Love Until Her Dying Breath…

When someone says they have fallen in love with someone, one often doubts that the person has truly fallen. We doubt this because we’re not so comfortable in defining true love or being in love. We go into these long explanations about “falling in love” or “being in love” because we are trying to justify what love really means. I believe in the power of love. Love has many levels and many feelings, and we cannot (and should not) keep love in a jar sealed up with a labeled definition.candles-168015_1920

I want to tell you about this young woman who has fallen in love. I truly believe that she is in love with this man. It’s been two years and he has not noticed; however, she still feels for him.  She doesn’t wait by the phone; she doesn’t bother him at all. She patiently awaits him and learns about him and falls deeper and deeper. His actions, his likes, and dislikes are all duly noted; she finds that they have more in common. Many men have her name on their lips, but her thoughts are on this one…her only one.

He’s never seen her. The real her. He doesn’t know that she believes in the same things as he does. He doesn’t know that she believes in him as a man and as a person. She’s read his poetry and hurts along with him. His written words have come alive in her heart and the biggest challenge she has is sacrificing her own traditions and family just wanting to be with him.

She has dreams about him – dreams that she tells him how much she loves him. The dreams are realistic, yet haunting. She notices how other women flaunt and flirt with him, and how she cannot do that – it’s not for her to be so public – yet she wants him to just notice her silence and her quiet admiration for him.

He’s over there…somewhere else and she longs to be with him, in his heart. It doesn’t have to be a physical presence, but the spiritual connection that love brings to two people. She is walking along a sacrificial path in hopes that one day, in an obscure way, he’ll notice that she has been there – in his corner, cheering him on.

Yet, she cringes inside. As she goes about her daily routine and betters herself, she’s dying inside. Her laughter and smile is often masked with questions like “Why doesn’t he like me?” “What have I done to him?” The painful questions plague her. Although she wants to move on and forget everything about him – give in to the fact that it’s never going to happen – she still loves him. Deep inside of her being, she loves him.

I know the difference between a crush, infatuation, and love. Love makes you see beyond the physical. Her story is immortalized in a novel that is forever etched in words, imagery, and dialogue. Love is real. At first, she did not want to admit that she loved him, but each year, the torch burns brighter and brighter.

One day, she will reach out to him, and as a woman, she will utter the words that she loves him. She is hoping that these words will engulf him and make him realize what true love is all about – it surpasses time; it tears down walls; and, it heals the wounds. However, she never suspected that love would hurt so badly. She had never imagined that love would kill her inside. She is dying inside…every time she sees his smiling face, hears his voice, and reads his words.

And, in the midst of her breaking heart, camouflaging as love, she asks him “Give me a chance.”

Romeo and Juliet have nothing compared to her.

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.

 

Today, I’m Angry

White nationalists carry torches on the grounds of the University of Virginia, on the eve of a planned Unite The Right rally in CharlottesvilleThis morning I watched an online news report from CBS News reporting about the “White Nationalists” in Virginia protesting the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. Now, we all know our history (some of us), and we are aware of Robert E. Lee. Yes, he is a part of a very important part of our American history, but that part of our history is a painful reminder of what had occurred – the Civil War. The painful reminder is the reason behind the war and it all boils down to the slavery movement.

I’m not going to try to teach a history lesson about this…my goal is to ask why are we still fighting this fight? Why do we have “white nationalists”? On Facebook, there were some comments that incensed me. One comment: “Why is it that when white people protest it’s violent, but when black people protest it’s a movement?” Ummm…. And, another comment “This is what happens when society tries to make you feel ashamed to be white and labels you as a racist because of your political views…” Ummm…Another comment came from a person overseas: “America is a dangerous place. Thank god I don’t live there.”

I am speechless.

My daddy was born in 1917 and he would have been 100 years old this year if he would have lived. 100 years old! It’s 2017 and we are still fighting racism! We are still nowhere near where we need to be!

My dad told me a story once about when he was walking down the street in downtown Tucson in 1949 (around that time). He saw a white woman and her little girl walking towards him, so it was a necessity to step off of the sidewalk to allow the white females to use the sidewalk. As my father did this and they passed by each other, the little girl pointed and said, “Look, mommy, a nigger!” The mother tried to hush the little girl, but my dad smirked and said, “She wouldn’t have said the word unless she was taught the word.” The mother was embarrassed and rushed away.

My father was right. Racism is taught. We want to believe that it is not as bad as it was a century ago, but it is folks. When something is hidden for so long, and it suddenly emerges from the depths of hell, we are shocked and alarmed. Most of us are shocked. I’m not shocked. I am not going to pretend that racism does not exist. Hate exists in this world…on various levels in various place in the world, but there is hate. Blacks and whites are on top of the scale; here in Arizona, people don’t like Mexicans who cross the border (oh…it’s true. People may say it’s because they are crossing illegally, but bottom line it’s because of who they are); religion vs. religion; religion vs. anti-religion; gender vs. gender; sexuality vs. sexuality. All of it has an underlining of hate!

The human race has forgotten how to love! Love has become an obscure term nowadays. To love someone means to have this deep emotion and a big responsibility to keep loving that person. We are too lazy to love and care for people. So, instead we hate, we breed hate, and we keep trying to align Bible scriptures to keep the hate going.

I say ‘we’ because the ones who do this, the rest of us stand by and allow it to continue! I am a spiritual person, and I pray daily for myself, my family, and friends because we do live in dangerous times – just like the commenter said. We don’t know who hates us! I ask God for protection for me, my family, and friends.

I am afraid. Don’t tell me that I shouldn’t be. I’m just reacting, right now. But, my skin is brown…dark brown…and there are some idiotic people out there who don’t know me at all, but hate me because of my skin color. One friend told me that a white man told her, “I’ll never know how it feels to be hated because of my skin color. I don’t know how that feels.”

Exactly. White people don’t know how it feels to be automatically hated and judged because of the color of skin. Most white people are disliked because of their beliefs, their sexuality, their political views…or they are just not likable! But, as a black person, we are not given a chance for people to get to know us. There is an automatic assumption. How do I know this? I don’t. But, when the world is full of racism, and you’re on the other end of it…you have to defend your skin color before you can defend your beliefs!

If you are my reader, and you are white, please don’t take offense. I have to get this out because of what happened today in Charlottesville Virginia. White Nationalists. What does that mean, exactly?

I am not looking for an apology from my friends and family members who are white. Another quote: “Confederates are only answering to the genocidal attack on our culture…”

“Well at least they aren’t burning down buildings and smashing windows and stealing stuff…” (What is that in reference to?)

The CBS News reported that there were protestors who were wearing Nazi Swastikas. They were protesting on the University of Virgina campus – Emancipation Plaza. The students and others counter-attacked the protestors.

“America! America! God shed his grace on thee! And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea!”

I’m torn.

I’m sad.

I’m emotional.

I’m angry.

The Story of My Name

ATWT Lisa GrimaldiFor those of you who don’t know, my name is Lisa. Lisa is a very common name here in the United States. I remember in high school while walking down the halls, someone would yell out, “Lisa!” and about five girls would turn around to seek out who wanted us. It was aggravating but we figured out a system to not turn around until someone actually addressed us to our face. I also had a pen pal named Lisa Chiavaroli (the spelling of the last name is probably not correct) who lived in Brooklyn New York. We exchanged about three letters, but it was cool that we had the same first name.

However, the significance of my name is something my mother told me years ago! It’s quite interesting too. My mother was 45 years old, she already had six other children, and she was about to give birth to her seventh and last child during the summer months. My dad was 47 and he was elated that he was having a baby girl to spoil! Therefore, my mother, who was probably very tired, relaxed in her home and absorbed what most women did in the mid-1960s – watch soap operas. My mother’s favorite soap opera was “As The World Turns” (I can hear the bass voice of the announcer say those words in my head as I typed them. Did you hear it too?). My mother sat down on the couch during the afternoon hours and watched “As The World Turns” to get away from the reality that she was heavily pregnant, it was hot in the desert southwest, and probably in a few minutes, she had to deal with the rest of her children.

“As The World Turns” drew her into their drama so deeply, that she was engaged with one character; a character that took her heart. The character was Lisa. Yes…you guessed correctly. I was named after a soap opera character. Lisa was played by actress Eileen Fulton, who is now 83 years old and lives in North Carolina. The character, Lisa Grimaldi, was a blond socialite on ATWT and was Oakdale’s busybody (in everybody’s business). Fulton played Lisa for 50 years, and was so successful that she was the first soap opera star to have her own publicist! The character Lisa couldn’t stay married, or single for that matter. I don’t know how many husbands she had, but she had them! On National Public Radio (NPR), Fulton was interviewed in 2010. She retold a story of being physically hit in Lord & Taylor because a soap fan hated her! The character was hated, but my mother was intrigued with her. Although, I begin to wonder if my mother secretly hated me because she was pregnant and connected her hate for Lisa with me. I’m being overly dramatic, aren’t I?

Anyway, in the interview, Fulton gave a wonderful response to a statement in the NPR interview that I’d like to relay in this blog:

Well, the world was a different place when Lisa came into it. You were a working professional, although the character you were creating was struggling with her place in the world as a woman.”  Fulton’s response: “I think that’s why think so many people named their children Lisa. I was very surprised when I went on the road years ago to find this out. It was the beginning of feminism—women taking up for themselves and going out into the world. Lisa became a businesswoman. She stuck up for herself. She was not somebody to be trampled on.”

Wow! What a statement! Do I dare believe that my mother named me for that reason? Did she believe that one day, her little Lisa would be a strong woman, who would stick up for herself, not allow herself to be trampled on, and become a businesswoman? Did my mother admire the character Lisa so much that she decided to name her baby in hopes that I would become a strong, independent woman? Did my mother looked past the character’s faults and saw that she had some redeeming qualities? All that I know is that my mother named me after her favorite character in a soap opera, and she never did say why she was her favorite, or at least I don’t remember. But, I’m hoping that I was named Lisa because of Fulton’s response.

I am no drama queen, but at 52, I’m hoping to become the woman my mother had always dreamed about.

Thanks Momma for naming me, Lisa.

 

Genetic Engineering: How Far is Too Far?

Will we soon have a disease-free society?

embryo

My daddy requested me. He told me that he and my mother had a discussion and he did not want my brother to be the baby of the family; he wanted a little girl. Needless to say, that was a tall order because in 1964 to 1965, science was not prepared to provide a specific gender for babies. In my parents’ case, I was born in 1965 through lots of prayers. My mother was 45 and immediately went into menopause after my birth, and my dad was 47; however, my father got his wish.

Recently, I read an article titled “Scientists Edit Human Embryo: This is Why Designer Babies Are a Ways Off” (livescience.com, 2017). Within the first paragraph of the article, the writer, Jessica Berg states that in Portland Oregon scientists “modified the genetic material of a human embryo.” In layman’s terms, scientists have corrected some mistakes in the genetic makeup of humans. For example, if there is a family history of Sickle Cell Anemia, scientists can target that part of the genome and modify it so that disease in the family history will be eradicated in an embryo – the infant will no longer carry the gene.

This is almost surreal, isn’t it?

So, is this an ethical issue, or is it a blessing in disguise?

The article by Berg, who is a law professor and a professor of Bioethics and Public Health at Case Western Reserve University, continues to report that in Oregon, scientists did not create a way to have “designer babies.” The embryos were used outside of the womb and did not develop. There is a federal ban to implant modified embryos in the womb – which leads to another question: What is the end result of conducting these experiments on embryos? They (Federal bureaucrats and ethical policies) assure the public that they are a long way off from engineer babies to be highly intelligent, athletic, artistic, or a “superhuman.” The federal government is allowing science to look at curing various diseases and disorders.

I teach the book Frankenstein by Mary Shelley in my Pre-AP English class, and I pose the question to my students about how far do we go? There have been numerous articles about genetic engineering and how families have babies to help their sick children. We have seen how stem cell research help a lot of sick people, in fact, I have a cousin in Texas who suffers from Myeloma and has been treated using stem cell research. Yet, the current article is asking if we are getting closer and closer to that Victor Frankenstein syndrome to design a human the way we want? They have cloned a sheep and we argued that soon our dead relatives will be able to be cloned and live again.

I am not sure what’s going on in research labs, and they (those people in the labs and the federal people) probably don’t want to tell us what’s really happening in the labs, but I am sure somewhere, there is are scientists who are curious about creating a human who does not have any type of disease, is highly intelligent, and is right and left brained. I am not sure where this research is going…but it will go far. The research will pass the limitations of ethics – I am sure of that. It is eons from my daddy’s request and prayer for a little girl to be the baby of the family.

Shelley’s novel from 1817 was just fiction. It was the first science fiction piece written by a woman (which was science fiction in its own right). Shelley probably never realized that three centuries later, we would actually touch the surface of quasi-creating humans to perfect the lives of others. Are we playing God? I’m using “we” because the public knows that these researches and experiments are happening; or, are we being obedient to the gifts God has bestowed upon us to develop cures for these diseases?

My belief is that God gives men and women the intelligence and will to help cure the sick. I do believe that. God gives wisdom. Does he limit the wisdom? I’m not sure. How far will this go? I don’t know either. All I know is that I am here because of my parents, who believed in God almighty and fervently in prayer, had me naturally. I’m not super intelligent, athletic, artistic, or free from diseases, but I’m here.

The reality is in this case, art is not imitating life; life is imitating art.

The Old Man in Italy

11713710_10207106830779360_2469201045381589557_oDo you see this little old man? I took this photo in Rome, Italy about two years ago, at the Three Rivers Fountain. It was a beautiful, warm summer day in June and the people were out and about looking at paintings as the artists sat near their creations, in hopes to have someone buy a piece. The outdoor cafe was filled with people, drinking the sweet nectar of wine, or eating the delicious Italian cuisine. They were people-watching, resting from the bustle of tourists at the Forum, the Colosseum, or the extensive and spiritual journey to the Vatican. It was a quaint plaza.

There was a painter, actually a spray painter, who dazzled the audience with a fast painting of the beautiful night skies of Italy. As I looked up, I saw a lot of nuns and priests walking together and chatting; they stopped to look at the spray painter too, and I stared at them.  They looked happy – the older nuns and the young priests – they had smiles on their faces and I could feel their peace. I took pictures of them, without them knowing, and I finally relented and asked them if I could take a photo of them. They obliged and continued to smile, wondering how could they become a part of the Italian photo opportunity.

Later on, we ate pizza at an Italian restaurant that was housed downstairs in a building. Of course, the pizza was nothing like Domino’s or Pizza Hut or even Papa Johns! No…it was thin, delectable with fresh tomato sauce and authentic cheese. Across from our table sat two young priests and a man dressed in civilian clothes. They noticed the huge amount of American teenagers and adults who were speaking English. The man in the suit jacket asked where we were from and we replied “Arizona. Tucson, Arizona.” He laughed and said that his parents live in Tucson and he began to give us the cross streets of his parents’ house. Wild! We all laughed to talk about Tucson with a complete stranger in Rome, Italy. The two priests (very handsome priests too), were from the United States too.

I took pictures of the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica, and I even broke a rule and took a picture of the ceiling at the Sistine Chapel (and it’s not the Sixteenth Chapel), you know where the finger of God is touching the finger of Adam. It’s unfortunate that I don’t know where the photo is..ugh! But, the masterpiece is the photo of the old Italian man at the Three Rivers Fountain.

In the photo, he is contemplating. I’m not sure about what, but I took the photo in the moment of his thoughts. He might have been thinking “Why is this woman taking a photo of me?” or, he might have thought about the beauty of the plaza, and the laughter of the children and the conversations of the people. The conversations. He might have been listening to a conversation and tried to translate the words to understand what they were saying.

I guess it doesn’t matter what he was thinking about, but I’m glad that I captured the moment in his thoughts. My belief is that he is the epitome of an Italian man. The last time I was in Rome, I gave a rose to an old man, who looked lonely and sad at the Spanish Steps. When I gave him the rose, he beamed with a toothless smile, held on to the rose and walked away, still smiling.

I don’t know why I’m blogging about this. I was going to talk about the beginning of the school year, but I wanted to share this photo.

The old man of Italy

leans on the fountain

thinking about what life

could be, will be or what life

would have been.

He thinks deeply

as the voices carry

across the plaza

and the water bubbles behind him

He’s an old priest

He’s an old peddler,

a former artist

a Roman citizen

an old man

forever captured

in his thoughts.

10 Steps to Success-No Charge

angelouDon’t worry I am not going to sell you a program that will change your bank account to gain thousands and thousands of dollars. I’m not that smart.

While perusing YouTube, I came across a Channel called Evan Carmichael Believe. What is Your One Word? I stopped to watch a specific video with Maya Angelou – she has always been one of my favorite poets! However, the video gave me pause because Evan Carmichael put together a montage of practical advice from Ms. Angelou’s various interviews throughout her life! The 10 Steps to Success where so real and authentic because she lived through them. I wanted to share those steps with you, but I am going to add my thoughts about these tips:

  1. Just Do Right – Dr. Angelou provided an illustration about this: She said if your name is said and people respond with an “Oh damn…” that means that something isn’t right about you. In other words, when you’re mentioned in a group and people respond with positive words, then you are living right! You are doing something right! Doing the right thing is so much easier than doing the wrong things in life. We are not perfect beings, but what does it hurt to be nice to others? What’s wrong with smiling and saying hello? What happened to be polite and showing compassion and understanding?
  2. Be Courageous – Read the definition of courage according to Dictionary.com: “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.”  When I heard about being courageous, I immediately threw up my hands and said to myself, “I’m not courageous!” But, that’s not true! In the recesses of my mind, there was a lot of courageous acts that I successfully completed! When I was younger, I was stricken with pneumonia. My mother used to tell me how she was so upset to leave me to go to the store. I told her, “I’ll be OK. Go ahead.” Well, my mother was not the type of person to leave her child like that, so she waited until one of my older siblings came home from school to sit with me. She said I was very brave. The death of my parents and I say this because many people have said to me, “I can’t imagine losing one of my parents…I’d die. I couldn’t take it.” I thought the same thing. I felt that if I lose my parents, I would be in some mental hospital and I wouldn’t be able to stop crying. But, eventually, it happened with my mother in 2004 and my dad in 2008. My heart broke twice – but I was able to withstand the pain of not seeing their physical bodies on earth anymore. Being a teacher is courageous! Every day I am deemed with a duty to teach my students an enlightening lesson in order for them to become literate, skillful, and critical thinkers. It’s not as delicate as a doctor performing surgery, but it’s close – to install those processes into young, vulnerable brains is precious, yet serious.
  3. Love – Dr. Angelou proposed that in order for us to love each other, we must first love ourselves. I don’t think she was talking about being a vain person, but to love yourself is to respect yourself. You have to feel good about who you are! I struggle with that. Someone whom I just met asked me, “You have low self-esteem, don’t you?” Yes, I do. I don’t know where it comes from, but it will rear its ugly head at times. I know that my parents raised me to be a decent human being. I am nice to people because I expect that in return! It makes me feel good to share with people and to give them my heart whenever possible. I believe in love…I believe that when we genuinely have a love for each other, our communities and world will be a better place to live! However, love begins from within. We must love ourselves, and change that part of us that we don’t love.
  4. Laugh – A person who cannot laugh does not have joy in their heart. It’s a different story to laugh at something that is not funny – but to laugh at yourself or with others shows that your heart is cold and rancid. Love and laughter go hand in hand because, in order to laugh, you have to smile, and to smile allow the soul to see light! The old adage is “Laughter is the best medicine” is true. When you have a good laugh, you have literally released a huge amount of endorphins! According to the Mayo Clinic, laughing does three things to your body: 1). Stimulate your organs with oxygen-rich air. 2). Activate and release your stress response – in other words after you have laughed so hard, you feel relaxed. 3). You soothe tension in your muscles. Now, these are only short-term benefits; however, the long-term benefits are an improvement to your immune system, relief from pain, coping with difficult situations and connect to people, and lessen depression and anxiety. This means that you must incorporate a sense of humor into your personal diet. Remember, laugh, and the world laughs with you!
  5. Be a Blessing to Somebody – What a satisfying feeling to hear the words from someone “You’re a blessing to me.” Yes, you know me – the English teacher – I’m going to define the word blessing to you because some of you may crinkle your nose or furrow your brow with the word blessing. A blessing is defined as: “bestowing favor upon someone.”  (I concocted that definition, but it’s true). When you show favor to someone by offering your kindness, and the recipient is thoroughly satisfied with that offer, you are a blessing! It doesn’t mean to give the sign of the cross or pour water over their heads – it is providing a necessity to that person. Some people just need an open ear and heart to talk to, or some need practical, material things to help them through difficult situations. Whatever it is that you offer and it is given with kindness, you are a blessing.
  6. Turn Struggles into Triumphs – I’m not sure if you read my blog “Don’t Give Up.” I was on a rant about money (it’s the thorn in my side). Well, during this monetary battle, I’ve learned a few things thus far and one of them is TO DO SOMETHING TO CHANGE MY SITUATION!!! So, instead of struggling with money problems day after day, paycheck to paycheck, I enrolled in a course with Biblical standards about money. It is a 28-day course and I’ve downloaded an online budget template to help me monitor my finances. I am taking steps to relieve some debt and pay back some people who were a blessing to me within the past few months and years. These struggles are slowing morphing into triumphs! Dr. Angelou mentioned how she was raped by a good friend of her family when she was a young girl. After the man was released from prison for her rape, he was killed. She thought that because she had spoken his name, she had caused his death, so she stopped speaking for a few years. Yet, within her struggle, she read. Dr. Angelou said she memorized Shakespeare’s sonnets and plays; she read many of the classics in literature such as Poe. She read and educated herself and grew from what she read. Her struggle became a triumph because she became one of the most prolific writers in the 20th Century!
  7. You are Talented – Whenever I told people who I love to write, I would hear them say, “Oh, I can’t write.” That’s not true. What is true is that you don’t have the desire to write – but you can write. In “Letters to a Young Poet” by Rainier Maria Rilke, Rilke told the young man who if he goes to sleep thinking about writing and wakes up thinking about writing, then he is a writer. Your passion will become you! Everyone has a talent! My mother was an excellent seamstress! Many women would come over to our house with patterns for different stylish dresses, and my mother would make them with her eyes closed. I never saw my mother so content and happy until she was at her sewing machine. Give yourself a chance to find out what you’re passionate about. I show my students a video of Alan Watts’ lecture about “What do you Desire?” and Watts asks the question, what would you do if money were no object? If there is something you would do and you wouldn’t get paid for it, that’s your talent. If you’re not sure what your talent is, then do a talent search…on yourself.
  8. Learn to Say No –  It is the hardest two letter word to say to people. This step is not for everyone because there are some people out there who can say no faster than a speeding bullet! But, for some of us who feel that if we say no, the entire world is going to blow up; it is a struggle. To say no quite simply means, “I am not able to do this because I would not give it the proper attention and time that it so deserves.” Doesn’t that sound nice? Therefore, when you have to say no, think about that phrase and “no” will come out easier.
  9. Always Do Your Best – This is a phrase I’ve repeated to my students. They need to know that I am expecting their best because I am giving my best to them. Doing your best shows integrity and responsibility – but do your best for you! First prove to yourself that you are able to do excellent and when you accept a task from others, you will have the confidence to know that you will do your best! Doing your best gives you a satisfying feeling about yourself.
  10. Keep Rising – Dr. Angelou wrote a poem (my favorite, by the way) called “Still I Rise” (if you want to hear the poem recited by the poet, click here: https://youtu.be/w5lgxayzy_k).  I am going to use a term that has spread from the urbanized streets to the Wall street boardrooms – People are going to hate on you as you internalize these steps to success. They are going to envy you, play games with your head, and even make you feel that you are “too good” for them to be around. Don’t worry. The people around you are not yet at the level to change their circumstances – and it also depends on how you are handling your new-found success. Are you being humble? Stay humble as you rise up from where you’re at. Don’t look down on others as you rise! Grab someone’s hand and say, “Come with me!” Just like a balloon with helium rising above the clouds, as you follow these 10 steps, you will rise above the awful circumstances that have kept you grounded for so long!

Now, there it is! The 10 steps to success free of charge! I’m going take these steps myself because I’ve been on the ground with broken wings. Stay tuned and subscribe to my blog to witness my flight!

 

*To see Evan Carmichael’s video click here: https://youtu.be/iU46Lv4jVAw

 

Don’t Give Up!

There is something I want so badly. In fact, there are a lot of things I want that are out of my reach. In my bedroom, I have a picture of a scripture in the Bible: “Always pray and never give up.” It’s from the Gospel of Luke 18:1. A little history, Luke was a physician, and that meant during the Biblical times, he was a scholar. The words he wrote were from the mouth of Jesus Christ, and he (Luke) had to agree upon the accuracy of belief – since being a physician – half the battle of healing is to never give up!

My Christian brothers and sisters would agree that whatever it is that you need in your life should be something that will add to your life in a positive way. What we believe for should not harm ourselves or others. For example, you’re not going to pray and never give up wanting someone to get sick or die. Nor, would you pray for someone to lose their job. I know one person who comes across our minds about losing their job – the current president – but besides that, we believe for things to happen in our lives that will help us!

I want a lot of money because I believe that when I get a lot of money, I can pay off a lot of annoying bills that I’ve made in my past! When I get relief from these bills, I can relax and live a little easier and breathe and enjoy the fresh air, blue skies, family and friends. Right now, I’m enjoying those things, however, in the back of my mind there is a nagging thought about my bills! We are going to have to pay bills, yes, but the bills I want to pay are the utilities. (I’m laughing out loud right now). Anyway, I’m believing for that and I’m not giving up! I think about my dad, Mr. Plato Watson, who, in his later years, would have tons of mail about business opportunities and get-rich-quick ideas. He would always say “when my dream boat comes in…” I look in the mirror and see that I am my father’s daughter. No, I’m not falling for those schemes, but I have combed the Internet and came across ideas of downloading apps on your phone to get paid! What??? Oh..yeah…I tried it…and I used up my data quickly! I decided that I didn’t need to do that. On to the next venture! I am several hundred surveys to complete to win points, gift cards, etc. Surveys are good! My minor in college was sociology, so I’m game to give my thoughts and opinions about certain products and ideas. But…it takes a lot of time to take surveys and sometimes I don’t qualify!

Say what? Is it because I’m a woman? Is it because I’m black? Is it because I’m over 50 without children and have one dog? Hahahaha….

Next! I wanted to drive for Uber. They checked my car and I have chips in my windshield! I have to get a new windshield! In my GEICO policy I had to pay a deductible to replace my windshield (money I don’t have!). I back-pedaled and changed my policy to zero deductible. Uh…that didn’t work because I had those chips in my windshield prior to the change in my policy! HAHAHAHAHA!!! How about Lyft? I can drive for Lyft! I told them about my windshield – no problem. Great! I keep messing up my appointments with my “mentor.” I’m almost there, but I have an issue which I rather not disclose right now.

Lyft is a possibility. But, I start work in two weeks, so I will be limited to work with Lyft on weekends – it’s my choice.

Sorry. I’m digressing from my point.

Money to pay bills.

I grew up in a Christian household and prayer was very significant in our lives. When my mother was gravely ill, my father had us all link up together in a circle in the living room and we prayed collectively for God’s Will to be done. Atheists at my college confronted me that it was my mother’s will and not God’s – and I told them that the doctors – neurologists…scientists…gave up on my mother because they said her brain was “mush” (she had a brain aneurysm, by the way). I told my dad about their argument and he said, “Baby, it is the prayers that your mother prayed for herself.” I am referring to the fact that my mother woke up from a 3-month coma after her aneurysm and lived about 17 years proving doctors wrong. Prayer.

The first part of the scripture is “always pray.” Now, for those of you who have a problem praying – I’ve learned that prayer can be from one to 1000 words. In other scriptures, God prefers you to be honest in your prayers and speak from the heart. You do not have to include the “thous” “thus” “mayest” etc. The prayer can consist of “Help me.”  I have grown in my prayers to tell God how much I appreciate the life He has given me – although sometimes I think it’s awful – I look around me and to some people I may be living the rich life (I hope you’re understanding what I’m talking about). There are some spiritual steps I need to take though in order to get my financial life healthy.

Now, I’m going to turn down another avenue. Money for bills is only one part of my “never giving up.” I want to be a writer. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I’ve written three poetry books so far, one more is developing. I’ve written a full novel and it is in production right now. My passion is to share my creative mind with the masses who would love to get lost in fiction and poetry! I want to write a children’s book about the adventures of my dog, Chuy!

I want to be a best-selling author! I won’t give up!

God has given me a creative gift that I have not been using – a gift that fulfills two things: satisfaction and an extra income! When the light bulb flickered and came on – I realized that I need to not give up on my writing – on me!

I just read a quote on Instagram that fits well into this article: “You may fail 100 times but it only takes one success to completely change your life.” (Markus Almond)

As a teacher, I can’t give up on my students, so why should I give up on myself? I will repeat this mantra: “I will never give up on you!”

Should We Talk About HPV?

People are asking “What are the symptoms of HPV in females?” “What is HPV in females?” “How do you test HPV in women?” “Can you get HPV if you’re not sexually active?” These are legitimate questions, but the real question is “Where did this epidemic come from?” All of a sudden I’m witnessing these commercials on television about HPV! These children are looking into the camera and asking their parents did they know about HPV. I didn’t know about HPV! How long has it been in existence? Is it something we need to worry about?

The commercial includes males…and one young male says he didn’t know that HPV led to his cancer! What’s happening? In the 80’s we had AIDS and HIV. The careless sexual behaviors and using dirty needles led to the most deadliest disease in history. While the battle was long, emotional and tedious, researchers and scientists have somehow put a lid on the issue and developed sustainable drugs to help victims prolong their lives! I think it’s excellent!

However, my concern is turned toward this HPV. Human Papillomavirus, according the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the most common STD in the United States and can be prevented with vaccines! Great news, right? But, get this: the CDC recommends that 11 to 12 year olds get the vaccine. At 11 and 12, I was not worried about a STD.

I’m going to break it down to you as I researched and read up on HPV. I hope this helps.

HPV is common Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI – no more STD…it’s an infection). Anyone who is sexually active can contract HPV. There are different strains of the infection that can lead to genital warts and cancers; however, as I stated earlier, there is a vaccine to prevent all of this. It spreads through sexual contact (we’ll use our vivid imagination here, but realize that whatever sexual act you prefer, you can get HPV).

HPV and the link to cancer: It depends upon the health of the person, but again, you never know, HPV can lead to cancer in the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, and anus. It can also occur in the throat. The CDC recommends the vaccination beginning at 11 and 12 (for males and females); and women ages 21 to 65 get screened cervical cancer. The vaccine is also recommended for gay and bisexual men too.

The CDC also states that using a condom lowers the risk, but there is chance that you can still get HPV and being in a monogamous relationship helps to decrease the chance of contracting HPV.

OK. So my public service announcement is over. There are some things I’d like to say right now, and since it is my blog, I’m going to say it!

People, stop being so nasty! Now, before you get crazy and start commenting that I’m not being fair…stop and listen to me! When it comes down to sex, humans have lost their minds! We are driven by lust of the body…the satisfaction of having the embrace of another body in our arms! It’s a part of life…yes it is…but somehow this HPV and other sexual infections come from people who are not willing to give their bodies a break from sex!

Making love is a beautiful act! The responsibility behind it is unknown to a lot of people, especially teens! Now we are treated pre-teens for a sexually transmitted disease – oh excuse me – infection! Along with the childhood vaccinations, the HPV vaccination is on the list! This is what angers me!

I hope you’re hearing what I’m saying.

We have lawmakers in Washington D.C. who are trying to reshape healthcare in America and we have these issues of HPV affecting children! Children!  Here are some facts for those of you who need facts:

  • 79 million of Americans are infected with HPV
  • 14 million people become infected with HPV every year
  • 17, 600 women and 9,300 men have cancer as an effect from HPV
    • CDC, 2017

These are the numbers reported to health care facilities, but think about those people who do not go to the doctor to get medical care. There are probably more infected people than we know about.

My worry (and I said this freely, granted I’m not a parent) is that parents are allowing their young daughters to take birth control, giving them permission to sleep around and young men are so ill-informed about birth control that they believe “Oh, I don’t have to wear a condom.” The first thing we worry about is the fact that the girl, who has a promised future, will get pregnant. OK. That’s a problem. But, a worse problem is the girl getting pregnant and having HPV.

With sex comes great responsibility.

Perhaps I’m naive in my 50s, but, I have little nephews and a niece growing up in this society. They are all under 11. I watch them play and have fun. I watch them laugh and run around. I look into their innocent faces and see the wonder in their eyes – and now I can see their pediatricians tell their parents during vaccination season, “OK. Now they need a vaccination for HPV…you know that sexually transmitted infection.”

So, that’s why I say “Stop being nasty!” Let’s be real…having sex with everybody does not make you look more desirable. It makes you look desperate and stupid.

I don’t know what else to say about this. I just want to spread the word about HPV.

And, thanks to the CDC for helping me with this blog. If you need to read it for yourself go to: http://www.cdc.gov.