Returning:  A divided country in an Election Year


Last Saturday, I was in line at Bed Bath and Beyond. We were consuming a new kitchen appliance, doing our share to feed the economy. It was a busy store with a long line.  Good for people watching and “day dreaming”  An older gentleman passed by. He wore a hat in support of our current President.  Not a red MAGA hat but another hat clearly declaring support.  He came into my view, I stared and he passed by my left shoulder.  As he past, someone behind me said “Nice hat”.  Hmmm…another Trump supporter, he was remarkably similar in appearance.  I desperately wanted to say something, pose a question, respond in some way.  But, I couldn’t and didn’t.  I froze. Too scared to open my mouth. I am so interested in knowing why these two, yes stereotypical Trump supporters, support the current President. It’s so far away from my reality.  Admittedly, I struggle to understand.

I wonder what would have happened had I asked the man in line a question.  What would I ask him?  How would one start the conversation?  I’d like to know why he supports Trump. Continue reading

Returning: The Start of the 2nd Semester

This morning was a perfect morning and I’m so grateful and lucky.  Woke up at 6, enjoyed my coffee(s), off to the YMCA: a 45 minute conditioning class, an hour long spin class, a recovery swim for 15 minutes, and an hour of pick up basketball.  It’s the first day of semester 2 and I’m 6 months into Returning!

For the past 35 years, on this Monday morning (the first Monday of January), the day was almost always my first day back at work – as it was today for many international school educators.  I’ve lived on the semester system all my life, literally since I was 5 years old I’ve had a Christmas vacation and summer vacation each year, and today is the start of the second semester……or not really for me any longer, though it feels a little bit like that.  I do declare that I’m not on the semester system any longer!!!  Today was just another Monday, the first Monday after New Years, and I’ve transitioned out of the semester system, I’ve shed that calendar, that monthly structure that shaped my life for so many years.

Of course, through FB I’ve  had the chance to view the spectacular photos from friends as they’ve travelled to various parts of the world.  Family shots, scenes of animals, cities, beaches, etc  I see time stamped versions of myself, Rhona, and my kids in the FB posts from so many.  Travels before children, travels with small children, travels with teenagers, travels with your children as they are navigating adulthood.  It’s a cliché but time flies, years turn into decades. We marked time by the lengthy breaks from work, the holiday travels and the summer (northern hemishere) stays in upstate New York.  I always felt grateful for the many opportunities that xmas vacations brought – touring New Zealand or Australia, bicycling and kayaking in Vietnam, motorcycles in Thailand, xmas in Jerusalem, diving in Phuket, multiple trips to Bali, etc etc.  What life changing opportunities and privileges my years abroad brought.

Our neighbor’s blow up Frosty!

But…No longer will I be planning the exciting xmas holiday trip for the family, sometimes last minute, occasionally well organized and planned months ahead of time.  From here on out we’ll be sitting around our kitchen table playing board games at xmas time!!  Our boys will come to us in our cozy home on the slopes of Beaucatcher Mountain here in Asheville.  Come to think of it, our boys didn’t even make it to Asheville for xmas with us.  (We shared thanksgiving together which was awesome and a new experience).  The holiday season was spent right here, yes in our cozy little house on the slopes of….yes, Beaucatcher Mountain – definitely need a photo for the future!

In our first holiday season here in Asheville, we found ourselves invited to various dinners and lunches.  People have been incredibly welcoming and we’ve enjoyed new connections.  I am grateful for these new friendships.

Two frequent questions that are posed when meeting people these days are: “What brought you to Asheville?” and “Do you miss your work?”  We’re in Asheville because of the mountains, temperate weather, the art/music scene, and the outdoor culture.    The question about work is a bit more complicated but I love responding.  I always find an opportunity to say “I miss the clowns but I don’t miss the circus”.  (I have to give full credit to Mona Stuart for sharing that expression).  I’ve adopted it completely and it’s absolutely true.  I miss the clowns but not the circus…..and a school Principal is completely immersed in the circus on a daily basis….akin to plate spinning circus performers.  Having said that, there were very few days over my 25+ years as a MS/HS administrator (plate spinner)  that I didn’t eagerly head off to school……I suppose deep down I always enjoyed being immersed in the circus!

But, I do love days like today.  And I’m grateful and lucky.