Monday, April 30, 2012

Parental Guidance

I am finally free! I completed the last of my History classes this past Saturday. Now it's on to the Teacher Preparation portion.

Lesson plans, Diversity, Testing, Classroom management. All of which I am ready to delve into. I remember my adopted Irish mum and 12th grade English teacher telling me what a great teacher I would make.

I pretty much blew that off since I knew I wanted to be a newscaster or something. And then, as a teen, my aunt insisted I work in the Children's Church for Sunday School, even though I felt I'd be better suited for older kids.

After a college drop out, marriage, and children an career-focused Army wife I admired steered me toward the ESL tutoring program instead of her marketing needs.

On and on people sought to align me with education as I sought other avenues of activity. And then finally it clicked.
I'm not only good at this, but I enjoy it as well.
I finally stopped fighting what all the people/mentors/surrogates around me had apparently seen in me. And instead I started teaching. And I  haven't stopped yet. As much as I consider myself an independent thinker I realize that sometimes parents do just understand.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Share a smile

Listening to a child's conversation is
a source of Zen for me.

~Happy Six Word Friday! Our prompt was: LISTEN.~

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Stress Relief

Some people and problems have a special way of finding their way under your skin and into your nerves. Especially if they are someone we know and love.

How can we live our lives in a way that minimizes the impact other people's problems or quirks have on us. How do we keep them from becoming bigger burdens than they should?

It's a tough habit to learn. Learning to release ourselves. To get to a place where people are accepted for who they are. To a place where we decide to focus our care and attention on things that build us up vs. the things that break us down.

Discovering ways to handle the myriad of obstacles that are thrown our way on any given day.

And there is a line between outright apathy and acceptance.  We can not lose interest in all things that happen to be out side of our immediate control. However we can determine to use our energy on life-building tasks vs. choosing to mull and stress.

These are some questions I've developed to help myself stay on track:

1. Is there something I can DO to end the stress? (i.e. Should I wake earlier to avoid running late and stressing out?)

2. Is this my problem? (i.e. Am I getting worked up about someone else's issue? Are they even interested in solving this issue?)

3. Will this stressor eventually run it's course and end? (i.e. Is this a temporary problem like an assignment due or a visiting relative?)

Honestly, sometimes the answer to all these questions seems to be "No, yes, and I don't know!" But I have found that for even the toughest irritants (like bills, homework, relationships), when I walk away and come back there is often a path to take where I didn't notice one before.

I'm still new to the idea of letting life untangle itself. My first instinct is to jump in and handle the mess myself.

But sometimes letting go is the best thing we can do.

Monday, April 23, 2012

We gon' take it to the Moon

Have you ever known distinctively when one chapter of your life was wrapping up and a new one was beginning?

Could you almost see the pages of time turning onto a new canvass ready to be written.

Perhaps it's because this is finally the year in which I turn 30 or maybe it's because my B.A. has finally reached full stride. Whatever the reason, I feel as though this is a time of transitioning and growth.

I've mentioned before how I would have goal lists and post note cards in order to visualize and track my life progress and various plans. Those tools have worked well. But this year I chose to use the power of my words and a steady/singular focus to propel me along.

For instance, instead of listing arbitrary course credits I wanted to pass and complete, I decided to try to move as productively as possible through my school term. No minimum number of classes to complete, just a determination to keep myself moving along.

From January until now this new approach has worked well.

So its feel like now is a natural time to refocus and think of new objectives that deserve my focus:

1. Seeking and accepting more responsibility on my job.
2. Publishing the two manuscripts I have ready into app or print form.
3. Forming more organized spending habits.
4. Incorporating clean eating into the family way of life.
5. Strengthening my body.

These are a few of my intentions. What are yours?

Friday, April 20, 2012

You know what they say

If at first you don't succeed....
try, try, try again. If that 
doesn't work take a bathroom break 
and give it another go. But 
whatever you do, don't let go.

~~Happy Six Word Friday! The prompt is HOLD.~~

"Hold on!" is what I keep telling myself. I have two books I want to publish, and I will not let go until I see them in print. 
Have any dreams to share?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Wait for it...

I chose, several months ago it seems, to put something off. I kind of felt like the Hippocratic Oath: "First do no harm." And I won't recant and say that waiting was a bad decision, but the longer I waited the more tense the situation became. And who wants discomfort? I didn't. I just wanted space. Silence.

Do you ever feel as if you don't quite have the words you need to express a feeling? That was me. But the miracle was, that when the dice began to roll the words came. There was a clarity I lacked before that suddenly appeared. I understood what I had been struggling with and putting off for so long.

My grandpa has a saying, "Nothing is as good or bad as it first appears." And truly, facing my true feelings were not as bad as I had thought. Perhaps I could have talked them out sooner. Or maybe I did need the hiatus to figure things out.

Oprah has a feature in her magazine this month about what she would say to her younger self. And while I'm still quite young I get her.

You get a little older and while life may still move swiftly, your thoughts start to slow and you are able to process things more clearly, or better yet.... simply wait for them to process themselves.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Conjunction Junction

In the 1940s and 50s, when my grandfather was a little boy his family lived on a farm in Mississippi. There was a school house run by the church and all the colored children went there. After primary school, when most of the farm children would drop out, my great grand father insisted that all 12 of his children continue their education.

When my grand father was high school age there was no busing system and his school was so far he had to live with my great aunt throughout the school year. By the time the youngest of his siblings started high school (about two decades later) they experienced the long bus rides to get to school.

By the time my mother was born in the 60s, schools were desegregated but hostile all the same. She didn't have to leave town to learn, but she was harassed for being there.

Fast forward to the 80s, I started going to school in the immediate vicinity of my home, but as my sisters and I got older my Nana was not satisfied with the education and sent us to schools further and further away. Long bus rides were a way of life, and although I was often the only black girl in my class my Nana felt the school was worth it.

Last year I decided to send my children almost 30 minutes away in order to attend a better school.

The irony of being on the receiving end of 50 years worth of civil rights successes only to be forced to make similar decisions concerning my own children's schooling!

Back in our home district I both tutor and work with children being under-served. Kids who are intelligent but have parents who do not read with them. Children being passed along when they still can not regroup two digit equations. Kids being kicked out of class prior to interventions being pursued.

Many families don't have the money for private education and are resigned to home districts are wasting their children's time. After all the marches and rulings and funding initiatives it seems we've arrived back at the same junction. Separate and unequal.

What keeps me from screaming like a madwoman is seeing all the people who do care. The teachers, tutors, and volunteers toiling. Trying to turn the tide.

Choosing to be one of those people baling water out of the ship. 

But these children still need their parents, board members, politicians, and President to find ways to fix our ship. Otherwise we're all going down. Buses and all. This crazy, patchwork, insufficient education system can't produce the type of thinking adults America needs to survive.

It's time to revision what educational equality truly means to us. It's time to rebuild.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Beginning of the end

Charges were brought against George Zimmerman, 
confessed pursuer/killer of Trayvon Martin. 

And I can't say I'm relieved, 
jubilant, or particularly satisfied. In fact
it feels pretty anti-climatic. 44 days 
after the murder, to see charges. 
Because now we wait to see 
if Florida's justice system delivers some 
semblance of real justice. Will it 
ever really be over? This tired 
story that is tragically relived/redone
 /renamed/retitled, an updated open assault. 

Perhaps I'll feel more jubilant when 
we write fresh stories of peace.

~~Today is Six Word Friday. Our prompt was: OVER~~

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Defense Mechanisms

I recently read an excellent/touching blog post by Ericka Kendall of Black Girls Guide to Weight Loss about how women are taught to deal and adjust to men in this world. She details some of her own experiences in being inappropriately approached by men and at one point assaulted.

What really struck me from her post was how universal our "training" is: Women/girls are told what to do/not to do in order to keep themselves safe, while men are not necessarily coached on how to respect/protect their women/girls.

At the end of her post Erika decides she will most likely seek counseling and take up a strength building sport like kick-boxing in order to better protect herself. I sat at the screen nodding my head in agreement. Sure, Zumba is fun, but it won't help me deflect an attack.

Fast forward to last night when I realized 3 minutes to 8:00 that we needed peanut butter and milk for the next day. With the grocery store already closed I just speed down the street to the Dollar Store. As the last customer in, the clerk promptly locked the door after I entered.

A male came to the door after I was rung up my I fiddled on my phone waiting for the clerk to let me and two other patrons out. He stood outside for a while and then walked away. When I finally get let out the lot is empty except for a police car and three others.

I hear someone call out to me. I turn. Nothing. I hear something again and look toward the police car. Nothing. I hop into my car and drive away only to be followed out the lot closely by another car. I turn on the block before mine. The car turns too. I turn to my block. The car turns too.

Feeling my skin goose up I turn down my alley and so does my follower. So I keep driving not pausing at my unopened garage. The car comes to. I get back to the street and dart back onto the main intersection where thankfully traffic is heavy. The pursuer stays stuck at the stop sign and I circle around again.

To say that freaked me the f*ck out would be an understatement! I mean who was following me? And why? And had they noticed me before? Should I stop walking the dog alone? So any things running through my head.

But no answers.

So breath more easily when my husband gets home and determine in my mind to start researching kick-boxing classes too.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Thorns and Roses

Well, the upside of knowing exactly where you went wrong is having the ability to fix it. I inexplicably failed one of my final History exams by a few points this morning. I knew I needed to shore up on the Crusades and the Franks and the Romans and the Visgoths.

But it was Easter weekend. And we headed out to the Botanical Gardens with the crew in tow. And I baked my famous macaroni and potato salad instead of hitting the books.

I knew full well the implications of not studying would have. But I made a choice to enjoy my family and all the activities Easter weekend brings. And that was that.

So I'm going to be kind to myself. Instead of dwelling on how much I needed to study this weekend...I'm going to relish having smelled the flowers and seen my boys find Easter eggs.

And on Tuesday I'll pinch myself and pick back up my history textbook and start taking notes anew. We all know that roses come with thorns, too.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Don't you remember

Music that speaks to your soul.

~Happy Six Word Friday! Our prompt was: RETURN. Adele makes me want to go out and buy a record player and album just so I can hear the scratchy record sound and watch the disc go round and round. Somehow shuffling it on my iPod isn't enough.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

And there go the scales

It's insane, the sheer number of things we can not see. Things that are completely invisible to us. It wouldn't matter if they were right in front of our faces, under a microscope, on a projector.

There are times we just refuse to see clearly.  Blind until the scales have been removed. Or knowledge imparted.

Instances like this used to drive me crazy. I just wanted to avoid mistakes, or mishaps.

Why can't I just know everything already?

Thankfully I've come to accept the futility of trying to see and understand everything immediately.

Some things just take time. Decisions, observations, logic. It seems that hindsight is the only sight in some cases.

It's akin to walking around with mismatched shoes (which I've done) all day. Only to glance down hours later and finally SEE your shoes. And take notice that they actually don't match. I've had one of those occurrences this week. Only I'd been walking around with this thing for years.

But it just dawned on me, the true nature of the situation. All I can say is that I was blind to it, but now I see. Which makes me smile, because I know I've grown.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The sum total

My sister was speaking with a coworker the other day about the measure of success. Together they wondered how you know when enough is enough.

When is it time to stop climbing and instead become more comfortable on your rung in the ladder? When can we stop striving for more and start living our lives?

It can be hard to discern when we've reached that elusive place we've been searching for our whole lives. Is it even a place? Or is it a feeling?

Is there a sudden knowledge when you've arrived? When the successes and accolades you've longed and worked for have finally arrived.

Questions like this make me think about Paulo Coelho's book, The Alchemist. How the Shepard goes off in search of a treasure. Only to find that after all his travels, his treasure was really in the place where he began. Somehow his hunt, his journey, his discoveries lead him back home.

Is that what we're looking for? The journey to our treasure? The journey that sometimes leads us back to ourselves?