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still I run

I am a runner. I’m tempted to qualify that with “I use that term loosely.” But I’m going to trust the words expressed here:            Several years ago, I cried my way through the Rock and Roll Half in San Diego. I overtrained because I freaked out at the end…lacking faith in all the hard work I had invested in the process for months. This is no doubt a metaphor in my life. But I finished, with a bum knee nonetheless, I finished. Ever since then, my relationship with running has been a perpetual, tentative, awkward first date. Read More

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The House That Built Me

Today is November 20th, 2013. Today is the day my childhood home sold. Tonight, tomorrow, this week, another family will be moving throughout the same halls in which I laughed, cried, stomped, fought, spun, broke through the plaster with my butt (that’s another post), lived and loved. Another family will be cooking in the kitchen. In the kitchen where I silently watched my Dad ritually end his morning routine: shower, shave, a bowl of Totals at the table by himself, hat/coat, leave–all while reservedly listening to morning talk news on his portable radio. Will they smell the Old Spice lingering in Read More

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Retreat

In 2010, Dave and I spent a year committed to practicing the Sabbath. We are not Jewish, just seekers of God–and thus silence and stillness, where He is often found. And despite the struggle to just stop, we did meet Him in that sacred quiet. If you’re interested, we wrote about our soul journey here. I am shamed to admit how that sacred space has been lost in the hustle and bustle of our lives. Though to say “lost” mitigates my guilt; I have failed to commit to honoring that consistent space to connect with God in my life. I Read More

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Winning Scholarship Essay for Studying at the Globe

Urban. At-risk. Ghetto. Low-income. Unmotivated. Minority. Underserved. Many adjectives—ranging from scholarly to colloquial—describe the student population with which I work. The irony is not lost on me—an English teacher, a lover of language, an inquisitive tour guide of qualifier words—that those I serve are oppressed by those very adjectives I teach. However, I favor different adjectives to describe them: inspiring, beloved, undeterred, curious, growing, resilient, influential. Whether I stand in front of them, sit among them, or learn alongside them, the haunting ubiquity of negative adjectives underlies my own personal mission of social justice: empowering my students through the tools Read More

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Speech to IB Hijos y Hijas–May 2012

Good evening faculty, family, friends and distinguished graduates of 2012. It is truly my humble honor to be here this evening, and for this honor, I would like to extend my appreciation to Dr. Chandler and the Board of Education members, Ms. Robins and the administration of Adams City High School, as well as those staff members and students—whom despite my decision to leave and pursue teaching elsewhere—have never quite left my heart. Though our paths have diverged, our stories are still the same shared saga. In fact, in many ways, together we are writing one life, together we are Read More

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In Honor of Mom–September 2013

I am not ready to share this eulogy. We talked with mom just one weekend ago about having a living funeral, where all those who loved her could gather to brag about her to her face…rather than to an urn or casket. She agreed. And yet here we are, in the overwhelming absence she left behind, saying these things. When I think of my mom, I think of place. I think of her home in West Virginia. My mom grew up very poor and very rural. She walked long distances to get water, got on in her knees to scrub Read More

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In Honor of Dad–December 2011

Even as I prepare to say this, I realize the weakness of words when it comes to describing the heroic giant that John O’Dea was. My dad lived a large life. His laugh shook his whole body, lifting the spirits of anyone around. His heart was big enough to care for the whole world. He was the man I looked up to all my life. After we went to the park, we would go to Baskin Robbins, 31 flavors. I would stand on my tip toes, look through the glass, amazed at all the sugary choices; then I would look Read More