Diane Vogel Ferri is a teacher, poet and writer. Her essays have been published in Scene Magazine, Cleveland Christmas Memories, Raven’s Perch, and by Cleveland State University among others. Her poems can be found in numerous journals. Her chapbook, Liquid Rubies, was published by Pudding House. The Volume of Our Incongruity was published by Finishing Line Press. Diane’s essay, “I Will Sing for You” was featured at the Cleveland Humanities Fest in 2018. Her novel, The Desire Path can be found on Amazon. She is a graduate of Kent State University and holds an M.Ed from Cleveland State University.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy 2014

Dear Past,
Thank you for the lessons.

Dear Future,
I am ready.

Happy New Year to All.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Coexist With Christmas

Coexist with Christmas

Like a bird singing in the cold of night,
when multitudes of angels
crawled and hovered above 
God walked into the world with a child in His arms.
The shepherds gave a reception, the stargazers
brought gifts to the harbinger of heaven,

the wise men momentarily lost their wisdom
to seek the sunshine of His face.
Then he grew under our sky, under the same loving Eye,
drank the planet’s water, browned in our sun,
for a brief moment – an alien in this world
just as you and I.

In this earthly rotation: blossoms break forth,
summer scorches, leaves fly, snow flies
to bring us to this annual déjà vu,
when hearts thaw and generosity
puffs out its proud chest, and we rush
in the frenetic, glorious mess of holidays.

Now, in this moment – coexist
with the reality of the day.
When the first wet snowflake touches 
your windshield, and you are singing
with the radio about roasting chestnuts,
hear the bird singing in the night,

sense God waiting to greet you
when the celebration is over,
give the midwinter gift of forgiving yourself,
and cast the remnant of your heart to Him.

Diane Vogel Ferri

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Little Good News - Drive-through Generosity

It has been reported that a new type of paying it forward is happening in America.  It's drive-through generosity. To be honest I have probably used a drive-through fast food only a few times in the past 10 years so I have little chance of experiencing this phenomenon.

But I thought I'd bring a little good news today instead of the disillusioning crap we hear day in and day out everywhere we go.

Americans are being spontaneously generous! Sometimes unbroken chains of cars at a McDonald's or Dunkin Donuts are paying for the car behind them - and then they pay for the car behind them - and so on! At a time when our nations leaders cannot seem to even be civil to each other, this seems inspired.

You may remember the movie "Pay it Forward" which came from a novel of the same name by Catherine Hyde in 1999. In the story the protagonist does three good deeds and asks the beneficiaries to do the same.

Fast food operators are reporting that drive-through generosity is happening several times a day. The largest out break occurred in last December at a Tim Horton's in Winnipeg, Manitoba when 228 consecutive cars paid it forward. Last April a Chick-fil-a in Houston had 67 cars (come on, America!)

Since I don't do drive-throughs I'm going to find another way to pay it forward. How about you? That's your good news for the day.:))

From the wisdom of  Willy Wonka said - "So shines a good deed in a weary world."

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Why I Love The New York Times

This is not a paid advertisement or any other kind of advertisement - just something that occurred to me this morning as I leisurely read through the Sunday New York Times.

I learn something every week. I learn more than one thing. The logo subtitle is "Expect the World"and that is what you get. I believe that most ignorance and bigotry stems from a lack of a world knowledge and awareness that there is a whole planet out there, full of life and humans that are nothing like yourself.  Once you gain a larger perspective your mind and world opens up in glorious ways.

But I digress. (Again, my worldview is complete in posts from a year ago)

Today I read about schools "flipping". This means that students watch videos of teacher lectures at home, on their smartphones or computers. If they lack technology they can access them at the school tech lab. When they are in school they do projects and homework in small groups with teacher support. Teachers say it is a way to reach every child, to help kids with homework when there is no support at home. Students can view the lectures as many times as they want at home. It is timesaving and, although the article didn't say this, my guess is eliminates a lot of time taken up in social drama in the daily school hours.  Apparently, in some schools they are seeing great success with students who had previously failed classes. Failure rates have declined and graduation rates have increased.

I read an excellent article by Nicholas Kristof who writes nothing but excellent articles on the world's marginalized, underprivileged and forgotten - especially women and girls in sexual trafficking. Today it wasn't about some third world country - it was Nashville.

I read an article about Tim Gunn, of Project Runway fame, who never came out to his parents, but tried to commit suicide at 17.  Again, acknowledging that no one would choose to be gay, bullied, repressed and hidden. At the end of the article he said if he had succeeded killing himself he wouldn't have had the wonderful life he's had.

There is a whole page about German words that express the inexpressible in English. New proposed German words like herbstlaubtrittvergnugen which means kicking through piles of leaves - made up of the words autumn-foliage-strike-fun.  I like plauschplage - the pressure to make small talk with people you interact with every day. From prattle-plague.  That tells you something about me....

Another article delved into the connection between success and musical training
. Examples of many high achievers in government and media (like Condoleeza Rice who trained to be a concert pianist) were included. Makes a lot of sense.

The Arts and Leisure section, while giving me a yearning to be back in New York City, is always inspiring. The amount of human creativity exhibited in this section is a beautiful thing. I feel relieved that I cannot see all these wonders since I am not there - as opposed to when I see them in Cleveland papers and wonder why I am not going to all of them )usually a lack of someone to go with that would truly enjoy it as well.)

I put aside and savor the Sunday Magazine and the Book Review section to take into my week. I find a list of books each week to add to my reading list.

I could go on and on - that's just snippets of October 13, 2013 in The New York Times.

Monday, October 7, 2013

What If There Was a Day...

I am itching to write about my angst and outrage over our inept Congress and the "shutting down" of our government, but you can read excellent commentaries by writers more eloquent than I and we're all sick to death of it, aren't we? So I share a poem of an opposing nature...What if there was a day....

when nothing happened,
in between wars and elections,
storms, giant waves, quakes and funnel clouds?

Teams had the day off, strikes were averted,
traffic moved like a dream,
thieves and attackers took a break.

Juries were sent home and judges napped,
school children forgot to bully and fight,
theater lights darkened, celebrities tired of their capers.

Reality shows were in rerun, mortgage rates
and the stock exchange remained as the day before.
No one was born, no one died.

Newspapers had nothing to print,
talking heads stopped talking,
all media were muted and stilled.

What if the cadence and rhythms of the planet
spun in harmony and coexistence
for just one day...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Follow Your Bliss

I never knew where the phrase - Follow Your Bliss - came from until one Sunday morning I stumbled on the Oprah network. The show was called Super Soul Sunday and the topics are all of a spiritual nature.  Our spiritual nature as human beings is something that always fascinates me.  I believe that every human being has this gift but I observe many fellow humans that don't appear to know it.

I am not referring to religion, especially organized religion. Although I've spent my life in church I completely get why churches are repellant to many people. Full of rules and shame, misinterpretations and hypocritical thinking in the name of God.

But spirit is something that lives inside of us. A part of us that is not in this world. A knowledge, perhaps, of something greater than ourselves. It's something that is easily ignored in this world of distractions and noise.

On Oprah's show I heard three young people in their 30's talking about a spiritual revelation of sorts. They are encouraging young people through their writings and appearances to acknowledge spirituality in order to enjoy a more fulfilling life. A life of gratitude, love and charity to other human beings.

On this show Joseph Campbell was discussed. He coined the term "Follow Your Bliss"decades ago. Who was this guy? Why had I never read his writings?  At a certain time in my life when everything imploded and I was a lost soul I read as many philosophical and self-help books as I could. I absorbed it all (my favorite being "The Road Less Traveled" by Scott Peck).

What does follow your bliss mean?  You must ask yourself :
When am I happiest?
When does time fly?
What feeds my spirit?
What do I have to offer?
What are my strongest talents and gifts?
What talents can offer something to the world?
How can I love others better?

I was shocked to discover at my age I still needed to purposefully ask myself these questions and ponder the answers to get  back on track in my life. To begin to feel true joy again. To feel that I am offering something to the world. I think we need to ask ourselves these questions throughout our lives because we do change and grow and have more to offer the older we get.

I realized that I feel closest to God when I am singing. It makes me happiest. And I have not been singing so I joined a new chorale.  This blog was also one of my ways to offer something, however small, to the world. Ask yourself those questions and you may be surprised to discover that the answers may not be what they once were.
Thanks for reading.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Now That I've Got Your Attention....

So I put a pathetic cry for help on Facebook the other day for people to read my blog. And guess what? About 30 people said they would. I find that amazing. For as annoying as Facebook can sometimes be, I find it's benefits much greater.  I have learned of friends losing loved ones that I would have never known otherwise - and I could offer support.  I have been in touch with friends who share a common history with me, but we had lost touch for many years. I have shared my own heartache and felt loved.

Does Facebook just provide the illusion of friends and support?  I think not most of the time. I believe that when Facebook friends say they are praying for you they mean it. I know I do. But, say on your birthday, maybe yes.  Admit it, don't you feel really popular on your birthday now?  (I resent the fact that I have always remembered people's birthdays for years but now I do not get credit for it because Facebook reminds me - but I digress.)

I truly feel blessed by those who said they'd read. It's not that I think that I have so many more profound and incredibly intelligent things to say than the next person. Here is the reason:

I started a blog when I needed something in my life.  It met those needs. It inspired me because I was always looking for inspiration and interesting things to report. It opened my eyes to more of the world in my search for unique blogposts.  It has made me think more deeply about life and the world around me. And I believe that if God has given you a gift - even a small one - it's meant to be shared. You  never know when you may touch someone's life or write something they need to hear.

If you want to read my every little thought and opinion about the world, politics and morality just scroll down a little ways to August and September of 2012. Otherwise I will try to keep it light:)

I may even force you to read and appreciate a little poetry....

This year has been one of the toughest of my life. I suddenly and unexpectedly became a caregiver for my two wonderful parents. It has been a privilege and a joy - but it is also extremely stressful to have to make life decisions for others, to be responsible in ways you never have been before, to get used to not having the time to do any of the things that used to calm you and make you happy. Things are somewhat stable now and this is why I return to something like my blog.

THANK YOU if you are reading this. I love you, truly I do.  I'll try to make then short and sweet and if you want to comment, I would love to hear your thoughts. But it means the most just to know you're out there.

If you scroll down a little ways there is a device that says you can subscribe. I think you will get an email if there is a new post. Try it and let me know if it works!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

On Having It All

Delia Ephron has a new book called "Sister Mother Husband Dog" and this is an excerpt from it about "having it all".

It might be a fleeting moment - drinking a cup of coffee on a Sunday morning when the light is especially bright. It might also be a few undisturbed hours with a novel I'm in love with, a three-hour lunch with my best friend, reading "Goodnight Moon" to a child, watching a Nadal-Federer match. Having it all definitely involves an ability to seize the moment, especially when it comes to sports. It can be eating in bed when you're living on your own for the first time or the first weeks of a new job when everything is new, uncertain and a bit scary. It's when your senses are engaged. It's when you feel at peace with someone you love. And that isn't often.  Loving someone and being at peace with him (or her) are two different things.  Having it all are moments in life when you suspend judgment. It's when I attain that elusive thing called peace of mind. 

Not particularly American, unquantifiable, unidentifiable, different for everyone, but you know it when you have it.

...I have it all. And not only that, I can have more.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

When the Music

This is the poem I wrote for my daughter on her wedding day. You have to know Kate and Matt to appreciate it but I wanted to share it with all.

When the Music

For Kate and Matt 
on their wedding day
July 6, 2013

The chords of hopeful love and harmony
stretched from east coast to west
through fashion and history
unbroken by time or space 
when the music was a silent prayer

Dissonance and alternate soundscapes
pulled to meet somewhere in the desert
near fountains and night lights
unexpected fusion and gold dust  
when the music was unrehearsed and new

An intermezzo of sweet communion
an offbeat meeting of body and soul
and all the world stopped
the fifteen year wait was over 
when the music was a precious thing

Songs they had never sung
they now sang for each other
rhythmic, soul-wise, tattooed on their hearts
in the velvet underground that only two share 
when the music was suspended rock and roll

Today God is in their redemption song
now it is sealed, it is beautiful
let them sing and dance in these song-gifts
with a melody only they can hear
and the music goes on forever.....

Diane Vogel Ferri

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Life Happens

I doubt that anyone looks at this blog any longer.  I don't blame you.  Something I once loved and thought about everyday has gotten lost in the circumstances of life.

What has happened since March 9?
Starting on March 16th BOTH of my parents were hospitalized a number of times and both spent time in rehabilitation facilities. Then my first grandchild was born - a beautiful boy!  The end-of-the-school-year craziness ensued.  My daughter's wedding is days away.

Emotional roller coasters don't leave much room for thoughtful blog posts.  I had been winding down anyway.  I miss you COEXIST. I hope I'll be back someday soon. Meanwhile, having a beloved mother and father and new little person to love and care for is a blessing everyday.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Public School Teachers

There is a teacher's strike going on in the greater Cleveland area. Strikes are terribly damaging to both sides and personally I do not think I would ever vote to strike. I have seen both sides. I do know that it always a last resort and I understand the union's need to retain their power lest working conditions deteriorate and effect student learning. I also understand the need to work with a contract and not be taken advantage of.

Thinking about this made me want to share what it was like in the elementary school building that I teach in this week.

This week grades and report cards were due. Report cards can take hours and hours for a classroom teacher with 25 students. We have one 45 minute planning time each day but at least once a week it is reserved for a grade level meeting. This week teachers started to give up two lunch or planning periods a week to tutor students in math for the all-important Ohio Achievement Assessment.  This will continue until the end of April.  It is voluntary but everyone volunteers because it is good for kids. Just like the entire district agreed to a longer instructional day without one dissent - because we care about the kids.

This week some teachers were required to be at school in the evening for a concert, many are at an all weekend IB training on the west side. These do not all apply to me but I did have extra special ed duties this week that took up several class periods.  This Wednesday we will all work a 13 hour day to accommodate conferences.

Most days I open my email in the morning with trepidation because I know there will 2-3 more things I am required to do that day or that week that I previously knew nothing about.

We are required to go to multiple trainings each year. Yes, they are part of the work day, but anyone who is a teacher knows how much extra effort it requires to prepare for substitutes (and then usually you have to teach it again anyway).

Am I complaining? No! No one I know complains. It's our job. It's also our job to deal with children who come to school hungry, angry, filthy, unmedicated and out-of-control, and deal with parents like the one this week - when told his children weren't doing their homework - yelled at the teacher that it is her job to teach them, not his.

There are days I come home exhausted, discouraged and sometimes defeated because it is not an easy job.  You can't stop caring because they are children.

Oh, and we also lost an hour this week  .......I'm just saying.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Think Positively About the World

The following are excerpts from an essay written for the Washington Post by Peter J. Munson, a major in the Marine Corps and the author of "War, Welfare and Democracy: Rethinking America's Quest for the End of History."

After the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the United States sent its military off to war and fretted about post-tramatic stress disorder - but paid little attention to the fact that America itself was traumatized. Americans became angry and withdrawn. We are fearful and paranoid because, after a strike on our nation, we chose to focus on defense rather than the resilience and vitality that made America great.  In our defensive mindset, we bristle at every change in a world undergoing an epochal transformation.

We have little reason to be so negative. Certainly the rest of the world is gaining on us, but this represents the successes of explicit U.S. policies, the United States sought to create a world of economic interdependence and prosperity, hoping to banish the malaise that helped precipitate the global conflict. The prospect of rapid growth was not viewed as a threat but rather offered the promise of robust markets for American goods and ingenuity. We were confident and focused on the positive tasks of expanding the economy rather than fearing change.

Collectively we have lost that positivity - what historian Louis Mumford called an "inner go". Mumford was referring to the Romans, who in their decline focused only on security and stability, losing the vitality to embrace change and take risks. In our increasingly paranoid discourse, we too, have lost focus on the positive, creative tasks that continuously remake American power, resilience and vitality. We cannot agree to invest in education for our children or infrastructure for our commerce, to rationalize the regulations that underpin out markets or to act collectively to create value. Instead we hunker in a defense crouch.

A nation cannot survive on defense alone. Militaries and wars produce nothing. They only consume - time, lives, resources and hope.  Banish the fear, paranoia and dissension. Lead again.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Coexist on Inauguration Day/Martin Luther King Day 2013

"The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined non-conformists who are dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood."  Martin Luther King Jr.

"There is not a liberal America and a conservative America - there's the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America, a Latino America and an Asian America - there's the United States of America." Barack Obama