October 31, 2011

The Art of Enhancing Ourselves

As the nation prepares to celebrate Halloween tonight, kids across the nation will be painting make-up on their faces to become someone else and masquerade their appearance. I'm prepared to see a range from cute to creepy faces tonight, depending on the make-up.

Wearing make-up is truly an art. Like a child's first scribbles with crayon, early make-up use tends to be less than artistic, and while a parent may not ooh and ahh over the results, the child still has a sense of growing up. I had my play make-up kits as a little girl and they magically transported me, along with my mother's shoes and grandma's beads, to the world of adulthood.

When I was a young teenager, wearing make-up was the ultimate representation of all things grown up. Despite my frequent proclamations of maturity, I was not allowed to use cosmetics until I turned 16. To prove how mature I was, I would sneak make-up. I left the house fresh faced and spent the bus ride to school aging myself to perfection with requisite 70s blue eye-shadow, matching mascara, and shiny rolled on lip gloss. In my quest to appear mature, it never occurred to me that yearbook photos would capture whatever make-up I was wearing and my ploy did not go undetected. My seventh grade photo complete with the dramatic swath of blue eye-shadow serves as irrefutable evidence of my duplicitous actions.

When I became a mother myself, the art of wearing make-up was quickly relegated to nights out and church only, if that much. It became an art of carving out any precious time I could and make-up wearing rarely seemed like a good use of it. Then one day, my own children asked me if they were old enough to wear make-up, and I found myself scavenging through my drawer realizing I had relegated my art to the proverbial shoe box on the back shelf. The cycle had come full circle. It was time to let the scribbling on a fresh canvas begin. My rules were quite simple. You must still look like yourself or you have to wash it off. I allowed my own children to wear make-up at 13, to save them from the faux pas of sneaking make-up on the bus without intervention of a more sensible, no longer swathed in blue shadow, eye.

I've never thought of make-up as a true masquerade, but rather a way to flatter what I have or enhance my natural features. Much like the way we stand taller or hold in our tummy, make-up is the finishing touch on our personal work of art. Myself, I rarely like to be seen without mascara. What is your "must have" cosmetic?

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October 19, 2011

The Value of Teachers

In Ohio, as Issue 2 becomes more and more heated, as well as a local school levy trying to pass, a lot of criticism is directed to the teachers. Many folks are suggesting we to find out how much our teachers are paid at the Buckeye Institute site. Their income is public knowledge. I wonder how we would feel if our incomes were posted on a public site for the world to gawk?

However, I admit, I'm curious so I checked on a few of the teachers I know personally. I'm sorry friends, I feel like I snooped in their filing cabinet when they weren't looking. The highest I saw was $80K, the lowest was $33K but most hovered around $50K. Guess what? I don't care, I'm not about to be stingy when it comes to investing in the folks who will make my future. And honestly, let's talk about what we "make" versus what we bring home. And what we live on. Let's be real and upfront.

I will also mention the sort of things I see when I make my weekly visit to the inner city classroom:

The building is only 4 years old. As I was walk in, I notice two smashed windows held together with duct tape. I'm not sure if it was a gun or rock or what exactly was used to smash the windows. I can only hope it was after school hours. There are signs all around the block "school zone" no shooting/drugs/etc.

As if. We're assuming those doing the shooting have respect. In the past month alone, there have been 3 random shootings in this neighborhood. Admittedly, I'm nervous driving through there, but I think if everyone is afraid to go in, the children will never see a way out.

While I walked out, I see the flag on the flagpole hanging upside down. I've got a really strong patriotic streak, and I almost marched back into the school to tell them that the flag was hung wrong, but then I realized how busy they really are. The school doesn't have time to fix the flag. But it just made me sad. I've heard an upside down flag is a sign of distress. That certainly is the truth regarding this district.

When I was driving away, I saw an elderly gentleman walking along the sidewalk. He was wearing dress trousers, a fisherman's type of hat, a cardigan sweater, and was carrying a single golf club over his shoulder, presumably as a weapon if needed. Either that or his golf league had one last round and he was walking to the course. I'm gonna guess option A.

I live in a generous district and whatever factors into it, our teachers are well paid. Our students also excel in everything from academics to sports, to music, to arts. We are a highly ranked district. Our kids don't see smashed out windows, nor do the neighbors of the school walk around protecting themselves with golf clubs. I've never seen the flag sending a distress signal.

All I can say is that when it comes to if a student succeeds? Using that as a criteria, our levy should pass easily. My area of the country is known for not just its blight, but also its fight. We have a lot of exciting energy bubbling, as we have been recognized nationally as a great area to start a business, an area filled with emerging innovation. If we want to attract talent, we need to offer a reason. We need to entice talent to our area by the promise of good schools. We owe it to our children to build a better tomorrow.


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