Thursday, April 30, 2015

I’m In Trinidad.......

I landed and hit the ground running for the Bocas Lit Fest....

I just happened to be staying in the host hotel for the authors, and they are EVERYWHERE!

The picture above was taken with Edward Baugh. “He is the Professor Emeritus of English, UWI, Mona. His scholarly and critical publications on West Indian literature include: Derek Walcott: Memory as Vision (Longman, 1978), Derek Walcott (Cambridge, 2006) and Frank Collymore: a Biography (Ian Randle, 2009). His three collections of poetry include, most recently, Black Sand: New and Selected Poems (Peepal Tree, 2013).” (BOCASLITFEST)

I am in a Reader’s Heaven! (SWOON!)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Bocas Lit Fest: A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon Jones

Awhile back, I religiously went through a six month, intense training program to run in the Marine Corp Marathon. I thoroughly enjoyed the weekly workouts and the long runs on Saturdays. Because of the training, I enjoyed the marathon as much as person can expect to enjoy a marathon. However, after the marathon, I missed the journey to get to the marathon... Crazy Right? I normally love the journey more than the destination. Now, don't get me wrong, I typical love the destination, but the journey to get to the destination is where I get my energy. (I love working towards a goal.)

The journey of reading five books by five different authors who will be at The Bocas Lit Fest has been a great journey that has been completely exhilarating. I have enjoyed purposefully reading with an end result of meeting the authors who wrote the books that I read and so many other authors. I know that the journey of reading these five novels will enhance my experience at my first ever international lit fest.  

Now, I liked the first four books that I read for the lit fest a whole lot, but A Brief History of Seven Killings did not do it for me. I read about 400 of the over 600 pages, skimmed to the end to see if I could find some inspiration to keep reading, and after much deliberation, I decided to let this one go.

A Brief History of Seven Killings is a fictional account of an attempt to murder Bob Marley through the view point of about twenty different characters or more. Each person tells a different piece of this huge puzzle. 

In the beginning I was following the characters and enjoying the different voices. I really admire how Marlon had so many characters with totally unique voices in the same book. This is some quite sophisticated writing. However, after awhile, I could not follow the storyline anymore and was not quite sure what was going on. 

I totally respect Marlon because this had to be quite a difficult book to write. I hope that I run into him during the lit fest so that we can talk about his process of developing so many characters with unique voices.

For taking on this courageous project, I must give Marlon 'the thumbs up'.

If any of you, my dear readers, decide to give this book a try, reach out and let me know your thoughts.

Here are links to the four other books that I read to prepare for this festival:

The Galaxy Game by Karen Lord
The Children of Paradise by Fred D'Aguiar
Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique

Thursday morning, I will be on a plane heading to Trinidad for The Bocas Lit Fest. I'm super excited about all of the literary possibilities. If possible, I will blog while I am there. So, check back for updates.

To keep with the spirit of the Caribbean, I am going to start reading Somerset Grove by Dionne Peart, which is set in Jamaica.

Set some goals, My People.....

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Four WHOLE years of working out with The Greatest Trainer in the World, and It’s All About Consistency!

Me and Berhane!

It’s our anniversary!!!

Today marks four years that I have been working out with Berhane, The Greatest Trainer in the World!

He is consistent, I am consistent, and my body is seeing consistent changes......

For this anniversary blog, I would like to reconfirm to my readers that consistency is one of the main secrets to Success!

Consistency, Consistency, Consistency..... CONSISTENCY!

Read the one year anniversary blog here.
Read the two year anniversary blog here.
Read the three year anniversary blog here.

My people, consider surrounding yourself with people who push you to be Your Best Self....

Happy Sunday!

Racing Season 2 Race # 4: Tour of Page County - A Stage Race

Tour of Page County was held in Luray, Virginia which is about an hour outside of DC...

Before I tell you about the race, I must tell you about the town of Luray and its splendor. It is a town that is surrounded by greenery and the most beautiful mountains. My teammates and I rented a house that was sitting on top of a beautiful hill and every view from the house featured one of those wonderful mountains. One of the many reason why I love living in the DC area is that mountains, beaches, and other cities are quite near and accessible.

Tour of Page County is a stage race which means that on the first day there is a 46 mile road race, and on the second day there is a Timed Trial which is a racer riding as fast as he can and then being ranked against other racers, and then there is the criterium which is a race where racers cycle around a mile or more loop for about thirty to forty minutes. A cyclist must finish the road race in order to do the Timed Trial and Crit. Lots of racing in two days, but it can be so much fun.

So, the race started at 8:10am, and it was about 43 degrees. Now, I don’t mind riding in cold weather in the winter, but it’s just not what I am trying to do in late April. I sort of feel like there is no reason to ride in cold weather in April when I can ride in 70 degree weather if I would only be patient, and I have no problem with being patient.

We got to the race site, registered, pinned our numbers on, talked to other cyclists, rode around for a little while to warm up, and started the race...

I was feeling good at first, just like in all of my races, but I got to the first hill, and I just couldn’t keep race pace, and to be honest, I did not really try... I just was not feeling the cold weather and those hills. We were suppose to do four laps that would equal 46 miles, but I did one lap and rode back to the finish line to drink coffee, talk to the volunteers, and to warm up in the high school that was being used for the race.

This is the very first race EVER where I received a DNF (Did Not Finish) next to my name. I am not happy about that, but I am not sad either. I am where I am, and it’s ok. I thought about the idea of knowing when to keep pushing and when to give up, and today was not a day for me to keep pushing.

However, I must admit that for a few minutes I allowed myself to have negative thoughts: “Maybe I shouldn’t race anymore this season....” However, I instantly countered those thoughts with  "Success is not always easy or quick. Success is not accidental. I ain't giving up what I love, because I ain’t seeing success right away.”

Now, I told you that this is a stage race, and a racer must finish the road race in order to do the other two races that were held the next day.  So, I couldn’t race the next day. So, I drank wine, ate pizza, and enjoyed this awesome house on a hill.

I totally believe in coaching or getting help. I know that Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Serena and Venus, and all other talented athletes would not be great if they did not have coaches. Yea, I believe that there is value in coaching.

So, I contacted this coach who coaches quite a few other racers whom I know, and we are going to start my coaching at the beginning of May. I absolutely love structure and can’t wait to get structured workouts that will enable me to become a faster, stronger rider. I ain’t the one who gets a coach and then dread doing the workouts or complain; I will do my workouts religiously, because I know that consistency is the key to any change.

I really love racing, and I know that being a stronger, faster racer will help me to enjoy racing so much more.

I am extremely excited about the future....

Read about Tour of Page County from last year here.

Find a hobby that you love and become its slave!

I love traveling and racing with my teammates! 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bocas Lit Fest: Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique

Four books down, and one more to go before The Bocas Lit Fest....

Oftentimes when I write a review of a novel, I will put the cover of the book at the beginning of the post so that when a person is in a book store, she may remember the book cover, remember my review, and decide if she should give the book a try. However, with this book, I put the picture of Tiphanie at the beginning of this post, because Tiphanie is a truly, gifted storyteller who should be recognized all over the world.

This book is set in the Virgin Islands. I've never been to the Virgin Islands, but after reading this book, I am adding the Virgin Islands to my list of places that I should visit soon. 

The main characters are Eeona and Anette. However, there are many minor characters that Tiphanie carefully developed as much as she did the main characters, and their development added to the richness of this text.

This stories traces the history of the Virgin Islands and the lives of the sisters Eeona and Anette. I absolutely loved this story, and here are a few reasons why:
  • Character Development: Tiphanie helped me to get to know these characters by telling their stories completely but not in a manner that was confusing. We get to know the characters quite well and you can't help but to love them, even those who aren't likeable, when we understand why they do what they do. 
  • Narration:  Tiphanie uses four different narrators to tell this story: Eeona, Anette, Jacob, and a third person narrator. For each character who spoke, Tiphanie helped us to really hear their voice and understand their perspective. With Anette, she even used a Caribbean dialect that was quite fascinating. However, the narrator who tells most of this story is the third person narrator, and it felt like she was sitting in my house telling me this captivating story: the narrator would actually address the reader and include me in the story by using words such as 'we.' 
By the way, Tiphanie's narration reminds me of the writings of the late and great J. California Cooper. If you have not tried anything by J. California, You Must! A good story to start with by J. California Cooper is In Search of Satisfaction. I can guarantee that you will thoroughly enjoy it, or I refund you the money that you spend on the book. (Just Playing!)

  • Atmosphere or Mood:  An author normally uses atmosphere or mood in order to affect the reader emotionally and psychologically and to provide a feeling for the narrative. And, Tiphanie did a superb job of doing just that. I could clearly envision every scene, and it felt like I was in the book. I was connected to this novel, and found myself pulled to the Virgin Islands over and over again: the characters, the place, the mysticism! Speaking of mysticism, the mysticism was used in this novel in a manner that made me believe that there is something to it. The supernatural was subtle but very present. As a matter of fact, I currently teach a study from St. Croix who stated that most people in the Virgin Islands do believe in the Supernatural, and he stated that almost every person has had at least one experience with the supernatural. Interesting right?
I've listed the three reasons why I absolutely loved this book; however, I could go and on and on about this book and its writer.

I believe that Tiphanie and her storytelling will definitely stand the test of time. I hope that Tiphanie writes, and writes, and writes and not die with one ounce of her talent still inside of her....

I got my fingers crossed for Tiphanie to still be in the lineup for The Bocas Lit Fest; It would be a great treat to meet her.

Get to know Tiphanie and her writings!

My last book to finish before The Bocas Lit Fest is A Brief History of Seven Killings:

So, I downloaded this book, and it is over six-hundred pages, and I thought, "What have I gotten myself into?" So, I read the reviews, and this book is highly acclaimed, and I can't wait to read every single word...

By the way, I just love this picture of Marlon James, the author of A Brief History of Seven Killings:

Marlon Jones

Purposeful reading feels good......

Happy Hump Day, My People!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Racing Season 2 Race #3: All American Road Race

Tina and I after the race!

Race #3 was a forty mile road race that was held in Poolesville, MD...

Wasn’t sure about doing this race, but I checked the weather for Saturday and thought that I might as well race on an 80 degree day in April.

I must really be settling into racing, because when I arrived at the race site, I was not nervous at all. My teammates and I registered, warmed our legs up, went to the start line, talked to the other women, and started the race.

The course was a rolling hill course, and I am comfortable with rolling hills. I stayed with the pack for quite awhile, and it felt very good. I was shifting gears, staying close to the wheel in front of me, and being in the moment.

However, after about forty-minutes of race pace, I sort of lost steam. I was feeling quite exhausted and needed a few minutes to catch my breath. Well, me catching my breathe gave the other racers the opportunity to get quite a lead on me, and I never could quite catch back up.

However, you know me! I refused to give up and rode my own race, pounding the pavement hard, giving it my all, and I finished.

It felt good to cross the finish line knowing that I had given my all, and I publicly declared that I ain’t giving up yet. Sooooo, I am talking to a cycling coach in order to get help with pushing through the pain and staying with the pack the entire race. Yep, I’m getting help and going back. As a matter fact, I am racing Saturday and Sunday next weekend. (EXCITED!)

Don’t count me out yet!

Until the next time.......

Friday, April 17, 2015

And He Was Loved!

I recently attended a memorial service for a former student who took his life....

I taught not only this student but his older brother as well. They are super bright, military children who moved around a lot, but they seemed to have adjusted just fine to the high school where I currently teach.

The student who committed suicide was quiet, yet funny, and he was active in both his high school and college drama clubs.

Hearing about him taking his life made me think about him and his brother wondering if there were signs that we all missed. Also, wondering if there was any way possible that this entire situation could have ended differently.

However, his pastor reassured everyone present at the memorial service that mental illness is just like any other disease with outcomes that are not always what we may like. The pastor comforted us by lovingly declaring that God is with us all of the time, and this child was not alone when he took his last breathe. He was with God, and God probably shed the very first tear.

The pastor mentioned love a lot, and I have wondered, since hearing about this child’s death, if he was loved enough. However, by looking at his parents, brother, and all of the people who filled that church, it was apparent that He Was LOVED!  Knowing this child, and seeing images of him that his family displayed after the service, I know that he knew that He Was Loved.

When the pastor stated several times that He Was LOVED, I thought about Pilate, from Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, who poignantly made the declaration to every person who was present at the funeral for her beloved granddaughter, Hagar, that She Was LOVED!
"Suddenly, like an elephant who has found his anger and lifts his trunks over the heads of the little men who want his teeth or his hide or his flesh or his strength, Pilate trumpeted for the sky itself to hear, "And she was LOVED!
It was important to Pilate that everyone knew that her dear, Hagar, Was LOVED!

It seems that death always makes people think about love, and many of us wonder if the person who died knew that he/she was loved, and oftentimes we also want everyone to know that the deceased person was loved. 

My people, there is something to this LOVE THING for sure... It is mentioned in The Bible so many times, and it appears that God places high priority on it. It is stated in the word that:
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is LOVE."  (1 Corinthians 13:13)
One of the basic human needs seems to be love and it is free and should be given and received freely, all of the time, so that at the end of our lives our families can be comforted by knowing that We Were Loved!


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bocas Lit Fest: Moving Forward Sideways Like A Crab by Shani Mootoo

Three novels down, and two more to go before the Bocas Lit Fest.

Once I figured out what was going on in this novel, and it did not take me long, I absolutely fell in love with it...

I loosely read the description of this novel, so when the main character, Jonathan went to meet his parent who left him, I assumed that he was going to meet his dad who left he and his mother. When actually, Jonathan was going to find his other mother, he was being raised by a lesbian couple. And, when he finally finds his mother, she has undergone a sex change and was an elderly man. Yes, you read this right. Not what I was expecting at all, but I truly enjoyed putting the pieces together and falling in love with Jonathan and his mother/father Sidney, formerly known as Sid.

Jonathan finds Sydney living in Trinidad, and he visits this elderly, sickly man to try and get the answers to why did he leave him. Through many conversations and letters, Jonathan is able to put the pieces to Sidney's life together and those pieces helped him to lovingly understand why Sydney left him to never return.

Mootoo does a great job of helping the reader to get a feel for Trinidad and its sense of community and traditions. Reading this book, I felt like I was in Trinidad feeling that warm, sticky air taking a close look into the lives of these characters.

Moot would tell a story and tell more stories, leaving me wanting more.....

This is definitely one to add to your list if you want to get a feel for the Trinidadian culture and meet characters that you will remember for a long time.

When I see Mootoo in Trinidad at the Bocas Lit Fest, I will not ask a lot of questions; I just want to hear her speak. Based on this novel, I know that she has some interesting stories to tell.

Shani Mootoo

I am one novel closer to Trinidad......

My next novel in preparation for the Bocas Lit Fest is Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique.

I can’t wait to start this one!

My people, it feels good to be reading for a purpose.....

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Racing Season Two, Race #2: Carl Dolan - A Circuit Race

My second race was called the Carl Dolan race, and it was held in Columbia, Maryland. This race was a circuit race. A circuit is shorter than a road race but longer than a crit race.....

This race was incredibly fun: the weather was perfect, the crowd exuded great energy, and I absolutely loved the course, but it did have an incline. The incline was not to steep, but it was long.

Now, on the way to the race, I was telling my teammate, Tina, that I was not going to road race anymore, I prefer CX racing...blah, blah, blah!

At the start of the race, I was leading the pack. My people, it felt sooo good to be in the front. I felt like my very own hero. However, we got to a turn, and I slowed down, and I was not longer leading the pack, but I was still in a good position.

We got to that incline, I did ok, but I lost steam quickly. I made it to the top exhausted, but the other girls kept on moving at race pace, and I just couldn't hold the speed.

Several times I wanted to give up, but this awesome crowd would not let me; they were yelling for me to keep pedaling, and I did.

Being that this is my second season racing, and I cycle a lot in the community, the love that I felt after the race was completely liberating. I just love the sense of community of cycling.

So, I asked myself "If I had a daughter and she loved racing, but needed to put in a lot of work to see the results that she wanted, would I encourage her to quit, or would I encourage her to keep racing and training knowing that she will get better?"

Well, of course I would tell my daughter to stick with whatever she loves and work to get better, and that is exactly what I am going to do. All that talk that I was doing before the race about not road racing anymore went out the window as soon as I got on that race course....

My people, I LOVE ROAD RACING!!!

In the meantime, I will be training, training, training, getting ready for the next race....

I'll keep you posted!!

Find a hobby that you love and become its slave.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Bocas Lit Fest: Children of Paradise by Fred D'Aguiar

Two books down, three more to go before The Bocas Lit Fest.....

I absolutely love authors who takes a time period or an incident and tells fictional stories that can help the reader to better understand the time period or the incident.

For instance, Lawrence Hill, with The Book of Negroes, did an excellent job of helping me to better understand and visualize what may have happened during the time in history when humans were made into slaves. He gave those precious people names and identities, and that is exactly what Fred does with The Children of Paradise; he gives the people, who were involved in the Jonestown tragedy, names and identities and helped me to better understand why people would fanatically follow, Jim Jones, and take their own lives.

In the early 70s, Jim Jones, a religious leader, established a church called The People's Temple. He convinced over 900 people to move to Guyana and eventually convinced them to take their own lives by drinking poison. Read a Jamestown survivor's story here.

This happened in 1978, and I was only eight years old, and for some reason, I can vividly remember this incident.

With Children of Paradise, Fred takes us to Jonestown, and we are able to see how Jim Jones may have use beatings, torture, mind games, scare tactics, in order to convince people to be loyal to him and eventually take their own lives.

The main characters, Joyce and her children Trinia, Ryan, and Rose, are basically held captive by Jim Jones and were afraid to even think about leaving. Reading this story, I could feel their distress once they came to the realization that needed to get out, but there just seem to be no way out. I bonded with these characters and wanted them to get out, but I already knew how their story would end.

The story of Jonestown is one of many stories that need to be told over and over again. The people who died need to be given names and identities so that people will remember them as humans who were blindly taking a chance to live in a utopian society.

When I see Fred at The Bocas Lit Fest, I am going to thank him for honoring the people of the Jonestown tragedy by telling their stories.....

Read this incredible story and learn!

Guess what came in the mail?

So, I'll be reading Moving Forward Sideways Like A Crab next!

Only a few more weeks before the Lit Fest..... EXCITED!

Pushing Each Other To Be Our Best!



I am going to keep this in my mind before, during, and long after my cycling race on Sunday; We Are Pushing Each Other to Be Our Best.

Send me some love and positive energy Sunday around 10:45am.....

By the way, I got this quote from my co-worker, Erika, an ex-college athlete.

It's Friday!!!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Big, Huge GIANT!

Me, Jesmyn, and my braids!

In a talk at a public library, Jesymn Ward courageously told her story of racism in America....

After hearing her talk, I thought about this big, huge GIANT that I have been wrestling with since Monday night, and I felt that Jesmym gave me permission to tell this story.

Let me give you some background info before I tell you about this big, huge GIANT.

I am in the midst of a hair transition. After much persuasion by my stylist, I decided to give my natural hair a try. Basically, I am no longer chemically processing my hair to make it permanently straight. For my readers who are not Black, a perm is a chemical process that many Black people do to their hair in order to make it permanently straight, and that is where the name perm comes from.

While in transition, I decided to try something new: BRAIDS.

My people, I had so many negative preconceived notions about braids, and I probably was secretly thinking that others were thinking the same way. However, I worked through all of my baggage and stepped out and tried something new.

The day after I had my hair braided, I listened to "I Am Not My Hair" by India Arie every time that I was in my car trying desperately to convince myself that "I am not my hair." That message finally sunk in, and I heard a very clear voice say that "Black people are sooooo fortunate, we have the kind of hair that is versatile; we can perm it, braid it, wear a fro, wear it curly, and the possibilities go on and on and on." With this in mind, I have boldly been walking around with my hair braided with PRIDE. As a matter of fact, I am really digging them.

So, here is the big, huge GIANT....

Monday, I was on a group bike ride, and we were having a ride that was quite enjoyable. I was super excited for one of my friends who faced her fears and came out for her first group ride, and she rocked it.

Out of what seems no where, a White cyclist, who is a dear friend whom I value having in my life, asked:

"You still got those braids in your hair?"

My heart skipped a beat, and I responded:


She went on to say:

"It's been three weeks."

Now, my ten year old self sort of wanted to cry. (Here is a Black girl being publicly questioned about her hair.)

My twenty year old self wanted to pull her off that bike and beat the crap out of her for doing what I felt was totally inappropriate. (We spend enough time together for her to have asked me one on one.)

My thirty year old self wanted to say something curt like "Why do you care?"

However, my forty-something self, just keep on pedaling.....

And, I have been wresting with this big, huge GIANT ever since.

I have thought about all of the young Black girls who may not want to go to overnight play dates or go swimming in mixed crowds, because they do not want to have to explain about their hair. (This makes my heart soooo sad.)

So, I have asked the same question over and over again: Why would she ask me about my hair?

"Does me wearing braids make her uncomfortable?"

"Is she curious about my braids?"  (She could have asked me one on one?)

"Is she implying that my hair is dirty by saying it's been three weeks, or has my hair been braided to long for her? (Not sure why she would care?)

She sent me a text to ask me about riding with her on Tuesday, but I chose to go cycling with people who look like me, with hair similar to mine, so I would not have to explain about my hair.

I have been wrestling with this big, huge GIANT since Monday....

I have wanted to text and/or her call her to ask her "Why?'"

I have also been doing a lot of self-reflection as well......

"Maybe I'm overreacting?"

"Maybe she tapped into my insecurities about the braid?"

and on and on and on...

I've been wanting to scream from the mountain top: "WHITE PEOPLE, IF YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND BLACK HAIR; GET OVER IT!"

I have been wrestling with this big, huge GIANT since Monday, and to finally win, I had to write this blog to release it.

I'm soooo grateful to Jesmyn Ward for giving me permission to tell this quite painful story in order to finally beat this huge, big GIANT!

Here is "I Am Not My Hair" by India Irie:

Please, share your thoughts, because I want to know them.....

I'm an open vessel!!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Jesmyn Ward.......

Me and Jesmyn Ward!

Hearing Jesmyn speak tonight spoke to my heart...

Jesmyn, telling her story, has given me the courage to write about something that I just can't shake.

Check back for the blog soon!!!

My people, there is value in telling our stories......

Monday, April 6, 2015

Bocas Lit Fest: The Galaxy Game by Karen Lord

In my pursuit to get ready for the Bocas Lit Fest, I just finished my first of five books that I will read in preparation for the festival.

Before I even start to talk about this book, I must tell you that I totally admire science fiction writers such as Tananarive Due, Suzanne Collins, Stephen King, Octavia Butler, and Karen Lord. Science Fiction writers' mind are completely incredible, like really incredible. They think of ideas that are sooooo other worldish, then they write about these things, and convey them in a manner where people can understand their outlandish thoughts.

Galaxy Game has a Star Wars feel to it. It is definitely entertaining, and the writing style had me frantically reading to see what was going to happen to the main character, Rafi, who is psionically gifted. Now, because of the other-worldish things that goes on in this book, it is very difficult for me to really explain the plot so, I will let NPR do it for me here.

My people, after a little research, I found out that The Galaxy Game is the sequel to The Best of All Possible Worlds.....I guess I should have read The Best of All Possible Worlds first. But, I am fairly intelligent and was able to understand this book, I think, without reading The Best of All Possible Worlds first. (I will go back and read it someday.)

When I see Karen at the Bocas Lit Fest, some of the first things that I am going to ask her are "What was her inspiration for writing this book... Where in the world did she get this most fascinating idea from?" I just need to know what goes on inside of a science-fiction writer's brain.

If you get a moment, you may want to check this one out.

Ok, my people, the next book that is on my list to be read for the Bocas Lit Fest is Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab, but it had to be ordered, and is not here yet. So, I will start reading Children of Paradise by Fred D'Aguiar.

Happy Easter Monday!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

If you don't stop talking; I won't stop listening.....

Patricia Robinson

There is value in listening and also in being heard...

I believe that most of us desire to tell our stories, and we want them to be received with an open and compassionate heart.

On the way to Selma 50th, we were on a two lane road, and the traffic was barely moving. I rolled down the window to ask, Patricia Robinson, how much farther did we need to go to get to our destination? I remember her name, because I have a sister whose name is also Patricia Robinson.

Patricia was talking on her cell phone, and when I asked the question, she hung up her phone and gave us her undivided attention. She answered our question, and we continued to have a conversation.

We learned that Patricia "wishes that there were more opportunities in Selma for the young people, her house was built by Habitat for Humanity, she lost her son in a tracker trailer accident, and if it was not for her Selma community, she thinks that she would have lost her mind." In that five minute conversation, it was apparent that Patricia loves Selma and needed to be heard.

Patricia's community!

Since that short encounter, I have thought about Patricia a lot: her smile, her kindness, her joy, her pleasantness, her resilience. I have also thought a lot about the human need to be heard and understood.

Not sure about you, but I love to hear people's stories. I love trying to understand what makes people who they are, and I think that is one of the many reasons why I love to read; books are one way for writers and readers to try and understand people and human nature.

When I hear people's stories, I am always struck by the things that people are going through or have gone through, yet they are still standing and even smiling most of the time. I also think that people, hearing themselves tell their own stories, reminds them of their own strength and courage.

I have been practicing listening, hearing, and telling, because I know that there is value in listening, hearing, and telling stories.

If you get a moment, consider listening to someone's story!

If you don't stop talking; I won't stop listening.....

Happy Easter Eve; JESUS IS ALIVE!!!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Career Decisions!

This week I have been on Spring Break, and I have been bustling around my neighborhood getting a lot go stuff done, but I have also had quite a bit of much needed time to think.....

My career has been on my mind. My desire is to use literature and words to reach as many people as I possibly can. I've been thinking if teaching in public schools is giving me the opportunity to reach a lot of people, and of course it does, but is it enough?

So, I know about all of these educational companies and these non-traditional schools that seem to be on the rise with the goal of improving how we educate children. I know people who are working with these companies and who are also working in those non-traditional schools, and I like and appreciate the work that they are doing. So, I have been thinking about the idea of working for one of those companies or one of those non-traditional schools, but will that serve my purpose of using literature to reach more people?

Many of my friends are working long hours which means from 7:30 to about 6. For me, that would feel like giving up my life in order dedicate more time to work, and I must read, write, workout, and do things that cultivate my learning on a regular basic. Not sure how I would fit in the things that I must do if I start to work longer hours.

Also, quite a few of my friends who are working with these educational companies work from home and/or spend quite a bit of time traveling. Now, I know that it seems like I am making excuses to stay where I am, but I know myself very well.... I would not do well working from home, because I thrive off interacting with people regularly. Also, I don't want to travel regularly; flying, hotels, eating out often is not appealing to me at all.

So, I have been thinking about how can I use literature and words to reach more people... I could continue to teach high school students where I reach at least 100 students every year, and I can write a book about teaching novels, continue to present on teaching novels at professional conferences, work for the college board during the summers teaching teachers how to teach AP classes....

After much thought, I realize that there are possibilities of using literature and words to reach more people, and with those possibilities, I can still have time to read, write, cycle, attend events in my community, have an active social life, and attend summer programs to enhance my learning.....

I am feeling so much better now that I have thought this out completely, and I also feel better knowing that I have options that do not include working long hours or regular travel.

Thanks for allowing me to use this space to get this out.....

Happy Good Friday..... JESUS IS ALIVE!!!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Universe Has a Sense of Humor.....

Cycling with my girl Lydia!

A few days back I wrote a blog, and I publicly declared that I want to be a hill killer; I desire to slay hills on my bike....

Well, we must be careful about what comes out of our mouths, because I know that we are all creating our lives based on our words. (Your tongue is powerful.)

After that declaration, the universe sent my teammates, Sean and Lydia, right away... My magic genies!

The day that I made that public declaration of wanting to slay hills, I received a text from my teammate, and Sean never sends me text, stating that he was goings to Hains Point to ride, and he asked if I wanted to come along. Hains Point is a small area of DC that is surrounded by water, and that is where you can find cyclist training everyday.

Now, let me tell you about Sean. He is a driven guy; his work ethic is truly amazing. When Sean trains, he trains hard and with enthusiasm, and it is quite contagious. Sean is the guy that I told you about who followed me an entire CX race on foot, cheering and encouraging me until I crossed the finish line. Sean is truly a selfless person who will enthusiastically push a person to her limit.


So, when he asked me to train with him, I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to ride with Sean. I rode my bike out to Hains. Sean explained the workout out to me, and then he ran me in the ground. A few times I wanted to say that I needed a break, but I just kept on pushing myself. I finished the workout, and when I finally made it home, my legs were done.... However, the workout that we did is great for conditioning a racer. (The Universe Responds To Our Request.)


My teammate Lydia asked me to meet her at a bike shop to do a computraining class, and at first I said ok, then I changed my mind; I didn't want to ride inside on a beautiful day. Computraining is a class where a cyclist put his bike on a computer and the computer simulate courses which always include hills.

After a little coercion, I agreed, and today we trained on the computrainer, and of course we had some good hill practice.

After the class, we headed outside to do an easy spin on a beautiful day.

We were riding along, and I was practicing high cadence, because my legs were completely exhausted from the ride the day before with Sean and computraining. Lydia asked if I wanted to do hill repeats, and I let her know quickly that I just did not have the legs for it.

However, we got to a big hill, and Lydia said that she was going to climb it. I declined and told her that I would just spin around until she returned.

Lydia started to climb that hill and the universe stated "I thought you wanted to be a hill slayer." So, I started to climb that huge hill that turned into more and more hills, and my legs actually did not rebel.

After the climbs I felt a sense of accomplishment, and we continued our ride. (The Universe Responds To Our Request.)

Now, I publicly stated that I wanted to be a hill slayer, and the universe, almost instantaneous, sent the training my way. (Be conscious about every single word that comes out your mouth.)

My people, when we speak, the universe answers, and it does have a sense of humor....

Make sure that you are ready to receive whatever you speak into existence!

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Trinidad and Tobago Literary Festival - Bocas Lit Fest

Karen Lord, author of Galaxy Games, and she will be at the lit fest.

At the end of April, the beginning of May, I will be spending time in Trinidad for the Bocas Lit Fest.

Now, I had never thought about traveling to an international book festival, but my friend and fellow blogger, Shannon, from ReadingHasPurpose, stated that she was going, and I sort of invited myself.

Not sure what to expect from this festival, but I know that when you get writers, readers, books, and great location together, that usually creates something close to perfection.

So, to prepare for the lit fest, I am going to read five books, by five different authors who are going at be at the festival.

Below are links to the five books:

The Galaxy Game by Karen Lord

Moving Forward Sideways like a Crab by Shani Mootoo

Children of Paradise by Fred D'Aguiar

Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

Ambitious goal right?

I'll see what I can do.....

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