Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Caged Bird by Maya Angelou


In light of the Ferguson Grand Jury decision, this poem, "Caged  Bird" by Maya Angelou, came to mind:

Caged Bird
by
Maya Angelou

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill 
for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom. 


My People, when you can't find your own words, I think it is ok to use the words of someone else. 

Thanks Maya for the help today!


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Cycloross #6: South Germantown Race with the ladies of Sticky Fingers


Cyclocross race #6 was held in a really great park in Germantown, Maryland.

The ladies of the female cycling team Sticky Fingers were helping to promote this race, and I knew that this would be an extremely fun race, because the ladies of Sticky Fingers are fun!

The ladies of Sticky Fingers

I must take a moment to talk about the ladies of Sticky Fingers! They have been completely awesome on my cycling, racing journey. They are always encouraging and are one of the main reasons why I started CX racing; they assured me that I would have fun, and they sure were right. I absolutely love these ladies who are part of my village.

My race started at 1pm, but I got to the race early to assist the Sticky Fingers lady in any way that I could. They were good on volunteers, so I pre-rode the course several times and socialized a lot. It became quite clear that yea, CX is about racing, but it is also about the wonderful people who make up the CX world.

Now, that I have raced six whole races and have gone to quite a few CX practices, I know quite a few people in the CX world.

I talked with Josh and his mom after Josh's race where he placed 1st. I see Josh, his mom, and grandmother at every race, and not only do they cheer for Josh, but they also cheer for me. I feel like I have known them for years, and I am delighted to see them at the races.




I met this couple last week, because we were both using our navigational systems to get to the race site, and we both ended up lost. Now, cyclist are some of the nicest people in the whole wide world, and of course we rolled our windows down and tried to figure out where was the race site. Eventually, we ended up at the right place. They are both CX racers, and the wife placed second or third in her racing category on yesterday. Now, they are my new CX buddies

New racing friends!

Ashley and her husband are both CX racers, and they have a four month old baby. I love seeing Ashley and her husband at the races changing diapers, feeding the baby, soothing the baby etc. At their respective race times, they race. Ashley races in my category, and we always finish near each other. I have finished before her a few times, and she has finished before me a few times. Now, we have friendly competition where we are desperately trying to beat each other. I just love racing with Ashley.

Ashley and the baby!

There is another lady that I see at all of the races, and yesterday she gave me some racing pointers. After talking for awhile, I found out that she is 56 years old, yes 56 years old, and has been racing for over 15 years. You talking about someone getting excited. I was thrilled to know that she is racing at 56 years old, because I am planning to do the exact same thing at her age.

56 year old racer who is awesome!

Now, can you see one more reason why I am in love with CX?

However, yesterday's race was not one of my better races. When I pre-rode the course, I thought "This course is not bad at all." I actually thought that it would be quite easy. However, most of the course was uphill, and I became extremely tired, but I kept on pushing. Also, I have not been practicing dismounting and remounting, and I absolutely sucked. I was very conscious of how I looked on the course; I was hoping that I did not look like I was not trying hard enough, I was wondering what the spectators were thinking about me, and I was also thinking that I was not going to do anymore racing, because I suck... My mind was working overtime. After my race, I was like a needy kid running up to everyone asking "How did I do, and how did I look?"

When I got in the car, I thought about how ridiculous it was to look to others for validation about my racing. I need to continue to train, and be patient. Rome was not built overnight, and I will not be #1 overnight. My people, I have a lot of work to do, and it mostly starts with renewing my mind.... I am IN the race, I am having a lot of fun, and I am meeting people whom I really like!

This morning, I went out to a CX track, and I rode it hard. I practiced dismounting, remounting, and cornering. Tomorrow, I will do the same thing. "A Dream Come Through Much Activity."

Happy after CX practice today!

I'm telling myself to "Please be patient with me, God is not through with me yet."

Happy Sunday!

Until the next race......





Friday, November 21, 2014

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green


I never, ever take for granted that I chose a profession where I get to talk about books ALL OF THE TIME. (Grateful!)

One of my co-workers told me about a novel that he is reading with his students called The Fault In Our Stars. He told of how the students chose this book to read and how much he and his students enjoyed this book.

Well, two days ago I started reading this novel, and last night, I read it until I could not stay awake any longer. I really wanted to read longer, but my body would not cooperate. (This is a good book!)

This novel is a modern day coming of age story. One of the protagonist, Hazel, is a sixteen year old girl who was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the age of thirteen. She doesn't want to get close to people, because she does not want to hurt them by dying. However, she meets this guy named Gus, whose cancer is in remission, and they fall in love.

This novel has all of the mushy stuff that goes with teenage love, but it has that serious element that deals with death.

Reading this novel, I thought a lot about cancer, death, and my dear friend Carolyn who died of cancer earlier this year and my friend Patty who beat breast cancer and allowed me to tell her story on this blog... Cancer Sucks!

I thought about the strength that it must take for a person to have cancer and to continue to fight. My friend Carolyn sent an email once that stated that "Cancer is relentless, and so am I." I use to suggest that she read a book or listen to books on tape in order to get her mind off of cancer, and she stated "When you have cancer, cancer is all that is on your mind."

This novel gives a look into what the life of person may be like who has cancer. Hazel's life and the life of her family were completely altered by cancer. Because Hazel's cancer was terminally, death was literally lurking everywhere.

Reading this book, I thought about all of the ideas that a teacher could explore with students, and I hurried to school to share those ideas with my coworker who is currently teaching this novel.

My people, make the most of this day and everyday, because DEATH is lurking everywhere.

John Green

Next, I am going to reread The Alchemist by Pablo Coelho. This may be a journey you should take with me!

Enjoy this Day!


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Quest of the Silver Fleece by W.E.B. DuBois


When I traveled to Ghana this past summer, I felt very lucky that the five other people in my travel group were readers, and we spent quite a bit of time talking about one of my favorite things: BOOKS!

Ghana traveling mates!

Two of the many highlights of the trip were visiting the house where W.E.B. DuBois lived while he was in Ghana writing an encyclopedia and viewing his burial site.


W.E.B. DuBois Memorial
W.E.B. DuBois burial site

One of the travelers in the group mentioned that she had completed a novel by W.E.B DuBois, and I instantly became excited. I had no idea that W.E.B. DuBois had written a novel. I have read other books by DuBois such as The Souls of Black Folk, but I knew nothing about this novel: Quest of the Silver Fleece.

Quest of the Silver Fleece was published in 1911, and it is completely captivating from the very first page until the last page. In the notes at the beginning of the novel W.E.B. DuBois writes:
"He who tell a tale must look towards three ideals: to tell it well, to tell it beautifully, and to tell the truth. The first is the Gift of God, the second is the Vision of Genius, but the third is the Reward of Honest."   
The setting of the novel is after the end of the Reconstruction era in a fictional town in Alabama named Toomsville and Washington DC. It's during an era when cotton, the Silver Fleece, was a very important part of the Southern economy. Many Whites of the town did not want the Blacks to get an education, because they felt that education would make the Blacks 'unfit' to work. However, Miss Smith, a southern Black educator, continued to run her school for Black students.

One of the protagonist is Zora. Zora, because of her family's history, is thought by many Whites to be wild, untamed, and not fit to be educated.

Now, you know that I love Zora Neale Hurston, and I was very fascinated with the idea that DuBois named the protagonist Zora, and I wondered if she was named after Zora Neale Hurston. After a little research, I do not believe that this character was named after the writer Zora Neale Hurston. The book was published in 1911, and in 1911 Zora would have been around twenty years old and was not on the Harlem scene yet as part of the Harlem Renaissance. She did not go to New York until 1925, and I do not think that she would have met DuBois before 1925. However, wouldn't it be cool if the protagonist, Zora, was named after Zora Neale Hurston?

Zora Neale Hurston

Sorry about that interruption...Anyway

The other protagonist is Bles, whose background is a little different than Zora. He is thought by Whites to be trainable, and therefore, he had access to Miss Smith's school and other opportunites. Zora and Bles were in love, but many people felt that Zora "was not good enough" for Bles.

Eventually, Bles and Zora split, and they both left the South. However, they came to the realization that they needed to return to the South to help with the upliftment of their people, and that's just what they did.

This novel has love, suspense, history, and is well-written, and I highly recommend that you give it a try.

W.E.B DuBois is well with My Soul!

W.E.B.  DuBois

My next read is The Fault in Our Stars by John Green!

Happy Hump Day...








Monday, November 17, 2014

Cyclocross Race #5: Rockburn Cross


My category of CX racers raced Sunday at 10am. I got to the race site early, registered, pre-rode the course, watched a co-worker and team members race, and even took a few pictures in front of the toughest part of the course.

Toughest part of the course: I did not attempt to ride it; I ran it!

After I pre-rode the course, I thought "This is a tough course; I wonder how I am going to do?" However, just before my race, I was talking to a fellow racer who had just finished his race, and he said that "This course is very ride-able except that section in the back," and his statement gave me peace. (We must be very careful with our words... I wonder what would have happened if my fellow racer had stated that this is a tough course that was not ride-able.)

The whistle was blown, and we, female racers, took off. I was feeling really good, and I talked to myself throughout the race. I was telling myself things like "I feel good, I can do another lap, ride your own race, pain is temporary etc."


One of my teammates, Sean, was at the race, and Sean followed me over just about the entire course. He was calling my name, giving me pointers, riding along some parts of the course with me, and saying things like "I know you are in pain, but keep riding." Sean is the best. I can not even began to share how much Sean's yelling, screaming, and offering encouragement helped me. Some parts of the course felt lonely, and I wanted to give up, but when I would see and hear Sean, I knew that I could keep going. (People need other people!)



There was this one lady who was right behind me, and I was determined to not let her pass me, and that friendly competition coupled with Sean telling me to not let her pass me, helped me to use every bit of energy that I had left to sprint to the finish line.

My people, it is finally sinking in that I should ride my own race and not worry about the other racers as much. I need to ride as hard as I possibly can until the race is over. I was so sure that the cyclist who was behind me and I were the last two cyclist; however, there were several ladies who were behind us, and I am sooooo happy that I did not give up. I actually finished twenty-one out of twenty-eight.


For those of you who are new to racing, if you look at the column that is labeled laps, that tells you how many laps a person completed. And, if you look below my name, you will see that there are several women who completed two laps and there was even one lady who completed one lap. That means that they were pulled from the race because of their lap time. My people, for the first race ever, I was able to finish EVERY LAST ONE OF THE LAPS, and there was someone behind me.

Change can be so gradual sometimes, and if we are not carefully paying attention, we will miss the changes and forget to celebrate!

So, after this race, I am celebrating the fact that I was able to finish all three laps....Small Victories Count!

The next race is Saturday, and I am charged and energized and ready.....


Happy Monday, and Celebrate Your Small Victories!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

'Til the Well Runs Dry by Lauren Francis-Sharma


Friday, I got off from work and headed over to Starbucks to start reading Til the Well Runs Dry by Lauren Francis-Sharma. I only had about one hour and a half to read, and I needed to scurry off to a social gathering. However, I read those first two chapters and thought seriously about blowing off my social commitment and going home to snuggle up with this book.

If you don't know, then I must tell you... I am a sucker for love. I'm talking about that Teacake and Janie from Their Eyes Were Watching God kind of love, that Ossie and Ruby Dee kind of love, that Florida and James Evans kind of love... Can you feel me?

So, if a writer wants to hook me right away, all she has to do is start off by talking about love, and that is exactly what Lauren Francis-Sharma did in 'Til the Well Runs Dry.

The novel starts with the protagonist, Marcia Darcia, who is a seamstress, going to one of her customer's house to fit her for a dress. While at the house, Marcia caught the eye of an East Indian man, and he literally tracked her down and made her fall in
love with him. My people I was hooked.....

I went to my social function, but the minute I got home, I continued to read Til the Well Runs Dry until I couldn't stay awake any longer.

Saturday, I got up and did my normal routine that I normally do when I am not cycling: Whole foods for an omelet, latte, and time to read.

I started reading Til the Well Runs Dry, and before I knew it, I had been sitting in Whole foods for hours frantically reading this novel.

I was pulling for the protagonist, Marcia Darcia and Farouk Karam. But, we all know how love goes...The road to happiness is not always straight, or the love road may not lead to happiness at all.

Lauren pulled me into this book and kept me captivated with a plot that had many twist and turns and much suspense.

Eventually, I needed to leave Whole foods and try to do some other things, but I really wanted to know how the story would unfold for Marcia and Farouk.

I rushed off to get a tour of Frederick Douglass' house, I went to the Dr. King memorial to pay homage to this awesome man, and I finally ended up in a coffee shop in DC to continue to read this book.



This novel is set in Trinidad, and I loved how Lauren used the culture and historical events in order to help drive the plot and keep me intrigued. The cultural piece of this novel reminded me a lot of the novel Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid.... Rich, Rich, Rich, mysterious culture!

Eventually, I left the coffee shop and rushed home to finish the last few chapters of this very suspenseful and well-written novel.

My people, I read all of the almost 300 pages in a day and a half, and I can't wait for Lauren to write another novel.

This is definitely one to add to your reading list!

Lauren Francis-Sharma

My next read is The Quest of the Silver Fleece by W.E.B DuBois

Read, Read, Read......


Friday, November 7, 2014

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald


I must confess that I started reading Tender is the Night back in August, but one thing about this book is that it is written in a manner where I could put it down for awhile, pick it back up, and continue to read without missing a beat. This is a well-written book!

All along I thought that this book was about one of the main characters Dick Diver. Dick is a brilliant psychiatrist who is married to one of his clients, Nicole. We meet Dick and Nicole while they are on vacation, and they meet this young girl named Rosemary. Rosemary is an actress. Dick and Nicole ask Rosemary to travel with them, and Rosemary falls in love with Dick.

Then the books flashes back to when Dick met Nicole. Nicole was stunningly beautiful and was institutionalized; she was Dick's patients. She and Dick fell in love and eventually got married. They had two children. Then....

The plot starts to twist... Dick is accused of infidelity with a patient, Dick and Rosemary have a brief affair, Dick gets beat up and imprisoned, Dick becomes an alcoholic and is asked to leave the clinic where he works....

Near the end of the book, we start to finally hear from Nicole who has been silent most of the book. While Dick is away on one of this trips, Nicole has an affair with a guy named Tommy, and she ask Dick for a divorce and marries Tommy... I was not expecting this at all. 

It became apparent that throughout the book, Nicole was getting the psychological help that she needed from Dick, and at the end of the book, she finally was well and realized that "Either you think--or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you."

So, this book was not about Dick at all but actually about Nicole.

My people, do not think that because it took me a long time to finish this book that it is not a good book. This is not the case at all: reading to prepare to teach, cyclocross, my social life, Homecoming etc.

This is a book that should be read....

My next read is Til the Well Runs Dry by Lauren Francis-Sharma.



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