PASSIONs part III
I grew up on Galveston island with the warm sun, smells of the gulf salt, cool breeze off the seawall, open fields of wild flowers, oleander trees, stick a burs, playing with all the neighborhood kids till dusk, flying kites and riding bikes up and down the streets of the west end with not a worry in the world.
I have fun memories of the beach playing in the sand, finding sand dollars, feeding seagulls donuts and Cheetos, learning to surf with my dad, watching my mom make surfer bead necklaces, hanging out in surf shops watching my dad and his buddies make boards, the smell of resin and surfboard wax, my first pair of pink tights and dance lessons with tutus, twirling lessons, playing softball, roller skating, swimming lessons, going to school at Crockett and Parker Elementary. I can even remember the smell of the schools, the smells of the cafeterias, the hallways, my incredibly nice teachers, one very stern teacher with a crooked finger, the PE exercise song “Were the Houston Oilers”, my mom as the “Avon lady”, my dad as a undercover cop, the different houses we lived in, going to church every Sunday and so much more! All memories and without a care in the world, a feeling of peace and freedom and joy. Basically and whole heartedly my corner of the world was safe!
These experiences were bliss, I’d do it all over again! Except at the end of my 4th grade year, we moved.
Even though I was sad to leave the island I was excited to see other places, experience new experiences. I was all for it because as far as I knew all over was paradise! I was enthusiastic, excited, and anxious to live this safe, peaceful, joyful life just over the Causeway in Hitchcock, Tx.
Well, It didn’t happen, “it” as in paradise didn’t come with it.
My dad accepted a new promotion as Chief of Police, so off we went, after all my dad had a mission, a new job in a new town and his charge was “always vigilant”.
Come Monday, on my first day of school my little enthusiast self turned from excitement to sadness, confusion to disappointment, hurt to grief. These weren’t the same emotions I had known all my life. All in one day I was treated like a hostile prisoner in a foreign country. The school I was enrolled in treated me like this, it was unforgiving, it was cruel, it was not right!
I was bullied by all the kids in my class. I believe if I hadn’t had such a wonderful family the outcome for my future might have been grim. I got hit with name calling, looks, pushing, meanness in class, and mistreated. All the while the teacher just looked away, when she wasn’t turning a blind eye she had a half smile as if she were to say “You had it coming” she would smirk and , laugh when I was looking at her to save me. I was even set up to be physically tortured, I was singled out…
I don’t know too many 4th graders who have been water boarded, but you can put me down as a 4th grade version of water boarding!
The first thing that came over me, that came over my entire body, my mind, my heart, the hairs on my head was that I don’t understand…I thought surely there HAS been a mistake, you got the wrong person… I want to be your friend, I’m kind, I’m sweet, I’m fair, I’m fun, I’m a good person!
My second thought was “This isn’t really happening to me, it can’t be”. So, I allowed second chances, maybe they will all realize they made a terrible mistake and we can sweep this all under the rug and just forget it ever happen. But it worsened…
I lost my smile, sadness took over me, a feeling of not being welcome or wanted can do that. My smile is radiant, after all a true smile is contagious. I couldn’t find it. I quickly come to the realization that there ARE bad people in the world. I mean I knew there was right and wrong and I knew how I was being treated was WRONG, so wrong and on so many levels.
My Family In Hitchcock
Back when I lived there with my family, I experienced joys with them. Things like family fight night (it was really gentle and fun and a semi intro to what will be called my beginning journey of martial arts) the family record player that magically played classical music every morning when we woke up. Our only existence of heat in the house, the wood burning stove, our vegetable garden, the best hamburger I’ve ever had! Yep, gotta share about that, after all we requested it at least once a week, we were able to have it once every other week and that place my friends is called “Char-Burger” it was a drive up dive just on hwy 6, all burgers served on white parchment paper with a twist off at the end and toothpick atop, the smell of the meat patty just off the greasy grill with all its juices on a mound of lettuce, pickles, onions, tomatoes with mustard and a bun bold enough to contain it all yet soft and an aroma that melted your mouth from the moment you pulled in off hwy 6 until the meal was devoured. We only lived a couple miles up the road from Char-burger but the wait to get home from receiving our order seemed like a pioneer trek, just couldn’t hardly wait it was so delicious. Plus the fries were thick, perfect salt, a plentiful bite full and they gave you so much in the white paper that us kids could share 1 order. Unless we had a special treat and could order onion rings, oh my goodness, we’d have to get a couple orders of those, they were EPIC!
Char-Burger was a family HIT and something to look forward too. Also, El Sombrero Mexican Restaurant. A little, tiny, square, blink your eye and you’ve passed it simple restaurant just off hwy 6 surrounded by trees looked like a 1970’s brick house. But that was a neat treat to have dinner there with the family. We loved the chips and simple but makes you want to guzzle salsa, enchiladas, tostadas, beans, how they seasoned the rice, how it was all plated and hot and the friendly family run staff that included girls my age that later we became friends in school.
Another family favorite in Hitchcock that we experienced joy was the Roller Rink just over the railroad tracks on the same side of the hwy as Char Burger in a light yellow aluminum building. I’m pretty sure I had a radiant smile on my face from the moment we got out of our Clark Griswold station wagon until our skate session was over. I was obsessed with Olivia Newton John and pretended I was her skating like out of the movie Xanadu.
I don’t know if these places operate to this day, but back in the early 80’s this was a joy for us, for me.
Water boarding at Hitchcock Elementary School
I don’t recall my entire conversation I had with my mother after my first day of school. After she talked with my kindergarten age sister and my 2nd grade age brother I think I was next in line. I do recall still being in shock from being bullied, all I remember was telling my mom the kids weren’t very nice to me. When she asked me about my teacher I told her that the teacher never told the kids to stop teasing me. All my other siblings including my sister in the 6th grade seemed to not have had the same experiences as me. She, like me, thought well, they can’t be that bad, well try again. All I knew is that the next day of school I was back, only this time it was way worse.
After being called names all morning and being made fun of our class got in a line to go to the restrooms. The restrooms were outside, one stall was boys, the other stall girls, only shielded by a wooden swing door and silver latch. One could see feet dangle of sitting on the pot, which meant, everyone in the entire line both boys and girls could see all the girls shoes, ankles, and shin’s dangling down, not private enough..not for me at all.
I did notice several girls ahead of me would stand by the door and hold the door shut. “Oh no, did the latch not work?” I was not comfortable with this but oh so needed to relieve myself …. I kept thinking positive thoughts “this will be fine, girls stick together”. However, I noticed all the girls ahead of me, would look back at me and give me a mean look. I would smile, but after awhile I just kept my head down and tried not to make face contact. I was getting more and more nervous because I noticed the stall door didn’t close on its own. Did I mention yet that I was the only white girl, the only white person in this entire grade? I never thought I was any different, after all I came from Galveston with cultures of every genetics, all different looking humans existed and we all loved everyone. This city however, just over the causeway didn’t. I was different, I was prey.
It was my turn. I walked up to the stall. I was wearing a skirt and blouse that day. I opened the stall, I looked around for the teacher, she was no where in sight. I looked at all the girls and all I got back was glares. I walked in, shut the stall and walked 1 step over to The commode, the door swung open. Quickly I tried to latch the hook, it didn’t work. I opened the stall and asked the closest girl “would you please hold the door closed for me?” I had to pee so bad…I heard a bunch of laughing and got some nasty looks and secrets being whispered. I didn’t care, I really needed to go. She just looked at me, and followed me so I figured she was going to help. I felt relieved, woo! Only then after I sat on the toilet and began to relieve myself she opened the door all the way. All the boys and girls laughed and watched as I peed, they called me names and I cried out to please shut the door, they got closer and closer and closer and before I knew it, I was removed from the toilet by numerous students all holding me in place, some with a hold of my hair and head, others on my arms and others my back, the stall was now full and my head was slammed inside the toilet where the girls would flush my head again and again and again. I couldn’t breathe, I was swallowing all the flushing water it was coming in so fast and in between I could hear laughing and name calling. I didn’t think it was ever going to end, my entire head was soaked, my top, my hair, my face. I told myself to burst out, I tried, I couldn’t. I tried, I saw kids blockading the door, boys and girls, keeping watch. It seemed like 10 minutes gone by and I was being tortured, I was helpless. After some time, kids scrambled away, I sat on the floor of the stall, watched all kids get back in line pointing and laughing. I watched the teacher come walking slowly by, my eyes all wet, body limp from shock, I heard her say “look what you’ve done, get up now, come on”. I didn’t do this to myself, she knew I didn’t do it, I looked at her and she laughed at me shaking her head. I stood up, followed her and looked at her smile at the other kids. I believe I went into a trauma state at that moment because all I know is I never went back to that school, my memory doesn’t recollect past that sidewalk. In that short week I was violated, bullied and tortured by mean kids and one adult. I’m glad I was removed from that environment full of predators. The very next day I was enrolled at Our Lady of Lourdes.
I grew brave quick, no rest for the weary and no time to feel sorry for myself, I gave myself a second chance, I decided to try a new, I had hope, I wasn’t an idiot now knowing that people are and can be cruel, it can be a predator vs. prey world out there, but to start fresh, I entered with faith. After all, what could go wrong in a catholic school?
Different but same…
I met the head master Sister Mother Mary something. She was tall, she carried a ruler, she didn’t smile, she was old and her office was cold. She told me with no expression on her face I had nothing to worry about, that I could expect the strictest discipline.
She walked me to my classroom, or floated, I never saw her shoes, I was kinda scared, I never met a floating Nun before.
She knocked at the door. I hid behind it, was feeling nervous now, anxious. She entered and called for attention “We have a new pupil, here is Jacquelyn Nolte” come child she said to me. I peaked into the glass payne, then walked around slowly as all the students sat straight up. I smiled ever so humbly as I stood in front of the class and then all the students in a domino effect turned to one tall boy sitting in the very back of the room. He looked at me, then immediately and frantically messed up his hair and made ugly loud noises and all the classroom laughed out loud and pointed at me. I looked at the Nun teacher at her desk, she too was old, I saw a ruler on her des, she was also laughing.
I looked at the head Nun, she said “now that’ll be enough”.
What? Wow, what a odd greeting, it didn’t make me feel good I knew that. I sat quiet at my desk, couldn’t really focus. A couple hours later the class made a trip to the restroom. I was last to walk in, all the girl standing right up close to the mirror, all girls looking to one girl in particular who was putting on lip gloss, fixing her barrett’s and dotting in the mirror with her friends. I was hoping they at least one of them would say hello. Then the lip gloss girl spoke “do you know why Tim messed up his hair?” I was so excited, it was conversation! Finally, was so relieved! I smiled and said “no, why”? She said “he told us that if we get a new girl and she’s ugly I’m going to mess up my hair” she then said as she continued to apply more lip gloss “so, he thinks your ugly” then her and the little girl pack laughed and walked out.
Ever see the movie Mean Girls? Even though I never got flushed down the toilet here, it was a different type of being bullied, different but same.
I was enrolled at this school for 1 year. During this time not one girl was ever really friendly to me. Ever see Napoleon Dynamite? The playground had a tetherball. That was my friend, I played tetherball by myself, it was like my Wilson from the Tom Hanks movie Cast Away. They had a sisterhood and it did NOT include me. I felt singled out, I felt alone, without any more mean words, it was not a place or time I felt joy or even have heartfelt memory.
What made matters a little more complicated was that I wasn’t Catholic. I did not understand Mass, it was never explained to me and I had no idea what was going on but a place we had to go every day. One day I was playing with the foot pad at the pew and Sister Mary something floated over to me and asked me why I wasn’t being reverent. I wasn’t even sure what was going on, it was obvious to me I was clueless, just coming along for the ride, she said “Aren’t you a Christian?” I said “No, I’m a Mormon”. She wailed out loud and did a Father, Son, Holy Ghost and yanked me out of the pew with her cold hands. My last year of Catholic school while every other child went to Mass…I was sent to the library!
I didn’t mind. I made paper shapes, played paper football with another boy who joined me later. It was a elementary scene from the movie The Breakfast Club. I was more like Brian Johnson and Allison Reynolds and Matthew who joined later was like a John Bender, the Mormon kids who were kicked out of Mass! My parents explained to me about my religion, can’t get caught up in titles I thought. After all, you are who you act like and I was a good person, I was good with that. When the nun called my parents in for a conference she told them what I had said. My mom and dad laughed out loud and said “Renee, you are a Christian”. I was so confused. Guess it all wasn’t explained too well to me in Primary. That was addressed and clearly understood after that (that’s why feedback is essential in all you do) but the Nun and my parents decided I best just stay in the library!
Bottom line and Non-the-less I still experienced a non existence with these kids, mean girls, and being singled out. Question? Is it mean to actually not talk to someone or include them even though you include and talk to everyone else? I think it is mean. I was always taught the Golden Rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.“ I still gave a half smile even though no one was smiling back.
It was during this time I learned something else that would forever impact me and it was then I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up!
A Moment of Dynamic Impact
My dad was still Chief of Police In Hitchcock. He had taken me to work with him one day. I was sitting at his desk playing with handcuffs when he was called out of his office. I got up from the desk and walked over to the shelf where I picked up a three ring binder that looked as if there were pictures inside. I’m not sure what happened but my dad stopped at the door and turned around, walked back over to me, put the binder down and said you can’t look at this, go back to the chair and wait for me, just play with the handcuffs he said.
He left the room, I was curious, I walked over to pick up the binder, sat back down and opened it up.
Be very cautious friends, an image doesn’t EVER leave you, so be careful what you choose to look at. I didn’t know what to expect, I only wanted to see pictures, after all, I had a Holly Hobby Camera!
I was immediately caught by sadness, by sorrow, by anger, by grief, by helplessness. These are emotions I immediately felt upon looking at these pictures. The book contained photographs of children, women, teens, people that were physically abused AND tortured. Images of irons seared into backs, cigarette burns in arms, beaten faces, blood, broken bones, bruises and more. The faces in the photos looked lost, helpless, non existent and silently calling for freedom, for help! Little did I know the book was an investigation and record but what I recall was feeling like I was in the room when the abuse took place. I was a fly on the wall yelling for them to run, hide, block, fight back!
I don’t know how long my dad was out of the office or how long I was frozen but I felt hot sheets of tears pouring down my face. I couldn’t talk, my throat locked up, it was as if I was frozen.
My dad returned, stopped at the doorway and looked at me, I turned ever so slowly back to reality. I saw tears in his eyes, he ran towards me, slide down on his knees and put me in his arms and asked me why I looked at those pictures. With warm tears pouring down my face I cried “I don’t know”. But I knew right then and there that I wanted to be someone to help other people to help themselves!!
I couldn’t define it then exactly what that meant, but if I knew the analogy back then of the Sheep, Wolf and Sheepdog, I would say that I choose to be a Sheepdog that day. To protect the sheep and confront the wolf.
Sheep don’t know any better, can’t help themselves, or they have a mentality of “it will never happen to me”. I felt a sense of wanting to guard these people, to stand up for them. Wolves prey on the sheep and wreck havoc, creating disturbance, distractions, interference and chaos. These people are lost, they are miserable and they are really, really good at being really, really bad.
It doesn’t take much thought to consider how the wolf begins his or her journey. Some stay on that evil path and get worse, some can change and have the ability to be affected by great leadership and positive influence. That’s why it is so important to teach sound principles in the home and surround your children with outside influencers of good, duplicating your efforts. It truly takes a village to raise a child.
Sheepdogs protect the sheep and confront the wolf. Sheepdogs are First Responders, Police, Military, great citizens, great humans.
I learned it’s a much better life experience to be in the parade of life than to stand by and watch it happen. I wanted to stand for something good and help others along the way.
I was introduced to Martial Arts at age 13. I am that 1% who never quit, been training 34 years and counting! I am a Black Belt. I am a Sheepdog. I am a Black Belt leader. I can assure you that leaders aren’t born a leader, I know that Leaders are made and developed. They are made from life experiences and from learning from their parents, teachers, and martial arts instructors. Leaders have the wisdom to surround themselves with people that lift them up, and support worthy endeavors and goals. They do not allow influencers, interference, disturbance and evil ways to distract them from doing what is right and doing the right thing. Sheepdog Leaders have a desire to be really, really good at being really, really good!
When I entered the dojo I saw its infinite potential and how I can use martial arts as a tool with all its sound principles. I saw the progress I made personally and all its function. I saw the benefits of health, wisdom, developing a talent, and being a steward to your fellow human, your brother, your sister in Christ. I was also pretty good at it! Kicks, stances, punches, blocks, all of it, I loved it, still do!
Might for Right!
I have a Kanji that says “Many are called, Few are Chosen”.
I felt a deep desire to help others help themselves, to be a protector, to serve my family and protect them and protect myself. I am the chosen few, I chose in. I am passionate about self defense.
I’ve experienced applying self defense in numerous occasions and seasons in my journey through life. I remind myself each class why I teach and who I am when I recite this creed “ To build true confidence through knowledge in the mind, honesty in the heart, and strength in the body. To keep friendship with one another and to build a strong, safe and happy community. Never fight to achieve selfish ends, but to develop Might for Right!
What doesn’t kill you, CAN make you stronger…
Even though being bullied didn’t end in the 5th grade, unfortunately the 6th, 7th and 8th I had some moments from fellow students, and 1 teacher in particular who did some cruel things. Even as an adult I’ve seen the wolf in action from time to time. It’s the world we live in and I choose to rise above it, educate it, make it better, and help others to survive, defend, counter and win (live). When you have life experiences that direct you to take a stand you become passionate about whatever that is, I just hope it’s something in you that can be contagious in a positive influential way. I’ve dedicated my last 20 plus years to self defense and am a Huge Advocate for it. It’s my thought, my words and will act when needed. Like my dads charge to be “Always Vigilant” I am a Sheepdog and have life experiences that I hope can help others with my work, my mission.
I encourage you to set your family up for success, if no family then you. Teach how to NOT be a bully. Learn how to stand up for yourself and your kids to stand up for themselves. Surround yourself with positive influencers and resources. Be a wildly awesome positively contagious-person who leads by a good example and just as I say at the end of each of my classes, I ask my students “How do you lead” they say “By example Mam’”!
Stay tuned for my next blog…