The World Turns with Possibility -by Judy Oakleaf

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I use to watch the soap opera “As the World Turns” with my mother.  It was a fairly innocent vice and one we laughed about but couldn’t resist.  We knew the story lines were overly dramatic, often fantastical, a bit “spicy”, a bit silly, and pure entertainment.  After all, how could any real human being survive the endless challenges the characters faced on a daily basis?   Even as I reached adulthood and my very busy life kept me from afternoon television viewing, my mother would fill me in on “our story” aka As the World Turns, whenever we spoke.  It was a fun connection for us and we would end our chats in the comforting awareness that the main characters certainly had more trials and tribulations than we did.   

The real world for me revolved around my family and my teaching career.  I was blessed to spend my days doing what I loved.  Every day, I encountered children who inspired and challenged me.  Some days were more challenging than others, but I knew I was in the midst of greatness.  These children who graced my life were frequently wise beyond their years.  They celebrated life, bore sadness, neglect, and loss upon their small shoulders, and still they welcomed each day with smiles and hope.  The sincere and profound conversations we shared filled me with optimism.  Several of those “kids” are approaching their forties and are the embodiment of the greatness I was witness to when they were in grade school.  They are professionals, skilled service providers, parents, and responsible citizens.  They are the doctors I go to for my aching knees, the lawyers I call on to help me write my will, the skilled plumbers who come to my rescue when my water heater breaks, and the list goes on. 

During these times of political, racial, and economic divisions, I often stop to remind myself of the tenacity of children.  Some days, I wish my mother were still living so I could ask her if we somehow got sucked into As the World Turns.  The daily news feels more like a soap opera than real life.  Mixed in with all of the absolute absurdity surrounding us are genuine global concerns and the personal tragedies of our fellow human beings.  And yet… once again, it is the young people marching for their lives that inspire and fill me with hope.  For me, children are the constant.  They shine a light on our strengths and our failures.  They rise up and challenge us to do better.  They hold us accountable and make us proud.  It is the young who have drawn the line and said “Never Again”.  It is the young who have challenged us to keep them safe.  They have taken up the gauntlet and called us all to action and children across the country have answered the call.  They are the heroes of this current drama and will be the leaders of tomorrow.  Because of them, I am filled with that same sense of energy and purpose I felt as a young woman.  Tomorrow looks brighter and the possibility of the world continuing to turn is always a good thing.  Just ask any soap opera fan.

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Judy is a native Coloradoan.  After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work she spent several years working with social services.  In 1986, she returned for her Master’s degree in Education.  The next 26 years were devoted to teaching and raising a family.  She currently supervises student teachers for Colorado State University.  She loves volunteering at Homeless Gear, long walks, camping, and books, books, and more books.