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Looking in the Mirror

I have a bad habit.

I measure myself against others.

I know it’s bad and it doesn’t matter how many times people say, “don’t measure yourself against others,” I still do it. It doesn’t matter that I say that to other people, I find myself doing it.

Yesterday, I went to a scholarship breakfast sponsored by a local chapter of an African-American female sorority. The theme was “Hats Off to Sisterhood” and a “loose” requirement was to wear a hat. I am not a hat person; I’m very casual and the one hat I do have is a University of Arizona baseball cap. A good friend, who bought my ticket for the event, had extra hats and told me she would bring me one.

Now, as I stated in the last paragraph, I’m very casual, to a fault. I did not wear jeans, but I wore business casual, not dressy. When I arrived at the hotel, I saw beautiful African-American women wearing these hats one would see at the Kentucky Derby! They were dressed in heels and cocktail-type attire. I was floored! I was embarrassed! Although I wore business casual, I felt like I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt compared to them.

My friend kept reassuring me that I looked fine as I tried on hats. Everybody kept saying, “You look beautiful” but I didn’t feel like I did.

I told you it’s a bad habit.

I had all types of mixed emotions flowing through my head as I looked through the crowd of these fabulous dressed women of color adorned with these fabulous hats. It was more than what I was wearing: I began to think about how all of these women knew each other and I knew only the people from my church.

I began to think about how I have lived here all of my life and I don’t know people! How sad is that? Most of these women come from the East Coast, the South, or the West Coast and they have connections!

I don’t want to sound envious, and I hope I am not by writing about this, but I was worried about how I am not in the community – a person who loved the public, a former journalist, what happened?

So, I thought back to a time where it all began: high school. I was intricately involved in high school: high school newspaper, president of the Black Culture Club (they had that type of club back then because black kids needed a space for identity and purpose in high school other than sports). My involvement in that club promoted a Thanksgiving Concert fundraiser at my school where we invited local church choirs to come and sing. That was a blazing success! This landed speaking engagements for me. I was a keynote speaker at a statewide Black Youth Conference. Prior to all of this, the summer of my junior year, I was a contestant in the Miss National Teen Arizona pageant! I look back and wonder how I got over!

In college, I did not do as much as I did in high school; however, I was the photography editor of the U of A’s yearbook. I loved taking photos and I was hired based on my enthusiasm of taking photos. The job led me to get a part-time job as a sports reporter for high school sports at the Arizona Daily Star, which led me to an internship in the editorial department. As the string of jobs continue, I became a reporter at two newspapers in Moreno Valley California and I was given an award for my reporting and published in a Los Angeles publication.

Then, I was done with California and moved back to Arizona, where I started a weekly publication for the African American community called The Tucson Sun Press. It was free, but if people wanted to subscribe, they could get it mailed to them. I was featured on KVOA-TV, an affiliate for NBC about the newspaper, which was very exciting for me! However, the excitement did not last; an angry man called the Sun Press line and left a nasty racial message and asked, “Why aren’t there white newspapers?”

Ugh.

Internal grumblings were happening within the volunteers of the newspaper and some African-American businesses were not supportive; in fact, the community was less than supportive, so I decided to let it go.

And there it is. I was discouraged. Discouragement played a key role and I went into a quiet room, worked as a teacher, and wrote. I did not frequent events, I did not get into the public eye; I was a hermit.

But, as a hermit, I wrote. I wrote poetry and I delved into my feelings and thoughts. I wrote when I was angry and when I was sad. I wrote when I was happy. I wrote poetry and attempted to write novels and short stories. I found the convenience of self-publishing and published my books and recently, I found camaraderie with my work colleagues and sold my books at a local large book festival! I felt my self confidence rise again and I felt determined to concentrate on my craft in writing.

And then Saturday hit. I saw that I did not know the public, my peers, my community. Although people said affirmations to me, I felt out of place. The keynote speaker had us doing something wonderful: she had us say our name at our table and everybody at the table had to repeat our name and say an African mantra which translates to “I see you.” The reason why, as she explained, is because we go around asking people how they are doing, but we never really pause to listen to people. Therefore, we don’t really “see” the person we are talking to. I loved it!

I have to admit this that sometimes, specifically around African-American women, I feel invisible. I don’t wear braids, not a lot of makeup, big shiny jewelry, nor am I in a sorority. I am different. My two older sisters are in the community and are known; people know who they are and will stop and talk to them; but, I am different. They know me as “the youngest sister.”

Another blow to my ego, happened on Saturday when I got home. I am working on my doctoral degree and I had to submit an assignment on Friday, which I did so. I opened my grade and I got an F. The professor’s comments ripped through my self-esteem like blood on the brain! I had thought I did a pretty good job, but according to the professor’s words, everything was wrong! And to make the wound more painful, his comments were, “If you have any questions, contact me.”

“Yes!” I exclaimed out loud and frightening my poor, sleeping doggy. “I have questions! Why am I doing this?!”

I want to quit going to school, but I have a passion to help teachers, and my dissertation is all about helping teachers become leaders in their school! I have the potential, but I lack the courage. I am in battle and my armor is falling off and it is dented. I guess this is how my students feel when they get a poor grade. Yes, it is damaging and you want to quit.

OK. You’re reading this and saying, “Wow. You need to stop feeling sorry for yourself. There are worse things that can happen.” And, you’re right.

I am writing this for a reason.

I don’t need the limelight. I don’t need to be seen. I need the “F” on my assignment to work harder at what I want. I mean, who do I want to please and why do I want to please them? What’s the point to be everybody’s friend or have everybody talk to me? Why do I need that? I’m 53 years old and I have made it so far with few friends in my corner and without a lot of limelight! In my younger years, I was in the limelight like the saying says, “Been there, done that.”

I had to examine myself yesterday and find out why do I allow my emotions to take over my senses? I have appropriate clothes to dress, I just didn’t know what the event was all about: now, I do. I had people at my table who didn’t even look at my clothes and we laughed and talked and loved one another: therefore, I had a good time. The professor gave me comments to improve my assignment and said he is excited to work with me during the residency event next week: I am relieved.

The problem is I overreact. I jump to conclusions, and the truth is I judge others. That’s the the problem. People are doing what they need to do and what they are passionate about! I should do the same thing. While I am spending precious moments worrying about what I am or not wearing, or if people know who I am or not, I am wasting time not writing, not doing my assignments correctly, and adding unnecessary gray hairs.

My parents raised me better than that!

I look back at all of this and realize it is really silly. However, I had to confess this because the first step to healing is to admit your mistakes. I am transparent in acknowledging the mistakes I have made, and I have made lots of them!

I feel lighter. I am going back to work on my assignments now.

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Doug Ducey and The Flood

The past week

This past week, Arizona’s Governor Doug Ducey visited my school for his annual education tour of Arizona schools. The weeks prior to his visit, the school was buzzing with preparations. We had a select few classes and students to make glorious presentations for the governor – and it was a very exciting, yet stressful time for all teachers and administrators.Doug_Ducey_by_Gage_Skidmore_10

Needless to say, the visit was warm and welcoming and best of all, the students behaved and the governor was impressed.

[Insert silence here. Maybe a round of applause or quiet clapping].

Doug Ducey visited my journalism class. It was a topsy turvy effort that molded into a “mock press conference.” We had planned to ask the governor some poignant questions about Freedom of the Press for high school journalism students because last year the Arizona legislation markedly indicated that high school reporters did not have the same right as professional journalists. Other issues they wanted to know is why did he cut the education budget and pour more money into the prisons. My students did their homework.

Unfortunately, when the questions were sent to his office, they were changed or altogether replaced with “cute questions about what he does for fun, and his plans for the Teacher Academy to recruit more people in the STEM areas (and for those of you who think that STEM is the part of the apple or cherry…no…it stands for Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics). Since our school is a STEM school, this question was relatable.

My students wanted to know why their teachers are not getting paid equally as other teachers in the nation.

But, we were quashed. We were silenced.

My students shined and smiled, and even had Ducey do some selfies with them, after all, they are teenagers. He was impressed with my group because we abided by the rules of the Ducey team. This wasn’t the time or place to get into controversial conversations, I get it, and they did too.

But to add to my chagrin about impressing him, our school became a beautiful sanctuary! The rain-stained ceiling tiles were replaced – the walls were painted and beautifully decorated with awesome positive quotes. Banners were hung with the various accomplishments of the school, and I walked into a place that was the beginning of something great! I’m not complaining about the beautification of the school…no…but it took a person who came into the governor’s office and placed Arizona’s state of education last on his list in order for us to make the school look better!

Not only that but for the past seven years, the road next to the school was pocked with potholes! Driving down that road every morning and afternoon was disastrous for tires and shocks on your car; however, weeks before the governor’s visit, the road was razed and paved to a smooth path! Some former graduates who dropped off their younger siblings mocked “Oh, now that I’ve graduated they paved the road – after all the damage it did to my car!”

Everyone can say what they want, but it was all for the governor. Everything we did was to show the governor that we are doing well despite his budget cuts. Although we are hurting on the inside, although teachers are struggling to make ends meet (or maybe that’s my personal issue), we showed the governor that he can continue to cut the budget because we’re surviving.

Arizona is ranked 43rd in education and 49th in education funding.

I will repeat the statement.

Arizona is ranked 43rd in education and 49th in education funding.

As we all know there are 50 states in this great country of ours.

My school is a charter school – a school of choice. Therefore, compared to a district school, the funding is lower per pupil. My principal said, in passing, that we lost about $300,000.00 this year due to cuts in the budget.

Now, I’m quoting from other sources, but Ducey is proud and repeats the top 10 best schools in the nation includes 3 schools in Arizona. That’s great, but those three schools are from the Basis Charter school system – the same Basis that now has a school in China.

When Ducey addressed the journalism students, he touted about how he helped regain the money (Proposition 123) to help increase teacher salaries.

I’m still struggling.

He is also proud of convincing other states to follow him in providing a high-stakes Civics Test for high school students. But, the quality of education is still poor, despite the wonderful efforts of my many colleagues in education. We have the passion to get our students to a level of understanding the world even if it spits in your face; wipe it off and keep fighting, is what I say.

So, in the end, Ducey was highly impressed with our students – and I am happy about that. I’m glad we made a great impression on him, and I hope that when he goes to sleep at night, he will dream about their little faces and presentations, and he’ll wake up one day and say, “I need to help our education system. They need more money!”

[Rolling my eyes].

The next day after his visit, Trump arrived in Phoenix. He held a rally and alluded to pardoning former Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio. After he left Phoenix, he made good on his promise, of course. Saturday Night Live created a parody of the rally in Phoenix, including the African-American man who held a sign that read “Blacks for Trump.”

Really?

And, the most catastrophic event that happened in this country is Hurricane Harvey that struck most of Texas, and it is still occurring.

The flood waters are billowing as the rain continues to pour. Since my parents came from Houston, Texas, most of the Watson family still resides there, and I am concerned. Thank God prior to the publishing of this blog, they’ve all sent a sign that they’re OK.

Ducey and the flood. It doesn’t really relate, but in my mind…it kind of does.

 

D-Day and Remembrance

Today is the 75th anniversary of D-Day. I watched CBS’ Morning show report from Normandy, and the camera panned the faces of the living veterans who stormed that beach to take out German soldiers that eventually ended World War II. These men, these courageous men, were in their 20s, or younger. As I looked at their faces, I could see their eyes daze, and perhaps their minds went back to that day. Of course, these men now are in their 90s, and some were in wheelchairs, but they knew how they held their guns, ran upon the sand to prevent the madness of Nazi thinking from spreading. They probably remembered their fellow soldiers fall on the sand and die a heroic death for the survival of freedom.

It is interesting because this past week, I watched the movie, “Monuments Men” starring George Clooney and Matt Damon, among other actors. A former colleague recommended that I watch the movie, and I finally got around to watching it. I was fascinated! It is a true story about several men in the art, and the architectural world decided to go into the battle to save precious pieces of art. They went through basic training and began to map out the destinations of particular parts of stolen art. I won’t talk about the entire movie, but I was so fascinated by this story because these men risked their lives for art! Two of the men were killed in the mission, but they were saving pieces of art that we now look at with opened eyes! If it weren’t for the purpose, I wouldn’t have been able to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris!

Also, today, I volunteered some time at my church during a funeral. An older woman had unexpectedly passed away, and you could tell by her distraught family members. Her daughter, especially, was in tears. I had checked on the family as they gathered in the conference room before the service; I wanted to make sure they had water, tissues, and checked the air temperature. I handed out the programs, along with another greeter, and conducted little errands. After the service was over, I went to the daughter. Something compelled me to go and talk to her. She was surrounded by her family and friends, but I pushed through and held her shoulder.

I introduced myself and told her, “I know how you feel. Don’t worry, your mother is with you now, and she wants you to be the woman she raised you to be.” She hugged me and said, “Thank you.” At the time, I don’t know why I said that to her, but now at home, I realized that my heart is healed about losing my mother. This past Mother’s Day, I had a difficult time getting out of bed. I felt alone and sad; I thought about how my mother loved me the best way she could. She had a difficult life before she got married to my dad, and I believe her nightmarish life was something she never resolved. I am not sure about the details of her younger years, but knowing that she lived with her grandmother most of her life, her family was dysfunctional. In any case, I believe this past Mother’s Day, I truly grieved for the last time for my mother. I was strong enough to help another daughter enter life without a mother.

I’m not at that point about my dad. That wound is still fresh, even after 11 years.

But, my point to all of this is remembrance. Remembering the past with open arms; embracing what has happened to move on for the future. Remembering what happened in Normandy helps us to embrace freedom! Remembering lost loved ones helps us to remember who we are and how much we were loved.

In other words, celebrate freedom! Celebrate life!

60 Seconds of Music

I love music! I will stop and listen to songs that capture my ears. From Gospel, Rock, R&B, Jazz, Classical, and Country, if I hear a melody that rings 100 in my head, I will give it a listen.

What really bedazzles me, though, are the songs in the background of commercials! Specifically, there are two commercials with these amazing songs that I really like! When they come on, I stop what I am doing and listen intently. I think about writing when these songs come on, but unfortunately, they are only 60 seconds long.

The first song is from Childish Gambino. It is from the Cadillac Commercial. The song is called “Me and Your Mama.” Give a listen:

Me and Your Mama – Cadillac Commercial

Yeah, it is rather lengthy, but it has that “back in the day” type of melody and feel. It is a cool song!

The next song is from a Volkswagen commercial. It is the new Arteon from Volkswagen – the ad itself is a music video, but the song is very catchy (to me). When I tried to look it up to listen to the entire song, I only found the snippet from the commercial. It is by an artist named Love. I will have to do some further investigation. Anyway, it is called “Look Down in Awe.” Give a listen:

Volkswagen Song

Like it? Well, if you don’t, I do.

Let’s just say the Cadillac and Volkswagen marketing teams got this consumer to watch their commercials because of the music. Unfortunately, I am not in the market of buying a new car (especially a Cadillac or Volkswagen). Both vehicles are very durable, sleek, and yes, expensive, but not for me. I don’t know how the rest of the American consumers are soaking up these commercials because of the music, but I can tell that many people have been looking up the songs by the search on Google and Youtube.

Since Cadillac or Volkswagen did not convince me to buy their vehicles, they did help Childish Gambino and Love push their music to the forefront for me. I am impressed! I wonder which car commercial will be next to showcase another musical artist?

Oh well. This has been a brief message from your friendly blogger. Now, back to your show!

That Five-Letter Word

Let’s talk about money. Yeah, money. I have wanted to blog about this subject for some time now, but I believe today is a good day to discuss this sensitive subject.

Money is a subject that many people do not like to discuss. It is taboo to explain how much one makes, especially among colleagues. If you tell a colleague about your salary and they make less than you, things start to happen. Your colleague will begin to measure themselves against you; they will start to compare their experience, degrees, and expertise against you. This is why it has been a blind policy to not discuss how much you make to fellow workers. I try to stay away from the subject because as a teacher, it is already difficult since we are not genuinely honored with what we do by our salaries.

Money is also incorporated in a lot of cliches and phrases such as “Money is what makes the world go ’round”; and, the most famous “Money is the root of all evil.” Well, the latter is always misread and misinterpreted because in the Bible 1 Timothy 6:10, it reads: “For the love of money is the root of all evil…” Money is a necessity to live, but if you love it more than life itself, then it is terrible. If you like anything more than your own life, it is awful – most people call it an obsession. The obsession of money produces greed, and when you become greedy, you will do almost anything to get more and more. That is why we have criminals in the financial world – it is because of greed.

Some Christians also misinterpret a scripture in the Bible that overflows to the thinking of non-Christians. There is a belief that God does not love or accept rich people because of the following scripture:

How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Luke 18:24–25.

This is not saying rich people cannot go to Heaven; no. It is saying that you can’t buy your way into Heaven or any other place for that matter. You should not use your wealth to sway people’s decisions. Wealth should not be a boast or persuade others to bow down. Wealth is meant to help the community and others; if you have it, share it.

Now, I must say this before I go on, by no means am I an expert in money. For those who know me, we can both laugh at this together, because I have had more than my fair share of money mishaps. I can honestly say that I have been in more trouble with money than with anything else! Money was my drug of choice, and I am not kidding about that. It began when I entered college, and I was offered so many credit cards. I was ignorant about credit and conveniently used the cards for unlikely purchases. Yes, it began with credit cards and ended with title loans.

Recently, I went through professional counseling because of loan issues. I couldn’t pay my utility bills, and I would get loans on top of loans to pay for other loans so I could pay my regular bills. I had to borrow from family and friends (and some I still need to pay back), but it became such a terrible story, I did not know what to do. I went through bankruptcy twice and even did not learn my lesson. It was not until I sat down with a counselor to talk about my money addiction.

I could have stopped it on my own. I could have said, “OK. So I can’t pay this bill. What happens will happen. Oh well.” But I didn’t. I panicked, and I began to borrow. The interest rates on those loans are 370%! I was paying almost $1000 on a $600 investment! Ridiculous, right? Yeah, that was my mindset.

Now, I’m rid of a few of those loans, but there are a few more lurking from my past. I am learning to pay my bills on time, and in time, I can repay what I owe to other loans, and to people whom I borrowed money. Those payday loan places and title loans promote themselves to people who cannot get a traditional bank or credit union loan. People like me whose credit scores are low general loans are impossible to obtain.

I work full time, and I have a decent salary. If I weren’t in such financial duress, I would probably have a comfortable lifestyle, and that is what gets me. My past and present mistakes kept me from moving forward. I am 53, and according to the status quo, I should be far ahead in my lifestyle. I don’t own a home, I rent. I am still making car payments; I have a 401K, which is iffy with the stock market instability; and, the only way I can vacation is when I take students on trips. If I had the money available, I would be able to tithe into my church; help out with more charities; save more money for retirement. But, due to my miseducation about money – I made the wrong decisions. I am not blaming anyone but myself because these money choices were mine; now, I have to correct these mistakes, and I am doing it…slowly.

I wish that financial education would be a part of the curriculum beginning in high school. They want students to learn Algebra, Geometry, Calculus, and Statistics, but what about financial math? Why are we teaching these students about credit, taxes, money management skills? Some of these kids will want to move out or go away to college, and it should be a partnership between the school and parents to help their student understand how money works in the world. They have to follow the system. My parents tried to help and instruct me about money, but it should have been reinforced with a course about money management at school.

I don’t know. I just want to be ok with money. I don’t want to have an obsession with cash any more. I want to apologize to those that I had to borrow money from, and I want to thank those who helped me when I was in a corner.

But, I am still no expert in money. I am a student.

I read the following quote which gave me pause and I’d like to end the blog with it:

You must gain control over your money, or the lack of it will ever control you.” – Dave Ramsey.

 

 

Growing Things

I have one little secret that I am going to tell you about.

I have always wanted a little flower garden, and when I moved into my townhouse, last December, the owner told me that I could plant a garden if I wanted to. My eyes lit up! I was so excited for Spring to come! And now, that it is here, I am living at Home Depot and Lowe’s! 

Actually, I bought seeds from the Dollar General, and I had some seeds from a high school friend who sent them to me when my little Chica passed away about four years ago. I didn’t get a chance to plant them at my old place, but there is a small area in my backyard where they have found a home!

I am excited about my flowers blooming. I water them daily, and I watch them grow; in fact, I have Chuy (my Yorkie Poo) looking over them as well. He was smelling them (they don’t have buds yet) and curiously looking at them. I went to Home Depot yesterday and bought a couple of Annuals to place in a pot I have on the front porch. I believe that flowers on the front porch display the heart of who lives in the house. Flowers are welcoming.

The birds are tweeting outside, the sky is blue, and there is no wind. It is a beautiful morning.

So, what is it about nature that makes us humans relax? Exactly that…it is natural. It is a part of our genetic makeup to look and want to be a part of natural beauty. Flowers are the most beautiful creations in the world. When I scroll through travel photos on Instagram and see the beauty of flowers from all over the world, I smile. Literally, I smile!

I am working on my backyard to become a summer oasis; there is no room for an above ground pool, but I am on the hunt for patio furniture, and I am still working on hanging the Sky Chair purchased at the Renaissance Festival. I initiated my Weber grill with hamburgers, corn on the cob and asparagus. This is one activity I love to do without spending a lot of money: gardening and relaxing in my own backyard.

You see, I am trying to grow a lifestyle that will take my anxiety and nervousness down a notch. I am ignoring the shriek barking of my dog right now; he must’ve heard a mouse fart. Anyway, I am working on being more positive in my life and feeling good about who I am. In this process, I am working on losing weight after losing 57 pounds. I have more to go. I am working on drinking more water. I am working on my prayer life. I am working on my financial health. I am working on being more present. I am going to bed at a consistent time; I am walking every morning; creating a great exercise plan for myself; I am working on eating well (more fruit and vegetables); and, I have stopped listening to so many people who think they know me, but they don’t.

The more I do this, the more I grow.

For example, the annuals that I bought at Home Depot were already in a pot; a temporary pot. I had to transplant them into a larger pot and place them together. They may feel a particular shock, but I added more soil for them to grow. The addition of more soil will help the roots to stretch and reach.

I want to be positive. I want to be optimistic. There are plenty of times I have been negative and pessimistic, but optimism and positivity are rarities. I need to start with me –  from within.

Although I am 53 years old, I am still growing like my flowers!

There is always room to grow.

How 80’s Music Ignites an Idea

I am listening to an all 80s music channel right now. The familiar music has pulled me into various directions: high school and suffering from cramps every month; college and walking miles and miles from one building to the next; and, sitting at home watching endless videos on MTV.

The 80s songs from various artists send me into endless moments and stories about what happened in my life; some good memories and some bad memories, but they are my memories. These songs led me to write this blog about things going on around me…us. I began to think about how to make extra money during the summer. I know. I know. Just the other day I wrote about my total exhaustion from work and how I wanted a quiet, restful summer, and still plan to do just that, but I want something to provide a few extra dollars for me to cover some expenses so that I can relax.

I combed through the internet to look for “online parttime at home jobs,” and I found a slew of time-consuming ideas. First, it was Shopify. Now Shopify is a website where you can invest in getting an online store. There was a 14-day free trial, and I thought, “why not?” I am a risk-taker at times. I had my own little business years ago when I published an African-American newspaper in Tucson, and it was only attractive to the people who were in it. Anyway, I decided to try this Shopify, and it took me hours to really understand what to do. I even watched Youtube videos of people who claimed to have gained “thousands of dollars in seven days” when they used Shopify. I don’t know if it’s me, but it took forever to set up an online shop, and now I’m selling watches (I threw in a pair of Women’s Fila shoes too). I don’t know if it is going to work because I have to pay money to advertise it on Facebook and Google. My dad always said you have to spend money to make money.

Check it out when you get a chance: https://shopshelenestyle.myshopify.com/

I’m just trying it out and see where it takes me.

So my curiosity sent me to more sites like tutoring.

Ugh.

No. I can’t do it. I know it’s a decent job, but I can’t. I thought about DoorDash, but I don’t want to be in my car that much, and plus, I used to drive for Lyft, and it (driving for money) places a lot of pressure because you make the most money at night. I am not a great night driver.

Now, blogging is something I like to do but to make money blogging means I have to pay for ads to be placed on the website and if I’m lucky, you will click on the ad. I will get a payment based on the times a person clicks on an ad. Everything is by chance.

But, I’m not stressing over extra money. No. I am blessed to have paychecks over the summer months, and I need to save money instead of spending it.

Wow! All of these ideas from 80s music. Hahahaha!!

What are your plans this summer? Share!

Summer Kickoff…

I am trying to relax.

It is now time off for teachers, and this past year has been a roller coaster of emotions at my school. Once a school that housed the brightest and best students, we are now seeing a new caliber of students who have mental struggles, vandalize the school property, and use illegal drugs. Last year was definitely not stellar.

Now that school is over, I had promised myself to relax. The older I get, the more I find that my patience is wearing thin. While I contemplate leaving education, I am tethered to it because I actually enjoy teaching literature and writing. Yet, when I think about the two professions, I have been trained for, both require stressful situations. I was a newspaper reporter for years, and I left that career because of the pressure. Transitioning into teaching was smooth; and I found that I could reach my students because of my love for reading and, of course, writing.

I started that teaching journey in the mid-1990s. That was almost 30 years ago (actually 26 years ago). People have changed… A LOT! I am struggling to keep students engaged, and with the heavy weight of showing educational chiefs that students are “growing” through assessments, the teaching profession has become very stressful.

That’s why I need my summer.

BUT…

A few days into this summer break, I see work emails, and yes, I check them just in case, and I begin to feel the anxiety rise up in me. The work emails are informing me that I have to meet on July 15th and on July 19th. I had one email from a student asking me why did he receive a 0 on an assignment, and he wanted me to explain to him what he did wrong. My answer was kind of snappy, but it was worth it. I told him I did not receive his assignment. Where and when did he send it to me, and why is he asking me now that school is over?

My anxiety.

Being a teacher has its rewards, but the reality is that a teacher is expected to work year round. You’re probably asking me, “why do you look at your email?” or, “why do you involve yourself in things that you have to meet so early in the summer?” I have an answer: Money. As a teacher, we don’t get paid that much, and everyone knows that. But, if I don’t take on extra “things,” I won’t have a comparable salary to survive.

If only, if only I could write for a living and get paid a high salary, I would do just this. I don’t mean writing for a newspaper or a magazine, but writing for myself. I am looking into all sorts of side gigs, specifically blogging for money. I need a following, and to tell you the truth, I don’t think I have a significant following for this blog. If I titled my blogs “SEX! DRUGS! ROCK N’ ROLL!” perhaps I could capture people’s attention and draw a following to make money from my blog.

I need to rest this summer. I need to rejuvenate myself and push my chair far away from the table. I overate anxiety during the school year, and my body is telling me that I need to stop eating, and feast on more healthy thoughts and feelings. I cannot worry about last school year or the upcoming school year. I have to think about today and about me, for a change.

So, if I don’t answer your calls, or accept lunch dates, just know that I am decompressing and that I am all right. However, I am asking for a favor, keep reading my blogs because I have a lot to write about, and it’s not all going to be about me.

Thank you for reading! Oh…and respond if you’d like to. I won’t bite!

From the Perspective of a Writer

I love this title. In fact, I love making up titles. Before I start to write a poem, I write the title first. Then, I allow the title to make up the rest of the poem. It’s funny how that happens. I have heard about many writers who find their titles within the work. I believe that is ingenious and creative because they can see the message within before titling the piece.

I kept thinking about titles for poems I want to write. It’s summer vacation for me (I’m a teacher), and this summer I am going to allow my body and mind to heal. I am going to write every day and find solitude in my work; something I have wanted for a long time.

So, my writing journey begins with a list of titles (a list I change frequently), and from those titles, I will create my poetry. I am hoping to plan a poetry night for women of color soon; that means to plan out why I want that event to happen and to line up women of color in the city of Tucson who write poetry and willing to read it in a public setting. I need to find a place to hold the event, and I am hoping it will be something that will be accepted in the community.

The name of the event:

From the Perspective of a Woman.

Sounds like a great poem too!