69/365 I am Filled with Hope by the Future of Education

My sister Kirstie is studying to be a health teacher at SIU-E. A few weeks ago, she sent me the text message below. I am already an incredibly proud big brother. My sisters and my brother are the three most amazing people I know. That said, my pride in Kirstie’s words, her learning and her commitment to helping those coming after her has its own space in my heart. In a week where cynicism and coursework have ruled most days, returning to this text has been helpful.

Today I was teaching yoga at Glenwood middle school to a few of the girls pe classes, and I had them do an activity to help with positive thinking and so I told them to write a list of 5 things they like about themselves. A good amount of the girls didn’t have too much trouble, but there were far too many of them that thought it was difficult. The saddest piece of paper I found had only the word “none” written on it. I think that the positive reinforcement needs to start at home, but why can’t our schools help children love themselves too? I believe in what you’re doing Zachary, I hope you do make a difference for every student and help make school a better place for everyone. Middle school is tough, but it shouldn’t be so hard that a 12 year old can’t name one thing they like about him or herself.

I am sad that my little sister has to feel and build her understanding of the places where the world falls down, but I feel much better knowing she’s out there helping to pull it back up.

Things I Know 340 of 365: We had a Blue Steel Christmas

Somewhere in the last year, my sister Kirstie took on the mantel of family photographer. To understand the implications of this, you must know that my grandfather has worked all of his life to make certain mine is the most well-documented family in America. Would he so desire, Ken Burns could make a film about our family sans narration and using only my grandfather’s photos that matched the combined length of Baseball and The Civil War.

Kirstie’s eye for photography is natural and amazing. She can find things through a lens that I would miss 99 times out of 100. She also has the special ability to convince her subjects to step outside the ordinary.

So, yesterday, in a rare event that saw all of my dad’s family assembled at once, Kirstie took the expected family portrait.

She then turned and asked if we all knew what Blue Steel was. Not surprisingly, the majority of the family said no. My cousin Chloe and I are evidently the only true celebrants of Ben Stiller’s film canon.

Kirstie demonstrated and told us we would all be sporting Blue Steel on the count of three. The result is above.

Pay particular attention to how my grandparents interpreted the instructions.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree (and I come from an orchard).