Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas was Christmas

Road Tripping with my mom on Christmas Day!

Christmas was Christmas........

I love the time off from work, but it seems like there should be more to Christmas like a week long celebration that is very similar to Mardi Gras or a Caribbean Carnival!

People unwrap gifts, maybe visit friends, spend time with family, or go and see a movie. But, wouldn't it be great if we had huge celebrations, and we were all in the streets, in cities across this country, dancing, singing, laughing, eating, and thanking God for Baby Jesus?

I would love to see Christmas time being a more festive time of the year.

Do you have any ideas about Christmas?

Holler, My People!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Glass Castle a Memoir by Jeanette Walls

I was on Facebook doing a public rant about how I hate Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, and one of my former co-workers and friend, Kathleen, mentioned The Glass Castle. Kathleen is a reader whom I trust, so I instantly downloaded The Glass Castle, and I loved it from the very first page:
"I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster."
Jeannette and her two sisters and brother were raised in a manner that I found both fascinating and sad. Their parents, Rex and Rosemary, seemed like children who were raising children. They were fun, yet completely irresponsible. The family moved around a lot and ended up in West Virginia where they lived in a manner that I wish no human would have to experience. There was no running water, no electricity, no heat or air conditioning, the roof leaked, and they were hungry often. However, the children managed to attend school and to persevere and overcome the environment in which they were raised.

Jeannette is a greater writer, and she tells this story in a manner where I did not feel sorry for them, but I was definitely cheering for them....

This books caused me to think about a lot things:
  1. We have a choice in the kind of the life that we live.
  2. We can make the best of bad situations.
  3. Children LOVE their parents unconditionally.
  4. Love may not be enough!
  5. Love is enough!
  6. We can overcome almost anything.
  7. We must follow our hearts even when we are afraid.
  8. It is great to learn people's story before we judge them.
This is an awesome book and one you may want to consider adding to your reading list!

Secretly, Jeannette Walls and her siblings are some of my modern day heroes.....

Jeanette Walls

I am still reading Why Not You?: Twenty-Eight Days to Authentic Confidence by Valorie Burton, and I am also starting to read The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay.

Happy Christmas Eve!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Our Lives Matter!

I share a whole lot with my students, and I definitely share with them about books that I read. I told them about The Quest of the Silver Fleece by W.E.B. DuBois, and that led us to talk about W.E.B. Dubois' life and legacy. Of course, I had to show them the pictures of me in Ghana at the home and burial site of DuBois.

Well, Thursday and Friday of last week, one of my students was in Massachusetts to attend the funeral for his grandmother. He excitedly rushed in today and said "I have something for you." He passed me this card that tells about a National Historic Site for DuBois. He told me of how his family was riding along and saw the sign for the site. They did not have time to visit the site, but they stopped briefly to get this card for me. (Swoon!)

I wonder if I had not shared with the student about DuBois, if he would have paid that sign any attention and just passed right on by it. I want to believe that I influenced this student to take notice of this person who is sometimes left out of American history.

This encounter with my student reminds me of one of the reasons why I love being a teacher; We, not just teachers, have the power to influence other people and the lives of the people whom they influence, either positively or negatively.

My People, Our Lives Matter!

Happy Monday.....

Friday, December 19, 2014

Books for Christmas 2014!

My niece, Kayla, left me a message, and she stated: "I am starting to think everyone could use something to read under the Christmas tree. Have you thought of doing a post with recommended books for gifting this Christmas season?"

I couldn't agree with Kayla more. Books are great, inexpensive gifts, that if chosen well, could really mean so much to the people who receive them. However, the only problem that I had with making a wish list was trying to narrow my favorite books down to my top ten.

However, after much thought, here is a list of 10 Books, with a link to blogs that I wrote about each, that can be great gifts to put under the Christmas tree:

#10. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson! This man had an interesting life, and it is great to see what he had to sacrifice to make it to the top. Read about it here. 

#9. Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez! This is not a long read at all, but it is very interesting to read this story of slavery that is not told often. Read about it here.

 #8. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James! Yep, this book made the list. There is so much that we can learn about negotiation from this book. Read about it here.


#7. Under the Feet of Jesus by Helena Maria Viramontes! This book really touched my heart. Read about it here. 

#6. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami! This is a story that shows how complicated we can make life, and it also shows how everything works out just the way it is suppose too. Read about it here

 #5. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie! This is a wonderfully told story about how words have the power to transform. Read about it here.

#4. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb! Malala just won the Nobel Peace Prize. This book is her story of courage. What a great reminder to never be silenced! Read about it here.

 #3. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho! This book spoke to my heart and deeply moved me. Read about it here.

#2. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie! This book is like no other in the manner in which it handles Nigerian People's story. Read about it here.

#1. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. There is no way that a person can read this book and not see a whole lot of things differently. Read about it here.

I hope that this Christmas list is helpful....

Happy Shopping, My People!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Cutting Season by Attica Locke

The Cutting Season by Attica Locke was my book club selection for this month; I missed the meeting, but I did read the book!

The Cutting Stone is set on a historic plantation in Louisiana. An African American woman, Caren, is running the plantation which is used for tours and events. Caren's family has worked on this plantation for years.

There is a murder committed on the plantation and this allows several subplots to develop: Caren and her ex-lover; Caren's great, great great grandfather's story; Caren and her father, Caren and her mother, the plantation owners.....Yea, there are lots of  stories, but Attica finds a clever way to tell all of these stories in a manner that is not confusing.

Overall, this was a decent book, BUT...

I had a problem with Caren working on a plantation. I can't quite understand an African American wanting to live on a plantation even if he/she is running it as a historic site? It appeared that most of the African Americans who worked on the plantation were one step from slavery times, and I had a problem with that since the book was set in modern times. In this book, Attica talked about the election of President Obama which meant the setting was present day, but she treated the storyline as if it was set right after slavery. The entire time that I was reading this book, I had to continuously remind myself that this novel was taking place in a modern setting and not 1920.

Eventually, we find out who killed the lady who was found dead on the plantation, and there was closure given to every subplot in the story, except we are not quite sure what will happen to Caren.

Not my favorite book, but it also was not my least favorite book....Something about African Americans living and working on a plantation in the 2000s and not owning it, did not sit well with me.

By the way,  Attica Locke's first novel, Black Water Rising, I haven't read it yet, was nominated for several awards. She has produced scripts for Paramount, Warner Bros., Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, and HBO. Attica is a big deal.....Check her out!

Next, I will be reading two books at the same time: Why Not You?: Twenty-Eight Days to Authentic Confidence by Valorie Burton that I will read over the next twenty-eight days and The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.

Get Busy, My People!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Today, a student gave me this note, and it was just the confirmation that I needed....

  Enjoy this day, My People!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Justice For All!

There was no way that I could carry on with my normal routine on Saturday and pretend that everything is ok, when it's not. (I'm not good at pretending!) There was a rally going on about eleven miles from my house, in the Nation's Capital, called Justice for All, to highlight the need for A Change. Yea, it was cold out, but there was no way that I would allow mere cold weather to Turn Me Round! 

Eric Garner was put in a choke hold and died, and the killer, a cop, was not indicted; Tami Rice, a twelve year old baby, was killed, by a cop, for having a toy gun; and Michael Brown was killed, by a cop, by what I believe to be excessive force. There was no way I could stay in the comfort of my home when there is unrest in this country. "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Dr. MLK

I believe in change, and I believe that we have the power to change systems; it's been done before.....The Civil Rights Act of 1964, Brown vs. Board of Education, The 14th Amendment to the Constitution!

I also strongly believe that we must Stand Up and be counted in the numbers for the things that we believe in, and that is exactly what thousands of us did on Saturday in several locations throughout this country!

Dr. King once stated that "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." 

Read about the Marches here, and Go Out and Matter!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cyclocross Race # 9: BikenetiCX.....The END!

Have I told you lately that I am on THE. BEST. TEAM. EVER.... Veloworks!

Many of my teammates do no race cross, but they showed up to watch our final races; It meant so much for them to be there, and I rode a little harder, because they were there.

The last CX race of the season was a great summation of the entire season: the course had everything that we have seen all season including mud, sand, stairs, turns, and obstacles; the crowd was there in full effect, most of the people who I have raced with this season were there; and the weather was perfect....

Here are few images from the last race:

This journey is a good one, and I wouldn't take nothing for it.

In the meantime, I'll be training, training, and training...Getting ready for the next season!

Find a hobby and become its slave...

Happy Monday!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Top 5 Things That Have Been on My Mind Lately!

I was looking back at some of my recent blogs, and it appears that all that I have been doing is teaching children, reading books, and cycling.....AND, that is pretty much what I have been doing. However, I have found a WHOLE LOT of time to think!

Here are the top 5 things that have been on my mind lately:

#1. ARTICLES! In the last month or so, It seems like there are articles all over facebook that are misleading and are causing people (Me) to feel some kind of way that I just do not like. The articles are full of facts that are not really facts and truths that seem to leave a whole lot out. I am convinced that many of the people who are posting these articles have not read them or are not thinking about what they are putting out into the world... I have stopped reading those articles, because I am on overload... I need time to sit and think and not get caught up in the frenzy that many of these articles seem to be causing. I was talking to my students about these thousands of articles, and they also agree that sooooo much information is out, and most of it is garbage that is presented as truth. I am happy to see so many people writing, but geesh, I'm taking a break from reading articles that are posted on Facebook.

#2. FRIENDSHIP. As I am getting older, friendship seems to mean a whole different thing to me than when I was twenty. My twenty year old friends were there for me when I was talking about boys and what should I do about them. My twenty year old friends were there and were on board when I wanted to drink lots of alcohol and party. However, my forty-something self need a different type of friendship, and I am not sure if some of those twenty year old friends fit into my forty something life. I don't need my friends to talk about boys or men with me anymore, because that is not something that I stress out about anymore. I don't need them to support me in the type of partying that I did in my twenties, because I just do not party like that anymore. The friends that I need now should be empathetic, slow to give advice, quick to listen, present, and patient with the idea that I am still trying to figure this grown thing out, and I am trying to be a friend who does the same. So, I have been thinking about if I should let go of some of my twenty something friends who just don't seem to get me as a forty something person.

#3. CHANGE. I have been actively practicing the fixed vs. growth mindset in my classroom, and I re-read The Alchemist, and they both have reconfirmed to me that we have the power to change our lives. I have a student who comes into class and plays around. He is the last student who is ready when class starts. I have given him strategies and suggestions on how to manage this, and he is still the last person ready when class starts. I keep saying to him "Stay ready so that you don't have to get ready." In other words, I am telling him that if he would come in, pick up his warm-up, get out his pen, and then play around, when the bell sounds, all he would have to do is sit down and start, because he would already be ready. Well, this week, he finally got it. He did what I asked and was ready when class started, and he was sooo happy when I acknowledged the change! My People, having the power to change my life and the power to influence someone to change his life has been on my mind.

#4. The Second Half. I am in the second half of my life, and I am trying to live deliberately. I've been thinking about making plans for my ten year goal. I've been thinking about the people who I want to be with me on my second half of life journey. I have been thinking about if I will stay in the DC area when I get older, or will I move somewhere where I can cycle year round in nice weather...

#5. Christmas. I am going to Atlanta to see my mom for Christmas, and airline tickets are ridiculously high. So, instead of just picking my dates and buying an airline ticket, I have been going online everyday, on all types of sites, and still have not bought a ticket yet. Well, I need to purchase the ticket so that I can stop wasting time thinking about it.

What's on your mind, My People!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Cyclocross Race #8: Capital Cross Classic

Yesterday, I was able to get a ride in with my teammates before the rain started....

The rain started, and it did not end; It rained all day yesterday. I went to sleep last night around 10:30 to the sound of rain.

I was very concerned about my race today. I knew that the course would be extremely muddy, and I was not sure how I would ride in the mud. If you recall, my first cyclocross race was in the rain, and it was muddy. I did ok in the mud, but at one point I had to get off my bike and run through the mud. However, that mud was from a few hours of raining, but the mud today was from an almost entire day of raining.

I put a filler out to see if others were going to ride in the mud, and I am not sure why I asked. Here is what one of my teammates, Sean, said about the rain:
"The conditions you have the opportunity to ride in tomorrow come along only every few years. Epic mud on a cyclocross race is the type of experience all cross racers yearn to experience. You will come out of this with stories that others will lean forward to hear. This is not something to be feared. This is an opportunity. You will survive and you will never look at a sunny, easy ride the same. No cross race will ever meet the standard set by tomorrow morning. Those 35 minutes in the sloppiest conditions any cross race has seen around here in many many years will forever be a part of your journey."
So, after this testimony, I got my things together and got ready to race!

I got to the race, and the course was muddy, but not as bad as I thought it would be. I watched the other cyclist race to find the spots where I would need to be careful, and I pre-rode the course to determine when I would need to dismount and run.

The whistle was blown, and My People, my happiness went to the roof; I absolutely loved this course. There were lots of neat hills and turns. The muddy sections tested my strength, and I was determined to ride through some of those muddy sections. There was one section that was a very steep hill that we were suppose to ride down. When I got to that part, I just could not figure out if I should ride it or run. I was about to ride it, but I was far to scared, so I ran it. There were people at the bottom of the hill who were laughing and being encouraging, and they really took the fear away. I slid right on down that hill with my bike next to me. This course and the crowd were fun.

Finally, what I have been fearing the most happened. I was doing a turn in a very muddy section, and I fell. I started to laugh when I realized that I was fine. I literally said out loud "You are all right, get back up, and finish the race." I got back on my bike, and my chain was off. So, I had to get off, fix my chain, and finish the race. My people, this made me feel so strong and tough.....Other racers had been telling me that I needed to fall in order to get over the fear, and I am sooooo happy that it finally happened.

I finished the race, and I was not last....I could not believe it, and I was and is still thrilled!

I am doing one more race next Sunday, and I really hate to see my first cross season end.....

 Happy Sunday, My People!

Find a hobby and become its slave.........

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Cyclocross Race #7: MABRA Cyclocross Championship

After reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, I have been thinking a lot about listening to my heart and following it!

In 1996, I wanted to leave Michigan to move to the DC area. However, I did not find a job in the area, so I had to go with my job, and it just happened to be in Detroit. However, my heart kept saying that I was suppose to move to the DC area, because everything that I needed was there.

After two years of being in Detroit, I followed my heart, and literally begged Fairfax County Public Schools to offer me an early contract, and they did.

I packed up my things and moved to the DC area, and my heart became content. Everything that I thought I needed and things that I did not know I needed were here.

I know sooooo many people, and many of the people who I know will move mountains for me, and I will do the same for them. I love my job. I love having access to free, great museums. I love all of the natural parks and cycling trails... the list goes on and on!

However, one thing that I didn't not know that I needed was cycling.

Cycling in the DC area is huge. You have no idea how happy cycling makes me and how it has expanded my life. Since moving here,  I have continuously listened to my heart, and one of the many rewards of listening to my heart is cycling.

My heart told me to buy a CX bike, and race! I followed my heart, and I am completely in love. For every race, I am excited, my heart is happy, I feed my soul, and leave the races spiritually lifted.

Today's race felt the same...

I got to the race, pre-rode the course, and started the race. I felt good, I rode smooth, I was happy, I loved hearing my name called during the race, and the camaraderie after the race was good for my soul.

I did not finish last nor first, but I wanted to work on dismounting and remounting, and I definitely improved in those areas.

My people, I am soooo happy that I continuously follow My Heart!

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