Saturday, February 28, 2015

I LOVE BOOKS!


This is what has been on my mind lately...

This school year, I decided to pair the novels The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo and Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Both novels are about taking a journey.

However, The Alchemist is an allegory, where everything in the story could represent something else. For instance, there is a scene where the main character, Santiago, has to go through a desert, and this could represent the obstacles that a person may face as he takes his life journey to find his 'hidden treasure'. And, the hidden treasure could represent a person's gifts or talents. (You with me?)

In The Life of Pi, the main character is forced on a small boat with a tiger, and he decided to literally take a journey. I am saying that he decided to take the journey, because he could have done something like commit suicide, but instead he took the journey. 

So, I see The Alchemist as an example of a metaphorical journey and Life of Pi as an example of a literal journey. Life of Pi is The Alchemist actualized; The Alchemist is the theory, and Life of Pi is the theory applied. (Are you still with me?)

Santiago in The Alchemist and Pi from The Life of Pi both had preparation before they took their journeys. Santiago was a sheep herder before his journey, and he learned a lot from that experience that he took with him on his journey. Pi's family owned a zoo, and he practiced three different religions, and all of this helped him on his journey.

My people, I truly believe that we are always being prepared for next. So, I try to do everything to the top of my potential so that when next come, I am prepared. I teach my very best. I cycle my very best. I blog my very best. However, I am learning that even with doing my very best, I fall short, and I just keep on doing my very best.

Santiago and Pi both had guides along the way. Santiago's guides were mostly people and listening to that inner voice, and Pi's guides were in the form of people, reading, and listening to his inner voice as well.

Now, I know that I have and have had many guides on this journey. There have been people who have come into my life and basically helped me to put some of those missing pieces together. I am sure that I have helped others along the way as well. People need other people.

Both Santiago and Pi anticipated giving up, but something kept them moving forward. After one of his many obstacles, Santiago decided that he was going back home to what he was familiar with, but something nudged him to continue to follow his passion. When Pi finally came to the realization that his entire family was gone, and he was alone: "I lay on the taurpin and spent the whole night weeping and grieving, my face buried in my arm." But, just like Santiago, Pi makes the decision to carry on.

Sometimes, but not often, I think that I should stop blogging or stop cycling or stop teaching, but something always nudges me along. Not sure about you, but sometimes I need those nudges that say I am enough so that I keep on keeping on.

Both characters seemed to put the end result in the back of their minds and continued to move forward and were given enough grace to make it through each day.

Santiago no longer worried about what he left behind, and he kept moving forward. I believe that he soon began to believe that everything would turn out just like it was suppose to. He was told to not focus on where his treasure was, but to keep moving forward, because he would know, in his heart, when he had reached it.

Pi, finally stopped focusing on being rescued. Instead, he remained busy keeping himself and the tiger alive. His circumstances forced him to be in the moment and to not worry about the future. I believe that being busy and not focusing on when he would be rescued, helped Pi to survive 227 days on that boat with a tiger. Since he didn't know when his journey would end, there was no reason for him to focus on the end.

I am practicing doing the same thing; not worrying about the end result, but focusing on staying busy, with a purpose, believing that everything that I am believing for will manifest. This week when I went to exercise, I decided to go hard until each exercise was finished instead of focusing on when the exercise would end. I decided to practice this on a small scale and eventually apply this to my life. My people, I had a whole different workout experience that was quite rewarding. A Dream Comes Through Much Activity not focusing on the end.

Well, no one came to rescue either character, and they both ended up right where they were suppose to. Let me repeat that, no one came to rescue either character, and they both ended up right where they were suppose to.

My people, Superman is not coming. So, we might as stop waiting for him and continue to move forward knowing that we will end up right where we are suppose to.

There is so much to be learned from literature, and that is one of the main reason why I read novels.

I LOVE BOOKS!

Thanks for taking this rather lengthy journey with me!!!

Happy Last Day of Black History Month.....












Friday, February 27, 2015

Uncommon, Heavy Favor!


Power Meter

This is totally a cycling post. So, skip it if you ain't interested; I won't be offended.

I really wanted a power meter....

A cycling power meter is a device on a bicycle that measures the power output of the rider.

Once a cyclist puts a power meter on her bike, then a cyclist can take a Functional Threshold Power (FTP) test which is simply, a measure of  her fitness; it's the power, measured in watts, that a person could theoretically maintain for about an hour.

Many workouts are based on that FTP test.

I know my FTP number because I take a computraining class where I put my bike on a computer and basically do workouts based on my numbers.

However, when I train on my own, I use perceived effort, my heart rate, and cadence to train. I think that I have been doing ok with perceiving my effort. However, I desired to do more precise workout, and a power meter could help me to do just that.

Well, power meters are quite expensive, like over six hundred to thousands of dollars, and right now, I just could not do it with my Selma and Trinidad trips and Spring break coming up. 

Suddenly, a power meter appeared out of no where, and it was the right price, and today, I put it on my bike, and tomorrow I will be using it to train.


February, has been an incredible month of uncommon, heavy favor!!!

Grateful...


Friday Love!



Receive it, and enjoy it!









Thursday, February 26, 2015

Heavy Favor!

Papers, Papers, Papers

I have learned, and believe me when I say that it has been a process, to not complain about things that I have absolutely no control over such as the weather. I try to take the weather as it comes.

Yesterday, it was predicted that it would be snowing during the morning rush hour, and that normally means that schools would have delayed openings or would be canceled. With that knowledge, I took the million and one papers home that I needed to grade. (The snow days last week got me behind.)

Yea, I really wanted a delayed opening or a cancellation, but I also did not want Patty, my teammate and friend, South Africa flight to be canceled. Yep, South Africa! Patty is doing a triathlon in South Africa this weekend.

So, I went to bed with the peace that God would work this thing out.

Around 5:38 this morning I got a text from Patty that stated "I know you have a delayed opening, but my flight is on schedule. Sleep well, Jackie." My people, God gave us both what we needed. However, what Patty did not know is that the delayed opening turned into a day off.

The snow stopped around 10, and the streets in my neighborhood were cleared early. I laid down for awhile, watched Good Morning America, and scurried to the gym. I finally ended up at my home office, Wholefoods, to work on those one million papers that needed to be graded.

I sat and graded and graded and finally my pile dwindled down to nothing. My people, that burden was lifted, and tomorrow at school, I can work on some other things. (It sure feels good to be caught up.)

When I get a blessing, even something as small as a snow day, I try and seize the day.



By the way, I checked my work email, and guess who is going to be presenting on Teaching Diverse Literature at the Advanced Placement Conference in Austin, Texas in 2015???


ME.......

A Snow Day and Confirmation that I will be presenting at a professional conference is HEAVY FAVOR!!!

Put your faith on the line, and expect some heavy favor.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

I am one lucky girl!



I know that it is only Tuesday, but I am enjoying this week sooooo much.

I had a meeting with four others teachers, and we talked about novels and teaching. I left feeling uplifted and happy.

I have also been discussing Life of Pi by Yann Martel with my students, and today, my students caused me to have a complete paradigm shift on the topic of "The Will to Live." During my planning time, I went upstairs to discuss this paradigm shift with another teacher, and we had a quite delightful conversation on Life of Pi and "The Will to Live". We were even able to connect this to cycling training since he is a fellow cycling racer.

I also started Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury with another group of students, and they are excited, and liking it, and I am seeing tremendous growth since the beginning of the school year. At the end of one of my classes, I was excitedly dancing from the joy that I felt about these students 'getting' Fahrenheit 451.

You know, I never take for granted that I get the opportunity to talk about literature every single day and get paid for it...

I am one lucky girl! 


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Girl Power!

Patty and me!

My teammate and friend, Patty, sent me this blog post today, and I must share it here because I just love it.

The blog is titled Rough Outlines and the writer is Korrin L. Bishop.

Here is a link to the post, Enjoy!

Girl Power.....




Monday, February 23, 2015

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline


I absolutely love history.....

I have traveled all over the place to visit historic sites and museums; ain't nothing like living history. However, I also appreciate the value of reading a great story to learn or peak my interest about different aspects of history.

This novel, Orphan Train, is about a fictitious lady named Vivian, an orphan, who was put on an orphan train in order to hopefully be selected by a loving family.

Now, I read a lot and know quite a bit, but I had never heard of orphan trains, and so I did a little research, and there really was a time in history when there were orphan trains.



According to CBS news "from 1854 to 1929, hundreds of thousands of young children boarded trains in New York City, to be shipped west where they would find new families. Known as the Orphan Train, the program to relocate orphaned and abandoned children was operated largely by The Children's Aid Society and the New York Foundling Hospital."

On a side note, I am totally convinced that many of the things that we may want to know are not taught in schools. So, my readers, I am pleading with you to read more and to encourage your children, if you have any, to read.

In this novel Orphan Train, Kline does a great job of mingling the stories of a present day orphan, Molly, with that of  Vivian, an orphan from the 20s. These two ladies meet, and the reader learns their incredible stories of perseverance.

Reading this story, I was thinking: "Both ladies ended up in pretty good situations, and isn't that what happens in novels?" However, my second mind thought: "Isn't that what happens in real life quite often as well?"

This is a well-written, thought-provoking novel that can teach the reader a lot about The Great Depression, orphan trains, human compassion, suffering, love, resilience, the value of telling our stories, and so much more.

This book was recommended to me by my sister, Dot, and I am thankful that she helped me to break my bad luck streak of reading a few books, in a row, that did not do it for me.

If you want a good story, want to feel good, and learn, I highly recommend Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.

Christina Baker Kline

Happy Sunday, and Happy Reading!

My next read is The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill.




Saturday, February 21, 2015

5Oth Anniversary Selma to Montgomery Bicycle Ride... February 21, 2015



 








I was not at the commemorative ride in body, but I was definitely there in spirit...

And, I can't wait to walk across that famous bridge in March.

Happy Saturday and Happy Black History Month.


By the way, all of the photos on this post were taken from the Montgomery Bike Club's FB page!





Friday, February 20, 2015

Suddenly

Tracy and the kids!

I was talking to my sister, Tracy, about change.

We came to the conclusion that once change occurs, it always seems like it happened suddenly.

For instance, it seems like it was not that long ago when Tracy and I were playing paper dolls, visiting each other at the respective universities that we attended, talking on the phone to each other whenever we felt like it once we were grown. (I'm not sure if we are grown yet.) And, Suddenly things changed....

Tracy met Rex and along came these three kids who are old enough to talk, bathe themselves, have opinions etc. (How and when did this happen?)

Recently, I flew to Atlanta, and Tracy and her family, mom, and I drove to Alabama. The entire time I was thinking: "How in the world did we get to this point; who are these kids and husband, and how did they get here?"

Tracy went into Subway to get the kids something to eat, and she knew what every kid wanted without them telling her. I was thinking: "Tracy is grown with kids, and she even knows what they want." When in the world did this happen, and it sure seems to have happened suddenly?

Tracy and I discussed this, and she said that sometimes she looks at her kids and think, "How and when did they get here." (Yes, she loves being with them but....Whose kids are those?)

And, that's the beauty of God... When we get what we want, it always seems like it happened suddenly. It's like he plays tricks with our minds, and we can barely remember when we were doing our parts and waiting for him to manifest our desires.

Do you remember when I injured my knee cycling? Well, I did not ride my bike for awhile, and whenever I would go to the gym, I would only do upper body work. However, suddenly, my knee pain was gone and I was running stairs again, doing squats etc. (It almost seems like some type of miracle.)

I know that you have similar stories... One day you woke up and had the job of your dreams, the spouse of your dreams, the life of your dreams suddenly.

I've been reminding myself to not complain on my journey, because when things change, and they do change, they change suddenly.

Thanking God, Today, for Sudden Change...Even when the change may appear to not be good!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Deepak Chopra.....You Got Your Ticket Yet?


Deepak is going to be in DC on April 1st...

I got my ticket; you got yours yet??

Here is the link to get your ticket.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I am enough!

Doing my thing at the African American Read-In

Today was one of those days....

You know those days where you question everything, every decision, and everybody. The kind of day when you feel like an impostor; like you may not be the person who you are presenting to the world.

Today, I needed to be told that I am enough, and my new friend, Darcy, you know the lady who I met at Wholefoods, did just that without me asking for it. I guess she sensed, through my rambling, that I needed confirmation that I am enough.

If you have not told yourself that you are enough lately, you should do it right now....
"Treat people as they are, and they will continue to be as they are; treat people as they ought to be ie: loving, compassionate souls realizing they are enough, and they will have no choice but to become better more loving souls through their own discover."
Thanks Darcy, I needed this quote today!

My People, reach out and touch someone.





Monday, February 16, 2015

Some friendships are just like that.


We met in graduate school many years ago: Tressa and me.

Distance and time separated us.

Now, we live fairly close to each other.

We met up.

It felt like we never parted.

Some friendships are just like that.

Happy Monday!!!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Servant Leader!


 The Paradoxes of Being a Servant Leader

Strong enough to be weak
Successful enough to fail
Busy enough to make time
Wise enough to say "I don't know"
Serious enough to laugh
Rich enough to be poor
Right enough to say "I'm wrong"
Compassionate enough to discipline
Mature enough to be childlike
Important enough to be last
Planned enough to be spontaneous
Controlled enough to be flexible
Free enough to endure captivity
Knowledgeable enough to ask questions
Loving enough to be angry
Great enough to be anonymous
Responsible enough to play
Assured enough to be rejected
Victorious enough to lose
Industrious enough to relax
Leading enough to serve

Poem by Brewer --- as cited by Hansel, in Holy Sweat, Dallas Texas, Word, 1987. (p29)

What A Man!!!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Universe Always Gives Us What We Need, When We Need It.

Me and Darcy

I so believe in the Law of Attraction, and I have been attracing everything that I need into my life from someone to help me with my blog, people to off-road cycle with, to someone to confirm some of the things that I believe with my whole heart

This morning, I did not go cycling with my teammates for multiple reasons, but that's a whole 'nother blog. Instead, I went to Wholefoods to eat, drink, and write.

Today, I looked at the booth area and there was not one seat available, but no worries, I could always sit at the bar area and eat, drink, and write right?

Well, this pleasant looking lady said,

"Do you want to sit down?'

And, my first thought was:

"No, I want to eat, read, and write."

But, my other mind stated:

"Sure!"

Darcy is a therapist with PUREBIOENERGY. There is so much to PUREBIOENERGY, but I will simplify its belief system to be that we can use the power of our thoughts to change our lives. My people, when I heard this, I literally wanted to cry, because this is exactly what I have been thinking about a whole lot lately. We talked about having the power to heal our bodies, the power of visualization, love, our purpose for being on this earth etc.

For over three hours, I laughed, talked, shared, and even cried with Darcy. My people, we connected, shared knowledge, and it felt good!

The Universe Always Gives Us What We Need, When We Need It.

Here is quote from a book that Darcy is currently writing:



Don't you just love her!

Happy Valentine's Day, My People!








Friday, February 13, 2015

Time of the Locust by Morowa Yejide


My people, I was on a roll; I was reading some books that I really liked: The Power of the Subconscious Mind, Assata, The Power of One, The Glass Castle, The Alchemist, The Quest of the Silver Fleece, 'Til the Well Runs Dry, and now my luck has made a turn for the worse.....

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson did not do it for me and neither did Time of the Locust.

Time of the Locust is sort about an autistic kid, his overweight mom, her husband who is in jail for murder, the warden of the jail etc. Quite a few characters but no true plot. After I finished, I had no idea what this story was about.

It is sort of science fiction, sort of a modern day narrative, sort of a collection of short stories... I have no idea how to classify it.

The best thing about this book is that it is not that long, and therefore, I did not waste much of my time. (Grateful!)

Now, I am going with a reader whom I trust, and I hope that she does not let me down.

My older sister, Dot, sent me a message about a book titled Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, and I am going to give it a try.

Older sister Dot!

Dot, I'm depending on you!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Robert R. Taylor, Forever Stamp, Booker T. Washington, and Tuskegee University......


Image of Robert R. Taylor U.S. postage stamp. Courtesy of United States Postal Service.


From the Tuskegee University Website:

"TUSKEGEE, Ala. (January 23, 2015) —The most prolific contributor to Tuskegee University’s structural design and the architecture and construction school’s namesake will soon be remembered with the launch of a U.S. postage stamp. On Feb. 12, the United States Postal Service will issue a limited edition of the Forever Stamp of Robert Robinson Taylor. The stamp is the 38th addition to the service’s Black Heritage series.

"Robert R. Taylor's historic and stellar legacy and association with Tuskegee University is already etched in the annals of American history. With this stamp, it will be permanently etched in all of world history," Johnson said.


Taylor is believed to have been both the first black graduate of MIT and the country’s first academically trained black architect. Recruited by Tuskegee’s first president, Booker T. Washington, Taylor came to the university in 1892 and spent nearly his entire career teaching, developing the architecture and construction trade program, and designing more than 20 campus buildings until his death in 1942.
 

Legacy for students and nation

Tuskegee’s Robert R. Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Science is named after him. Daya Irene Taylor (no relation), interim dean of the school continues to marvel at the significance of Taylor's contributions to the university. She believes the stamp recognition could have a long-lasting impact.

"Acknowledging the contributions of black architects like Taylor is paramount to building the future generations of leaders in design and construction,” she said.

Many of Robert R. Taylor’s Tuskegee structures such as Armstrong Hall, Emery residence halls, Rockefeller Hall, Tantum Hall, White Hall and the Willcox buildings still stand and are used to this day. He was also the architect of The Oaks, Washington’s home and modern day historic site.


“These buildings were an inspiration to our past alumni in the building trades and they remain as student-built icons that motivate our current students to excel,” Daya Irene Taylor said. “Now, through the launching of the Black Heritage Stamp in his honor, Robert R. Taylor will be an inspiration not only to the Tuskegee University community, but to the country as well."


What A GREAT DAY!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The African American Female Writer....

It seems as if The African American female writer is taking the world by storm.....


The Toni Morrison, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, is releasing a new novel in April titled God Help the Child. Based on the number of articles that I have read about this novel, I don't think that I am the only person who is excited about this news.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is definitely setting the world on fire....

Her novels, Half of a Yellow Sun, Purple Hibiscus, Americanah, and The Thing Around Your Neck, are referenced a lot in the literary world. Her TED talk is absolutely thought-provoking. And, when I am with people who love books, Adichie's name is sure to be mentioned.

Cynthia Bond



Natalie Baszile


Cynthia Bond and Natalie Baszile have both been touched by The Oprah Winfrey.

Cynthia Bond's novel, Ruby, is Oprah's latest book club selection, and you should hear Oprah go on and on about this novel; I definitely put it on my list.

Natalie Baszil's book, Queen Sugar, is being made into a drama series for the OWN network, and I can't wait to read this book as well.

We all know what can happen to a writer's career after she is touched by Oprah. 

Morowa Yejide

I am currently reading Morowa Yeide's novel titled Time of the LocustYejida was a finalist for the national PEN/Bellwether Prize and is a 2015 NAACP Image Award Nominee for Outstanding Literary Work.

Other African American Female Writers who are buzzing are Attica Locke, Lauren-Francis Sharma, Tayari Jones, Octavia Butler, Edwidge Danticat, Delores Philip, Tananarive Due, Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Ayana Mathis, and there are soooo many more out there!

When historians write about this time period, they sho' better include the African American Female Writer!

This Is The Day...Let's Rejoice and Be Glad.




Sunday, February 8, 2015

Don't Trust Your Emotions, because They are Fickle!

Great ride on a 60 degree day in February!

I believe that one of the reasons why we were put on this earth is to enjoy ourselves.....

I don't believe in doing anything that does not bring me some kind of reward or joy. If I hated my job, trust and believe that I would search until I found another one. (I changed jobs until I found one that was a fit.) 

I think that our hobbies should definitely bring us joy. I thoroughly enjoy reading, writing, going to museums, going to plays, cycling, and the minute that any of my hobbies start to cause me any type of undue stress, then I know that it is time to either re-evaluate the hobby or stop doing it.

You know that I absolutely love to cycle. So, training a whole lot is quite enjoyable to me. I happily ride my bike about five days a week and each and every time, I give it my all. I love the rewarding feeling of working hard and smart and seeing results.

However, Saturday I was really reconsidering whether or not I enjoy cycling anymore....

I went out to ride with the team, it was extremely cold, and the team ride seemed ridiculously hard. For some reason, maybe it was the route or maybe the team was riding faster than we normally do, I was getting my butt kicked. I even had to swallow my pride and walk up one of those damn hills. Eventually, the team disappeared, and I ended up riding back home by myself.

I was feeling no joy, and my thoughts were running completely out of control. Every negative thought that you can possibly imagine, I was thinking them including "Cycling does not bring me joy anymore."

But, I started to remember that I love riding my CX bike on gravel in the woods; that's where I commune with God. I also remembered that I have a group of friends that were going to ride gravel today. I checked in with my off-road buddies, and this morning, I was riding again.

We rode, and talked, and noticed nature, and had lunch outside in Georgetown in 60 degree weather....

My People, I am back In Love!

Don't Trust Your Emotions, because They are Fickle!





Saturday, February 7, 2015

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson


I acquired this book from a teacher whom I really admire, but from our conversations about literature, I should have figured that I would not like this book. He's married to novels with just a bit of flair, and I married to novels with a whole lot of flair. However, I will give almost any book a try.

I have been trying to read this book for over a week. At first I thought the issue was the fact that I was reading it in book form, and I sooooo prefer to read digitally.

I decided to sit down and really give this book a really good try, and I could not make it to the end of the first chapter; I could barely read two or three pages.

My People, I finish almost every book that I start even if I don't particularly love the book; I assume that there is something that I can learn from every book. But, I Tried Housekeeping, I Tired Housekeeping, and TIRED IT, and I just can't do it.

Maybe at a different time when I am in a different space.......

My next read is Time of Locust by Morowa Yejide.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Natalie Baszile....Is Awesome!

Natalie Baszile

Have I told you lately that I absolutely love where I live?

The DC area has great, cultural things going on year round. If I didn't live here, I sure would be trying to get here.

For instance, last night I had the honor of meeting some friends at an awesome bookstore in DC to hear and see a writer do her thing! And, My People, she did her thing....

My friends: Dr. Semple and Tammy

The writer was Natalie Baszile and her book is Queen Sugar.

Natalie enthusiastically talked about her journey of writing, read from her novel, and answered questions about it. I'm not sure how the rest of the crowd felt, but I was completely energized as Natalie lovingly talked about Louisiana and sugar cane, which are two of the components of her book

Andshe passionately talked about the exciting news that The Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay, the director of the incredible movie "Selma," are going to create a drama series based on Baszile's first novel, Queen Sugar. (I think that I may be more thrilled than Natalie about sisters helping sisters.)



Living in the DC area, I have met soooo many writers, and Natalie was true to the feel that I get from most writers: confident, warm, pleasant, humble, and appreciative.


Now, I must be honest, I have not read Natalie's book yet, but rest assured, I have it in both digital and print versions, and I will read and write about it soon!

Today, I am purposefully focusing on all that is good in the world, and Natalie's success and living in the DC area are two of those things.....

Enjoy this day, My People!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Missing bell hooks

bell hooks

I had a few minutes this morning to sit at my kitchen table and gaze at my books. For some reason, my eyes fell on my books that are written bell hooks, and I thought to myself, "I sure do miss bell hooks."

Now, bell hooks has not gone anywhere. She is alive, and I am praying well. However, I have not read anything by her in awhile, and gazing at her books gave me the urge to do just that.

At one point I was frantically reading the books written by bell hooks and going to see her speak whenever and wherever I could. However, it's been awhile since I have had my feel of bells hooks, and I am desiring her words like a person desires coffee in the morning....

I'll be downloading and reading something by bell hooks soon!


My people, I am missing bell hooks!
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