Sunday, May 15, 2022

Micah 6:8


And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (ESV)

In January I joined a task force at work dedicated to the support of students who are English Language Learners. They had begun the work the previous year. The focus is on support of students who are English language learners. Students who are in every class. Students who are trying to navigate the enrollment process. Students who are trying to understand our institutional policies. All through the “filter” of English being a foreign language.

In April we were notified that our group had been nominated for, and would receive, this year’s Social Justice Award. “Created in 2019 to honor the college’s deep social justice roots, the Social Justice Award recognizes individuals, groups, departments, or initiatives that promote values such as commitment to equity and diversity or the advancement of human rights and social justice.” (From notifying letter).

To say the least, I was more than surprised. I was speechless. To receive such an award was, and is, both humbling and a great honor. Having been with the group only a few short months it was difficult to see how my small contribution could lead to having my name on this award. But this group is amazing. They welcomed me with openness and excitement. My project for the spring semester was to research best practices at other community colleges. I was able to contribute something. And I look forward to continuing our work in the fall semester.

I am honored to work at a college that has open admissions. A college that offers an opportunity to anyone who wishes to pursue an education. A college that serves the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts, with its gateway cities and large immigrant populations. In my roles as Director of Compliance and Student Grievance Officer I strive to support students along their educational journey.

I have the words “Micah 6:8” written on the whiteboard in my office. It is there to remind me of my calling. Of my purpose. On Saturday we were presented with our award at the 60th annual graduation ceremony. It was there that I was reminded once again that my God calls me to “do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly” with Him.


If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor.



Saturday, May 22, 2021

Maria Stayed

Beautiful Maria will be 17 years old in two weeks. She’s arthritic, and blind, and has outlived two companions. 

In January of 2020 we lost her baby sister to a stroke. My husband and I had nothing really to discuss. We both knew we would not get another cat. Or even a pair of kittens. At the time, Maria still had her sight, but she was old and slowing down. It would not be fair to bring youthful spunk into her life. Liveliness that would jump on her and want to play. She did not have the strength or agility to chase and discipline another young companion. 
Besides, given her obvious frailty we were not sure how long she would be with us. Grief and old age could mean that she would be joining her loved ones, Gentle Horatio and Sweet Kiwi, across the rainbow bridge soon enough. 
In March, a global pandemic hit. By April, I was working full time from home. In May, I noticed that Maria’s eyesight seemed to be failing. And in June, our vet confirmed that she was going blind. 
Over time, Maria and I have developed a routine. Packing a lunch for “Daddy” every morning means a snack. Having me around means getting fed small meals throughout the day. Walks together, down the hallway to the home office are a nice way to start the day. 
Maria spends most of her time sleeping on the couch. She has learned the voices of colleagues through Zoom meetings and will come and lay by my feet. I am not Maria’s favorite person, but through this strange year we have brought each other comfort. This is not what I expected. 
Maria stayed.

If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor.

Friday, January 15, 2021

It Is No Longer Dark

The year 2020 is certain to become part of the history books here in the United States. Like the Spanish flu of 1918 or the riots, protests, and assassinations of 1968. I think most of us living in the U.S. would agree that the year was pretty dark.

I began working from home on April 2, 2020. While there were early messages of hope for returning to campus it became clear that the new academic year would be different. It was under this landscape that I decided to create and maintain a routine.

When the daylight hours became shorter, and we changed our clocks at the end of Day Light Savings Time, I began to turn lights on in my house every afternoon. This is usually around 4:30 p.m. It has become part of my routine.

It is now January 2021. A new year. I am beginning to see, once again, signs of hope.

It is no longer dark at 4:30.

National Geographic

If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor

Sunday, September 6, 2020

I Put On Heels

The pea vines turned tan. Or is it beige? Brown is too broad of a description.

I pulled the last of the vines from the garden a few weeks ago.

The leaves on the raspberry canes are turning yellow while the fall berries ripen. The contrast is beautiful.

The sunlight has changed. As it always does. And I wonder what winter will bring.

It’s been almost six months since we were told “It will only be for a couple of weeks.”

Today is Sunday, so we went to church.

Today, I put on heels.

If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Color Blind

When I was in my 20’s and 30’s if you had asked me about my experience with race relations growing up I would have said that my parents raised us to not see color. Looking back, I realize this is not true. We saw color. But it was through their actions and their words that my parents taught us that there is no difference.

Dennis the Menace by Hank Ketcham

When I was in high school a black* family moved into a neighboring town. Our school system is regionalized, so three towns attended the same high school. April was in my class, and in my homeroom. One morning she pronounced that she was the only minority in the 10th grade. I looked at her, puzzled, and told her she was not a minority. She had been born in the United States. She informed me that she was the only black student in our class. I had to agree.

When I got home that day I asked my parents about her statement. I explained that she could not be right. She had been born in the U.S. After all, only those who had immigrated were minorities. My (white) friend from Great Britain was a minority. April was not.

It was then that my father sat me down and explained racism. He told me about segregation. He told me about Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcom X. He shared his own experience in a segregated Air Force where he was called “n . . .  lover” for hanging out with his friend Mack. And he told me about an incident where a knife was pulled on him for leaving the “white section” to go and sit with his friend in the “black section.” I was horrified.

I still am.

I questioned him how human beings could treat each other in such a way. My father suggested I read Malcom X. My mother protested. Slightly. She thought I was too young to read it. He responded that if I was old enough to ask the questions, I was old enough to read about it. Besides, they would be there to talk to me about what I was reading.

This memory has stuck with me over the years. I do not think about it all the time. However, it becomes forefront in my thoughts every time see it on the national news or I encounter racism at work. My heart breaks that this is who we are as a nation. It is not what I want in a work environment.

My dear black, Latina friend tells people we are twins. I am the vanilla to her chocolate; we are chocolate and vanilla swirl. I have asked her to teach me about her reality. So she teaches me about micro aggression by pointing it out when she encounters one and we are together. 

I never want to live in a world where she cannot be my friend. Where I cannot hug her when we meet for lunch. Where her life is in danger because she is my friend.

I will not be color blind.

*I use the word “black” because several of my black friends prefer that description. They tell me, “My ancestors are not from Africa.” Also, it is the word that my generation grew up using.

If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Coffee Filters & Toilet Paper

There was a run on toilet paper at the beginning of March here in New England. At the time, I didn’t get it. We were fortunate that we had stocked up on groceries and necessities before March 13. To me, the hoarding made no sense. I have been working from home since April 2nd. Now I understand. And then there are coffee filters. My afternoon coffee is now made at home. I’m using twice as many coffee filters each week.

Here are some reflections on the past few weeks.

Stick to a schedule. When I was first told I had to work from home, that it was no longer optional, I made the decision to stick to my usual schedule. I would set my alarm clock and go through my morning routine. The only difference was that I did not have to leave the house.

Get dressed. This is closely tied to “stick to a schedule.” My first week at home I dressed as if I was going to campus. I even put on slacks and dress shoes. I quickly dispensed with pantyhose and skirts because that just felt like too much work if no one was going to see me. Sticking to a schedule and getting dressed for work has kept me focused and helped with the transition. (By the end of the first week I realized that jeans and sneakers were ok. As long as my Zoom attire was professional).

Makeup. This obviously goes along with “stick to a schedule” and “get dressed.” However, I never realized how much makeup I wear until now. I have always worn some makeup to work, and a lighter version for Church on Sundays. Saturdays, holidays, and vacations are makeup-free. Now that I put on makeup even though I’m staying home I realize how often I apply that lip gloss. (Saturdays are still free).

New ways to wear my hair. I discovered a new way to pin my hair away from my face when I wear it down. It’s not a drastic change. And I bet no one would even notice. But it makes me feel accomplished. Plus ponytails. I wear a lot more ponytails.

Less TV. One observation is that I am watching less television. Which has led to:

More reading. I am currently reading two books. One for a weekly book study. We are covering a chapter a week. It is certainly a good way to get through a book. The other is a novel. For fun. I am making better progress on this one than other books in my recent past. Instead of watching television (see above) I am reading.

Lunch breaks. My lunch breaks are different now. I still make a typical workday lunch, but I do not eat it at my desk. Taking a break from the computer is refreshing. I wondered why it feels different than being at work until I realized that all of my meetings and interactions with people is on the computer. Taking a break from screen time is helpful to recharge.

Cooking. Having to stay home has resulted in more home cooking. Many restaurants are closed. During the week my husband and I often have a couple of dinners that are take-out. Since I am not out, to drive past our favorite take-out places, we have been having more home cooked meals.

More meals at the dining room table. See above. It feels as if we are not rushing quite as much.  

New choices. Several of my friends and colleagues have chosen to leave their current home. Some have left or are making plans to leave New England. Others are moving back. When asked, it is the same message: we choose family.

At some point we will emerge into a new normal. There are things about the current situation that I hope we keep. Deliberate choices. An intentional pace. And ample supplies of coffee filters and toilet paper.

If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor.

Saturday, March 7, 2020


There is an emptiness
In the house

You no longer greet me
When I get home

I miss our evening

And your soft kisses
That wake me in the morning

There is a hole
In my heart

When do the tears stop?