Haibun from Days Gone By

Looking back from this vantage point, from who I am now and how we raised our children, I’m surprised at my calm, unquestioning “okay” to one man during my lifetime. Wally Rucks, high school football coach and my guidance counselor.

I only had one meeting with this overweight, jowly faced man. In 1964, at the beginning of my senior year.
“Are you filling out your college applications?”
“Yes.”
“What career are you aiming for?”
As the only female on our award-winning debate team, I was ready with the answer. “A lawyer.”
“Girls don’t do that. Study to be a Speech and English teacher.”
The meeting was over. I walked out the door and that’s what I did. I became a high school Speech and English teacher, albeit a very good one.

And then years later, I earned a second Master’s Degree and a PhD. Became a university dean and traveled the world solo, meeting corporate executives, establishing internships for our Global MBAs. Go suck an egg, Mr. Rucks.

smallest acorn
trampled in mud by hiking galoots
tall now in forest green

It’s Haibun Monday at dVerse and today we’re supposed to write about something that surprises us. Come join us at the virtual pub for poets — bar opens at 3 PM Boston time. Haibun: short, precise prose (cannot be fiction) followed by a haiku.

54 thoughts on “Haibun from Days Gone By

    • lillian December 12, 2017 / 6:40 am

      Hah! LOVE your spirit, Jane 🙂

      Like

  1. dornahainds December 11, 2017 / 2:58 pm

    Fantabulous- for All the success written and experienced. 😎😎😎🥀🥀🥀

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian December 12, 2017 / 6:40 am

      Thank you, my friend. Always love to find your emoji replies 🙂

      Like

    • lillian December 12, 2017 / 6:43 am

      Well, there are no regrets. Regrets mean we wish we’d done something else. If I had, I would not be where I am now, and many things would have been different. Love my family and would not trade anything. But — obviously, after all these years, what this man said still irritates me and I am surprised at how I did not question him at all……..the pleasantly surprised is in how it all turned out anyway! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) December 11, 2017 / 3:12 pm

    You would have been a great lawyer too… I only remember one discussion with my counselor…

    “What do you want to study?”
    “Science”
    “But that may prove too difficult, wouldn’t be better to chose something simpler”
    “If I fail at science I can take something easier after that”.
    “….”

    After that I went on with science and ended up with a PhD in Physics.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian December 12, 2017 / 6:43 am

      Ah….you responded! And how! 🙂

      Like

  3. alisonhankinson December 11, 2017 / 3:43 pm

    I am glad you eventually chose to follow your own path. I think for many of us we were dissuaded from following ideals and dreams. I think your acorn flourished well in the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian December 12, 2017 / 6:44 am

      Thank you, Alison. Yes, I have no regrets. Irritation — but no regrets 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Vivian Zems December 11, 2017 / 3:47 pm

    Definitely tall now in forest Green. Two fingers up to old crusty Rucks!💪

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian December 12, 2017 / 6:45 am

      Hah! Love your spirit here, Vivian. Hopefully guidance counselors have improved over the past 50+ years! 🙂

      Like

  5. Jane Dougherty December 11, 2017 / 4:36 pm

    It’s still difficult for girls to be what they want to be. Good for you for persevering.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian December 12, 2017 / 6:46 am

      It may be difficult…but hopefully guidance counselors of today provide the tools and the motivation for girls (and boys) to try! 🙂

      Like

      • Jane Dougherty December 12, 2017 / 9:06 am

        It’s certainly about time they started.

        Like

  6. Karen December 11, 2017 / 5:01 pm

    Congratulations on growing tall.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sascha Darlington December 11, 2017 / 6:39 pm

    Yay you. If ever there was a story of a woman’s empowerment, this would be it. I know that early on I did what people suggested. I may even have been bad in math because I was told I was supposed to be. But you and this, rocks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian December 12, 2017 / 6:47 am

      Thank you, Sascha! Let’s hope the guidance counselors of today are motivating rather than “squashing!” 🙂

      Like

  8. X December 11, 2017 / 7:44 pm

    You know, the only one we really need to believe in us is ourselves.
    When we decide we can be anything, and pursue life as if that were true,
    there are truly no limits to what our lives can become.

    What an asshat.
    Not the kind of teacher I strive to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian December 12, 2017 / 6:48 am

      Amen to everything you’ve said here! Hopefully, 50+ years later, hs guidance counselors now “guide” and motivate! 🙂

      Like

      • X December 12, 2017 / 8:05 am

        I hate to say this, but I really do feel like our guidance counselors are some of the most useless people on campus. They stay in the ivory tower, away from the real life of school. It should not be that way, but as a teacher – that is an opinion.

        Like

      • lillian December 12, 2017 / 8:10 am

        ☹️

        Sent from my iPhone: Lill Hallberg

        >

        Like

    • lillian December 12, 2017 / 6:49 am

      Ah yes…..and the idea is to recognize when the advice is tarnished and to challenge it! 🙂

      Like

  9. jazzytower December 11, 2017 / 9:09 pm

    Ha ha! Go suck an egg indeed…Mr Rucks. Nobody ever ssked me what I wanted. They just shoved me away from the sciences. Well, I made a nice u-turn and ended up right there. Yay for you.

    Pat

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian December 12, 2017 / 6:49 am

      Love your spirit here, Pat! And yay for you too! 🙂

      Like

      • jazzytower December 12, 2017 / 8:20 pm

        ☺😥😊Thank you!

        Like

  10. adda December 11, 2017 / 10:15 pm

    Your haiku is perfect! I like your use of nature to describe beginning to today and a happenstance that allowed it to happen but I know it wasn’t happenstance that got you to your career pinnacle. You would have been a great lawyer, but for some reason, I don’t feel you would have been happy with that choice, I know you made the right one and followed your gut more than what your counselor suggested. Stand tall and be proud!

    I had a similar experience, only mine suggested I attend a community college and look into a skilled laborer career. Good thing I didn’t listen to him either. Went on to university, graduated in science, obtained master’s degree in science, and start PhD but was traveling a great deal outside the country with my job that I wasn’t able to keep up with it all. Led a global Research team. Not bad for someone who was told to look into a skilled laborer career!

    Perhaps this is why I have always admired you, you went for what you believed in! Kudos.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian December 12, 2017 / 6:53 am

      And you know what…..although I remain irritated with this guy, I don’t regret any turn I made as that would mean I would not have had the experiences I did and I would be in a different place now. I LOVED my years in Marengo and being a highschool speech and English teacher! Loved doing it! But — I sure did take that experience and used it to guide me in many ways to do and expect the opposite of it. So important to motivate rather than squash! 🙂
      Did not know that about the advice you were given….kudos to us both! 🙂

      Like

      • adda December 12, 2017 / 9:40 am

        In business it was important to motivate than squash, perhaps that is why I loved research – we were never squashed but motivated to find answers to questions. Loved my career. ❤

        Like

  11. rothpoetry December 11, 2017 / 11:29 pm

    A great story Lillian. Reminds me of the Toby Kieth song, “How Do You Like Me Now?” Sounds like you would have been a great Lawyer!
    Dwight

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian December 12, 2017 / 6:55 am

      Hah! The song title is perfect here….:) Glad you enjoyed.
      No regrets….as that would be wishing life had turned out differently. Just irritation and a realization of how I worked to do just the opposite of what this man did to me………tried to motivate my hs students, my college students, and my children. So much better than shutting someone down! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • rothpoetry December 12, 2017 / 9:55 am

        Beautiful! Think how many lives you have touched with your career!

        Like

    • lillian December 12, 2017 / 6:56 am

      Thanks! On a parallel line…..just learned a few days ago that squirrels lose 80% of the nuts they bury! So acorns do have a good chance to grow! 🙂 And it makes me feel not so bad when I lose my keys these days 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. kim881 December 12, 2017 / 2:11 am

    Hurrah for you, Lill and boo sucks ya to Mr Rucks!
    I got rotten advice and no support from school or parents. It was my grandfather who encouraged me to move to Germany at sixteen and I did it all myself, worked my way through university both there and in England years later. You are an inspiration, Lill and I love your acorn haiku.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian December 12, 2017 / 7:00 am

      I have no regrets, Kim. That would mean wishing for a different life and would have ripples that would put me somewhere else now…different kids, different spouse, different life. But…I still am irritated by what this man said and the power he had. I do though realize that I did actually respond to him by becoming who I am! I must have somehow taken what he said as a challenge and became the best I could be as a teacher. I did love every minute of it….and then, decided to do more. You did the same…..Kudos to you, Kim! And may we both motivate others. Squashing is a word form for a vegetable!

      Liked by 1 person

      • kim881 December 12, 2017 / 11:09 am

        😊

        Like

    • lillian December 12, 2017 / 7:01 am

      Thanks, Hank. Amazing, after 50+ years, how I’m still irritated by this man. But — no regrets. I am very happy in life and, perhaps becuase of him, I’ve tried to be a motivating person rather than a “squashing” one! 🙂

      Like

  13. annell4 December 12, 2017 / 9:54 am

    You are the smartest girl in class. We grew up in a different time, no one told us, “we could be.” Perhaps it really doesn’t matter which road you choose, you will arrive in time. I am honored to know you!

    Like

  14. whippetwisdom December 12, 2017 / 11:46 am

    I love how you are now ‘standing tall in forest green’ Lillian and it is interesting to see the different cultural differences that influence important life decisions. I grew up in The Netherlands, a country where everyone was taught from a young age to always question authority ;o) xxx

    Like

  15. Namratha Varadharajan December 12, 2017 / 11:57 am

    Way to go, girl! But I guess it does surprise you still how to just went along with his idea.
    Loved your haiku at the end, that really reflected the essence of the prose

    Like

  16. Kathy Reed December 12, 2017 / 12:43 pm

    Looking back is a good way to measure our previous doubts against what we eventually learned.
    Pleasant, indeed, was your career. Regrets hold us back. Life is full of surprises!

    Like

  17. Misky December 12, 2017 / 2:21 pm

    Way to go, Lillian! I love this story.

    >

    Like

  18. Singledust December 12, 2017 / 5:39 pm

    a pleasant surprise indeed, you took it as a challenge not an insult, that’s the beauty of your spirit.

    Like

  19. lynn__ December 13, 2017 / 4:21 pm

    Good teachers cheer us on, not step on dreams with galoots’ boots. You’re an excellent teacher by your example, Lillian!

    Like

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