Spirit to overcome is lesson learned when day leads to frustration

  • Written by Claudia Parker



“If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail,” – Benjamin Franklin.

I’ve adopted this quote and etched it into the cornerstone of my existence. Great words to live by when the application works successfully.

Have you ever seen a Mom meltdown at the front of a tilt-a-whirl? Well, I didn’t actually meltdown outwardly; it was one of those, scream-at-the-top-of-your-lungs on the inside, meltdowns. I just purchased my daughters, Donae, 8, and Rhonda-Rene, 5, full access wristbands to Safari Land in Villa Park. Rhonda-Rene, my amusement park enthusiast, vehemently refused to ride ANY of the rides. For those who find my reaction meritless to her offense trust me, this was but ONE of several failures in my perfectly planned day!

I wasn’t even supposed to be at an indoor amusement park. I was supposed to be photographing a ‘Building Relationships with At-Risk Students’ workshop at the Hilton Oak Lawn, being facilitated by my husband, Dr. Don Parker. A Doctor of Education, he’s been in the field 18 years, 12 as an administrator in suburban school districts around Illinois. Because of his desire to impact the youth outside his school district, he created workshops that he conducts throughout Illinois and beyond. I’m normally unable to attend but since Oak Lawn is a stone’s throw from home, I made arrangements to be present.

Just to be certain the girls didn’t feel slighted by our spring break trip starting a day late, I found a one-day youth camp for them at a local park district. Having never been to its location, a drive-by the day before left me confident I wouldn’t be scrambling to find it the next morning.

A pop-up alert on my phone reminded me they also needed a brownbag lunch. Seeing as our cupboards were bare, a grocery store trip was the prelude to packing them. Anticipating the girls would be sluggish come morning, I made sure to do their hair and selected coordinating outfits the night before. My head hit the pillow with assuredness. What went wrong?


Camp started at 9 a.m., it was 9:15. Why was the park district parking lot empty? Worried by what I saw, I called inside. “I apologize ma’am, due to low enrollment, camp was canceled today,” said the director of the program. “Sorry for the inconvenience.”

I wish you could have seen how I contorted my face at that news.

We were all dolled up with nowhere to go. I needed an alternative for the kids, especially Rhonda-Rene, who has special needs. I had prepared their minds for a fun-filled-day and I had to deliver. A quick Google search put us on I-294, 45 minutes north, to a recreational arena that had apparently closed. “Notice to vacate,” was what the sign read on the front door.

I suppose the Internet is slow about removing inaccurate content? Note to self, call ahead.

It was 10 a.m. when I turned the steering wheel in the direction of Villa Park, 30 minutes east of our location. We found a nearby Portillo’s and stretched our patience with an extended 90 minute lunch until Safari Land opened at noon. We were the first ones in the door. Having access to all the rides with no waiting would be our consolation prize for the morning’s inconveniences. So I thought.

I pulled out my credit card and paid for two non-refundable or shareable wristbands to which Rhonda-Rene responded, “No!” to every single ride I convincingly requested she board.

I stood in front of that tilt-a-whirl looking into the rafters of their ceiling. At that point even Donae was disheartened. “Unbelievable!” we said, simultaneously.

All that effort to make things right and it all went sideways. Pushing through the interstate traffic got us back home just as Don was coming in. “What happened,” he asked? “Thought you were coming?”

After explaining our National Lampoon’s Vacation of a day, he said, “I’m really proud of you?” Pardon me for being dumbfounded because I didn’t get his feedback at all.

“Huh,” I questioned?

“You’re resilient. With everything that came at you today, you had enough wherewithal to adapt and forge ahead. You were resourceful and you persevered. You embody every quality of resilience, you have the mental ability to recover quickly,” he expounded.  

Don imparted a blessing in my spirit when he told me that. I let it simmer for several minutes thereafter. From his vantage point, I suppose I’d had a successful day after all. I went to bed that evening with a different quote in my head though, “You can plan a perfect picnic but you can’t predict the weather.” Author-unknown.

Don’s Administrators’ Academy workshops “Building Relationships with At-Risk Students”, or “Implementing a Resilience Program for At-Risk Students” can be made available in your school district by contacting him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Prince will rest in purple legacy

  • Written by Joe Boyle

Breaking news happens all the time and we have had our fair share this year. On Thursday, April 21, we had three stories of a larger magnitude. Two sports stories were worthy of front page coverage along with a prominent death.

I’ve read numerous accounts on the death of Prince Rogers Nelson, 57, better known as just Prince. The multi-faceted singer and musician died at this Paisley Park estate in Chanhassen, Minn., just 20 miles southwest of Minneapolis.

My first thoughts were of surprise, not shock. I recalled watching the news the previous Friday, April 15, and it was reported that Prince’s jet had to make an emergency landing in the Quad Cities so he could be treated at Moline hospital. Aides said he had been battling the flu. I wasn’t so sure about that. He was returning from a concert in Atlanta to his home in suburban Minneapolis

It seemed strange that his entourage made an emergency stop at a Moline hospital for Prince to be treated for the flu when he was so close to his home. I mentioned to my son that it was most likely more than that.

I don’t think I can add more to what is already been written about Prince. He had some moderate success in the late 1970s with two albums and rose to international success with the release of his movie “Purple Rain” and the album of the same name. He followed that with more hit records and albums. He even made two more movies that were not that successful.

On one hand I’m a little surprised at the response to his death. Moments of silence at sporting events and purple rays of light shining on buildings in major cities across the U.S. and the world in his memory surprised me. But he was unique and a master showman. Michael Jackson may have been the self-titled “King of Pop” and a great performer, but Prince could play numerous instruments and write great songs. Jackson could not do that.

But the mainstream hits dried up a long time ago for Prince. It probably coincided with his rebellion against his record company in which he eventually got his freedom. He released two albums last year and another four years ago. I’m not sure many people listened to that music.

Although I can’t say I was a huge fan, I had to respect this eccentric musician. He did it his way. I also liked the fact that he actually lived in the Minneapolis area. We have some celebrities whose roots go back to Chicago and they talk about how much they love the city. But after they make an appearance somewhere or sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh inning stretch of a Cubs game, they are out of here. Prince grew up in Minneapolis and never left.

He made some great music and his sexually-laced performance at the Super Bowl in 2007 will always be remembered. He had the most unique press conference a couple of days before the Super Bowl, in which the Bears eventually lost to the Indianapolis Colts. Prince and his band had entered the press conference with their instruments and appeared to wait for the first question.

Someone indeed tried to ask a question but Prince, who was known to be shy and not much for talking, responded by singing a song that included stinging guitar licks before the horde of stunned reporters. At the completion of the song, Prince responded that the “press conference is over.”

I think that was pretty cool. Prince even engaged in social media for a while and in keeping with his character, suddenly dropped his Twitter account. He loved his audience but wanted to keep his distance.

A little mystery, I believe, is a good thing. You leave people wanting a little more as they try to figure you out. In a world in which people like Kim Kardashian take pictures of her backside because she deems this important, Prince preferred to be alone with his music.

Chicago did have two great sports stories that day. The Chicago Cubs crushed the Cincinnati Reds 16-0 as Jake Arrieta throws his second no hitter in the last 16 starts. The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the St. Louis Blues 4-3 in in overtime on a goal by Patrick Kane.

But Prince’s death was indeed front page news. Noted guitarist and singer Eric Clapton was once asked what it is like to be world’s greatest guitarist. Clapton said he did not know.

“Go ask Prince,” Clapton said.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Air traffic controllers strike reference adds to tension

  • Written by Joe Boyle

The verbal assaults continue between Gov. Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-22nd) while the budget stalemate goes on and on. But something was said last week that caught my eye.

In one published report, Rauner commented after Madigan complained about his tactics. The governor told Republicans at a dinner that he apologizes about the rough times everyone has gone through.

“If we have to do what Ronald Reagan did with the air traffic controllers… And we sort of have to do a do-over and shut things down for a little while, it’s what we’re going to do.”

Really? Now, this is what this is coming down to? We are going to revisit the air traffic controllers strike during the Reagan administration? How serious is Rauner about governing for all the people in the state of Illinois?

Let’s turn back the clock a few decades. Back in 1981, President Ronald Reagan fired more than 11,000 striking air traffic controllers. The air traffic controllers were fired two days after their union, PATCO, declared a strike. The union demanded a pay raise, a shorter work week, and better working conditions. Some historians have said that this laid the groundwork for today’s assault on labor.

Joseph McCartin, author of “Collision Course: Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike That Changed America,” said that the labor force was still seen as a central force in American government back then. Both the Democratic and Republican parties felt that way. Reagan was in the first months of his presidency and was in the process of introducing his revolution. Reagan, according to McCartin, wanted to go before the pre-New Deal era. He wanted to reorganize the relationship between the government and labor movement.

The PATCO strike happened at a time when Reagan felt it was necessary to flex his muscles. When the air controllers went on strike on Aug. 3, he told the strikers to return to work within 48 hours. When they did not comply, he fired them. He later permanently replaced them.

Ironically, the union actually supported Reagan for president. PATCO began because of a disaster when a midair collision occurred over New York City in 1960. Improvements had to occur during that period and they began to take place. Working conditions were actually improving in the 1970s. But there still were some major issues. The main problems, according to union officials, were the working hours of employees and pay.

Move the clock back to today and the tensions are high between the Federal Aviation Administration and the union that replaced PATCO – the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. The union and the FAA cannot agree on a new contract. So, the FAA will impose its own contract, which includes major concessions.

Union leaders have said that the concessions will make it harder for air traffic controllers to do their job. New hires will be paid far less than they are today, according to the union.

So, I guess we are going back in time. Rauner seems to be comfortable in dragging this deadlock out so that he can ram his “turnaround agenda” through. In the meantime, grade schools, high schools, colleges and universities are struggling. Some institutions, like Chicago State University, are struggling more than others.

Rauner wants to see wages readjusted and unions with less influence. What the governor is actually saying is that he would like to see most employees working for less. He has also called for an end to collective bargaining. And what that can accomplish is that employees will be making less and struggling to get by. That hardly seems like progress.

Look, there is plenty of blame to pass around here. Somewhere along the line there has to be some compromises. Madigan and Rauner continuing to trade insults are not getting us anywhere.

But for the governor to bring up the air traffic controller strike in 1981 takes on a combative tone. He essentially is saying that he is going to wait it out with the idea that the Democrats will eventually be on their knees.

I don’t think that is going to happen. In the meantime, the budget impasse is in its 10th month with no end in sight.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Medicinal marijuana battles stigmas and state bureaucracy

  • Written by Joe Boyle

When marijuana was discussed several years ago as a means to alleviate pain for people who are suffering a variety of debilitating illnesses, there were a few snickers. The use of marijuana is nothing new although many of us link it to the 1960s when many people began to try it.

I attended a workshop back in September to inform the residents of Worth about the misconceptions of medicinal marijuana. Obviously, the community was at least interested in hearing from the representatives of Windy City Cannabis, which was going to manage the medicinal marijuana dispensary in the village.

Worth Mayor Mary Werner and other officials spent nearly two years to convince residents that the future employees of the dispensary are going to be good neighbors. Of course, Worth officials also believed that having the medicinal marijuana dispensary would eventually be profitable.

I believe that is still the case. Residents once thought that the building would attract drugs and an increase in crime would occur. The dispensary has been open for just over three months and no problems with the community have occurred.

But while Worth has accepted the fact that medicinal marijuana is available to treat ailments, apparently preconceived beliefs are hampering the treatments. Werner touched on this during a Chicago Ridge Worth Chamber of Commerce luncheon in which she is concerned that the facility will not remain open unless Gov. Rauner can help loosen the restrictions on what illnesses can be treated.

Illinois has some of the strictest regulations on what can be described for medication. Werner even put in a call to Rauner’s office to see what he can do. She is still awaiting a return phone call. Werner said that 5,000 people have signed up to receive medicinal marijuana. The goal at this point was 10,000. Steve Weisman, the CEO of Windy City Cannabis, said the figures are below where they should be.

However, in a story that appeared in our April 7 edition, Weisman said that in his mind the program is still a success. He mentioned of talking to people who had tears in their eyes because the pain they had been suffering had been alleviated after taking a prescription. Weisman talked about a quadriplegic, who after treatments, could actually move his toes.

Weisman points out that medicinal marijuana is not a cure for these ailments. But those testimonials have Weisman confident the program will draw more participants. The problem is that previous Gov. Pat Quinn had a different viewpoint than Rauner. I can’t specifically say why Rauner seems less than enthusiastic about the program. Perhaps he does not see the project as bringing in lots of money. I also believe it was another way for Rauner to stick it to Quinn, who approved of the program.

Illinois law already has 39 conditions and diseases that already qualify for medicinal marijuana use with a doctor’s signature. Cancer, glaucoma, HIV, hepatitis C and multiple sclerosis qualify.

Conditions that have been rejected by Rauner are anorexia nervosa, chronic postoperative pain, Ehler-Danlos syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome and migraine headaches.

I realize some people have their doubts about medicinal marijuana. But I cannot understand why Rauner and his mostly hand-picked board would object to something that can help relieve the throbbing pain of migraine headaches, for instance

The other obstacle facing Weisman and Windy City Cannabis employers is that many doctors are resistant to sign for their patients who request medicinal marijuana. Some of these physicians believe that to do so could be interpreted as reckless by critics of medicinal marijuana. Again, the stigma attached to cannabis is still prevalent.

But there is some good news. Illinois medical marijuana shops had their best month yet in February with nearly $1.5 million in sales, bringing total retail sales to more than $4.4 million since the program began Nov. 9.

A program director said that registered dispensaries served 3,042 patients during February. Marijuana wholesalers pay a seven percent tax to the state. The wholesale sales reported indicate growers paid roughly $83,000 in taxes in sales for February. Concentrates and edibles became more widely available, contributing more than $362,000 to total February sales.

I think that prescription rates will pick up in Worth as well. The one suggestion I have is that perhaps through their website or by advertising, it should be noted that Windy City Cannabis is located at 11425 S. Harlem Ave. in Worth. More information can be obtained at

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Learning life’s lessons and value of dollars and ‘sense’

  • Written by Claudia Parker




I’ve been working on teaching my 8-year-old daughter, Donae, fiscal responsibility. She’s developed a liking to saving money, which had just about filled her baby-bottle shaped, bank. I felt it was time we take a field trip over to the ole’ brick and mortar bank so she could make her first savings deposit.

Together, Donae and I tallied every penny, nickel, dime and quarter and packaged them into the appropriate coin wrapper. “Wow, I’m rich,” she said. “If you need to borrow money for the taxes, I can help.” This statement came as a result of her eavesdropping on me telling my husband, Don, it's almost becoming too expensive for us to continue living in Illinois. “Mommy doesn’t need your money. That’s for you,” I explained. “C’mon, I’m taking you to the bank so your money will be more secure.”

I grinned elatedly. I pulled the deposit slip from its slot in the bank lobby. It was one of those “Mommy moments.” I felt I was doing well. “Write your name here,” I instructed. “Once you’re done, you’ll need to fill in your account number and deposit amount.” She filled out the form as requested and we stood in line. A smiling bank teller requested we step forward and Donae hoisted her loot onto the counter, pushing the deposit slip behind it. I stroked her long pigtails as the teller counted the loose change, rolled coin and paper money totaling $74.36. “And here you go,” said the teller, as she handed Donae her deposit receipt.

Donae's reaction caught me by surprise. Stiff as a statue she stood, with not a peep. I was a bit embarrassed that she wasn’t reciprocating the teller’s expression, which beamed, just as I, knowing this was her first ever bank transaction.    

“Well? What do you think about your first ‘real’ banking experience?” I asked, completely puzzled.

She bit her bottom lip and raised an eyebrow. “I don’t know how to feel?” she questioned. She handed the deposit receipt to me as if she’d just been duped. “I gave her ALL my money and all she gave me is this piece of paper?”

When I was growing up, the finances I understood was that my mom’s money stack was much shorter than the stack of bills. “Overdue” was stamped across most while others read, “Collections Department.” Just when I’d think our situation couldn’t become more severe, we’d slump into a further state of destitute. I was a little like Donae. I looked at what I saw and felt like I was being duped. Ours was a life of day-to-day struggle. My mom couldn’t provide the bare necessities, let alone luxuries like new clothes and school supplies on the first day of school. I was disappointed and often judged her unfairly for the life she couldn’t provide. My self-righteous judgement began to shift as I matured. I came to realize later in life that my mom gave me something far more valuable than money when she taught me how to have faith. “The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

As told in my memoir, “Becoming a Mother While Losing My Own,” I recall one evening near dinnertime my mom having nothing to feed me and my three siblings. Yet, mom said, “Claudia, go set the table.” I was thinking, “For what? The fridge is clearly empty.” But since I had the type of mother you didn’t talk back to, if you wanted to keep your head on straight, I complied.

But this was no joke. Within an hour a woman from our church came walking up to our door with bags filled with groceries. “Sorry for dropping by unexpectedly, but the Lord laid it on my heart to bring these items to your family,” she said.

That blew my mind. That was the first of several miraculous experiences I witnessed firsthand as a result of my mother having the audacity to believe her circumstance would change.

Is Donae’s logic really that uncommon?

Don’t most of us believe more in what we can see than that of which we cannot? In time, she will learn that keeping her money in the bank isn’t only a better option because it’s more secure, it will also accrue interest, thus putting her at a financial advantage. A simple lesson, but sometime I suppose it can be difficult to understand the benefit that comes with trusting another source.

Are you giving life everything you’ve got and finding the reality you hold in your hands to be less than a fair exchange? What would happen if you dared to believe more in what you hoped for rather than what you were experiencing? I wonder who might come strolling up to your doorstep, “figuratively or literally,” to share what the Lord laid on their hearts to do for you?

If you’ve experienced a faith manifestation, I’d love to hear about it. Connect with me at and click “Contact the Author” tab.

Claudia Parker is an Evergreen Park mother, author and runner whose columns appear in The Reporter the second and fourth Thursdays of each month.