The sounds of silence…

When you grow up in a musical home you look back upon your life through melodies…

My earliest memories are interwoven with the sounds of ’60-70’s folk music. One of my favorites for washing over the soul is, Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water.

They trickle down from there into the sounds of klezmer. Occasional 90’s beats that move into more traditional Jewish music. I can see the years through bar and bat mitzvahs, weddings, and times of ruach shared with these melodies. One favorite is L’cha Dodi by Debbie Friedman who my sister introduced me to. Her voice feels like an anthem for my childhood days…

In times of crisis, joy, and heartache I have always drawn the melodies of familiarity toward my soul. They dance throughout our minds and hearts right now, leaving trails of healing beats on our souls.

The sounds of silence came to me earlier today, and I found solace in Simon and Garfunkel’s words.

I have no words for what is happening before my eyes. Only melodies that seem to flutter into my brain, I find them online, and share them with my family at this time of imminent need.  I’ve seen and experienced so much love for my sister and our family within the last four days, and it has been such a blessing. I’m left with only this, Mi Shebeirach by Debbie Friedman:


I wrote the above as a blog that I now edited while I sat with my family surrounding my dear sister. I have no words for what has happened. Her passing feels surreal. Someone who I thought would always be with me, a rock steady in the stream of life has now taken flight and moved forward. I do not feel lost, I know what she would have wanted. I feel as though part of my soul is now in a region I do not know of.

She believed in love, life, laughter, literature, and above all else, education.

She was an AMAZING human who will now wink down upon us from the sky. A shimmering diamond in the sky taking on new endeavors and ventures that know no boundaries of us earthly forms.

I asked close friends and family to please read a book to their children or read on their own in her honor. Please hug your family tighter and read more often. If you feel so inclined, donate a book in her honor to a local library or children’s organization. (For Debbie Alvarez) Let your life take flight, explore, encourage, and enrich your life through adventure and literature.

I love you Debbie and I always will, to the moon and back.


Your little sister Rachel


Here is more information on my beautiful sister if you’d like to read what our newspaper wrote:

TIHS kind of day (use a mirror)

For lack of a more interesting beginning: I’m exhausted. 

     Over the last 3.5 months I have been rehearsing for a Christmas musical a friend wrote, working full time, working out 6 days a week, stressing about family, worrying about health, planning, driving, organizing, talking, singing, practicing, and walking that balance beam we call life.

Sometimes I just want to throw all the pieces up into the air and scream while I watch them all fall back down and turn into glittery confetti…if only.  The current positives that are milling around in my mind proceed as follows:

  1. I am three days away from winter break from teaching. You know all those crazy memes of teachers running for the doors screaming? That’s me right now. I’m done. I’ve had it with attitudes, misspellings, sighing, requests x 27 and then some, repeating myself, filing paper work, making copies, making phone calls, writing emails, responding to emails, giving band aids, mending wounds both physical and emotional, mediating, locking and unlocking doors, searching for items, listening to demands, entering grades, having paint all over my hands, being sneezed on, being coughed on and glared at when I ask them to cover their mouth, wiping down tables, reminding for courtesy and the amount of general lack of gratitude. My bucket is not filled at work right now people I need recoup time.
  2. I wrapped the Christmas show and made new friends. I was grateful for another musical experience that pushed me as an individual, but I have to admit it was hard. It was challenging for me to force myself to drive across town the last week for rehearsals. It was not that I did not want to be there or follow through, it’s just that I am emotionally drained.
  3. My body tells me when it has had enough, and I generally listen. Like tonight when I stepped out of the car for dance class and my foot cramped and hurt immensely, I stopped and thought, “I think that’s a sign that you need to go home Rachel.” So I listened, and I did.
  4. Small glimmers of hope with my sister’s recent PET scan were also dashed and then thrown against more frustrating new growths in an already ravaged body, which made me want to yell into the wind: FUCK YOU CANCER. I should have been a scientist.
  5. I watched part of my birthday present from my sweet guy tonight, “Cinderella,” helped me lose myself in the fairy tale.
  6. I have a fluffy quilt, a couple pillows, and a bed to sleep in after writing.
  7. I had yummy home made pasta, and chocolate to wash it all down with.
  8. I realized after this last birthday that I could feel an emotional shift of ,”not caring,” about what people think of me slowly slipping away. See the meme below for my current feelings.
  9. I have a wonderful set of friends, family, and humans that I love and who love me. ❤ Case in point, my bff, Resa.Resa's bday party 2015
  10. I saw an amazing meme that sums me up.  That is my life update for this evening.  I’m going to dream land and will wake up and do it all again tomorrow. Enjoy the meme and one of my favorite Hollywood legends, The Norma Jean, aka, Marilyn Monroe. ❤ (PS I don’t know who created or posted the original meme below, I don’t own it, nor do I intend to pass it off as something I created. Rather, I appreciate it and am sharing it. Thank you.)Marilyn quote meme

From one concerned citizen to another…

When you take any position in the world of education it is because you are passionate. You are passionate about life, about the future generations to come, and you aspire to provide them with the tools and knowledge that will help them create a spark for seeking out the world around them.

A friend of mine has been attacked. She is one of those humans who you are lucky to meet in your lifetime. She has inspired hundreds of students at Lewis and Clark College and beyond. I am deeply saddened that she will not be able to work directly with high school students in Portland because of two words: prejudice and fear.

The year is now 2015. Why then I wonder do we still accept the fact that organizations, schools, and public officials openly oppose the very essence of someone else’s ability to love. Who is to say what someone should or should not do with their life?  Why is it that it is acceptable for public or private organizations to oppose and secretly pay off people to not share the hateful doctrine from which they build their work upon?  It is not acceptable. Nor is it morally founded no matter how it is spun. Have we learned nothing from previous generations who toiled, fought, and sought justice to speak freely, educate, and empower human beings? This situation is a problem, it is not ethical, it is appalling.

Please do not tell me that St. Mary’s Academy in Portland, Oregon is not opposing her life choices, because they are. They would rather pay off this woman with money and benefits than have her be honest, open, and outstanding in her job position at their school.  This is another tried and true event based in the fundamentals of fear.

Fear as defined by Webster’s dictionary states: : to be afraid of (something or someone); to expect or worry about (something bad or unpleasant); to be afraid and worried.

My friend is none of these things. There is nothing bad or unpleasant about someone merely asking a clarifying question regarding a statement that was presented to her in an email. Why is it that people are so afraid of another person’s happiness?

Did not Pope Francis say, “This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.”   Why is it considered moral or good to let a hired faculty member go and then, when they refuse to sign paperwork agreeing to such, go so far as to pay off someone for their silence about a topic which embeds and is their life?  Is it really good when someone is dismissed without the consideration of their moral character, their work history, and job qualifications?

Pope Francis also stated that, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”  Lauren went to the interview, was offered the job, provided valid and glowing references, recommended to apply for a higher administration position, stated that she was wondering IF it would be alright to bring her girlfriend to social gatherings for faculty members at the school, was she then asked to leave quietly without even beginning her work?  One word again my friends: fear, not religion, not morality of the doctrine founded in Catholicism, it is fear.

I believe in the power of change, in the power of love, and the power of free speech. My friend is standing up for what is right and this practice will never ‘get old.’ She is taking a stand and living her life honestly and openly.  She is a beautiful example of what too many men and women have had to hide for decades.  We should not be judged or discriminated against based upon how we love or whom we love in this life.  Her human character is outstanding, her belief in the hopes to inspire a future generation of students to stand up for what they believe in and in equal rights is well founded. I hope that her stance will help let the young LGBTQ generation and organization flourish.  You have my full support Lauren Brown.

If you would also like to show your support for this woman, please share, and stand up for what you believe in. Thank you Lauren for being a brave and wonderful human!

Links below in connection:–same-sex-marriage-view/32381067/

Sky photo