporting a diverse faculty of outstanding teachers, extraordinary scholars, researchers and artists.”

During her tenure, Witherspoon worked with faculty to develop forward-thinking programs that would foster student achievement. Among them was the Student Success Initiative in 2014, which provides tutoring and programs that support student academic development, and the Liberal Arts Honors Program (LAHP) in 2012, which offers academic enrichment opportunities to top undergraduate liberal arts students.

Witherspoon said the LAHP has exceeded her expectations.

“Many of our LAHP students go on to graduate school or law school and have wonderful internships in other parts of the country,” she said. “They’re just outstanding.”

Witherspoon credits much of her success to the college’s outstanding faculty and dedicated staff who she said made her look good, even on those days when she did not deserve it.

“It almost never felt like work,” she said with a laugh. Despite her many accomplishments, Witherspoon is most proud of watching students succeed. Her favorite time of year was celebrating the achievements of liberal arts students at UTEP’s spring and winter Commencement ceremonies. From the stage in the Don Haskins Center, Witherspoon would watch as wave after wave of liberal arts graduates walked into the arena, ready to make their mark on the world.

In retirement, Witherspoon plans to spend time with family and stay involved with the University. She may help raise funds for COLA’s 50th Anniversary fund or teach an online undergraduate course in communication and organizational leadership.

Other projects include writing a book on the effect of culture on leadership, focusing on Mexican-American and Latino influences.

“I feel very proud and very gratified of having been a part of this campus during the last 17 years,” Witherspoon said. “The last 17 years has been a time of tremendous change and great growth, not only in numbers but in stature.”

Daily prompt: Educate

Life – Just stay on

Life is a carousel, don’t you think? We go round and round, a circle of life,  trying to catch the best parts.

Sometimes, the ride is slow, like one at a kiddie park. Or maybe the ride never starts. Perhaps something is broken, the belt ceases to move, and you are left without your luggage. (That’s a good thing. Get rid of the baggage!)

Other times, we are on a grand adventure of beauty and magic. I say, if we must go round and round in life, let’s ride on this one.

But whatever we do, let’s not choose the stationary seat. It might seem pretty but it also means we’re playing it safe.

Instead, choose one that moves you up and down, makes you giddy from the inside out, and leaves you smiling.

 

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Love in the Dustbowl

Lyrics from one of my favorite songs.

Baby I know that we’ve got trouble in the fields
When the bankers swarm like locust out there turning away our yield
The trains roll by our silos, silver in the rain
They leave our pockets full of nothing
But our dreams and the golden grain
Have you seen the folks in line downtown at the station
They’re all buying their ticket out and talking the great depression
Our parents had their hard times fifty years ago
When they stood out in these empty fields in dust as deep as snow

[Chorus:]
And all this trouble in our fields
If this rain can fall, these wounds can heal
They’ll never take our native soil
But if we sell that new John Deere
And then we’ll work these crops with sweat and tears
You’ll be the mule I’ll be the plow
Come harvest time we’ll work it out
There’s still a lot of love, here in these troubled fields

There’s a book up on the shelf about the dust bowl days
And there’s a little bit of you and a little bit of me
In the photos on every page
Now our children live in the city and they rest upon our shoulders
They never want the rain to fall or the weather to get colder
[Chorus]

You’ll be the mule I’ll be the plow
Come harvest time we’ll work it out
There’s still a lot of love, here in these troubled fields

 

From Nanci Griffith’s CD: Dustbowl Symphony

       Nanci Griffith – Trouble In The Fields