Thursday, November 19, 2009

Life is short

I really believe that my recent overwhelming drive to find meaningful work and meaningful life experiences has a lot to do with the recent losses that myself and my family have suffered. We have lost a countless number of friends and family in the last year. Four of those losses hit WAY too close to home. I have been thinking about these people lately, especially on my visits to the cemetery to visit three of the four. I can't help but think that one of the reasons that they died was to teach all of us that life is short, so we should live it to the fullest - while we can.

The four people below really knew how to take advantage of all that life had to offer. I miss them all more than words can ever say.

Elaine Wilke "Aunt Elaine" - Died November 16, 2008.Aunt Elaine was my mom's aunt. She was an amazing woman and was active and vibrant up until the last months of her life. She was a volunteer at a hospital and a women's center. She played tennis and golf. She did all of these things well into her eighties. She was married for over sixty years, she was the proud mother of two and grandmother of two.

John Lodewyck "Grandpa John" - Died January 4, 2009.

My Grandpa was a man of many talents. You name it, he tried it. He was not only a wonderful husband, father and grandfather, but he was one of the most multi-talented men I have ever known. He was a photographer, sketch artist and painter. He was an actor, a singer and a writer. He drove race cars, scuba dived and played sports. He traveled often - he went camping, took cruises and went on international tours. He also served courageously for the United States Army in World War II. He was a prisoner of war twice. One time even bravely escaping the horror of prison camp, only to be recaptured. He was married to the love of his life for 66 amazing years. He was the proud father of three, grandfather of eleven and great-grandfather of four. He gave the best hugs ever!

Victoria Sandy-LaCerba "Vicki" - Died March 8, 2009. Vicki was my sister-in-law and friend. She lost her life way too soon. However, she packed more into her short life than I could ever dream to pack into mine. She was a lifelong learner - eventually earning her Master's Degree in Medical Radiation Physics. She dedicated her life to fighting cancer. She was asked to speak at many medical conferences. She enjoyed music - both listening as well as playing. She traveled often for leisure as well as work. She was an avid reader and would often share her books with me when she was finished. She was married to my brother for almost seven years. They had two beautiful boys - one of which will only have pictures and our words to remember his mommy by.

Rosaria Anthos "Rosie" - Died May 25, 2009. Rosie was a dear friend of our family. She also lost her life way too soon. It was amazing what Rosie was able to do - all with that great smile that she had. She co-owned a beauty salon. She belonged to many groups and clubs. She belonged to a cousins club, a movie club, the Elks club. She golfed and played cards. She was always willing to help out without hesitation. Rosie would always ask how you were doing and you could tell that she genuinely wanted to know. She had a great sense of humor and was a joy to be around. She was the proud mother of two sons.

This blog post has been incredibly difficult to finish. I wanted to be sure to honor my loved ones in a way that felt right. However, there is so much about all of them that I miss everyday, that I knew that I could never write enough. These descriptions don't nearly do justice to the incredible accomplishments of these four amazing people. I have just provided a small glimpse into their lives for you to see. . .

All of these people grabbed life by the horns and lived it to it's fullest - leaving behind an inspiring legacy. I can't help but think about what my legacy will be. Right now, I'm feeling like it would be pretty empty, so I am taking steps to enrich my legacy. I really believe that living my fullest life, includes finding work that makes a positive impact on the world. I am seeking out volunteer opportunities that are meaningful to me in the hopes of finding my true passion and hopefully a new career. And at the same time, I will be helping out some awesome causes!

"The life given us by nature is short, but the memory of a well spent life is eternal."
~ Author Unknown

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Back to School

Latte Tax Initiative Aims To Fund Preschools

After two years of searching for my dream job, I came to the realization that I need to do something more. While I know that making a darn good latte is making a positive impact on the world - one customer at a time, it's not quite the the difference I'm looking to make.
So, as my last post title suggests, I decided to start with me. . . As positive as I think I am about not going into teaching, I decided I would just look into what I might need to do to reinstate my teaching certificate. It's been TEN years since I had graduated college and earned my degree, so I was fully expecting ISBE (Illinois State Board of Education) to tell me that I need tons of classes and would have to pay large back fines. But, no. I would need to pay a $55 back fee and take five credit hours at any college or university. Any Education classes would do. Really?! $55 and two classes?! Really?! That's all it would take for them to allow me to teach after all this time. Quite frankly, I was stunned. How could I not do it? So, in a very brave moment I signed up at Oakton Community College and began to look for my first class. YIKES! College again after ten years. I'm too old for this!
There must be some divine powers at work telling me to reinstate my certificate after all this time - because I found the perfect class. It is called Peace Education. The class totally fits in with my desire to go into a non-profit. The first day of class we watched a video about the desegregation of schools in the south. It occurred to me after watching the video that the civil rights movement, the main push for equality took place in the 1950s & 60s. But weren't slaves freed in the 1800s? Yes, slaves were freed in 1865 after the Civil War. About a hundred years after the slaves were freed, the United States were still segregating blacks & whites. Watching the video I was disgusted at the way some whites were so resistant to allowing black students into their schools and how horribly mistreated those students were. After 100 years. 100 years! I know I've gotten all of this information before and even seen different pieces of movie clips from the civil rights movement. But this time it finally clicked for me the tremendous amount of time that America has been battling racism. But even today in 2009 there is still so much prejudice and racism. How long will this continue?
It's not just the prejudice and racism though. It's poverty and hunger and disease and illiteracy and abuse and on and on. . .
According to The Talmud in a quote from one of my class books, "It is not for you to complete the task but neither are you free to abstain from it."
I want to do something about all of this. No. I NEED to do something about it. I truly believe that we were all put on this planet for a purpose and I can't help but feel my purpose is to make a positive diffrence in this world, whatever that may be.
This class has given me hope.
Classroom Concepts

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Starting with ME

This is my first attempt at blogging, so bear with me. . .
I've been thinking about starting a blog for quite some time now. Although my life has been very interesting lately - it's not exactly what I want posted all over the internet. So, I've been trying to come up with a worthwhile topic. . .
Again, the craziness of my life would make for a good comedic blog (or a really sad tragic blog). However, I wanted to focus on something positive. I want to use this blog to talk about making a positive difference in the community and ultimately the world.
On a personal level, I've been trying to transition into work that makes a positive difference in the lives of others. In December 2007, I left the security of a 9-5 (okay, usually 6:30-3ish) job with decent pay to find my "dream job." Little did I know when I quit my job that the economy would completely tank and I'd be lucky to find a job anywhere, much less my "dream job." So for the last 16 months, I have been working at Starbucks and trying to break my way into the non-profit world to no avail. Unfortunately, this economy has brought about a lot of job seeking fish in a very small sea of potential jobs and when employers look at resumes they will inevitably choose people with experience in their field. Not a great time to be switching careers.
Which brings me to this blog.
It's time to make a difference in this crazy world of ours - dream job, or no dream job.
And I'm starting with ME.
So, what do ya say? Let's change the world, one blog post at a time.
Clownfish in Fish Tank