All posts by P7

Michael Morton is a teacher, student, son, and father. He teaches at Quarter Mile Lane School in Bridgeton and in the Gear Up Program at Cumberland County College. He is an alumni of Rowan University. His children Emily and Dylan are also very involved the various community activities. As an former firefighter of the Gouldtown Volunteer Fire Company, Michael prefers to support his fellow fire fighters in innovative ways. In 2012, he ran for public office in my township. As the top vote-getter in that election, he pledged to uphold the Constitution as he pursued positive change for his community. He's lived in Cumberland County for nearly 30 years. He's been a second grade teacher for 6 years. Before that he taught early education at the district preschool (GOFECC) for a year. He taught 8th grade Civics at West Avenue School for a short period of time. Including his experience teaching special education in the Millville School District, he has taught for a total of twelve years. Currently Michael teaches middle school Civics in the Gear Up Program at Cumberland County College. As a former employee of the State of New Jersey, Michael has held the responsibility of case worker and juvenile probation officer. He is the first in his immediate family to graduate from a four year institution with a bachelor's degree. For this reason, his family is very proud of him and continues to support my efforts in community service.

[Common] Sense for Sale

This public service announcement is brought to you by rational people in an irrational world who are trying to make sense out of the decisions made by people who do not have common sense.

Below you will find a list of warning labels created because someone demonstrated that their injury could have been prevented if they had been warned. Books have been published using these and any MANY other warnings for pure amusement, but it must be noted that the individuals who need these warnings often overlook them.

As you read these warnings, please consider the circumstances by which these warnings were created. Think about other products that might warrant similar warnings. Pay homage to those who were insightful enough to conceive these warnings in time to save lives; and mourn those who weren’t fortunate enough to heed this warnings. And finally, accept the challenge to find similar warnings that are in dire need in these troubling times.

Please share this with a friend. And remember, it has never been a case of how it will end; only how we will start over.

Dream With Me

Last night, I had a dream that was magical and fantastic. I was surrounded by my teacher friends who’d lost their jobs because the schools were no longer needed—not because society had learned all that it needed, but because the virus prevented us from returning.

We were forced to revisit our failures and improve upon those ideas that were abandoned too soon. We were asked to share spaces with doctors and lawyers. But those spaces were small and shrewd. Unlike the other professionals, we were excited for the opportunity to reinvent ourselves. Around us, we saw prototypes that were near-completion. Automobiles, electronics, furniture—all with the most interesting architecture—stretched the imagination. What could the designers have been creating? How would these products meet society’s needs? Why weren’t they completed? The educators were brought in to answer these questions. The doctors and lawyers were there to facilitate the applications of these projects.

The world as we knew it had ended. The politicians served no purpose because the government was ineffective. There weren’t tax monies to budget for because the income-earning electorate no longer had jobs. Democracy had crumbled in lieu of individual’s needs to recreate. Trust had been lost, but panic was abandoned. Individuals resurfaced from the ashes as sloths, eyes wide open but slow to recover.

Surreal approaches to rebuild had all but failed. Everything was new. New ideas, new relationships, and new approaches to build a world that should not resemble anything like the past world.

As educators, we toured the facilities hoping to identify the missing components. For it was supposed that we taught the last generation. We had the best connection with the youth. We held their hands through multiple curriculum evolutions. We taught them to think and to imagine, and we were the last ones to speak to their imaginations before they were quarantined with their families (who had previously abandoned their development). Those children never returned. Those children became an incarnation of their own dreams—incomplete drawings on scrap paper, science projects, and book reports, essays, and class notes, love letters, and prom invitations; class trips postponed and spring breaks un-refunded, graduations cancelled and college applications never sent. We were there when all this happened. We felt it. Their pain hurt us too to our core.

We would carry a torch. We would rediscover those souls through the evidence they’d left behind. As we searched through the rubble, our passions re-ignited every time we uncovered a gem. Alas, they never left. They are watching and waiting patiently to be energized as if they’d been playing a game of “freeze-tag” and knew that we were coming for them.

Hands extended, we will find them. We will find them.

Fixers, Closers, Watchers

I’m starting to believe that we are expected to be the fixers, the closers, and the watchers. We fix what was broken. We close the deals that someone made without our input, and we watch those deals manifest until the next problem occurs. We are called educators to mask the lie.

My opinion is based my observations and the world as I see it. When the circumstances change, I’ll adjust my opinion.

To be a cynic while I continue to hold the title for which I’m paid allows me to wade through the hypocrisy with integrity. I’m intelligent enough to know when things aren’t they way they’re supposed to be, but I’m wise enough to know that there are opportunities to change the trajectory. It’s important that I exercise my faith often enough to keep hope alive.

Every trial offers me the wisdom to make a better decision next time. The problem is: “how many more times will I encounter the same problem before I realize that there isn’t a viable solution?” What I can’t do is repeat procedures hoping for a different outcome. What I don’t have is the energy to reinvent myself every time a new problem occurs. All I’m able to do is apply yesterday’s lessons to today’s challenge and hope that tomorrow is smoother.

Without the intelligence, I’d have no content to teach. I’d have no discernment. I’d have no skill set to adjust my instruction.

But tomorrow is rarely smoother. I’d love to not sweat the small stuff, but there’s enough big “stuff” to make that distinction. I long for a day with “small” stuff.

There aren’t enough copays to tell my therapist how I feel—or what I do to get through the day. My colleagues will listen as long as I listen to their woes too. This can be a daunting task not too different from spicing a wound with salt AND pepper. My family hugs me in disbelief and prays that I can make it just a little bit longer. I’d tell my pastor, but he already knows because he teaches me weekly to seek the source.

The source knows. And weather you believe in an external God or connect with a god within, to recognize that there are an infinite number of things outside of our control is merely the beginning of a path to self-healing. There’s a faith that develops when we can no longer rely on intelligence and wisdom. It’s that disbelief that propels us into a world of unpredictable outcomes. And although some are inspired by this, others stumble blindly and recognizing that their fate will be determined by someone else.

Will my fate be determined by my students, my supervisor, or a society that has demanded that we fix, close, and watch?

Absence Makes the Heart…

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder…”

There’s varying opinions on this. Google the phrase and you’ll get this:

The proverb “absence makes the heart grow fonder” describes the feeling of greater affection between friends and lovers who are kept apart. It is a phrase that, in on one form or another, can be traced back for millennia—the Roman poet Sextus is credited with the earliest version of the phrase.

Or this:

Does absence make the heart grow fonder? Study says yes

Or even this:

Absence Doesn’t Actually Make The Heart Grow Fonder

But remove the science from it. Ignore the opinions. Draw from your personal experience. Think about the people that you’ve left behind. Focus on those individuals that have moved on from their relationship with you. Whether it was a friendship, a partnership, or family, some bonds were never intended to endure.

Once we stop asking why and begin to accept that there are reasons beyond our understanding, we can release responsibility for the decisions that were made (whether those decisions were our own or not). It’s difficult though.

Time not only heals, but provides distance between “then” and “now” and affords us the opportunity to feel less. Consider the process numbing. It’s the absence of intense feelings that allows us to respond to other things in our lives. The strongholds that once consumed us loosen their grip. The absence allows for distractions. We become more aware of other things in our lives. We stumble across alternatives and focus on other things that stimulate us. Soon we are no longer numb. We begin to feel again.

It is this kind of absence that makes our hearts fonder. Our hearts have but one purpose–to pump blood through our veins and to keep us alive. When we are consumed with others, our focus is not on our own survival, but on the well-being of others. Sometimes we love so much that we loose focus. We neglect ourselves, our responsibilities, and other things that are essential to our growth. And although a healthy relationship requires a balance, it is the absence that our heart needs to thrive.

The heart is fond of the absence. It is the mind that yearns for the presence. It is the mind that develops awkwardly when it is not stimulated. It’s a lonely mind that longs for companionship.

Until we can completely separate the heart and mind, there we aren’t likely to resolve this dilemma. And so instead of absence making the heart fonder, it is the distance that makes the mind wander.

Miss Ogyni

She trusted at an early age

consensual surrender,

resulted in tears at a clinic

Three months later

She trusted another

Hoping he’d be more capable

She wasn’t empowered

She had no mentor

Her submissive mother was no lover

And had no experience in these things

Her second lover

Planted his seed

Knowingly and deliberately

Her consent would undo the previous

Mistake

Or so she thought

A doctors visit first

Cohabitation a week later

A proposal and a diamond ring

Before the first week of spring

Wedding bells rang

A mix tape for a DJ and

An alcohol-free reception

Because baby was on the way.

She has no intentions of entrapment

She hadn’t yet learned to manipulate

She was simply managing situations

From day to day.

But she wasn’t happy

Her diploma wouldn’t be enough

Expired, her father’s tuition offer

Because she had her husband’s stuff

For the same man who tried to restore

Her purity

Was now a witness to her insecurity

Another baby’s arrival

before their departure

from each other.

At any time should could have harmed him

But she listened to how she could own him

For the rest of his life

The lawyers would help her

swindle what was never there.

The fortune she thought they had was

No more than

the imaginary kingdom

that they’d begun to build.

The looks were deceiving to her

But to no one else

She had no idea that what she already had

Was more than many other women

Had ever hoped for.

Because love and trust are invisible

They can be felt

But not seen.

And she traded it in

For a life she thought she should have.

She acted on entitlements

That neither of them had earned

She planned to steal away

With something that was never there

And he began to see this

He began to hurt

He began to hate

He worked harder to hide

He began to create…

New relationships

That were better

Safer

Genuine

He had nothing more to give

Broken and paranoid

He sighed relief

When the marriage was dissolved

He would no longer

Watch the disaster unfold

From now on

All he knows is what he’s told

Online dating

Bouncing from home to home

Dragging the children behind her

His heart turned to stone

He became the philanderer

That she once accused him; a swine

With no ties to anyone

With children gone half the time

He watched from afar

His “once-love” shack

With swingers,

drug-users,

Momma’s boys,

And then back to her parents.

Despite minimal family court interference

Family interventions

Co-parenting interactions

Court order infractions

The power she gained was not

From what she took

Instead twenty years of blood

And tears

Resulted in a new job and a home of her own

Where she could raise her children

The way she wanted

Paint the rooms– the way she wanted

Pay someone to mow the lawn

And invite over whomever she wanted

Cook for him

And tend to him

Until he no longer wanted

to leave

And the power she now had

Was not from another man

But the power she now had

She used to rule over another man

But this man she could not tame

For this man would plant a seed of his own

And he would not leave

And he would not propose

And they would not suppose

How their life will be when their baby turns

Twenty

And now she hates him

And the him from before

She fights with the latter

But complains about the first even more

She models independence to her daughter

She warns of submission to the son

She lies about how she does it

She pretends that she the only one

That she’s a single parent…

That deadbeats owe her more…

That no one can tell her what to do!

That their dad is rotten to the core.

But she keeps her married name

For reasons all her own

Her kids look and behave like him

And now her 💜 turns to stone.

Her hate 𝐅or him

Is incomprehensible

To him

But his forgiveness of her

Frustrates and angers her

Even more confusing

Is that he is not telling the story

She is

Miss Ogyny

In The Moment

I was here for it

I wish I hadn’t been.

The decisions I make

Are the moments that I live in

The regrets are the decisions

That I won’t get the chance to

Make again

For the truth is

I will make new decisions

And new mistakes

And learn over and over again

To appreciate the moment

Now

To look back less

And to look forward

To the moment that I’ll

Have new regrets

Happy Change-giving

Thankful for the feelings,

Because the feelings drive us

Thankful for the disappointment

For the idea: “circumstances are better than they were”

For the conception that things could be different.

For evolution

That things don’t stay a way

For too long.

Thankful for voice

And the opportunity to be silent

Thankful to be wrong

About SO many decisions

Because the knowledge of wrong

Spotlights what could be right

Thankful for my own hunger

And my own thirst

For the failures that precipitated pain

And the treatment that prescribed

Healing

Thankful for the lies

The disappointment

And the loss

For the lies cloaked a truth for which I wasn’t prepared

For the disappointment strengthened me for a victory I could not enjoy

For the loss of relationships that I was too weak to endure

Thankful for the perception

To steer clear of those vehicles

Aimed at my demise

Thankful I can’t do everything I want to do

In this moment

Whenever I want

Because I’m still learning

Not to live in excess

Even when I have the opportunity

Because full bellies can’t run as fast

And sleepy eyes don’t make dreams come true