An Open Letter to Jim Cantore During Your Charlotte Visit

Jim!
I am just so thrilled to hear that you will be visiting the Queen City to experience the southern snow storm with us! The city welcomes you with open arms, and I wanted to be sure to introduce myself and take a moment to personally welcome you to Charlotte.

For well over a decade I taught middle school students science at Charlotte Country Day. I am 100% confidant that if you asked any one of the 1000s of kiddoes I taught who I admired most on TV they would all say Jim Cantore! Your enthusiasm, my friend, is unparalleled and was always something I wanted my students to experience as much as they could. Today would have been one of those magical teaching days when I would have thrown the lesson plan out the window, tuned into The Weather Channel, and spent the entire day watching, predicting, and most of all getting over-the-moon excited about the weather. It is the love of learning – the sheer amazement and joy of our world – that I always wanted them to leave with.

So, I would love to offer my street to you and your crew as a place to broadcast. We are lovely friendly folks with experience hosting this sort of thing. Homeland filmed on our street and I must say we are quite a fun bunch. Y’all are more than welcome – we would love to have you.

I would also like to mention that we share the trait of unbridled enthusiasm …. I am guessing any one of my peeps would echo that loud and clear. And by no means do I mean this with disrespect, but I do think I could give you a run for your money in the weather excitement department.

I have since left my teaching job at CCDS to start my own nonprofit with a mission of nurturing the minds of children facing extended illness. At the heart of my work, and the work of my organization, is the commitment to provide opportunities for these children to explore and find their own passion – the thing that lights their fire and gets them so jazzed up (you know, like thundersnow)

Anyway, the door is open! Charlotte and I welcome you and look forward to visiting more soon

Xo
Trish

Retraction :: Original 2015 Intentions SUCKED so I made some new ones….

Stuart Scott quote

I don’t even know where to begin today….

I think the best place to start is to retract, on some level, my previous new year’s post  (go ahead – read it here if you haven’t already – Living 2015 )  It was soft.  It sounded….squishy.  My voice is in there, somewhere, but it was way, WAY too nice.  Here is the thing – all of my intentions are great for me.  They are.  But where is the challenge, the inspiration, the kick in the ass that I really want to give?  Not in that post.  Not for myself and not for you.  So I am giving myself a re-do.

Here is what I really want to say:

IT IS TIME TO WAKE THE EFF UP AND FIGHT LIKE HELL FOR YOURSELF AND OTHERS!

Let me see if I can pull this together for you…

Stuart Scott was a familiar voice to me since ESPN is basically on permanent play around here, and I never gave him much thought until last year at the ESPY awards.  It was a powerful speech made even more so because it hit so close to home.   And so so SO sadly I didn’t think about him much again until the news of his death a few days ago.  Shame on me.  You know why?  Because what he said in that speech is IT.  Those words, so very powerful in the moment, faded.  We moved on with our lives…. and so did he until he couldn’t any longer.

We are incredibly lucky to live in a world FULL of second chances.

Now his words are everywhere – Pinterest and Facebook and Instagram – powerful words spoken by a powerful man 6 months ago.  We resurrected his spirit – AWESOME!  Let’s not let that spirit fade again.

Stuart Scott quote

This is my favorite image from the many I have seen.  First it gives the WHOLE quote, which is important, and it also shows what is in his heart, even MORE important.

Do you see what is written on his arms?  Look closely.  2 things.

  1. Kicking Cancer’s Ass
  2. Making  a Difference

Kicking Cancer’s Ass.  Yes, sir, you sure did.  Every damn day that it did not control your mind or your thoughts or your heart.

Making a Difference.  Amen brother!  Every damn day you turned your focus on others it was unable to control your mind or your thoughts or your heart.

Playing teacher now….

Read his quote.  The whole quote.  Now what if we changed the word cancer to whatever you have in your heart that is the sludge, the regret, the guilt, the boredom, the FEAR?  Make this quote yours.  Not an easy thing to do, I know.  It’s hard to look in that dark place.  It hurts.  You might cry or feel overwhelmed.  Boy, I hope you do because it is the only way to see that truth.  I am going to crack open that dark place of mine for you….

When I die, it will not mean that I lost any part of my life to the anxiety of being a caregiver to a husband with cancer.  I beat my anxiety by the way I lived, why I lived and how I lived.  So I am going to live.  Live!  I am going to fight like hell.  When I get tired, I will lay down and rest and I will let someone else fight for me.

Can you do it?  Can you now write it down? (oooh, that makes it even harder)  Can you write it down and save it somewhere?  (harder still)  Can you say it out loud to someone else? (ouch!  stop!)

I look around and see SO much more that I want to do.  Right now I can fight, and I can fight like hell.

I cannot even begin to list all the reasons why I can do this, want to do this and I should do it…..but they are the same reasons as you I suspect…. privilege, education, intelligence, privilege, talent, confidence, privilege……

My challenge for us this year is to never again forget the words of this man, and other men and women, that speak directly to our souls.  Words are the most powerful tool we have to change, to grow, to inspire, to heal, to nurture.  And when those words are backed by sincerity and energy and action – holy shit we might just be able to change the world.

Now THAT is a New Year’s post!

(By the way I MUST say thank you to one of my inner circle peeps – Anne S. – for basically calling me out last night.  She told me she was waiting to see what I had to say about 2015 (good LORD the pressure).  I told her my heart wasn’t really in that post at all.  Her response “Yeah, I know.  I could tell.”  Ka POW!)

Living 2015.

living

I’ve never been one for resolutions in a new year.  Even four years removed from the classroom, my rhythm still resonates with the beginning and ending of the school year – that’s when I feel fresh and new and full of opportunity.  Personally I think it is hard to get too jazzed up about much when the holiday hangover sets in, the house needs un-decorated and the skies are mostly gray.  We are all tired – December has taken its toll.  For me it is always worth the price, definitely.  But to set forth and embark on a massive life overhaul….no thanks.  I really just want the kids to go back to school :)

I am going to play the resolution game a little bit this year.  Not because it is necessarily a fresh start, but really because I need something to write about (joking) (kinda).  I have decided that I am going to look at 2015 as if it is the start of a new school year – new calendar, new notebooks, new pens.  My intentions for this year come straight from the lessons I learned in middle school classrooms.

I loved that space so much…the energy, the angst, the learning, the failing, the push and pull of adolescence.  It was my space and my world to create for the kids.  I set the tone every single day.  If the lesson was boring (and I admit that maybe ionic and covalent bonding doesn’t speak to everyone’s heart…) andchose to believe it is boring…well then heaven help me, it would be boring.  The kids would sense that energy (even Ms. Rohr thinks this is bogus) and honestly it would be a nightmare of a day.  I learned very, very quickly that everything I taught was THE BEST.  Seriously.  Ionic and covalent bonding is best thing I could possibly teach you today and the best thing you could possibly learn today.  And I backed it up.  Atoms became boyfriends and girlfriends and their dating lives played out on the white board as they shared, took and refused each others advances (electrons).  The electricity unit started with the electric slide and then shocking the heck out of each other with the van de Graff machine.  Sometimes it was a political cartoon to get them jazzed up, other times it was simply playing, loudly, “She Blinded Me With Science” as they walked in the room.   I set the tone.  And my tone was contagious.

Creativity combined with organized thought.  It was my mantra for learning.  It is not, and never will be, a one size fits all world.  Everyone thinks in a unique way influenced by their experiences in life.  Use it or lose it.  Figure out how something in school connects to you and use that connection to help you learn.  No one else may understand why or how, but as long as YOU do, you are good to go.  So we practiced this idea of being creative as a catalyst for understanding every day.  I think there was once a buzz word – metacognition – that I even made a group of kids write in sharpie on their science binder as a reminder to think about their thinking.

Once a day I had the honor and the pleasure to sit with 10 kids for 15-20 minutes without an academic lesson plan.  What an indulgence AND no doubt the most influential and important part of my day (and likely theirs).  We came together to support each other, to grow, to think, to share and to laugh.  Oh and dance and eat.  We did a lot of that, too.  A little family in the middle of a roller coaster day.  No pressure of homework or tests.  We just were there, in that space, together.  I felt the tremendous responsibility that came with those minutes.  I knew when the kiddoes needed a dance party or they were in a place to talk openly about a world issue.  They were met with a brain teaser some days or just an inspirational quote on the board other days.  We challenged other advisories to kickball games or became crazy carolers in the hallways during the days leading up to holiday break.  And when something happened that needed more attention, we had built the trust to turn to one another.  This is where “Rohr Rockstars” originated by the way…..our little family with a cute little name.

So from all of that rambling and thinking, can you see the intentions I am working from, at least right now?

  • I set the tone.
  • I will share myself with others.
  • I will be creative with organized thought.
  • I will build and cultivate spaces to be true and authentic.

What about those five pounds I’d like to lose?  Or organizing the playroom?  Or taking Rohr Rockstars to the next level?  Of course all of those things are things that I would like to do, but none of them define who I am as a person, right?  I don’t want to define my year with “goals” that are ancillary to who I am and how I want to continue to grow.  I am not a better me by losing 5 pounds – I’m just 5 pounds smaller.  Not to say that goals are bad, they aren’t.  I have them – a lot of them.  But I don’t measure the value of myself and my life by checking them off my goal sheet (yep, I’ve got that too).  I become a better me by honoring my intention to be a better me and allowing my intentions to be my guide.

Intentions allow me to live.  I know how precious life is – I know it can change on a dime.  I intend to live this year.  I intend to share this year.  Here’s to living in 2015.  Hope you join me!

xo

Dealing With The Non-Believers….

I am going to go out on a limb and saying that our family was pretty fortunate for the run we had.  Far too many families have had to deal with the non-believers way before their time.  I could blame social media or television.  Spying eyes over your shoulder while on Pinterest is a killer for sure.  Stupid adults and their blabby mouths…  But really, it’s the stinkin’ kids.  They are the ones that ruin it for everyone.  Older brothers and sisters, caught up in a rage, blurt out non-believer hypocrisy.  Then the angry younger brother takes it to the playground….it’s used as a weapon.  A shame inducing weapon of words…. No, they don’t move by themselves!  He does NOT come the first day of December from the North Pole.  If he was really real don’t you think he would find a way to escape being trapped behind the sliding door of the pantry???  Sigh.  It’s over.

Sixth grade.  We made it through the sixth grade holiday season with both of the kids.  I hear rumblings every now and then that last year my son didn’t believe…. yeah, right.  I saw your face.  You may have been thinking about it, but you weren’t quite sure.  Not ready just yet.  Boy I love you for that.  Thank you, both of you, for giving your dad and I such pure magic.

I am proud to say that our elves came WAY before the Elf on a Shelf/Pinterest era.  We were all on our own with Silver Spurs who arrived one day with sincere caution and trepidation from a wide-eyed kindergarten girl.  She already knew what he was capable of doing – she had seen it with her own eyes.  A mischief maker.  Brought to our home.  A sly fellow who could get all kinds of pissy when the food diligently left out for him was not up to his liking (it took us a long time to realize that the thin gingersnaps were what he was after).  Silver Spurs never disappointed.  He didn’t come with any crazy rules or guidelines.  Some days he brought small treats like a few Hershey Kisses.  The next day he dumped every single book out of the bookshelf in the playroom (he was bored I guess).   He has camped out on the sofa in front of the TV, done yoga, roasted marshmellows….  And some days he did nothing.  Nothing.  And that was ok, too – patience my dear friends.  Patience.

We “adopted” two additional elves one year from Marshall’s as an experiment to see how Silver Spurs would receive them.  They all played well together, thankfully.  I’m glad we added on because we did “lose” our beloved Silver Spurs to the sliding pantry door a few years back.  Looking forward to the kitchen renovation to get him back….

man down
man down

But now….non-believers.  Well, I am having none of that.  And neither are the surviving elves.  We are doing it In honor of our  {temporarily} departed Silver Spurs….

What do you do with two eye-rolling, huffing, whispering, hypocrisy-embracing, critical, quasi-grownup teenagers?  You hit back.  HARD.

I’ve got my stash of tiny candies and gum…..I am already laying the groundwork and luring them into complacency.  They have been warned….

“Start paying attention to us if you want more candy.”

No response.

“We have been holding this container of gum for 24 hours … there will be consequences for your lack of action.”

Nothing.

Do they not know me?  Are they underestimating my ability to get what I want?  Are they too caught up in their snarky non-believing teenage world to play along? Silly, silly teenagers.  THIS is the magic of Christmas.  Not the clothes from Scout and Molly’s or the new Nike Airs….It’s the fun, and the laughter, and the joy.

All I can say is game on, peeps.  Game. On.

this is child's play....time to bring the smack down
this is child’s play….time to bring the smack down

 

Privileged White Woman’s Obligatory Thanksgiving (and all I am grateful for…..) Post

I’ve done it before so I’ll try not to get all judgey judgey …. Oh who am I kidding – I love to judge.

I am about done with the Gratitude posts on social media.  It is the cynical side of me rearing her head again, but really?  My guess is that if you have FB and Instagram and Twitter accounts….AND internet access….. we know you have a roof over your head, warm clothes in your closet and food on your table.  Not status worthy – step up your game, peeps.  We are the 5% ers, the 1%ers…..surely we can look deeper.  Challenge yourself.  I’ll go first.

This year I am Thankful for……

Every single challenge and difficulty I have in my life.  (yes, including the f-ing brain tumor).  Without them I would be stagnant.  And boring.  And I cannot think of two worse things to be.  I have to adjust and adapt,  change and flow.  I have to problem solve and to strategize.  I have to feel (deeply), embrace those feelings and keep on moving.  I have to find resilience.  I have to acknowledge my strengths and my weaknesses.  I have to be smart.

Friends who bring their worries to me.  It is humbling to be a confidant for another person.  It means I am doing some things ok and some people see me as trustworthy.  It means I have emotional gifts to share.  It means I can think BEYOND myself for awhile.  Others’ worries fill my mind and heart and soul so I can pray and reflect…..and so I can refuse to be selfish.

CNN.  Just joking.  I hate CNN.  Especially Don Lemon. But I am grateful to be able to see uncomfortable images on television that challenge my complacency.  I am especially grateful to be able to process events that divide people so I can see more clearly where my own heart lives.  I am thankful for diversity of beliefs, ideology and experience.

Children.  My children.  Your children.  Children I serve in Rohr Rockstars.  They give me a landing place for my prayers and intentions.  They remind me to be engaged.

Cellulite and Zits (working on wrinkles….those are newer).  Yep.  You heard me.  Why?  Because they are a part of me.  I have lived on this Earth for 43 years and I am have earned them.  Why should I be embarrassed?  I’m not.  If you are embarrassed for me then boy oh boy…. you need a private blog post all for you.  Seriously, every flaw in my body is an opportunity to practice self-love and self-compassion.  I cut myself a break so I can cut OTHERS a break.  Get it?

OK, I’m done.  Hitting that yoga mat for Butterball Bootcamp so the gratitude can ooze out of me…oh wait, that’s sweat……

Privileged White Woman Crosses Over…..Sees a Vision, Hears Voices

Here is a really fun fact – if you look up the definition for community service on dictionary.com, this little gem is the first meaning….

nouna punitive sentence that requires a convicted person to perform unpaid work for the community in lieu of imprisonment.

Nice.  Punitive, unpaid and imprisonment.  Well sign me up!  Time for a new word, don’t you think?!

Mary has opened my eyes and absolutely changed my heart.  I will never view my world, our world, the same again.  Thank God for Mary.  There is nothing punitive, or unpaid, about my time with her.  And everyday I do hope to avoid imprisonment….that’s just a personal goal of mine.

{If you don’t know Mary yet, check out the previous PWW posts to become acquainted}

Mary is not my only conduit to the unseen (and unheard) side of my city.  There are others who are part of the growing problem of generational poverty that moves along the outskirts of all of our niceties.  This is not the middle class.  This not the lower middle class.  This is the generationally poor.  We had never met before, and now I am humbled to be able to walk along side them.

There is Daisy and her grandmother Eugenie.  Daisy is 5 with neuroblastoma.  If you know anything about childhood cancers, that statement alone should break your heart.  Daisy is a wild child – full of herself, full of life, full of IT.  I absolutely adore her, and she wears me out.  She has refused the gifts I have given her – the books specifically – “I don’t want she no books Miss Trish”.  She also hates the letter F….. guess I overplayed that one!  She wants attention.  She wants love.  She wants human connection and touch.  She wants to use her imagination.  She wants to play.  So we do.  We talk about baby dolls.  We play restaurant.  We made a water habitat for her two worms (brown string she pulled from a baby doll’s head).  We floated them and named them.  We took them in and out of the jar.  Eventually they had to be separated because the boy worm was kissing up on the girl worm, and she was getting a baby in her belly……I told you she was a firecracker!  Daisy has no letter recognition, sound recognition, number recognition.  She cannot write her name or sing the alphabet song.  She is going to be in Kindergarten in two weeks…

Eugenie has legal custody of Daisy and her brother Thomas.  Their mother lost her rights to raise her children.  I didn’t ask why.  Eugenie does not have a job.  She does not have a car.  She has very little money every month (think in the hundreds of dollars).  She travels with Daisy to every single doctor appointment on the bus, plastic shopping bag in hand with her important papers and letters.  She has found a way to provide a stable, clean home.  She feeds her two grandchildren, and she loves them very much.  She worries about them and wants them to achieve in school.  Eugenie herself is uneducated by any standard.  She does her best and she deserves my, and your, respect.  She is voiceless and invisible.

work that someone does instead of going to prison…

I am not serving these people.  That is insulting.  I am their partner.  I am the one who has the connections and the education and the resources and the money.  I can network on their behalf.  I am walking along with them.  I am staying for the long haul.  I am not dropping a few books in their lap, never to return.  I am engaging them.  I am talking to them.  I am listening to them.  We are holding hands.

I am obsessively thinking about a vision for renewed philanthropy….a model (a challenge really) to the PWW community.  We can put a dent in generational poverty – haven’t I already?  isn’t it really THAT simple?   WE can touch lives, hear voices and walk hand in hand to address the poor state of public education in many communities, high dropout rates, teen pregnancy, crime, poor health, obesity, homelessness.

Do philanthropic endeavors need financial resources?  Yes.  Keep writing checks.  And if that is all you can do right now, then do that with gusto.  And if you can do more……..if you are truly a PWW then I challenge you to start thinking.  With whom could you hold hands?

Only the beginning, my friends.  Let’s join hands.

American Psychological Association (APA):

community service. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved October 13, 2014, from Dictionary.com website:http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/community service

Chicago Manual Style (CMS):

community service. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/community service (accessed: October 13, 2014).

Modern Language Association (MLA):

“community service.” Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 13 Oct. 2014. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/community service>.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE):

Dictionary.com, “community service,” in Dictionary.com Unabridged. Source location: Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/community service. Available: http://dictionary.reference.com. Accessed: October 13, 2014.

Privileged White Woman Crosses Over…. Gets Slapped

life

Slapped upside the head.  I can’t think of a better phrase for how it felt this week as I ventured further into my new role of Privileged White Woman Who Reaches Out to Others….

My friend I wrote about last week is in the hospital.  Pain associated with her sickle-cell disease got the better of her, and so she has spent the past 3 days trying to get that under control.  Mary (she needs a name because I need you to feel her story) came to the clinic for pain by herself.  Mary was admitted to the hospital by herself.  Mary spent the first 2 days in the hospital by herself.  No one brought her PJs or clothes or books.  She is only 17.  Her visitors have been the nurses, the doctors, the child care specialists.  I was able to spend some time with her this week and so did my amazing cohort (let’s call her Wonder Woman).  We brought her soup.  We brought her school work.  We are working on those PJs and maybe a warm coat.  It wasn’t enough.  You could hear it in her voice.

Let’s step back and drop all judgement.  Don’t judge her mom – Mary doesn’t.  She wishes her mom were there.  Her heart hurts that she can’t be….and yet she understands.  Mary understands because she sees how difficult it is for her mom.  Mary mentioned again about getting help for her mom – help to find a place of her own.  Mary’s mom is overwhelmed.  It is that simple.

Now, fellow Privileged White Women (and by women I mean men, too.  I’m lumping you in because we always get lumped into your pronouns so this is just a little but of feminist payback.  xoxo) let me point out to you that this sense of being overwhelmed is NOT, I repeat NOT, our overwhelmed.  It is not because we are frantically running the kids everywhere they need to be while trying to get a good dinner on the table, and take the dog to the vet, and schedule the tutor for the week, and wash the uniforms for all 50 sports, AND get the Halloween decorations down from an attic that is so stuffed with crap you can’t find anything because last year October was a bad month because of the hubby’s tumor and you just threw that shit up there willy nilly…..

OK, you get the picture.  At least maybe you are starting to get the picture.  I know I am seeing glimpses, slices, pieces…  If I saw everything all at once I might actually grab a box of some sort, head on down to Trade and Tryon with a bullhorn and start yelling my frustrations.  Of course then my fear of being insane and not knowing it may become realized and that’s not going to do anyone any good.  Baby steps.

Mary cannot count.  Did I mention that?

Ever since I met her, Mary has been telling me that she does not know how to make change (as in when you are given $20 for a bill that is $12.18….)  Being the PWW I assumed (ass_u_me) that she needed a strategy to get from $12.18 to $20.00, right?  The way we fellow PWWs do it – start at $12.18 and add-on coins/bills until you get there.  So what did I do?  I delivered a very realistic set of play money (because she is 17 and it is insulting to use the baby money – I went for the good stuff).  Along with it I had practice worksheets for her –  leveled (in order) so she could start easy and work through harder and harder problems.  I even included an answer key in case someone else was helping her or she was working alone.  All printed out, sorted, stapled together in a nice new folder…..because that is what WE DO – PWW find the solutions to a problem.

Wrong.

Mary can’t count by fives.  Or tens.  Or twenties.  Fingers are needed to count by ones.

Shit.

Slapped upside the head.

Mary is convinced that learning to make change is the key to her better future.  If she can make change, she can get a job,  If she gets a job, she has money.  Money to give to her mom, money for her.  It is about the money because it is about survival.  Survival with just a little bit extra for some lipstick ….is that too much to ask?

I’ve crossed over for good and my whole life has changed.  I’m not giving up my PWW status and all of my beautiful issues that come along with it – no way.  I am just acknowledging who I really am and the life I really am leading.  I am thankful, sure.  But who cares about that.  What matters is using the PWW power (yes, it is about power and influence and education) to change a life or two.  Or a system or two.  Or a community or two.

There is soooooooo much more to come.

Want to cross over just a little yourself?  Pass these stories along to your friends.  Maybe through the telling of stories we can create something bigger.  A PWW movement even …. (hey, a girl can dream!)