Saturday, January 29, 2011

My Speech for Tomorrow.

Before I start to write this speech, I want you all to know that I've been taking a self portrait of myself each and every day in the month of January. I missed one day, but that's pretty okay for someone that doesn't keep up with stuff. I warn husband's reaction when he saw the first 9 photos was...."Gee,'re not very photogenic." As soon as the month is done, I'll post them...promise.

Okay, now onto my speech writing.

The purpose of this speech is to tell others about why I send my children to Catholic Schools, as a part of the celebration of Catholic Schools Week, which we are celebrating this upcoming week. The effect of the speech is to encourage others to see Catholic Schools as a good option for their children and grandchildren. I'm speaking this speech at another Catholic Church in our same town - one that shares our school sort of.

When I go out to a fancy restaurant, I get really nervous. I sweat, I babble, I forget which fork is which. I feel so uncomfortable that I wish I'd not even agreed to go. There is no way in heck that I could ever be my best self in such a place. It's too unfamiliar. It's not what I live each day.

Nah, that's not the approach exactly...

Good Morning. My name is Diane Dolan. Today parishes all over the nation are celebrating the kick-off to Catholic Schools Week. As a part of that kick-off, I would like to share a few words with you about Catholic Schools.

When I laid my eyes on my children for the first time, I was in awe and I felt more fear than I have ever felt before. What in the world was I thinking? I wanted to tell the Doctor to put them back. There was no way that I was capable of keeping these precious souls safe from the big, bad world. It's full of sin and hurt and violence and pain. You know what? I was right...there IS no way that I or my husband can keep them from this big, bad world that we live in. God gentled my fears each and every time they came up. Our home, our lives, our very existence is built on a firm foundation of Christ's love. He would help us. He would comfort us. He would always be there with us on this journey of parenting.

The first few years of their lives were not so difficult in terms of keeping them safe from the big, bad world. They were never long from our sight or our reach. When they were hungry, we fed them. When they fell down and scraped their knee, we cared for them. When they felt sad because their stuffed animals got lost or torn, we comforted them. For the majority of their early years, they were cocooned in God's arms, via us, their stewards...their parents.

But something happened that brought up all of the old fears of how to protect them. They grew older and it became time for them to start school. I realized that this wasn't something that I could fix. It was life. They would continue to grow older and with growing older, the time that they were physically with us would decrease. For chunks at a time each day, they would be in the care and nurture other people . Uh oh...this is where the big bad stuff in the world happens...out "there". How can I possibly protect my children from the big, bad world when they are required to spend about half of their waking hours out of our safe cocoon and in an unfamiliar place. Once again, God gentled my fears. He reminded me that my children belong to Him. He will protect them as they grow older and venture out into this big, bad world. "But they aren't ready yet!", I cried to Him. "We will get them ready to face this world and we will do it together and we will do it with baby steps." I didn't have to open my eyes too much wider to see what God was showing me. An obvious transition from safe cocoon to big, bad world was right in front of me. Our children would go to a school that was as familiar as possible to our cocoon. Our home was founded on Christ's love and so we would find a school that was founded on Christ's love. Our home was a place for our children to learn about how much God loves them and so we would find a school that taught them about how much God loves them. In addition, our home was a place of thanksgiving and so we would find a school that would embrace thanksgiving as a way of life.

The natural step was to enroll them in a school that was an extension of our life, whose teaching and nurturing would be a trustworthy substitute for us as they learned about the world in which they lived. We enrolled them in a Catholic School.

I have 4 children and all of them attend one Catholic School or another.

Johnny, my oldest is a sophomore at St. Louis University. He is currently studying abroad at the St. Louis Campus in Madrid, Spain. The other night he was mugged and robbed. After assuring me that he was okay, via the wonders of the internet, his comment was that he hoped the robbers enjoyed the lunch his 7 euros bought them.

My daughter, Grace is 16. She attends Regina Dominican High School in Wilmette. She would much rather go to Glenbrook North because "that's where all her friends go." I often tell her that when I, as her parent, am convinced that she, in these hormonal teen years, will choose to feed and nurture her faith on her own, then I'll think about it.

Mickey and Katie Rose are 11 and 12 respectively. They are in 6th and 7th grade at St. Norbert School. I happen to also work at the school as the front desk lady, and am especially blessed to be a part of their lives as a sort of "fly on the wall" as I watch them interact with their peers and teachers with respect, as they serve others in need, as they live with full assurance that they are special and loved by God.

My children continue to grow older and as it happens, the older they grow, the less time they spend in our cocoon. In addition, the older they grow, the more they are exposed to the big and the bad of the world...but I am noticing something about the people they are becoming. I have noticed, that even though the world isn't always a good place...they are equipped to deal with the big and the bad in this world because their foundational years were spent surrounded by Christ's love - both at home and at school.

This is what I celebrate this Catholic Schools Week. Please celebrate with me.

Please continue to pray for the children of Our Lady of the Brook and St. Norbert...pray that they will ALWAYS be aware of God's love for them. Thank you for your time and thank you for listening.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Kindergarten woes

Yesterday, January 18th was my very best friend from Kindergarten's birthday. I lost track of her in about 2nd grade or so, but for some reason, I remember that Jan. 18th is her birthday and I say a silent Happy Birthday to her.

Her name is Gayle Bullock and we lived in Hayward, CA at the time. She was my first best friend because we walked to school together each morning. It was a glorious time! It was always warm - because it was California and not Illinois where it's freezing for most of the year. We were in the same Kindergarten class - Mrs. Baily's (we accidently called her Mrs. Belly once and almost peed our pants laughing so hard). That year I had a crush on David Sims. At recess the boys would go around trying to lift up the girls' skirts. Really? That strikes me as incredibly odd at this moment. What would kindergarten boys hope to gain by glimpsing a kindergarten girl's undergarments?

Anyhow....Happy Birthay, Gayle, wherever you are in this world. You always had WAY more Barbies than I did, which was why I loved playing at your house instead of mine. I think you were more rich, too. I had only one Barbie that I can remember. You had the house, the cars, the Kens, the Skippers - everything. I envied you. I guess that is when I first started seeing myself as "less than" because I didn't have as many material possessions as someone else.

Kindergarten? We can think of ourselves as "less than" in Kindergarten? Geez. I so needed that therapy!


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My New Year Resolution was to stop blogging so much...:)

Okay, I've been absent here. For those of you who live and die by my blogs, I apologize profusely. The crazy thing is that I've been writing my thoughts down more than ever...just not here. I'm working on some stuff...some internal stuff and it's causing me to be "still."

We skyped with Johnny yesterday. He's in Madrid for a semester. It was wierd. No one could think of anything to say, really. I kept trying to think of questions to ask, but I just wanted to enjoy being "still" and see his face looking out at our faces and the other kids' faces just looking at him. What is it to miss a person? I don't "miss" him in that I miss his presence. Technology keeps us in constant communication whether it's via skype or facebook or my blog or his blog ( or email. What I feel is an ache that he is so far away geographically. I don't know that this defines "missing" someone. It's more of a fear that he's out of physical reach to me...and it's only been a week and a half, so the ache is not even that strong yet. I imagine with time the physical separation will grow the ache...and perhaps that is what "missing" is.

In other news...I'm having an awesome 2011 so far in that I am totally embracing me for who I am. I'm trying to love and accept love. I know...this just went too deep for many, so I'll work on that kind of stuff privately, but I would like to apologize to anyone I have hurt...ever...especially if I haven't even realized that I hurt you.

My great experiment is to let my hair grow out completely naturally - no more coloring. I am wanting to embrace the grey. I think it'll be okay...I think I'm not going to get lost if I don't have blonde hair...I think it will be an outward sign of an inward embracing of my life. My word of the year this year is "moment". I desire to live each one fully. For example...the other day, KR, Gracey and I were walking into Borders. The two of them were slightly ahead of me and all I could see was their backs entering the store. I was struck by the fact that I prayed for this as a little girl. I wanted daughters...I wanted to be a mom...I wanted to enjoy activities with my offspring. My heart stopped momentarily as I embraced how totally God answered this long ago prayer of a little girl who had no real knowledge of Him - only trust.

Okay...that's it for now. Have a great day.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Almost Endless Possibilities

It's good. It's a good New Year. The possibilities are...well...not endless...but at least they're there - those possibilities.

It IS possible to look forward to going back to work tomorrow. It IS possible to take a glance outside and see that God has delighted you with the gift of a cardinal playing in the leaves - just because.
It IS possible to ask your teenage daughter how to do something on your computer, like somehow get a Youtube song onto your ipod and not lose your dignity.
It IS possible to run through the parking lot of Target with your almost teenage daughter because she didn't think she needed her jacket even though it was like zero degrees outside.
It IS possible to wear the same pair of jeans for two weeks in a row without washing them...well alternating between those jeans and your PJs.
It IS possible to get up again and rejoice at the new day.
It IS possible to make banana pancakes when the bananas are getting too ripe, instead of throwing them away.
It IS possible to love life and live each moment fully and enjoy just being.