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Christmas Love Story

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Santa's coming to Town! 

Naughty or nice?

I think he goofed on his list this year. I ended up on the naughty column, not sure I'll ever know why. Kept thinking there's a lesson in here somewhere. Haven't found it yet. But small miracles and twinkles, oh yes! Toss in some glitter and wrap paper, a blanket or two and I'm wrapped in kindness and love. I know I can overcome any obstacle, and this is a big one.

It's hard to say and harder to write, but I have cancer. This was a club I didn't want to join. I already lost my husband, brother, best friend, and my sister just finished treatment. Why me? Why now? Sometimes there are just no good answers.

In mid-November, I was leaving school. Just said good-bye to the littles about to take their naps. Loaded down with books, craft supplies, umbrella, bags, etc., my cell phone rang. I kept it put away at school, but I was waiting for the news. I assumed my routine test was ok. Not. My doctor's call turned my life upside down. Instead of planning lessons for school I lurched into the pink ribbon world, more tests, constant appointments, no time to breathe, going from feeling fine, looking great to being sick.

Or maybe worse. I don't know yet. Started out ok, I could handle what I was hearing. I admit I am not a good patient. Leaders probably are the worst. Waiting and waiting. Not liking what I was hearing. A little something kept getting bigger, tentacles reaching out, feeling like "Alien" or "Body Snatchers". My trike proof shoes and school jeans were replaced by hospital garb so big I was swimming in it, every test. Surgery is in two days. I haven't been in the hospital except for having my tonsils out and childbirth, Rebecca was a preemie.

If you ever read (frequently) my commentaries on testing in school, my medical rants would be worse. No one's fault. Just happened. Now a bunch of doctors, family and friends are cheering me on, convinced I can muster energy to beat this obscene interloper. So much for eating clean, a ton of kale, and living in Eugene. Moving to the river this summer I'm thinking now, instead of my sports and zen mecca, was for healing and to just "stop." To come to a forced halt, regroup, do the regimens I have to and other holistic treatments I have always relied on. I want to live.

My family is arriving. Morgan has a cold but maybe it's better I don't see her right now. I don't want to cry. 

Living in the moment.

I have always been mindful and lived in the moment. But now, to the limits. I hear every sound so clearly, especially geese flyiing overhead, the crackle of the fire and the river rapids across the yard. I barely moved in, was still hunting for socks (not really), unpacking when school started. I look forward to a lot more special moments here. I feel cheated. I'd been untruthful to deny the stages of anger I went through to arrive at a somewhat more calm attitude.

Overcoming Fear.

We talk about it, write about it, but when it happens to us, believe me, fear is omnipresent. I was trained and certified in Hypnosis and NLP (Neurolinguistics, peak performance). As a Keynoter I could motivate just about anybody. But this last month I was grumpy, mean, short tempered and not at all like me. I lost me. I forgot who I was. What would my life be like now? When I future paced, it was just negative.

Colleagues, friends, social media.

I am experiencing unbelievable support from twitter and faceboook friends. This is really amazing to me, that people who connect with us virtually, can also care deeply about one another. The collegial conversation grows into a support system. Celebrating births, marriages, sharing successes at home and school.

Power of Prayer, strong.

I was very negative about my diagnosis, especially as it escalated, and at first refused all conventional treatment. I prayed a lot, mediated as well, and accepted the prayers of others. I believe the Higher Power is sparing me and I hope to better shed grace and dignity on what's happening. I have to accept and surrender that whatever comes next is supposd to be.

Love. I have a 'fella. Sure now.

So here's the best part. Christmas Love Story. Love from my family and friends is strong. But I can admit, as Morgan said months ago, "Nana, you and Chuck are like Barbie and Ken. Are you dating?" Snoopy, just like I was. Being a widow is not easy on a good day, especially after a long, beautiful marriage. But a widower gets that. Charles was with me the first appointment then every appointment and test after that. He will be waiting in the hospital with my family. He didn't walk away. I wasn't sure what was going to happen. I sent him away twice. Afraid I might be a burden. Or I may just bounce right back, which is my hope, of course.

But. None of us truly is in charge of our fate.

I surround myself with white light, saying my affirmations, praying, seeing a fabulous future with my guy. He'll wait for me, as I would for him. Some days I felt myself sort of in parallel universes. My anxiety was just off the chain. All I can really say tonight is I have had a stellar career, fabulous life and would not do a single thing differently. Our passion, purpose and belief we can make a difference drives us to excellence. With the world swirling around us in unexpected ways, it's easy to throw up our hands and give up.

Each of us sheds light and truth on others. When we give all we have to give, it is from love. And there is nothing stronger.

Christmas Love Story

My 65th blog post for BAM Radio Network. It is such an honor to write from this platform. As I glance back through the posts, I feel deeply about each one, how I savor mixing things up. Tonight, as I finish this missive, one of my most personal stories, this Christmas Love Story is for all of us, each facing joy, adversity or somewhere in between. 

I thought there would be no happy holiday for me, not true at all. My epiphany is there is a major llfe lesson. Writing always clarifies things for me. So here goes: love is all that matters. Love of our students, family, colleagues and friends. Most of all, if we are open and lucky and see what is clearly in our face, someone special has been waiting. Thanks, Charles. 

Wishing you all an abundance of festivities, warm embraces, and the gift of love.

Leaving footprints on your reading hearts,


See you soon!


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Modeling the art and craft of teaching reading for 47 years, Mrs. Wirtz taught language arts, speech and reading at all levels preschool-adult, including penal. She served as Pre-school and K-6 Principal. Rita was also a Curriculum Consultant, ESEA, Title I Program Evaluator and literacy trainer. At the university level she taught school administration in the Bilingual Cohort at CSUS and National University, Sacto. Mrs. Wirtz also taught all reading courses for Chapman University for many years in Sacramento and Placerville, Ca., and mentored student teachers. On the national level she was a well known motivational Keynote Speaker and Seminar Leader. Most importantly, Rita walked the talk, teaching with teachers in more than 500 K-12 and special needs classrooms. Rita authored books, publications and Pre- YouTube, videos were filmed by San Diego County Office of Education. Calif. ASCD authored companion book guides, and Calif. school districts correlated her basic skills instruction with State Standards. Mrs. Wirtz' newest book is Reading Champs! Teaching Reading Made Easy, a review of the basic building blocks of English and Reading. Rita is currently teaching in a multi-age, fully incuded preschool, ages 2-8. Find Mrs. Wirtz on Twitter @RitaWirtz, Facebook and website- www.ritawirtz.com.

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Guest Wednesday, 12 December 2018