Monday, December 31, 2012

It Was All A Dream!

Smiling because I'm still here!

There is a song called "Juicy" by the Notorious B.I.G. that says It Was All A Dream, and these words basically sum up how I feel about the year 2012. It was so good until I must remind myself that it was not a dream but FAVOR from God. (I am highly favored!)

Notorious B.I.G.

Here are my top five things that made 2012 soooooo good. They are not in any particular order, but here they are:

1. Class with the honorable Iyanla Vanzant. I started last year by taking a life coaching class. This class helped me to define the reason why I am on this earth, to make sure that my intentions are correct, to boldly state what I want for my life etc. From taking this class, my life went to a new level of consciousness.

Iyanla Vazant

2. My fitness level: Of course you know that I could not talk about 2012 without talking about my fitness level. I did some serious butt kicking workouts in 2012, and I never, ever made excuses to not workout. I planned my entire weeks around my workouts. I am much stronger than I was last year, and my endurance is awesome. My gym workouts helped with both my running and biking, and they have both gone places where I could not have ever imagined. I ran and finished three half marathons and ran several shorter races in 2012, and I completed my first century, 100 mile, bike ride this year. Oh, what we can do when we are consistent!

3. The re-election of President Barack Obama. I can admit now that during the campaign season, I was confident that he would win, but I sure was nervous. It got to the point where I would not talk about it, and I tried to watch the news as less as possible. But, when I woke up on that Wednesday morning, and President Obama was still my President, I breathed a sigh of relief. I know that God has the whole world in his hand but..................

President Barack Obama

4. Summer 2012! It was good. I met so many great people through my running and biking groups. I had lots of time to read, relax, hang out, and do summer trips that included New Orleans, West Virginia to bike and to do some white water rafting, Chicago and Virginia Beach to do half marathons, and many local field trips in my favorite US city: DC.

New Orleans
Biking with friends
Chicago half marathon!

5. Last but not least: The One Year Bible. I have read the bible almost everyday for the last two years, and it really helped to strengthen my spiritual life. I would read the word, and sometimes I would be in complete amazement at how wonderful it really is. If you do anything over and over, it becomes a habit, and reading something for my spirit almost everyday is a habit now. I've decided to give the One Year Bible a break in 2013, but rest assured that I will read something almost daily that feeds my spirit.

I have listed my top five things that made 2012 seem like a dream, but there are so many more things that happened that I am extremely grateful for.

At noon today, I went to church for one of our Watch Night services, and Pastor Wesley stated that when God becomes a priority, everything else lines up, and I could not agree with him more. With everything that I do such as taking care of my body, teaching, interacting with others, writing etc, I keep in mind that I do these things to honor God and the gifts that he has given me, and this always helps me to perform to my top potential.  

I have high expectations for 2013 in every area of my life. Knowing my God, he is going to reward me according to my faith, and my faith is strong.

All of my readers, next is coming, and it is always better. So, we better get ready.

Let's make 2013 our best year ever!!!!!!

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Part 2 of the Holiday Season!!!

Me and Chee Chee

I've been knowing Chee Chee of Cheeky Sasso Entertainment since we were mere children at Tuskegee University. He is the kind of friend whom every person needs, because not only does he have a great heart and will stand in front of a moving bus for people whom he care about, but he also knows EVERYBODY in the DC area, and he makes sure that when I am with him, that EVERYBODY knows me, and he does this for all of his friends. What a great guy with a great heart........

When I got back to Virginia, Chee Chee called and stated that he had tickets to see Cedric the Entertainer, and did I want to go? I put sleepy and tired on hold, and I met him at Constitution hall for a night that was so worth putting sleepy and tired on hold for.

We sat on the 3rd row at the concert, I met more people than I could count, we went backstage after the show and met Cedric the Entertainer and many more people, and I got to eat some sho nuff good food.

JJ, Chee Chee's Mississippi homeboy and opening
act for Cedric the Entertainer.  Please Google JJ, he is FUNNY!

Me, Cedric the Entertainer, and Chee Chee

Chee Chee, Me, and JJ

They had to do the fraternity thing!

My night ended around 1:30AM, and I addressed sleepy and tired by going to bed. They were pretty happy about that.

Around 11:45AM the next day, I went to The National Archives in order to see the actual Emancipation Proclamation with some friends.

Speaking of the Emancipation Proclamation, it's the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. "My people" and I have technically been free for 150 years, and I never take my freedom for granted. The Emancipation Proclamation is not on display often, because it can not take much light. So, we stood in line for three hours, in the freezing cold, to see this document. And, boy was it worth.

Line at the National Archives!
Line at the National Archives!

So, Part 2 of the holiday season started off wonderfully, and I can't wait to see what the last day of 2012 brings....

Friday, December 28, 2012

Part 1 Is Almost Over, and On To Part 2.....

Fayetteville, Georgia

Well, I have had the most restful, peaceful holiday season that a person could possible have. I arrived in Georgia last Saturday, and the serious relaxing started. I have seen three movies, finished reading Oliver Twist, shopped some, and spent time with my mom. Now, it's time to head back to Virginia for Part 2 of the holiday season.

My DC people are starting to check in, and I will get more rest, enjoy great fellowship, maybe do some bike rides, and workout with the greatest trainer in the world, Berhane. 

Part 1 of the holiday season is almost over, and now it's time for Part 2.

On to the next.........

Alexandria, VA

I hope that you are enjoying your holiday season.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Time and Oliver Twist

Two things that I really love about holidays are having lots of time to read and seeing movies in the daytime when they are cheaper.

This week I realized a lot of things about living by myself. For instance, my house is silent quite often; therefore, I can read. However, my mom loves to watch TV, and she has surround sound and the TV sounds so good, but I can't hear the TV and concentrate on what I am reading. She and I have argued quite often this week about her turning the TV down some. After compromise on both of our parts, she was able to watch and listen to her TV shows, and I was able to finish and read Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens which is a novel that is a protest of the Poor Law of 1834 which dictated that all public charity must be channeled through workhouses. (SparkNotes)

Charles Dickens is a master storyteller. Two years ago I read A Tale of Two Cities with my ninth graders, and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. After reading A Tale of Two Cities, I needed more Charles Dickens so I read Great Expectations which is one of my all time favorite books.

Oliver Twist, just like A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations, has lots of characters. However, Dickens knows how to write about ALL of his characters in a way that makes them memorable.

There is one character, Nancy, who is a thief, drinks a lot, and is also a prostitute. Nancy risks her life and eventually gets killed in order to help Oliver. Nancy shows that a person can do some really bad things, yet be quite a noble person. Nancy, is a character, because of her tragic ending, who will be remembered for a long time. I was so sure that because she decided to help Oliver, that she would be saved, but that was not the case.

On the other hand, there are characters like Fagin, Sikes, and Monks who are evil to the core and show no signs of having any good in them at all. I was sort of hoping that Dickens would redeem those characters, but he didn't; they remained evil.

I found poor little Oliver's story to be sad yet engaging. There were times when I felt like I just could not read anymore about Oliver's bad fortune, but eventually, Oliver's story became brighter and quite intriguing. Oliver's life started off wrong, but it ended brightly.

Oliver Twist was written in 1838, and it is still a wonderful story. I am a true Charles Dickens fan, and I look forward to reading David Copperfield, Our Mutual Friends, Bleak House, and many more novels by Charles Dickens.

I know that Charles Dickens' name is associated with school books, and many people may think that school books are boring, but I can assure you that most school books are not boring and there are many good reasons why we are still reading them in schools today.

Read, Read, Read....

Charles Dickens born in 1812

I wonder what my readers are doing over this Holiday Break!

I got to go, off to the movies.......

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

God Does Grant Us the Desires of Our Hearts! ALWAYS

If you have talked to my mom anytime during the last month, I'm sure that you have heard her talk about this wallet that she wanted that matches her new purse. She wanted Santa to bring her lots of money in order for her to get this wallet that matches her new purse.

Thanks to my sister, Tracy, she got this wallet that matches her new purse, and she said things like "God is good," "This is nice," "I can put my credit cards in it," "Look Jack, it even got an ink pen in it."

She has spoken that wallet into existences literally!

God does grant us the desires of our hearts ALWAYS!

I hope that ALL of my readers are having a Great Christmas or whatever you call today, December 25th.

I so appreciate you.....

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Great Commandment!

'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." MARK 12:31

So, In order to practice this commandment, we must love ourselves FIRST!

Get to Loving and Making Yourself Extremely HAPPY.....

Happy Saturday!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Angels Keep Appearing!

Another Angel

This morning, that tire was flat again. I called AAA, and they sent out this awesome guy who was so friendly. I told him about the day before, and he checked the tire out and let me know that the stem was dead.

He stated that he normally charges for the stem, but TODAY, it was on the house....

He fixed it in about two minutes, and I went on my merry little way to finish out the last day of school before the Christmas Break.

When God tries to send a message, he makes sure that we get it........

Angels Just Keep Appearing!!!!

It's Christmas Time!!!!

and the gifts keep coming!

Enjoy your holiday!!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Angels are Everywhere!

This morning I woke up and did my normal routine that always include breakfast and some other stuff, and I went outside to my car to leave for work.

As soon as I pulled out of the garage, I knew that something was wrong; one of my back tires was flat.

I pulled into one of the parking spaces in the front of the building, and I saw one of my neighbors walking his dog. (An angel!) He wanted to change the tire, but I thought that it only needed air. So, after much conversation, we decided that I would drive his car to work, and he would wait for AAA to come and do whatever needed to be done to the tire. (I had to convince AAA to allow my neighbor to be there with the car while I went to work. That's a whole 'nother blog.)

My neighbor and angel: Perfecto

When I got to school, one of my coworkers made sure that my classroom door was open, and my seniors had a note on the door that stated: "Stop! You are late. Go to the library." I got a good laugh out of this, and they were in class having a student lead discussion on The Kite Runner. (I must pat myself on the back for training my students to have class even in my absence.)

My neighbor, who was waiting on AAA, called to let me know that AAA put air in my tire, and that I should not worry, because he would go and get the tire checked and bring my car to the school. (An angel!) His call gave me so much comfort.

My dad used to say "God ain't coming down here to do nothing for you; he has to use people," and this incident this morning was such a great display of my dad's words.

Not only did my neighbor get my tire checked and brought my car to me, he also brought me lunch...(An Angel!)

I really needed conformation that there are Angels and that I am not alone in this world, and God showed up and showed out!

We are never alone, because Angels are Everywhere......

Monday, December 17, 2012

Wreath Laying!

Every year, a program called Wreaths Across America Ceremony attracts thousands of people at nearly 800 military cemeteries to lay wreaths on the graves of fallen service members.

As I did my Saturday morning run by Arlington Cemetery, I saw the hundreds of volunteers lined up to lay the more than 110,000 wreaths.

I had no clue that my school's girls' basketball team and their coaches were in that number of volunteers.

So proud of the kids........

Girls' Basketball Team

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Heavy Heart and Busy Mind!

The shooting at the school in Connecticut has sadden me to the core. I have thought about evil, the shooter, and those precious children and their families.

At the time that the shooter entered the classroom, I wonder what were those children doing? Were they creating holiday cards for their parents, were they in the middle of story time, were they getting ready to do math, or were they taking a break and laughing and playing like children like to do?

My freshmen and I have just completed reading Lord of the Flies by William Golding. In teaching this novel, I focus a lot on good and evil and the idea of whether or not everyone has an evil side.

The children who are stranded on an island In Lord of the Flies are convinced that there is a beast on the island. They kill a pig and put the pig's head on a stick and leave it as an offering for the beast. Simon, one of the main characters, comes face to face with the pig's head as Simon is hallucinating while having a epileptic seizure. The beast says to Simon: “Fancy thinking the beast was something you could hunt or kill!” and “You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you? Close, close, close.”

William Golding is trying to convey the message that we are looking for evil outside of ourselves, when it is actually inside of us.......

People kill people, start wars, spread rumors, talk viciously about each other, misunderstand each other and act on it and on and on and on.

One of my students brought up the point that in the bible, evil is viewed as something that is outside of us; something that we have to fight off. However,William Golding sees evil as something that is inside of us; something that will come out of us if we are put in strenuous situations. After the student stated this, I stopped and repeated it, and I have thought a lot about this every since. (Out of the mouth of a babe!) 

So, that evil that happened at that school, I wonder if it was inside the shooter or was it some type of force that he was working against? I really want to believe that he had a good side, but something happened to make his evil side completely take over. 

Looking at people, it is very difficult to know what's going on inside of them. Most of us wear different masks as stated by Paul Laurence Dunbar in his poem "We Wear the Mask." 

Not sure where I am going with this, but what I do know is that there is evil in the world and it seems to be coming from people and being directed towards people, and not always grown people, but innocent young children.

I wish that all people, including myself, would do self assessments often and get help when it is needed. I wish that the shooter of those children in Connecticut would have thought: "I don't feel right today" and would have gone to get some much needed help.

I know that mental illness is real and sometimes undetected but.....damn I wish that everyone had a therapist, or a preacher, or their God, or somebody else on speed dial to pull him/her out when he/she need it.

Was the evil within the shooter or was there some outside force that caused him to do it?????

Some questions have no answers and the Beadle, a character from the memoir Night, stated that questions are what draw us closer to God.

Heavy Heart and Busy Mind!

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Kite Runner AGAIN!!

In preparation to write this post, I went back and read another post that I wrote almost exactly one year ago about The Kite Runner, and all that I can say is that "people do change and grow."

This is my third year teaching The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I went back and forth trying to decide whether or not I was going to teach this book this year. I remember the last time I read it, I was thinking that it was just a good book but not necessary on my list of books that I really wanted to experience with my students again. However, after polling my class, I realized that quite a few of students had never read this book before, so I decided to give it a try again. And, I am so happy that I did.

This time around I really thought about what makes people good or not so good and the idea of redemption.

Amir, one of the main characters, really mistreated Hassan, who was the child of his servant. He mistreated him mainly because Amir's father was not giving him the attention that he desired. Also, Amir felt that his father really respected Hassan, and he was quite jealous of that. So, being a child, he took his frustration out on Hassan.

In class, we have been having the most lively discussion about the idea of whether or not Amir was a "bad person" because of the way that he treated Hassan when they were mere children. The class and I have been all over the place with this discussion. I am thinking today that humans want to feel accepted and that children, and even adults, will sometimes do whatever it takes to be or feel accepted. Amir did not know how to tell his dad what he needed, and maybe his Dad was "doing the best that he knew how to do." (If only parenting and children came with handbooks.)

I also thought about religion, and God, and discrimination, and living in Afghanistan and America......

This book really helps to generates lots of thoughts!

Next week, my students will do student-lead discussion on some of the themes in The Kite Runner: choices, guilt, father and son relationships, fear etc.

I am looking forward to the discussions, because this time around, unlike the last time, I do believe that this is well-written book that gives the reader so many things to ponder. (People do change!)

The Kite Runner is a little sad and also a heavy book, so why don't you read it after the holidays and tell me what you think?

Next, I am reading Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. Please, get a copy, and join me in reading it?

Reading is so much fun when others are reading the same book with me. I guess that's one of the reason why I love teaching literature; I have a whole bunch of people reading the same book that I am reading at the same time.

Read a book and change your thoughts.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Words and Punctuation!!

I absolutely love language and punctuation; it is so powerful! When I received the above example of how language and punctuation can be manipulated to convey so many messages; I just had to smile.

When I think about how carefully author chooses words and punctuation to convey their messages, it completely leaves me in awe. 

In the foreword for Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison spends an entire page telling the reader why she started the novel with the sentence:

"The North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance agent promised to fly from Mercy to the other side of Lake Superior at three o'clock."

It would be a shame  to read any of Toni Morrison's books and not notice and appreciate every sentence, in just the same way that it "pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it" as stated in the novel The Color Purple.

Today, I am so loving words and punctuation!!!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It's Beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

He sat this on my desk!

 I opened it!

I am thrilled and happy!!!

It's Christmas Time......

I love my students, and their parents, and my school.

Grateful, Grateful, Grateful....All of the Time!
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