Monday, January 31, 2011

More LA LUV




It is so thrilling to open my email after a big event, like the Louisiana conference, look what I find:

"Hi Debbie, Met you today in Baton Rouge. I bought your book "Your Wonderful" for my five year old daughter, Faith. I read it to her one time and listened to the cd once. She LOVES it. She can "read" and "sing" the book after one time. She's so gifted and talented (lol). My son Luke is playing it on the piano as I type this. All this to say "Thank You" for what you do. The Lord is using your talents in a mighty way. Keep it up."

"I was just at the conference in Baton Rouge. I loved it!! Your keynote was so inspirational. I stayed for the Handwriting session, too. Wish I could have stayed all day. Thanks for everything and all of the ideas."

"I sent you a FB friend request as soon as I got home..... you were awesome...... If you have a chance to check out my pictures you will see why I am so touched by your work..... I have a 15 year old with Down Syndrome that is my world..... she would love you!!! the reason I got into the work that I do, to give back the life lessons I've learned from my angel......."

"Just back from the Louisiana PreK/K conference, I thouroughly enjoyed your general session and your two music sessions. I had met you briefly last year and was so excited to see you listed as this year's keynote speaker! You are fantastic! I only wish I could have you come to our school and surprise our children. If it were possible I would love to coordinate a visit. Thanks for your style and enthusiasm. Loved it!"

"I attended all of your sessions today, LOVED them all!"

"I taught my kids 'Red, White and Blue' today.... and they liked it so much. You are such an amazing lady. I don't think anyone can top you! I soooooo wish we could get you back to Louisiana for a special session. I would be there with bells on."

"You were so great yesterday. This is my first year in PreK and now I feel like I can bring my class to life with your songs. Thank you."

"We so enjoyed your work! I love the quote from Mother Theresa. It is my favorite.... I had never heard that before. Keep up the great work. You are a blessing."

"I taught 'You're Wonderful' to my class the morning I got back. I don't know who likes it best? The kiddos or their teachers? Can't wait to teach it to my other class tomorrow.... they loved the sign language and I loved hearing them use the 'big' words."

Well that's at least the tip of the iceberg. I think you get the idea. This type of feedback is such a delight. The work I do is useful to teachers the very next time they step foot in their classrooms and that is the whole idea, right? It's such a blessing to share my travels and adventures with the front line of teachers and their administrators, too.

Let me promise you, they revive me -- just as much as I revive them.... such a very delightful cycle to watch unfold. Let's keep it rolling!! Share you stories with me. Share your children's artwork. Share you ideas that springboard from our time together!! SHARE!!!


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Friday, January 28, 2011

KEYNOTE!!!! & Curiosity





Where do I begin, to tell the triumph of this story? What details do I include? Where do I start? How to share the depth & width of the last year? Let me begin with a disclaimer...... I think I'll go with the actual, though highly edited & sanitized, version of how we got here, the details are not particularly pleasant -- you have been warned, we're veering slightly from the all-happy, all-the-time perspective.

Well over a year ago I was invited by ZB to present some of my upbeat workshops in Baton Rouge for Louisiana's state-wide conference for PreK & K teachers. Just as it was time to fly south I learned that I had been diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ, for the second time in two years and 10 months time. My responsibilities at last year's conference concluded about 48 hours before my plane ticket would return me back to Ohio, just in time to have my Bilateral Mastectomy surgery -- for my second diagnosis of early-state Breast Cancer. To say I was emotional last year is a bit of an understatement. I went with "the-show-must-go-on" mentality and everyone was so supportive, despite all the kindness I was pretty wired. It's probably safe to say I was about ready to come outta my skin and on the verge of tears with every sincere Louisiana hug.

Greg Thomas, the ZB representative told me at the end of my visit that he would submit my name for consideration for their 2011 keynote. All I had to do was make my way back twelve months later. That's a pretty attractive carrot.

The surgery went well. The keynote was offered. I was thrilled..... and then 2010 got underway for real. Things began going sour with my getting a skin infection along the incision line, known as cellulitis. It did not clear up with the first round of antibiotics. Which came next the frozen shoulder or the seroma/hematoma? At this point I'm not sure that it matters, about the chicken or the egg? What I do know is that the numerous trips every week to the Physical Therapist began in earnest. Then I needed to get a referral to a new surgeon to deal with all of the above. Six weeks to get into that office, during which the Lymphedema conditions began to present themselves. Continuing PT. Kinesio wrapping. Compression sleeve & gauntlet. Compression camis. Then the draining of the seroma and the subsequent draining and the draining again and the one more trip for draining..... with the continued PT.

Then my dear husband began his pep-talk-of-the-decade, prompting me to return to my work creating the illustrations for "Red, White and Blue." Physical therapy. Quilting illustrations. Physical therapy. Quilting illustrations. Physical therapy. Drawing the sign language chart for the book. Physical therapy........ well you get the idea. The book rolls off the presses. NAEYC in CA. Kentucky. NYC-tour. Utah visit. Return to Louisiana.

The auditorium is empty upon my arrival. I have a crew of four techie buddies to sort out the power-point issues with the projector, the wrap-around-my-head pinch-me microphone, the speakers and the lights. Oh, happy day indeed. All of that physical therapy may have been worth it!!!! Then as we're running the sound check, Keith walks across the stage to deliver my drinking water and quite innocently says, "Ma'am, (rhymes with shazaam) I could dance to that!" I quite genuinely inquire if he's sincere. Short story long, he returns at tip-off to lead the dance line: worm, moon walk, and a bit of crumpin'..... much to the thrill of the assembled crowd. Way to hyper-launch us into "Celebrate."

Next up I plan to teach, "You're Wonderful" and just the day before the humongous tip-off I met a trio of teachers who are deaf at the Zaner-Bloser booth. I asked if they'd be willing to join me on stage. Their first reaction was quite definitive: "no-way!!!!" After much flying-of-the-fingers between the interpretor and myself they relented and here's some evidence of their leading a very moving rendition of my signature song.

My camera was apparently having a bit of a nervous breakdown on my behalf, but I wanted you to have a glimpse even if you must use your imagination a bit more than normal with the pictures clarity.

Big times. Triumphant in fact. Guess what? I didn't even cry this year! Not even tears of happiness..... the experience was just flat out awesome in every way.... at least from my vantage point. Trimphant return to Baton Rouge: amazing. Being able to lift both of my arms above my head, for the audience in Baton Route: PRICELESS!!!

Louisiana, you will always be the yardstick for me to judge my progress. You will always hold a special place in my heart: thank you for your vote of confidence. You got me through some tough times. Having something to look forward to is the foundation for hope. I will forever be grateful for your trust in me -- that I could climb back -- and I did! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Louisiana Love




Dateline: Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
River Center.
Triumphant RETURN!!!
Jan. 25, 2011.
Guest presenter for Zaner-Bloser.
Early bird shoppers, gettin' the worm.
Gettin' psyched for my keynote, tomorrow!!! HAPPY-CLAPPY day!!!
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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Santa and Friends




One of my favorite days of the year, is the one when Santa comes to school and I lead the singing. We laugh and there are presents all around. The cameras are clicking as quickly as the shutter allows -- capturing moments of promise and moments of delight. The most amazing part is walking out to my car at the end the day and realizing anew the part I play in the formula.

The children are familiar with me and the songs and the singing. We get settled and comfortable in our formula of music-making and clapping and then in comes the jolly fellow in his big red suit. There's plenty of excitement with his entrance, but there's also some visible trepidation. The bearded one sits in his rocking chair and sings along for several songs and I lead the children in simple puppet shows. We ring those bells together. We sing about reindeer. Santa gives me a high five and there's a soft and audible exhale, a sigh of acceptance.

It's worked like a charm. Year after year. Ho. Ho. Ho.
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Farewell Jordan Crossing.




Farewell Ohio. The boxes are getting packed. The bins are full & happily stacked. The snows are a memory -- getting dimmer, with each passing day as we unpack in the Florida shimmer. We have no deer on the ninth fairway. We have no snowflakes either. We do have however have boxes and bins still a thither.
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Friday, January 21, 2011

Red-Eye Just in Time


Back to December. Flying through the night on the red-eye, leaving Utah just before midnight, I am able to make it home a full couple of hours before the big event of the year!!! Brett and Sarah become husband and wife! New residents to take over our homestead on Jordan Crossing. Here's the documentation of dreams coming true. Zion National Park to the wedding of dear friends: PRICELESS.
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Monday, January 17, 2011

A Man & A Microphone




We are big NPR geeks. [That's National Public Radio, just in case you're reading from abroad and scratching your head.] We have been known to schedule our day around "A Prairie Home Companion" choosing what time we might depart from a location, based on being able to hear the broadcast during our travel. When we were driving home from my big NYC tour last month we pulled off the amazing techie-cyber trifecta, of tapping into the local Columbus radio station broadcast on my laptop, which was being routed thru Allen's cell phone, stream it in real-time, and then run it through the car's speaker system thru a patch and magic wires cooperating!

Anyhow these are shots from yesterday. I'm taking the risk of getting things out-of-chronological order, in the hopes of filling in the gap later on, but I just feel compelled to reflect on our experience of yesterday, before it meanders too far from my recall.

When we arrived in Florida we made a pact to take advantage of the various cultural events in the area and stumbled into the fact that Garrison Keillor was going to be speaking, under an hour down the road. We were disheartened to see that the only tickets available were fairly far deep into the auditorium, but we took the plunge and ordered a couple.

This was my first time to see him "live" as I have had conflicts arise on the two previous occasions that we had secured tickets. The man is a marvel. What more can be said? He told a story, a tale perhaps, that meandered uphill and down for over ninety minutes -- complete with the leading of a couple of songs acapello and the recitation of a VERY lengthy poem, the details of how, why and where he was conceived -- all the while bringing focus to religion (the happy Lutheran-vein of his heritage vs. the darker Lutheran-vein of his uncle-in-law) ethics, morals, scouting, families, growing old, music appreciation, politics, New Age theology, travel, seasonal garb, love, celebrations, poetry, the Liberal Arts vs the mechanical arts, cremation and speedo swimsuits to name but a few.

The auditorium's main central seating was flanked by two aisles giving way to narrow wings on the outside edges. Our seats were about 55% of the way to the back wall on the furthest outside edge. Imagine our surprise when after his introduction and the opening applause subsided, he left the stage area and came down that interior aisle-way, to perch at the end of our row for a lengthy, lengthy part of the woe-be-gotten saga. He then traversed the floor in front of the stage and went down the other aisle way perching there and then he would gradually shuffle his way back to our side. He made this circuit the entire length of his tale. He was never on the stage. The people in the front row were very seldom able to see him by looking forward. We were tickled & delighted.

The whole way home we kept talking of parables where the first shall be last and the last shall be first. Fitting for just such an afternoon.

It is amazing to observe someone at the height of their capability. Inspiring.

***That last photo is of his leaning against the front of the stage as he concluded our time together weaving all of those many seperate strands of thought into a conclusion, worthy of a thunderous ovation.

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Good Night, Dad

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Happy Birthday, Dad!!!




Thw posting of this travelogue has been in honor of my dad's special day. He is the rock of our own immediate family. He has been a rock for our extended family as well. He has been the rock of many a congregation through the years. He has been a rock for many a community over the long haul. He has been the rock of my journeys. He has been the rock of this last year of my adventure here on Planet Earth. But that's a story for tomorrow. Tonight, we celebrate all things Fred. All things Fiedler. All things fundamental -- like the solid rock surrounding us. Tonight we say, "Happy Birthday."

From the future.... here's the quilt that I created in honor of my visits to the RED ROCKS of the southwest, for my picture book, "Red, White and Blue." 

Quilt Illustration for "Red, White and Blue" by Debbie Clement

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WAIT!!!!!! STOP THE CAR!!!!!




Just as we were beginning to realize that our tour was nearing it's end..... Sheila let out an ear piercing shriek from the back seat. Stopping on a dime she was out of the car in under a heart beat, camera pointed to the sky. I blindly followed her lead, and couldn't believe my lens. We were silently squeeling at that point, concerned our gargoyle would leave his mantle. We snapped and snapped and he seemed carefree. We got into the car and began to continue you round the curve and I put my camera up one last time for a parting shot. Too bad I didn't think to focus, too. We were all the way around the bend, when I took a look at what I had captured and we all laughed and laughed past rock after rock. Happy Birthday, Dad. This is indeed a big-horned sheep. One to add to your collection.
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Winding our Way Out




All good things, even birthdays, must come to an end. Throw some more confetti. The day is winding down. Dusk is threatening. Shadows are longer.
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