The beauty of dogs

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Recently a study confirmed that dogs really do love you back. Like we didn’t know that!

Nothing compares to the joys of playing with your pup when you wake up in the morning.

Sugar was so exited to see me. Her joy is infectious and lifts my soul.

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TAKE ME AWAY

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Take me away
To a deserted beach
By a bay

Where problems can’t reach
And I don’t fear the rise of the day.

Take me away
I’m to tired to fight
There’s no more to say
I don’t want to fear the night

Take me away
Hold me in your arms
Keep the world at bay
Soothing me with your charms

Take me away
Where no more lies can reach me
Where dreams don’t decay
And joy is all I see

Take me away
To a beach by the bay
Where alcohol does not exist
Where the pain it reaps does not twist
My heart into tiny broken knots
Hope — Never to regain

Take me away; Give me peace

Take me away; give me silence

Take me away; where I never have to see self-destruction

Take me away; so I can breathe again

Carrie. The ultimate revenge on bullying.

Steven King was a head of his time!

When he wrote Carrie nearly 40 years ago, it’s doubtful that he envisioned the state of the US and it’s teenagers these days.

With the recent remakes of the blockbuster movie starring Sissy Spacek, my students are interested in revisiting this novel. Well it’s revisiting for me for them it’s a new book but not a new theme.

Carrie is the outcast, the brunt of all jokes and disdain of the entire student body. King himself admits he hated the character of Carrie and almost trashed the project.

Yet, he couldn’t have known what would be in store for the generation of his children’s children.

Bullying is nothing new, yet it’s increasing violent and malevolent tenure has given rise to campaigns to stop bullying and end the rash of Suicides that have occurred as a result.

Yet haven’t we known someone like Carrie? Haven’t we felt like a milder version of the misfit in our painful growing years? True many haven’t been subjected to the steady physical, psychological, mental and emotional abuse she suffered at the hands of her mother, but what I think most can identify with is the dichotomy of being ostracized by your peers vs the disgust she provokes within us.

It’s summed up in the gym teacher’s urge to hit Carrie for her ignorance, yet at the same time, her scorn for the bullies who tortured Carrie; and then her own admonishment for not reaching out, not trying to help Carrie earlier.

This wasn’t a case of Carrie suddenly appearing on the scene. She grew up in this small town with these children. She earned their disgust early, which is classic treatment with children.

“Carrie” begs the question about what would happen if just one adult in her 16 years had taken an interest in intervening on her behalf. It shows us how we go about our day insulated in our own thoughts, never risking even to rise our thoughts above the cursory awareness of the misfits that move throughout our world.

King accurately, if not a little heavy-handed, shows how monsters are made not born. In essence “Carrie” is his Frankenstein. So can you truly blame the monster for turning on it’s creators?

What is really scary for me is that works of fiction like this are read, digested and forgotten. It’s not until real life tragedies happen that we rise above our own self-absorption to say “oh?”

Columbine comes to mind. They turned on their peers but it’s what we heard later that’s most disturbing: how many were interviewed who said they knew something bad was coming? How many moved out rather than try and solve the problem? Isn’t that what we do? How neighborhoods “fall to pot”? Don’t get involved! Don’t take the risk! Don’t even pay attention–it will go away.

Humans are a selfish lot and our more altruistic traits tend to take a back seat to our dark tendencies. It’s why folks get so amazed when someone shows a simple act of kindness. They distrust it. There has to be a motive because we aren’t kind for no reason.

When did we get so jaded? So distrustful? When did it become a crime to help out a friend, neighbor, community member just because it’s the right thing to do?

Carrie holds a mirror up to today’s society and warns us that if we don’t wake up, we are creating monsters and those monsters will turn on us viciously and violently.

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Boxing up Christmas….

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EPIPHANY is over and it’s time to store the decorations for another year. It’s kind of sad to put away the glittering lights and brash colored decorations.

Not because of any religious reason, but because all that bright colored glitter serves as a reminder to us that under the cool black and white vestiges of winter sleeps the colors of spring.

Personal Branding

In the course of my work and educational life, I have learned to shake up my perspective of myself, to constantly strive to refresh both my listening and communication skills and to be aware of my faults/weaknesses as well as my talents/strengths. The former keeps me humble and striving to improve. The latter, gives me focus.

I am taking course on personal branding. It’s much like what we do for companies, but in the new faster-paced, internet-driven world we need to do this for ourselves as well as our companies.

It’s first bit of homework is to wake us up on how we see ourselves and how others around us see us. First we answer 4 questions on what we believe are our talents, values, strengths and weaknesses. Then we have to make that awkward ask of friends and associates to tell us the truth about us as they see it in relation to the same questions.

They are to assess our work and relationships (not just romantic but all relationships)

I asked about 15 and have just started getting them back. It’s interesting to see not only how they see me, but also how the assess the questions.

While admittedly they are only just starting to come back, I find that some take the relationship question as literal romantic relationships and not all relationships in general.

That made me smile. Not, because they got it right or wrong but because the questions are so open to interpretation.

I admit I’m both interested and a bit apprehensive at those that are still to come in. It’s hard to face your weaknesses, but a little exciting too.

I am starting to see “brand Sandy” form. This brand will follow me through blogs and articles, into my writing and photography promos and be a consistent presence in my bio’s and profiles.

On Wednesday my first draft is due. It will be amazing to see it unfold?

Dinner and a movie with my social worker

When you enter this world mentally challenged, the idea of a cruel world takes on a new reality. It is your reality you grow used to the shunning and the bullies. You tune out those who yell and curse you as a retard, because it is life. You aren’t like them. So, it is okay for them to turn their hate and disdain towards you. They don’t believe you have feelings, at least not like they do, and they think that just because you are slow you can’t process their meanings. They are wrong.

This was my life growing up as a high-functioning mentally retarded person. “Normal” friends and boyfriends are rare. I find the boys especially don’t want to be romantically involved with someone like me. Maybe it’s peer pressure, maybe it’s that they can’t show off their girlfriend, but my teen years showed me how hard it is to be mainstreamed with the so-called normal kids.

I remember my first crush. He was the captain of the football team and I was more clumsy than usual around him. When I told my best friend Judy about my crush she said “leave it to me.”

She passed note in class and he smiled;my heart leapt. ‘Could he possibly like me to?’

Later that day, I was heading to my locker, around the corner was my crush talking to his friends:

“so what was that note from Judy?”

“she wanted me to take Tracy to the dance”

“Tracy, the one with the big tits and no brains?”

“Yeah”

“Are you going to? You could get some….”

“No man, she’s a retard…”

I ran pass them and all the way home crying. I avoided everything to do with football after that. Later, I found out the Judy’s boyfriend, a basketball player, beat the shit out of him.
I didn’t care, just mentioning his name made me cry and I had my counselor switch me out as many shared classes as possible.

My date to the dance was a friend, Luis, who had down syndrome. Seeing my crush with his arm in a cast didn’t help, I cried on Luis’s shoulder. He understood of course. We went with Judy and her boyfriend to our secret place and the four of us got drunk and ate pizza.

My mom said Judy was a bad influence until she found out what was going on. Then I heard her saying to my aunts, “what was Judy thinking? No normal boy is going to date her!” I gave up on “normal” boys after that.

That is until I met John Donnelly. He was assigned as my social worker to help me transition into daily life after high school. No one expected me to go to college, but John said “do you want to?”

He was different than any other social worker I had met. He was alive, energetic, and had a laugh that made me laugh even harder.

He never treated me like I was retarded, even during the testing process. He helped me discover that I could sing better than I could talk and we would sing my favorite songs, sometimes making up our own words to them, every time I came to his office.

He took me out to the malls and the parks where we would invent stories for those around us and laugh and laugh about our creations.

After about six months, I came into his office hearing him singing “my girl”. That was always a sign that he had a surprise for me!

“Tracy, you know that I think you are a great storyteller and songwriter right?”

“Yeah?” I watched his blue eyes twinkle.

“How would you like to go to college and become a writer?”

“But! I can’t write well. ”

“You don’t have to, you just need to talk or sing into this.” He pulled out a computer with a microphone. “You will be paired with a buddy who will clean up the spelling and grammar and the classes are geared to help kids with special needs.”

My heart was beating so fast. ‘Could I do it?‘ He promised to be there to support me every step of the way. By the time I left his office that day I had applied for school, talked Judy into into sharing an apartment near my school, and made plans for John to teach me to drive a car.

That was five years ago, my first novel was published two years ago and I supported myself “writing” songs for a pop band who John introduced me to. It seems another one of his “friends” (he never called us clients) was the brother of the lead singer, Jamie. I never felt uncomfortable working with them, because they were like Judy – they saw me as me.

At my first hometown book signing my old crush brought a book up to be signed. He had gained 40 pounds and was almost completely bald. I didn’t recognize him until he spoke:

“Make it out to the stupidest man on earth.” I smiled then.

Jamie and I began dating about six months ago, but when my novel was optioned for a movie I asked Jamie if he wouldn’t mind if I didn’t take him to the premiere. He smiled because he knew there was another man in my life; one to whom I owed everything.

I found John in his office later that day humming to the radio. This time, I began to sing to him “nothing you can do to make me untrue to my guy…”

He spun around with a huge grin on his face. “Tracy! What are you up to my little star?”

I held up two tickets to the red carpet premiere in California and two airline tickets.

“How about a dinner and a movie?”

He laughed and his cheeks turned red and then he said with a grin “where’s my tux?”

The end