Literacy & reading, mark my words.

“Literacy is so much entwined in our lives that we often fail to realize that the act of reading is a miracle that is evolving under our fingertips.” – Maryanne Wolf

“We read to know we are not alone.” – C.S. Lewis

“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope.” – Kofi Annan

“One of the greatest gifts adults can give—to their offspring and it their society—is to read to children.” – Carl Sagan



Normal. According to the Oxford dictionary, normal is defined as, “what you would expect perfectly”. According to Webster, normal is defined as, “conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern”. Over the past couple of years, the phrase “new normal” has become a staple in our everyday lexicon. Google it, surfing the “wave” of “new normal” is a heck of a ride. In reflection, it’s caused me to think back on my 47 years and ask, “has life ever been normal?” Have I ever been able to “expect perfectly” or have I ever experienced “regular pattern” in life? NO, not even close. Of course, there have been times I’ve felt in rhythm or things are going well or maybe I feel more comfortable but if there’s one thing I’ve learned to expect in life is the unexpected. Furthermore, do we really want things to stay the same or normal? Just my 2¢ but maybe we should be focusing on the “new better”. All things will continue to change, expect it. The question is, will we use every twist or change or “new normal” to make things better?


A vacation which doesn’t require a vacation

Have you ever gone on vacation only to return exhausted and needing another vacation? I believe we’ve all experienced this at some point. Wouldn’t it be beautiful to go on a vacation where you learn, your mind is opened and nourished, you have fun, expand your viewpoints, you are refreshed, your relationships are deepened, and when you return, you’re inspired and energized? I’m on a quest to uncover these places to share with you but will start with one with which I am very familiar. All of my extended family is from the Pittsburgh area. Just 3 hours due north is a very special place which has no doubt played a major role in shaping me and my world view. I have been blessed to spend significant time there, Chautauqua Institution. “Chautauqua” is an Iroquois word with multiple meanings, including “a bag tied in the middle” or “two moccasins tied together.” The word describes the shape of Chautauqua Lake, located in southwest New York. Chautauqua Institution is set on the shores of Lake Chautauqua. Chautauqua Institution was founded in 1874. Over the years, Chautauqua and the Chautauqua Movement has become synonymous with culture, learning and entertainment. Do you like world class music and symphony? Like world class lecturers? Like learning? Like beautiful lakes? Like growing? Like the arts? Then you’ll LOVE Chautauqua Institution!


14 Peaks, this isn’t about mountaineering

Last week, I had the pleasure of watching an incredible documentary on Netflix, “14 Peaks, Nothing is Impossible”. WOW! Fearless Nepali mountaineer Nimsdai Purja embarks on a seemingly impossible quest to summit all 14 of the world's 8,000-meter peaks in just seven months. For some perspective, less than 50 people have climbed 14 of the world's highest peaks, all of which rise over 8,000 meters above sea level, in the Himalayan and Karakoram ranges. Italian mountaineer Reinhold Messner was the first, taking 16 years to complete the incredible feat in October 1986. Stories about the human spirit inspire me beyond belief; people who sets bold goals, impossible in the eyes of many, maybe even crazy to some, who are willing to endure hard things and even pain, and accomplishing the impossible are thrilling, wind in my sails. They make me feel alive and push me to think bigger. I believe these types of quests, hard and unlikely ones, are where “life lives”. Climbing one 8,000-meter peak probably won’t happen for most of us, let alone 14, not to mention in 7 months. However, we all have our own “mountains” we aspire to climb. Expect some to believe and some to doubt. No, “mountains” worth climbing won’t be easy, but oh boy, the view from the top of the mountain will be spectacular, breathtaking, worth it, go for it.


Radically anti-status quo

Better is always BETTER. Right?

I have to agree with George Carlin, “the status quo sucks”.

But it’s one thing to think it, believe it or even say it, it’s something entirely different to do something about it. I think at some level, regarding some topics, we are all fed up with the status quo. Well, may I suggest and encourage you to do something about it if you aren’t already.

Yes, I’d consider myself radically anti-status quo, but more than that, I’m radically biased to action.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

At Freadom, we believe in citizenship, not just in how it outlines our rights and privileges BUT more importantly how it defines our duties; we must all get into the “arena” to make our communities better for future generations.


Without comment.

According to a recent article by David Leonardt in “The New York Times, The Morning” titled, No way to grow up.”

Children fell far behind in school during the first year of the pandemic and have not caught up.

The shortfalls were largest for Black and Hispanic students, as well as students in schools with high poverty rates.

Many children and teenagers are experiencing mental health problems, aggravated by the isolation and disruption of the pandemic.

Suicide attempts have risen. slightly among adolescent boys and sharply among adolescent girls.

Many schools have still not returned to normal, worsening learning loss and social isolation. Once-normal aspects of school life — lunchtime, extracurricular activities, assemblies, school trips, parent-teacher conferences, reliable bus schedules — have been transformed if not eliminated.

Many schools have still not returned to normal, worsening learning loss and social isolation.

Behavior problems have increased.

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