HIGH school to the HIGHER school of LOVE


I was a wallflower in high school, because I was self-conscious of being flat-chested like a wall. Of course, a boy in junior high calling out in the hallway as students changed classes, “Hey pancake!” didn’t do me any good. I’m sure I blushed, slouched my shoulders, and wondered why kids need to be mean. So, I stuffed Kleenex into my bra, until I found padded bras.

Being skinny didn’t help either. I didn’t have dates or boyfriends like my younger sister. My crushes were kept in my heart – until I met the Beach boys (twins whose last name was Beach:) at the Bethel Grove Bible church where my family attended 2-3 times per week. My sister and I went on a double date with them once.

When we changed to the Tabernacle Baptist church, I met Chuck who would become my first real boyfriend in our senior year; then he broke up with me our freshman year at Cornell University. I can still see me walking around Beebe Lake all alone keeping my tears to myself. Later, we became engaged and welcomed two beautiful daughters.

As most high schoolers do, you dream of a long happy marriage, not four, like what my karma has displayed. Yet, I’m so ‘great-full’ for all of them! Interestingly, I chose my high school junior theme to be UTOPIA, looking for ideal love? which might be like going back to my 15th year high school reunion where MJ, one of the girls high school heart throbs said to me, “You’re so beautiful; where were you in high school? You’re the most beautiful now!” Was I beginning to reflect self-love?

WOW! I was stunned, like when my daughters were in high school, their dad now in a gay relationship, and singing “The Impossible Dream” in the Elmira High School musical where he was a music teacher. I was a Marriage and Family Therapist by this time, and began sobbing while hearing their father sing., aware enough to vow to myself that I’d never again be ashamed of crying in public. Even to sob there. As I walked into the foyer after the performance, a man-stranger walked up to me and said, “You’re stunning!” despite my reddened eyes. Maybe a truer self-love was showing through?

So opposite of my experience of holding back my tears, feeling embarrassed, as I tried to speak with my high school math teacher about an ‘unfair’ grade.

By the early nineties, I had EVOLved into dreaming of teaching a HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP SKILLS course at Ithaca High School where I and both of my daughters have graduated. I, like Martin Luther King, Jr. have a dream to bring justice and love to ALL beings without the use of violence, like the bullying that takes place in our schools and streets and in our homes that has caused many teens to commit suicide.

For over 20 years I have met with the superintendents, teachers, and students who agree it’s a good idea, students particularly wish for it, yet our high school administration is still afraid to have this course offered even though electives like oceanography are.

My heart still cries…like I did with a client this past week, when a father brings in his 6 month old son to his therapy session. At the end of the session I was saying how baby Grayson ┬ájust looks into our eyes and does not turn (shy) away…there’s no fear of looking into my soul, for there is no fear with “perfect” love…and there in the silence of Grayson and I looking into each other’s eyes without wavering I began to cry.