A Teacher Named, Ba Ba Ba Ba Barbara Jan

Over the past several months, since my colleague, ORT Chicago director, Barbara (Barb) Statland announced her retirement as our region director, I’ve tried to sit down to write about her.

Each time I’ve tried to write almost anything about Barb, (and I have tried countless times), several things happen:

  1. The Beach Boys’ Ba ba ba ba ba Barbara Ann runs through my head, but instead of “Ann,” I change it to “Jan.” Barb’s middle name is Jan, so it obviously works great. It repeats and repeats in my head and drives me totally nuts.
  2. Still, I riff a little bit with the whole, Ba ba ba ba ba Barbara Jan song idea. I create a sketch in my head about “The Teach Boys” singing the song for our Barbara Jan. Instead of being on the beach, the band, along with ORT students and educators sing and dance in an ORT 21st Century Classroom.

    21st century classroom
    Picture The Teach Boys singing Ba ba ba ba ba Barbara Jan in the classroom at an ORT School in Israel. Welcome to my head.
  3. Now, I start to get teary because Barb is kind of like family to me.  I’ve grown accustomed to her face, her attention to detail and her Fuji apples and peanut butter at 11:16 AM each day. I think, “What will it be like not to hear her cutting apples? How will I know it’s 11:16 AM?”
  4. I stop trying to write because I get emotional and even nostalgic. I am generally not a nostalgic person, but Barb and I have walked through a lot together. Side note: I also happen to be a very ugly crier.

Now, I am not crying. Oh good. We are making progress.

Here’s how I see my professional partner in crime and friend, Barbara Jan Statland:

  • Barb has been one of my best educators.
  • Her attention to detail is superlative.
  • If she wanted to, she could be a theater director and/or theater teacher.
  • She could also do voice-overs. Great voice.
  • Heck, she would make a fine actress.
  • She is one of the biggest reasons I was hired by ORT America. Thank you, Barb.
  • She has more patience than any colleague I have ever worked with, anywhere.
  • She is extremely creative and incomparably tenacious.
  • She loves ORT and its people very deeply. (P.S. ORT = People)
  • She is hilarious even when she’s not trying to be.
  • She is a powerful communicator.
  • She is reasonable.
  • Her commitment to and her belief in ORT programs never, ever wavers.
  • Barb’s leadership has sustained our region where most others would have failed.
  • I have never heard anyone better on the phone. Yes, she knows I eavesdrop.
  • Barb really loves the ORT Teacher’s Fund.

There’s a lot more to Barb than what I’ve stated here. It has been my privilege to partner with and to learn from her.

The love goes both ways. ORT loves Barb so much, there’s a whole ORT International Seminar for Leading Educators dedicated to Barb, in honor of her retirement. This seminar, (which I believe starts TOMORROW!), is a key part of the ORT Teachers Fund which is a fund dedicated to the professional development of educators. A few words from Barb about the ORT Teacher’s Fund:

So many ORT students are motivated, passionate, knowledgeable and creative BECAUSE of their teachers.  Their teachers instill these traits within their students.  ORT knows that this is key and provides a network of peers for their teachers to whom they can turn for support and to share ideas. This Teachers Fund will provide so much – including training in the areas of digital technology, physics education and Bio Research, learning technologies training, math and English.  Collaboration is key in all of these initiatives. — Barbara J. Statland

Barb has been around ORT for 30-ish years. She’s been an employee for 13 years and a region director for the past five or so. Most of us see Barb as a lifetime ORTist.

If you’d like to honor Barb’s Herculean leadership at ORT, and/or you seek to invest in professional development for educators, and/or you want to witness my ugly crying because thanks to you, we have raised our $40,000 goal, please stop reading this post and click on Barb’s photo below!

Barb gorgeous2
The tenacious, beautiful, and dedicated Barbara J. Statland

Thank you for reading this, and of course, for your investment in Barb, ORT, teachers, students, me and all who make a positive impact on our world.

May we all draw strength, knowledge and courage from Ba ba ba ba Barbara Jan.

In gratitude and love,

Pam

Cutting, Keeping & Nurturing the Right Ties, Redux

Things have changed since the original post, but the peace really hasn’t.

I originally wrote this blog post a few years ago about my ex-husband and daughters celebrating our wedding anniversary together. Some people found this pretty weird, and others celebrated our vastly improved relationship since we chose to exit our marriage. 

Either way, this is our life and how we choose to live it.  Continue reading “Cutting, Keeping & Nurturing the Right Ties, Redux”

A Cleansing Blog on a Gentle Cycle

It’s not a perfect science. It’s a practice.

Each day, and sometimes, minute by minute, it takes a commitment to practice accepting things I simply can’t change. Of course, this is not revolutionary. Most people know at least parts of The Serenity Prayer.

serenity prayer
Every day, and sometimes, every minute.

Every so often, people question why in the hell I open myself up on this blog and on social media streams. Some individuals are critical of what they perceive as my being fully transparent. I respect their opinions and usually, if they’re interested, I share more about how helping others is exactly why I do it. I hope it helps them accept what I do, but it may not change their opinions and that’s okay. It still doesn’t change who I am.

There are countries I’ve never heard of who read this blog and thank me for it. If I help someone…ANYONE, this is worthwhile.

My hope is that you and others feel less shame and get okay with your own mishegas. I pray you accumulate moments of peace, love and happiness in your life. I have moments and am grateful for every single one of them. Some of my moments get widely published and they are sometimes hilarious. Especially the ones with my daughters. THIS is joy, pure and simple.

If you’re shaming yourself or someone else for something you may not understand, I hope YOU are open to learning that you are capable of loving someone and accepting them as they are, right now, in their imperfect form. You may not understand why they are the way they are, but do you really have to?

I have faith and hope in people. I believe that people can be better. I have spent years experiencing and examining communication and the impact of shame. My on-the-job training and its associated studies, have proven that loving communication opens the path to the release of shame, with access to the location of joy.

It’s not a perfect science. It’s a practice.


I wear mismatched socks sometimes, because you know, laundry madness. C’mon. We all suffer from the laundry madness of single sock disappearance. In the scheme of a challenged history and even a difficult “here and now,” I embrace my new fashion sense.sox

I really hate doing laundry, especially when I have a headache. On some level, I’ve had a headache for about six months. This is not an exaggeration. Doing laundry and other cleaning chores makes my head worse.

So, to my right, there’s a big pile of laundry that has to be done. There are single socks everywhere, towels, everyday clothes and delicate lingerie that needs to be in a lingerie bag and washed on the gentle cycle.

Just for today, I have one load of laundry in me. Today, everything will be done on the gentle cycle.

The content I post on this blog and on social media is also communicated on a gentle cycle. It gently rocks as it moves. It’s not the ultra power pressure washing of the nitty gritty stories of trauma, post traumatic stress disorder, cancer or addiction. It’s gingerly and carefully relayed here and other places, for you and for me.

So, here I am. My head hurts and I’m off to do my one load of laundry on the gentle cycle. The more detailed version of my stuff’s history and how I practice/d hard to get comfy in my skin, will be included in the book I’ve started writing.

I’m embarrassed and almost ashamed to even state that I’m writing a book. I’ve written lots of books actually, and still, I can hardly call myself a writer.

Like I said – I have a commitment to practice. I practice and practice, but am far from perfect. It’s the commitment to practice that provides the moments of joy.

Today, I have the forethought to choose the gentle cycle for my clothes and for me.

I wish you tender loving gentleness today, even if you’re power washing. May we all have the wisdom to know the difference.

 

 

DO NOT Pass-over a Gift to Remember

I never pass-over a chance to remember my grandma.

I miss my grandma. Her name was Faye Lazar, but to me, she was either, “Grandma,” or, “Maca.” (My brother, Philip, couldn’t pronounce the word, “grandma.” He pronounced the word, “maca,” and it stuck. Continue reading “DO NOT Pass-over a Gift to Remember”

Dating Myself, & the Dog Who Doesn’t Beg

I became discerning, but my “man-picker” was still in question. Had my “man-picker” become so picky it was like picking a gnarly scab?

For the better part of the past decade, I have dated myself far more than I’ve dated anyone else. After my departure from my marriage, I made an intentional choice to hang out with myself. I did this for several reasons I was aware of at the time, and some I learned along the way: Continue reading “Dating Myself, & the Dog Who Doesn’t Beg”

Fire, Snuffed Out? (with Flare)

I don’t believe our fire ever really gets snuffed out.

I think our fiery spirits sometimes need a nap and move into the embers stage, but we continue to burn. Continue reading “Fire, Snuffed Out? (with Flare)”