Monday, September 29, 2014

The Guilty Sixth Grader

I adored my sixth grade teacher.  Other than my family, I had never been so close to another person in my life.  Prematurely gray, Mrs. Kennedy was only in her late twenties, early thirties.  She hailed from Big Rock Candy Mountain country, which excited my young mind.  After all, they’d written a song about that, and images from Roald Dahl’s book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory filled my young mind.

I spent most all of my recesses helping her with paperwork and running the mimeograph machine.  I learned more from her out of the classroom than in.  She was one of the first teacher’s to assess her student’s ability and then grade them on their personal achievement. 

Not being extremely athletic, she taught me to never get discouraged.  To start from where you are and improve yourself, never worry about what everyone else can do.  Being teased and called “teacher’s pet” was well worth the harassment because I hung on every word she said and wanted to grow up to be just like her.  The year was one of the happiest I had lived in my short eleven years.

I hated the idea of leaving her and moving on to a new school, but there again, Mrs. Kennedy talked me through my fears and built my self-confidence to move forward.

It was the second to the last day of school.  Mrs. Kennedy asked me to stay after school and help with the report cards.  We worked together as she manually transferred each student’s grades into their report card.  I read them, she wrote them. (Hey, it was long before computers.)  After we were done, we triple checked them to make sure they were accurate.  She told me not to tell anyone their grades, and I promised her I wouldn’t.

The next day was the end of the year party. I felt confident, proud, and ready to face the next phase of my life.  We had this horrible red punch and icky little tasteless cookies to celebrate.  Mrs. Kennedy was out of the classroom a lot that day. 

One of the popular, athletic girl’s approached me.  “Hi, Cindy.”

“Hi, Donna.”

“I hear you helped Mrs. Kennedy with the grades.”

“Yes, I did.”  I was feeling very important as I watched all of Donna’s friends huddled in a group, watching us.

“What did I get?”

“I can’t tell you that, Donna.”

“Why not?  We’re gonna get our report cards at the end of the day.”

“Sorry, I can’t tell you.  Mrs. Kennedy asked me not to.”

It didn’t end there.  Donna continued to drill me for her grades.  I didn’t want to be rude.  After all, she was actually talking to me.  Donna.  This moment could make or break my future.  She joined her friends and then returned again.

“So you can’t tell me?” she said.

“No.  Sorry.”

“What about your grades?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, surely you know what you got.”

I nodded.

“So what did you get?”

That question threw me for a loop.  “No. I better not say.”

“Why?” she pressed.  “Did she tell you not to tell that either?”  She looked back at her friends.

Mrs. Kennedy had only told me not to tell anyone else their grades.  What would it matter?  Our report cards would be given to us at the end of the day before we got on the bus.  What could it hurt?  And if I could make a friend out of Donna, I would be sitting pretty for junior high next year.

I smiled.  “I got all A’s,” I said, proudly.

She frowned.  Why was she frowning?

“You?  You got an A in P.E.?”

She took off in a heated flash out of the classroom.  The next thing I knew, Mrs. Kennedy and the principal were there and calling me out of the classroom.  Mrs. Kennedy looked terribly upset. I took a deep, pained breath, closed my eyes for a few seconds and then crept out into the hall behind them.

My throat was thick and my stomach paralyzed.  I kept replaying in my mind what had just happened, wishing I could go back and have kept my mouth shut. I wanted to crawl under a rock.

“How could you?” Mrs. Kennedy said, fire and tears in her eyes.

I stared at my shoes and pinched my arms to keep the tears from coming.  My chin quivered and sweat broke out on my palms. “I-I-I didn’t tell Do--.”

“I can’t believe you’ve done this,” Mrs. Kennedy said.

I didn’t understand what I had done, exactly, and no one was explaining.  I only knew that guilt filled my heart at the expression in her eyes.  It was all my fault.  Whatever I had done or said, had hurt the person I adored.

I don’t remember what else was said out in the hall.  My mind was filled with self-loathing and embarrassment as everyone stared out the door at me.  The buses came, the report cards were handed out, and Mrs. Kennedy refused to speak to me as I left that day.  She actually turned her back toward me.

A whole wonderful year ended traumatically by four little words, “I got all A’s.”

Of course, the event scarred my future no matter what my parents tried to tell me.  At times, I felt angry at Mrs. Kennedy and felt that she could have handled the situation better.  After all, she graded everyone on their own progress.  I might not have been as good as Donna at sports, but I had made considerable progress during the year.  Why hadn’t Mrs. Kennedy just said that?  Why wouldn’t she listen to me? Why had she refused to speak to me?  Why didn’t she see that I felt that I hadn’t broken a promise?  Why didn’t she see that I was an eleven year old girl you adored her?

I wonder what she would think to know that, in my fifties, this harrowing experience still brings tears to my eyes and affects my relationships.

I adored you, Mrs. Kennedy, and I never got to say thank you and goodbye.     

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs!
Fly into a good book at:


Friday, September 26, 2014

You've Got to Try A Little Kindness

Couldn't make up my mind whether Glen Campbell's song, Try a Little Kindness, or the video, Acts of Kindness, shared my feelings more this week.  Therefore, you get both.  You're welcome.

I don't know about you, but it has been a difficult week for me.  People have disappointed me, but I will not let them turn me into a grouch.  I honestly don't know why we can't be kinder to one another.  We are all on this journey together. Hurting someone or damaging their career will not make you a better person.

I went to a conference a couple of weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed the speaker, Nicholas Epley, Professor of Behavioral Science at the University of Chicago.  He does research about personality and social psychology.  If you get a chance to hear him you should, or buy his book, Mindwise.

He said that when asked on the subway whether a person wants to talk to someone else or sit alone in peace, most people choose to sit in peace.  However, when asked to engage with others, those that did were the most happy.  In other words, we think we want to be left alone but it isn't true.  We are social animals.

Open your hearts this weekend and reach out to others in a kind way.  Sometimes you get your hand slapped, but most often your kindness is returned.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs! 
Fly into a good book at:

Nicholas Epley:

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Stabbing

A number of years ago, a friend of mine got diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction (CFIDS) and his liver was severely attacked. Since I had ended up in the hospital with an enlarged liver and spleen and CFIDS as well, Tom suggested I have a liver biopsy.

I scheduled an appointment with his doctor, and the doctor scheduled the test. The staff clarified the procedure, explained the liver has no feeling and therefore we could just use a local anesthetic, and then they showed me the instrument used to take out a small core of the liver. It was similar to an apple corer, but only 2-3 cm in diameter and much longer.

I laid on the cold surgical table, anxious but not too concerned. After all, it was a procedure, not surgery.

“Are we ready?” the doctor asked.

The nurse nodded and handed him the tool. He raised it in his fist and plunged it hard into my chest just below the breast bone. With a quick intake of breath, my eyes flew open and so did my mouth. I couldn’t speak. My body stiffened, and I clutched the sheet in both hands at my sides. Choking out a sob, I stared at the doctor.

For a moment, I was transformed to a dark alley with a mugger thrusting a knife into my chest. So this is what it is like to be stabbed. Blood must be gushing from the wound. Pain radiated from my chest outward. The violence of the stabbing left me paralyzed.

“You…you…stabbed me,” I said, letting out a strained whimper.

“Doctor, she’s gone into shock,” the nurse stated.

Ya think? My heart hammered uncontrollably in my chest. I felt about to fall off the table with dizziness. I couldn’t catch my breath. Of course, I knew I wasn’t in that alley, and I couldn’t see any blood pouring from my body. But, the shock of the doctor thrusting that instrument into my chest, threw me into shock, not to mention, agony. Who said organs have no pain sensors?

The doctor looked at me in confusion. “That didn’t hurt.”

I wanted to belt him right in the mouth. “Yes, it did.”

“The liver has no nervous system.”

“Give me a knife and I’ll prove it,” I said.

I don’t remember much of what happened after that. I’m assuming the nurse gave me something through my I.V. to calm me down. To this day, you’ll never convince me that organs can’t feel pain…joy…or any other emotion. If you’ve lived long at all, you know the heart can definitely feel pain. Believe me, so can your other organs.

Symptoms, then are in reality nothing but the cry from suffering organs. ~Jean-Martin Charcot, translated from French

No man is a good doctor who has never been sick himself. ~Chinese Proverb

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs!
Fly into a good book at:
Copyright: andresr / 123RF Stock Photo

Friday, September 19, 2014

All New October $229 Giveaway!

And it ain't even October yet!

Did you enter the September Giveaway?  There's still time at:  September $229 Kindle Giveaway

Kathy at I Am A Reader is jumping the gun to bring you another $229 Giveaway!
Please share with all of your friends!

Facebook is changing their policies so I Am A Reader has moved up the last giveaway where you can like Facebook pages. Here is another wonderful chance to win great prizes!

The first prize is available via the rafflecopter below.
The 2nd is available only to those who share this giveaway. 
You can find out information on how to enter the 2nd giveaway in the rafflecopter below.

The winner will have the option of receiving a 7" Kindle Fire HDX (US Only)

(The price recently dropped to $199, but the winner will still receive a prize valued at $229.)

  Or a $229 Gift Card (International)
  Or a $229 in Paypal Cash (International)

The bloggers and authors listed in the rafflecopter, all paid to help sponsor this giveaway.

Giveaway Details: One winner will receive their choice of an all new Kindle Fire 7" HDX (US Only), $229 Gift Card, or $229 in Paypal Cash (International). Contest ends 10/27/14. Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the participating authors and bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. 

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs! 
Fly into a good book at:

Cancer Research Goes to the Dogs

This weekend blog is on a more serious note: cancer research.

It just amazes me how how much our four-legged, furry friends do for us. 

It appears dogs and humans are much more alike genetically than we thought, and what's saving their lives could save our lives as well. 

Watch this video and give your dog an extra hug this weekend.

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs! 
Fly into a good book at:

Find out more at:
Copyright: yasemin / 123RF Stock Photo