John A. Duerk

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I’ve been living on the South Shore of Lake Tahoe for over four months now and my life has changed in certain ways.  Yes, I’ve become a Subaru Forester-driving, Patagonia hoody-wearing, mountain and forest-loving Californian.  No apologies.  The choice to move here easily makes it onto the shortlist of the best decisions that I’ve made in my life to date.  This is where I’d like to stay for the rest of my… Read More

“I’m not walking away from here with a bunch of things I still need to declare…” -Bane On Saturday, I will depart Houston to pursue a new teaching position in South Lake Tahoe, California.  Yes, I’m moving to the Sierra Nevada Mountains!  While I lived in between three mountain ranges during my stint in Arizona, I have never lived in them or at 6237 feet above sea level.  I’m ecstatic about this… Read More

After years of controversy, the Texas State Board of Education unanimously agreed to adopt a high school Mexican-American studies course, but then nine members voted to change its name from “Mexican-American Studies” to “Ethnic Studies: An Overview of Americans of Mexican Descent.”  While this might appear rather innocuous, the decision speaks to a much deeper issue that has some upset.  For example, board member Marisa Perez-Diaz from Converse, Texas called it “discrimination”… Read More

Insecurity is a poison that kills human relationships.  I wish that more people grasped this fact and those who struggle with it had the courage to examine the person they’ve become.  As complex emotional creatures, most of us have felt unsure of ourselves at some point just like we’re inclined to occasionally feel angry or depressed.  Nobody exhibits confidence in every situation no matter how much they’d like to pretend otherwise.  Vulnerability… Read More

When each semester winds down, a bittersweet thought crosses my mind: I won’t teach most of my students ever again.  Now, I periodically encounter them in the hallway or at a campus event, but our instructional time together is over.  As this realization sinks in, I wonder what impact my class had upon them.  This is difficult to gauge.  It feels strange to spend all of those weeks together and then watch… Read More

My teenage years will always be an important time in my life.  There’s so much that happened during high school and community college that forged the person I am today.  Looking back, I can plot my own layered progression from adolescence into young adulthood.  One of the more important layers involves the emotional intimacy of interpersonal relationships, which really matter in your formative years.  I recall a number of personal experiences –… Read More

Last Thursday, the Center for Civic Engagement at LSC-CyFair hosted a powerful event featuring members of The Journey of Hope, a non-profit advocacy group that opposes capital punishment.  Two activists, Shujaa Graham and SueZann Bosler, shared incredibly moving stories that captivated the audience.  Mr. Graham spoke about serving time on death row before his exoneration.  Ms. Bosler told us about the horrific day in 1986 when she watched a man murder her… Read More

…are genuine at all times…inspire us to do more…provide truthful explanations for their actions while taking responsibility…show compassion…ask thoughtful questions even in the most difficult of moments…understand which boundaries they should maintain and which ones they should transgress…rethink their current approach…believe in a myriad of possibilities…fight like hell to uplift the human condition…demonstrate their gratitude…know who they are and what they want…defend the defenseless…change their mindset and behavior when necessary…acknowledge their flaws… Read More

It has been a long five years.  Too much has happened.  If I think about all of the changes and disappointments, I start to feel dizzy.  If I think too much, the stress manifests in my head, chest, and abdomen.  It gnaws at my insides as the tension grows.  There are fleeting moments where everything comes into focus and I feel more at peace, however those feelings have yet to fully coalesce. … Read More

“Yeah, I heard it in your voice tonight.  It’s got you feeling like there’s nothing you can do.  But there’s something you can do.  You can light the way.” -Betrayed Whether it’s trying to find the hope in a demoralizing situation or the truth hidden behind all of the political drivel, the struggle to understand human behavior can leave you staring into an emotional abyss.  It can leave you crying out for… Read More

Earlier today, I hiked over seven miles on a series of trails at Huntsville State Park.  Rays of sun pierced the tree branches to illuminate the forest.  Leaves rustled in the strong breeze to produce a soothing, white noise.  The solitude that I found during my visit provided the time I needed to disengage thoughts that often cause me distress.  While standing all alone on a path composed of sand and pine… Read More

Marriage?  I don’t know much about it.  While I’ve been in several long term monogamous relationships since high school, I’ve never been close to reciting vows because the circumstances haven’t been conducive to taking that step.  So, periodically I ask some of the married people I trust and respect about their experience of making a lifelong commitment to another person.  I sense that most have been forthright with me.  Usually, I begin… Read More

We hear a lot about emotional availability in our culture, but what about emotional awareness? To me, emotional awareness is the sense of self that one develops from reflecting upon life experiences, which includes examining your own feelings along with how your behavior affects the well-being of other people.  You have to admit and own your mistakes.  You have to commit to changing your behavior when necessary. None of this is easy… Read More

Geographic location.  Career direction.  Interpersonal relationships.  There’s a lot in life that can be negotiated, however, time will never make the list.  After all, we only have so much to divide up in a variety of different ways.  I know who and what matters to me; I’m focused.  It probably has something to do with my personality type.  Moreover, it has a bit to do with something my father said to me… Read More

Some nights you can’t forget.  I remember pulling into the driveway of the suburban Chicago home where I spent my adolescence one July evening twenty-five years ago.  The sun had not yet totally disappeared from the sky.  You could still feel the warmth of that summer day lingering as dusk approached.  I longed to take off my work uniform – a blue shirt, slacks, and dress shoes – because they never felt… Read More