Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Coworkers with common interests

I know that I said that last week's Thankful Thursday blog was going to be the last one, but I started school this week, and it has not been a stressful week at all. Really, it's been quite enjoyable and relaxing. I thought that I won't have time to write much this week, but I've had quite a bit of free time. I've had time to read, write, go to the pool two times and bike two times. So, here is another Thankful Thursday blog.....

You know how faith is doing all that you can, and believing that everything will work out better than you could ever imagine. Well, that's what happened with my career. I really wanted to work in a small school district and a place where I could have longevity. I had no idea that I would love to work with people whom I could possibly share common interests with outside of school.

 So, I'm in a small district, a place where I can have longevity, and "my better than I could ever imagined" is students whom I adore and many coworkers who love to be active as much as I do. (Sometimes we don't know what to ask for, and that is when we have to trust a higher power.)

I am part of a community of people who like to bike, run, canoe and do all of the outdoor activities that I love to do. (Who would have thought......)

Look at what we did today, after school, around 3:30:

My school happens to be right next to a trail that connects to other trails, so we were able to do the Arlington loop today: Arlington to DC to Alexandria and back to Arlington. We had many laughs, much sunshine, some hills and even a baby on the ride.

Today, I am so Thankful for coworkers whom I share common interests with.

By the way, we ran into one of our Assistant Principals RUNNING on the trail. (There is nothing like an active school!)

This school year is going to be our best ACTIVE school year ever!!!

Happy Thankful Thursday....

Encourage someone to try something new...

Monday, August 27, 2012

End of Summer Health Update

This summer, I took my exercise and diet routines to places where they have never been before.

Time off from work is time for me to do things that I really enjoy, and doing some serious workouts and eating clean are some of the things that give me complete joy.

I biked at least four days almost every week this summer. I'm not talking about leisure rides, I'm talking about rides that made my calves sore. (Sweet Pain.) After riding over 100 miles on a weekend trip, I got up that Monday and did a hill practice with Babes on Bike. The stronger and tougher my rides became, my recovery time became shorter.

Berhane, the greatest trainer in the world, knows that when I workout with him, I want a workout that challenges me, and that is what I got this summer. Every workout with him has been one difficult workout after the other. Sometimes, I really wanted to curse him out, but afterwards I would want to hug him.

My Saturday runs have all been at least ten miles, and most of them I ran very strong; however, a few were slower than others, but I always finished. But, just like biking, my recovery time became shorter and shorter. I got to the point this summer where I could run ten miles on a Saturday and bike forty miles the next day.

Needless to say, I was sore all summer, and it felt so good...

Being a church and a spoken and written words girl, I know many "Church Quotes." One in particular has been on my mind today: "Resist the devil, and he will flee." The devil is anything that I shouldn't do. My devils use to be popcorn from the movie theater, desserts, and cocktails. However, if you resist your devil long enough, the desire to do things that you shouldn't do may always be there, but your strength to resist your devil will increase.

This past weekend I resisted birthday cake, wine, cookies on the airplane, pancakes at Ihop etc. Today, the first day back at work, I resisted bagels for breakfast and a pasta and pizza lunch with some of my favorite desserts. However, it felt so good to know that I can be around things that I use to love to eat and drink and actually resist them. There was no way that I was going to mess up a whole summer worth of butt kicking workouts.

This week, Berhane is on vacation, and he told me that he wanted me to take this week off to allow my body to recover from the summer, and he guaranteed me that when I run this half marathon on Sunday, it will be one of my best runs ever. So, today when I left work, I went and laid around the pool instead of going to workout, and I can tell that my body is really appreciating this break.

 Now tomorrow, I will do my Tuesday night bike ride, and I will bike with my coworkers on Thursday, and run this half marathon Sunday. However, next week, I am going back to those butt whipping workouts that give me so much joy.

So, if you have been following my health journey, you know that this journey has not been easy, but it sure has been rewarding. We are so much stronger, in so many ways, than we may know.

I'm still on my journey, and I am feeling real good.

Join Me!!!!!!!!!

Oh, I am still reading The Count Of Monte Cristo. With my travels last week, I have not been able to read 100 pages a day, but sometimes, life happens.....

You still have time to get The Count of Monte Cristo and join me.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Change

This is my last Thankful Thursday blog. While I have totally enjoyed Thankful Thursdays, school is starting back next week, and yes, I will still have time to workout, hangout, read, write, but I also must add reading and planning for school into my daily routine. So, I can not guarantee that I will be able to write and post a blog every Thursday. But, rest assured, throughout the school year, I will continue to blog, because I make sure that I do the things that I love to do often.

With the start of school approaching, I must say that I have enjoyed doing whatever I have wanted to do, whenever I have wanted to do it. But, I must also say that I am ready for the change that is coming my way. I look forward to being back on a routine, seeing coworkers, teaching children etc.

When school starts and ends, I always remind myself that the state that I am in will not last, and this helps me to keep my sanity. (I need change.) Next week, many of my coworkers will say that they were not ready for school to start back, but I go into summer savoring every moment, because I know that summer will not last always. (Hallelujah!)

I am so Thankful for Change!!!

I am happy that styles change, people change, seasons change, I am changing, because I think it would be almost unbearable if things stayed the same. Change is what keeps us on our toes.

Since I started teaching, there has been so many changes in the way that we teach children, and I am happy about it. Today, we spend much more time thinking and developing ways to reach all children, infusing technology into the classroom, mainstreaming and doing so much more innovative teaching until it is completely mind blowing. If I was still teaching the same way that I did fifteen years ago, I think that I just might go crazy doing the same thing, the same way, for fifteen years.

Knowing that everything changes, I have learned to really enjoy "the right now," because "right now" will not be around very long. I have enjoyed every MORNING bike ride, dentist appointment, workouts with the greatest trainer in the world, grocery store trips, writing, because I knew that this situation will only last for awhile..... and it's on to the next, and I always expect "next" to be even better than "now".

I know people who resist change, and they are fighting an uphill battle. Change is inevitable. But, not only is it inevitable, it is good. It's all in the way that you look at things.

Today, as I sit on my balcony, in the middle of the day, I am so Thankful for Change.

Next week, I can guarantee you that my life will look quite differently, but I am soooo ready.........A Change is Coming.........

Happy Thankful Thursday!!!

I will leave you with Sam Cooke singing "A Change is Gonna Come:" One of my all time favorite songs.....

Monday, August 20, 2012

Look at What I Got!

So, let me tell you what's been going on in my reading world!

Browsing through my Nook, I ran across The Count Of Monte Cristo. Almost all serious readers have read this book, and it is pretty much a stable in the literary world. Being that I am serious about literature, I started reading The Count of Monte Cristo. It's over 900 pages, and I have been plugging away, but I still got a ways to go......

It is captivating from the very first page, and if I can read at least 100 pages a day, starting today, I can get it finished before school starts back next week.

So, that's where I am, and why don't you get the Count of Monte Cristo and join me?

Ok, I got to go. I got to get 100 pages in and do all of the other things that I do in one day :)

Happy Reading People!!!!!!

Friday, August 17, 2012

I've Fallen in Love!!!

I know that my readers read the title of this post and then looked at the above picture and became very excited. Who doesn't want to read about someone finding the love of their life?

Well, my readers, My King has not presented himself as My King yet, but I know that he is somewhere being groomed for me. However, I fell in love with biking this summer, and it feels the same way that falling in love with a man does. (It feels so good!) 

I've been biking for years mostly by myself or with my friend Nancy. I had a hybrid bike and there really is not a biking community for hybrids. There are dirt and road bike communities but no hybrid community. But, once I got my road bike, a whole world opened up to me.

I am a firm believer that whatever we need comes to us. We don't have to spend a lot of time pondering, worrying, researching, talking about etc, it just comes. Once I got my road bike in March, biking groups started to chase me down.

Wednesday morning I met about 15 to 20 women from the group Babes on Bikes to do a ride that we call the Arlington loop. It is about 17 miles and it goes from Arlington to DC then Alexandria and loops back around to Arlington. It has hills, curves, turns, and the most beautiful views that I never forget to notice. As we were riding on the George Washington trail, and I viewed the Potomac River, all of the DC landmarks, and a line of women bikers, it dawned on me: "I am in love!!!"

You know when you have been going out with a guy for awhile, and you enjoy his company, spending time with him, but you are not giving the relationship much thought. Then one day you look at him and think "I love this guy with my whole heart." Well, that's how I felt on that ride Wednesday; I realized that I love biking and group biking with my whole heart, and it feels so good.

My biking this summer has gone to a whole 'nother level. I've gotten several riding pointers from different people. I implemented them, and I have become a much stronger rider. My Tuesday night rides use to make me feel completely defeated. But now, after learning when to shift gears and how to correctly pedal, I no longer feel defeated. As a matter of fact, I am able to hold my own now.

I've ridden with so many different groups and people this summer which served to cause me to fall more and more in love with biking. I thought that loving so many people and Jesus with my whole heart, I really thought that my heart couldn't stretch more, but it did! The heart is like every other muscle in the body, the more we use it, the stronger it gets and the more room that it makes to love. (Try using every muscle in your body more and see how strong you become and how good you feel.)

It's easy to tell what people love, just pay attention to what they spend their time doing!

People, find out what you love to do, do it often, and fall in love; it feels sooo darn good!

I'm in love.......

Enjoy This day and everyday.

Babes on Bikes!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Quick Weekend Getaways

Biking Weekend 2012 in West Virginia

So, I am on a lot of biking groups' email lists, and I got this one email about a biking weekend in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and I acted on it right away. I didn't know the people, but I know that I love activity filled trips. I contacted the organizers and sent the email to two of my easy going friends who would make this an extra fun trip: Nancy and Deitrea, and the rest is history. What a good for the heart, in more than one way, weekend!!!!

We hiked, biked over 100 miles in two days, ate almost every meal outside, and talked much s@$#!!

Harpers Ferry is a little over an hour from DC, but I felt like we were very far away.

So, you can leave after work on Friday, have a short weekend getaway, and get enough joy to last for awhile.

I am Thankful for Weekend Getaways!

Happy Thankful Thursday My People.

Do the things that you love to do often....

Monday, August 13, 2012

Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

I always say that I don't want another degree, but if I ever go back to school, I will be in somebody's PhD program in the Anthropology or Women's History department studying and researching women and our rich history.

When you read diverse literature and also when you read history, women have really suffered. A few years back, one of my students wrote a research paper about women during the Holocaust, and I wanted to cry a river. She wrote about women having cycles, giving birth, seeing their children killed, being pregnant, getting rape and getting pregnant all while being in a concentration camp. In Afghanistan, some of the first restrictions that were place by the Taliban were against women and boy were they severe. Reading some of those stories is enough to make someone want to start a revolution and free all of the Afghan women. There are so many books written about the African woman who was turned into a slave, but the novel Wench, by Dolen Perkins-Valdez, tells a tale that I have never heard before: slaveholders taking their slave mistresses to resorts for the summer in Ohio. The characters are all fictional, but the situation is not.

Dolen can write, that's all that I can say. This story is very captivating, because we get to know the characters quite well, she cleverly gives enough background information to help with understanding, and she tells a tale that really is not known, or should I say, it's a side of slavery that was not known to me.

She has characters that I really loved and others that I really wanted to understand. She shows sides of African women who were turned into slaves that really made me think and other sides that made me so proud to be of African descent.

I truly believe that everyone, but especially women, need to know the history of women world wide so that we can know women's strength and weakness.

If you find me in school somewhere, I'll be buried in a library, in the stacks, yes the stacks, studying women's history with many other people who value our history.

All praises to Dolen who is telling this part of slavery that needs to be told. You Go Girl!!

Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Please click on the link below to hear Dolen talk about this book:

People, get to reading! There is a whole lot to know out there........

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Where I live!

Everyday, I am so Thankful that I live in the DC area; this area is the best. Now, I know people who have lived here, and it just did not do it for them, but I thrive off the energy of this city.

So, here are some of the things that I am Thankful for in this area:

1. The Smithsonian Museums! First and foremost they are FREE. Yes, that's right. They are absolutely free always and are open every day of the the week with the exception of a few holidays. They have some of the greatest permanent exhibits and there are always great traveling exhibits as well. I spend quite a bit of time at these museum just because I can, and I really enjoy them. My favorite is the American History Museum, and my favorite two exhibits in the History Museum is the first lady exhibit and the American Flag exhibit. I see these two exhibits quite often, and I am always in awe.

The American Flag
Helen Taft's Inaugural Gown

 2. The Trails! There is the W&OD trail, the Mount Vernon Trail, The Custis Trail, The Capital Crescent Trail, The Sligo Creek and Branch Trails, and the list goes on and on. Most of these trails are for exercise: walking, biking, running etc. There are always people taking advantage of these trails. So, living here is very conducive to living an active lifestyle. I rode on the W&OD trail yesterday, and the scenery is wonderful.

W & OD Trail

3. The Closeness! From the DC area a person can get to great wineries, national Historic sites such as Jamestown, Virginia, New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia and a whole bunch of other cities in four hours or less. I love to get in my car and drive to Philadelphia, see the liberty bell, and drive back home. Anyday can be a day full of adventure and a person can be back at home in their own bed by night fall.

The liberty bell!

4. The Bars and Restaurants! The DC area has some fabulous bars and restaurants and there seem to be new ones popping up all of the time. Dining out here is such a great experience, because there are so many unique places with such great character. One of my favorite things to do is too meet someone out at a great bar or restaurant just because of the atmosphere.

Masa 14: One of my favorite restaurants.

Now, let's bring this back to my neighborhood!

5. My street! On my street are my two favorite grocery stores, the Best Trainer in the World, my favorite Dunkin Donut, one of my favorite restaurants etc. Very close to my house is my gym, Old Town Alexandria, another one of my favorite grocery stores, two train stations, a trail, a movie theater, a community center, a great park, my church etc. I could remain within five miles of my condo all day everyday and be quite content.

Old Town Alexandria

6. Condo Building! I believe that my condo building is the best on my street. The people are friendly, the building is clean, the grounds are well manicured, we have a well-kept tennis group, an Olympic size pool, public gardens, and the scene from my balcony is quite awesome; it's where I do most of my writing in the summer. When I bought and moved into this place, it was a true leap of faith. The market was so hot back then, and I had about 24 hours to make a decision, and it just so happened to be the right decision.

Scene from my balcony

Now, I could go on and on and on, but I won't. But, the DC area and my neighborhood suit me just fine.

When I moved here 13 years ago, a small voice said to me "Everything that you need is here," and so far, this statement has been very true.

I am just soooo Thankful that I followed that voice inside and ended up in a place that is perfect for me.

I know there are other people who are Thankful for where they live so, tell me about it.......

Happy, HAPPY Thankful Thursday!!!!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

So, today, I was going to workout at 10, go to the pool after that for some relaxation and reading, and then I was going to do my favorite Tuesday night bike ride with free food from Baja Fresh. However, Norwegian Wood slightly changed my plans.

I started reading Norwegian Wood on Saturday, and all that I have wanted to do is read this book. I finished all 270 some pages on Monday night around 10:30pm. I was so moved by this book until I wanted to write about it right after I finished. But, if you know anything about me, I am no good after 10 or 10:30pm. So, I decided to write this post in between my morning workout and pool time. Norwegian Wood is completely amazing!

The narrator of this story, Toru, tells this story through a flashback. He is on a plane and he hears the song "Norwegian Wood" by The Beatles and it causes him to reflect back 18 years to August 1969 when he was getting ready to turn twenty. And that's where this story begins. He is in college and there is a roommate, good friends, girls, drinking. All of the things that may encompass a twenty year old college student's life and sometimes shapes a person's life. (College, college, college... The good, bad, and the ugly, and we made it!!!!!!)

With this story, Murakami uses plan beautiful language to tell a lot of different people's story through the voice of Turu, and boy are the stories captivating. He starts stories and then go to other stories and picks back up with the previous story in a way that makes the reader read with urgency. (My heart was racing throughout this novel.) I am a true sucker for love, and the love scenes and love in this novel shows that love will and can show up when we least expect it, and it may not look the way that we planned for it to look. (Oh My!)

At the end of this novel, I felt totally satisfied with the idea that all of the characters were going to be ALL RIGHT! (I do love happy endings.)

Now, the author, Haruki Murakami, is a contemporary Japanese writer whose work is described as 'easily accessible, yet profoundly complex,' and I couldn't agree more. 

Norwegian Wood pretty much made Haruki a superstar in Japan, and when you read this book, you will know why. 

Haruki Murakami

This story has everything that I love for a story to have in order to make my heart happy: love, suspense, sex, great writing, peoples' life stories etc.....

There are some things that you must do for yourself and reading this book is one of them!

Now it's...............POOL TIME!

Go and buy and read this book.

I must leave you with "Norwegian Wood" by The Beatles:

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Children of the River by Linda Crew

When I read the novel Lord of the Flies with my students, one of the nonfiction short stories that I use to explore the theme of The Human Capacity for Evil is titled "Cambodia," and I can not remember the name of the author right now. The nonfiction short story tells the story of how badly people were treated in Cambodia under the leadership of Pol Pot from 1975 to 1979. However, many of the children during Pol Pot's reign saw many terrible things happen to their parents and other people, and many decided to NOT be bitter.

This novel, Children of the River, is a young adult fiction novel that looks at the life of a Cambodian teenager after her family was forced to flee Cambodia to Oregon. Like many young adult novels, teenage love helps to spotlight the differences in Cambodian and American culture. The main character, Sundara is caught between two worlds....

Reading this novel, I thought about the US immigration policy and the idea that many people are forced to this country because of conditions in their own countries. Once they are here, many would love to go back to their homes, but their homeland circumstances will sometimes not allow it. Once here, do they deserve the same rights and treatment as people who were born here or not? Immigration is a huge topic today.

This school year, I am looking to include more diverse novels into my curriculum, and this may be one that I chose. The school where I teach has so many students from different countries, and I think that this novel will help to facilitate discussion on differences and to foster cultural sensitivity.

Yes, this is a young adult novel, but if you don't know anything about Cambodia and the leader Pol Pot, this is a great place to start along with the short story "Cambodia."

Easy read that I think almost any reader would enjoy.

Linda Crew: the Author

I ran 10 miles this morning and did a little shopping at the market and now, "this sister" is getting ready to REST before I play later.

Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Written and Spoken Words

“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:33-37
Today, I have so many things to be Thankful for until I was totally confused about what I should write about. I thought about summer, fresh vegetables, love, digital devices, where I live, Jesus, lunch, my biking groups, my mother, but I saw this quote on Facebook:

and, I knew that I had to write about how much I love words. Whoever wrote this quote is a master with words, and this quote touched my heart and made me want to take my relationships to a whole 'nother level. (Words do have the power to transform.) 

My love for words began when my mother use to take my siblings and I to the BookMobile, for those who do not know, a BookMobile is a library that is on a bus and it normally travels to places that do not have a libraries so that the people can have access to books that they can borrow. (Yes, I grew up in a town that did not have a public library.)

This bus looks a lot like the bus that use to come
to my hometown!

I would get enough books from the BookMobile to last for two weeks and could not wait for the BookMobile to return so that I could borrow more books. As a kid, I fell in love with the Flowers in the Attic series by V.C. Andrews, and I loved those romance novels by Bertice Small. I remember spending boring Saturdays reading a good book, and I would soon forget that I was bored; I would be in the attic with the children from Flowers in the Attic, and I would travel the world with the women in Bertice Small novels. (Oh, the places you can go with words.)

Once I became a high school teacher of literature, I really started to pay closer attention to words: "Why would a writer use this word instead of that word?" etc. I can take a passage and analyze the words forever, because words are loaded with meaning and most authors use words purposefully. (I just love words.)

I must admit that I have so many words stored in my brain, on my phone, on sticky notes, underlined in books. I have a quote that can match almost any situation, and I use them mostly to inspire me and anyone else who may need a word of encouragement.  (I am a quote junkie.) 

Asha Bandele and Zora Neale Hurston use words to write about love like no other.. Randall Robinson takes words and makes really heavy topics read like mystery novels.. Toni Morrison takes words and can seriously confuse the reader by telling the same story from many perspectives in the same book.. Tananarive Due uses words that can make a reader not able to sleep for quite a long time.. Langston Hughes uses words that makes the reader marvel..and I hope that I use words to inspire.........

People, I can't live without words!

Today, and everyday, I am Thankful, Thankful, soooo very Thankful for written and spoken words.

Let me leave you with a poem titled "Words" by Anne Sexton:

Be careful of words, 
even the miraculous ones. 
For the miraculous we do our best, 
sometimes they swarm like insects
and leave not a sting but a kiss.
They can be as good as fingers.
They can be as trusty as the rock
you stick your bottom on.
But they can be both daisies and bruises.

Yet I am in love with words.
They are doves falling out of the ceiling.
They are six holy oranges sitting in my lap.
They are the trees, the legs of summer,
and the sun, its passionate face.

Yet often they fail me.
I have so much I want to say,
so many stories, images, proverbs, etc.
But the words aren't good enough,
the wrong ones kiss me.
Sometimes I fly like an eagle
but with the wings of a wren.

But I try to take care
and be gentle to them.
Words and eggs must be handled with care.
Once broken they are impossible
things to repair.

Happy Thankful Thursday "My People."

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