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Living with regrets

September 29, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

Last week, among others, I made the following comment: “We can live our lives with regrets, I suppose, but I prefer not to. It can drive you crazy worrying about the ’what ifs‘ in life. Every single thing we do can be analyzed and debated, so why bother? So while I may wonder, I do not regret.”

When I wrote that comment, I believed it. I told myself that, sure, I wonder how this or that may have gone had I handled things differently. Both good and bad. But to say I do not regret, I guess, was a bit of a fallacy.

We all regret things in life; who was I kidding? Heck, sometimes I regret what I had for dinner. But I mean it when I say I NEVER and I mean NEVER, EVER regret….dessert!

Yes, my sad attempt at humor. Nice, huh?

But in all seriousness, I really believe that regret is a not only a fact of life, but also a very large part of it, as well. It is how we handle that regret that is what is important.

Do I regret waiting so long to get my degree? No. And yes, I do mean that. I have enjoyed my life up to this point, and I am really enjoying it now as I travel on this new career path.

However, I do have many regrets in my life. I think of them now and then and wonder how things may be different today in my life, relationships with others, or in any number of things, if I had made a different choice. I would like to think that those regrets are just in the back of my mind waiting to be triggered from time to time.

Some are, but others pop up more frequently.

I regret not being more outgoing in high school. I wonder how different my experience would have been had I been the person I am now. What if I had made the decision to stick with Cross Country instead of quitting? That is not a huge regret, but I wonder if I would have found success if I had kept on running, rather than running away.

I guess you can call me a quitter because I also quit band during my sophomore year. I do not regret that, however, as that didn’t last and I was back making music a week later. That is a story that Marge Caid (band director) and I still laugh about all these years later.

The ones that stick with me the most are probably the most common amongst us all: the loss of a loved one.

I regret not going to visit my grandma more when she was in the hospital. I wish I had spent more time with my grandpa when I lived just a few blocks away from him. I wish I had asked my dad more questions and had more in-depth talks with him about life before he succumbed to cancer. I regret the times I do not get to spend with my children, knowing that they will be grown before I know it. I can change that, however.

Those are the ones that hang over my head like a storm cloud.

I also regret the lack of communication I have with some of my family members, especially those that I used to be close with. Life is a flowing stream, we change, our families grow, but the ties that bind a family should not fray. And sadly, in my own family and in families of those that I care about, the bond has broken. In some instances, especially for some in my family, the distance between them seems way too deep and divided to even attempt reconciliation. To me, that is sad, and I hope for the best.

It is human to regret. I think that is part of what gives us character and helps us make better decisions in our lives.

But if we do not learn a lesson from the regrets that may haunt us now, we are doing a huge disservice to ourselves and those around us.

Emotional Day

September 29, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

Last Friday was a pretty monumental day in my life.

What started out as a day full of excitement, anticipation and yes, nerves, ended on a very somber note when I got home.

To backtrack, last Thursday afternoon I received the phone call that I had been waiting for. A JOB OFFER! Of course I accepted, without hesitation, mind you. I mean, this is what I have been dreaming of doing my entire life. Yes, I am now (and proudly) able to proclaim that I am a TEACHER!

The road to becoming a teacher was not easy, as I have covered in this column a couple of times. But, regardless of the bumps in the road and the fact that I am nearly 40 years old and FINALLY working in the career that I have always dreamed of, I would not change a thing.

I do not regret where I have been in my past careers. I have met many wonderful people that I would never have had the chance to meet otherwise. Many of those past co-workers are now close friends of mine.

However, there is a part of me that, from time to time, says, “Imagine if you would have spent the past 16 years in the classroom instead of with the bank”. We can live our lives with regrets I suppose, but I prefer not to. It can drive you crazy worrying about the “what ifs” in life. Every single thing we do can be analyzed and debated, so why bother. So while I may wonder, I do not regret.

What I do know is that I am VERY happy with where I am at this moment in my life. I feel such a sense of accomplishment every time I walk into my classroom, I enjoy the students and I will continue to strive to be the greatest teacher I can be for them.

It will take time to get into the full swing of teaching. It is certainly not something that you can just walk through the doors and expect to do or know it all. I was blessed to have so many excellent teachers in my life and it is because of them that I am where I am today.

After an exciting first day at school, we came home to a sad, but not totally unexpected surprise. For the past few months the health of our 16-year old cat, Dreyfus, had slowly been declining. After several visits with the veterinarian, the decision was made to end his suffering.

I guess the old boy had other plans. After coming through the door, our other cat was meowing and acting different. I feared the worst and my suspicions were true. After telling my wife, we sat the girls down to tell them about Dreyfus.

I have lost pets before, but Dreyfus had been with me longer than any other.

Dreyfus had a rough and gruff exterior, but was a gentle soul deep down inside. He had attitude, swagger and was a fighter. He was the only cat I ever had that liked to eat Pringles and French fries, but most of all, he was my buddy.

We will miss him, but very glad he is no longer suffering.

It was an emotional day for us all with the beginning of one exciting chapter and the sad ending to another.

Time flies

September 3, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

It is hard to believe that school starts in just a few days.

It seems like just yesterday that students were packing up their desks and saying their goodbyes for the summer.

Being that I was a student teacher when the last school year ended, I realized just how emotional the last day can be for both students and teachers!

Many students were in tears either because they would miss their friends, were moving away or maybe a little scared of leaving the comfort of elementary school.

* And yes, even teachers are known to become a little sentimental at the end of the school year. When you spend that much time with the students, getting to know them, encouraging them and helping them on their path to success, you become attached to them.

But the school bell is about to ring on another new year and that process will begin anew.

It is hard for me to believe that my oldest is moving on to yet another grade. It is even harder for me to believe that this time next year our youngest will be entering kindergarten. Time flies.

My daughter is still at the age where she is excited about going to school, seeing her friends and yes, even learning. It gives us such a great joy to see the dedication she has to learning and trying her best. Sure, there are times when the motivation just isn’t there, but for the most part, she is one eager learner.

Hopefully that is a trait that sticks with her and her sister for the extent of their lifetime.

The community of Three Rivers and the surrounding area lost a great friend with the passing of Bruce Snook. My encounters with Mr. Snook were few, and for that I am sad. But the legacy he left behind is one of extreme and impressive dedication. When a town, such as Three Rivers, loses someone of Mr. Snook’s caliber, you have lost a strong and sturdy pillar of the community. His loyalty to bringing out the best in Three Rivers and its citizens was a sight to behold.

I came to “know” Mr. Snook from hearing his voice on the airwaves during his time at WLKM. I am sure that I can speak for many of us when I say his voice is one that was so well known that any time you heard it, whether on the radio or across the room, it brought a smile to your face.

His loss will be felt for quite a while in Three Rivers, but think of the legacy he left behind. That legacy is something we can all learn and grow from and that is best way we can honor him. I am sure Mr. Snook would be too humble to accept the accolades that will surely be coming his way over the next few days and weeks and he would instead thank the community. For your many years of selfless promotion of the city that you called home, we thank you. You will be missed.

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.

“It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”

— Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Don’t just live life; build one

August 18, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

Once in a while, a celebrity can say something that is not only intelligent, but also meaningful. They may even say something transforming, moving or life-changing.

Sadly, it seems that when movie stars, athletes or those “15-minutes of fame” pop culture idols open their mouths that is not what you get. More often than not their words amount to nothing more than a bunch of self-promoting drivel about their new movie or abilities in the world of sports.

As we know, however, our “elite” members of society are not always quite the idols that we place up on that pedestal. All too often we are usually left with a sour taste in our mouth based on what they say or do.

However, we look up to them or want to be like them, just the same.

But once in a while, they surprise us. And that was the case recently with TV and movie star Ashton Kutcher. While accepting an award at the Nickelodeon Teen Choice Awards, Kutcher, who is currently on the CBS comedy “Two and a Half Men,” spoke directly to today’s youth.

His words were pretty impressive and I just hope that the children that were watching really listened to what he had to say.

After saying that his real name is not even Ashton, but actually Chris, he went on to talk about the three amazing things he learned about life when he was Chris. Or in other words, before he became a super star.

1. Opportunity

“I believe that opportunity looks a lot like hard work,” Kutcher stated. Listing off the jobs he held in his life, from working in a deli to sweeping floors in a factory, Kutcher says “I never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job. And every job I had was a stepping stone to my next job. And I never quit my job until I had my next job. And so opportunities look a lot like work.”

2. Being sexy

“The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart and being thoughtful and being generous. Everything else is crap, I promise you. It’s just crap that people try to sell to you to make you feel like less. So don’t buy it. Be smart. Be thoughtful. And be generous.”

3. Living life

“Steve Jobs said when you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way that it is. And your life is to live your life inside the world. And try not to get into too much trouble, and maybe get an education, and get a job and make some money and have a family. But life can be a lot broader than that when you realize one simple thing. And that is, that everything around us, that we call life, was made up by people who are no smarter than you. And you can build your own things. And you can build your own life that other people can live in. So build a life. Don’t live one. Build one. Find your opportunity and always be sexy.”

The show that Kutcher is on is known to be quite raunchy and often distasteful, and Kutcher, himself, is no angel.

But whether you like him, his acting, movies or TV shows, the message is relevant. Today’s youth, and in some ways all of us, need to hear messages like this, because all too often we are told that we can’t do something. We are told we have to look a certain way or live our lives a certain way because, well, that is just the way it is.

Is that how you build a life? If that was the case, I would have given up my dream of becoming a teacher years ago, because I did not finish college when I was in my early 20’s, as is “customary.” My life and career took a different path, but each stop along the way helped me to get to my eventual goal.

Life should not be defined by a strict set of rules that you feel you have to adhere to because that is just the way it is or based on how you look, but rather what you make of it and yourself.

You are the driver of that car called destiny. If you can believe in yourself, you can do amazing things. That is actually one of the reasons why I have always wanted to become a teacher; because I want to make sure students know this and help cultivate that spirit of enthusiasm about life and their future.

Let’s face it; our future is in the hands of today’s youth. We need to make sure they are on the right path in order to build their life and get out of the shadows of feeling that they cannot succeed for reasons that should not even exist.

Taking a Stand

July 30, 2013 by Administrator · Comments Off 

I am going to let you in on a little secret and I ask that you keep this information to yourself.

I am not trying to be a gossip and I don’t want to be seen as someone who is spreading rumors, but this information may come as a shock to you.

Okay, here goes: several Major League Baseball players have been taking performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).

Who knew, right?

In all seriousness, this is another sad chapter in an already growing book of allegations and lies regarding players and their use of banned substances in the game of baseball.

In all seriousness, this is another sad chapter in an already growing book of allegations and lies regarding players and their use of banned substances in the game of baseball.

The latest player to be called out is Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers. Braun, who successfully appealed a 50-game suspension last year, is now out for the remainder of this season without pay for his use of the PEDs.

Awesome, right?

Well, as Detroit Tigers pitcher and union representative Max Scherzer pointed out, the punishment doesn’t really make sense.

“With the Braun case, I think it’s absolutely despicable how he handled it,” Scherzer said earlier this week. “I’m glad he got caught. He went out of his way to try to bring people down and cover up his lies and now he looks like Lance Armstrong.”

While Braun is losing out on nearly $3.85 million because of the suspension, the Brewers are still bound contractually to pay Braun another $113 million after this season. Scherzer went on to say that he believes in situations like this, a player’s contract should be null and void.

“I think you’ve got to commend MLB for doing its homework to find everything possible it needed to make the suspension stick and for him not to get off on a technicality,” Scherzer said of Braun. “I still don’t think the punishment fits the crime. MLB hasn’t closed the loophole to create the incentive to cheat. He still has his contract and he’s still financially gaining from this.”

For me, it is refreshing to see players taking a stand against what is wrong and not lining up behind Braun, and others, as a show of support. If you are as good of a player that your contract says you are (financially) then you have no reason to cheat and use PEDs, right?

Braun released a statement in which he acknowledged that he is not perfect and has made some mistakes. I wonder if he is referring to his use of PEDs or the fact that he lied and covered it up for so long?

And now we await the word on the infamous A-Rod and the rest.

In other news, did you hear what former President George H. W. Bush did this past week? One of the secret service agents assigned to Bush has a two-year old son, Patrick, who lost his hair due to his battle with leukemia. As a show of support, all of the agents shaved their heads. But the 89-year old Bush took the support to a new level when he also shaved his head in support of little Patrick.

As you may remember, the Bushes lost a daughter to the same disease back in 1953. We all know that Presidents are human just like we are, but to see something like this shows true class. The former President also helped launch a website to help Patrick and his family with medical costs.

Submitted by Mark McGlothlen

The least we can do is respect one another

July 30, 2013 by Administrator · Comments Off 

Remember the story about Karen Klein of New York, who was verbally attacked and taunted by a group of seventh grade students on a school bus for which she was a monitor?

One of the boys used his cell phone to record the boys heckling Klein as she sat peacefully on the bus. In addition to poking fun at her hearing aid and calling her names, the boys were downright nasty to the then 68-year-old woman.

“Oh my God, you are so fat,” one of the boys is heard saying.

After about a minute of the abuse, Klein turns to the boys and says “unless you have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

The disgusting jabs continued.

When the boys ask her why she is sweating, Klein replies that she is crying.

“Yea, she probably misses her box of Twinkies,” another boy says.

Her weight continued to be a focal point of the hatred but the boys threw in a few other comments as well calling her a troll and going as far as saying that she didn’t have any family left because they all took their own lives because they did not want to be near her.

Klein’s oldest son in fact did take his own life 10 years earlier.

It is a disturbing, painful and disheartening video to watch. When the incident first happened last year I started to watch the video but stopped because it literally made me cry.

I cried for Klein and cried because it hurt me to see young children so filled with hate that they would do this to an innocent person who was causing no harm to anyone. She was just doing her job.

I watched it again as I wrote this and I still could not get through it.

Sticks and stones, right? WRONG!

For the life of me, I just don’t understand it.

A man by the name of Max Sidorov of Canada was so affected by the video that he started taking online collections to help send Klein on a vacation.

His efforts and those of the 32,000 others from 84 countries helped to raise over $700,000, an amount even Sidorov was astounded by.

For her part, Klein used a portion of the money to start the Karen Klein Anti-Bullying Foundation. She has traveled to different parts of the country to promote her foundation and raise awareness for the cause. Klein has partnered with the Moscow Ballet Company and WNBA as well.

Aside from the attention and mostly unwanted fame that this incident brought to her, Klein’s life has pretty much remained as it was before this all happened.

With some of the money going to her foundation and some going to help out family members, the rest remains under lock and key for her retirement, according to Klein.

Someday she may purchase a motor home or lay new carpet in her house or possibly by some new furniture. But she is not in a big hurry to do any of that.

As for the boys who harassed her in the video, Klein said that one boy and his parents physically came to her house to apologize while the other three sent typed notes to her, which were less sincere.

As a parent, my child would be going to her door, speak to her face to face and beg for forgiveness. I would bring along my child’s grandparents and ask them how they would feel if someone were doing what they did to them. I would not let my child get away with a cowardly note.

We have so many issues to deal with in our lives, our country and the world. It is too bad that we, as Americans, have not yet figured out how to treat each other, whether it be race, gender, sexual orientation, weight, what we wear, how we talk, and the list goes on and on.

We don’t always have to agree with each other, but the least we can do is respect one another.

Submitted by Mark McGlothlen

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