Saturday, June 27, 2015

Cycling Update!

Cycling Buddies

This road racing season I have done a mere four races, and I was not pleased with my results at all. I absolutely love racing, but I was not sure what I needed to do to “get in the game.”

I’ve pondered over and over getting a cycling coach, and I talked to several other female racers who have coaches, and I narrowed my search down to one coach who came highly recommended.

I reached out to him, I got a good feeling about him, we talked about pricing, and the rest is history. I have been working with this coach for about two months, and I absolutely love being coached.

Now, most of the coaching is done virtually. Yep, virtually! (Don’t you just love technology??) 

The coach signed me up for a site called Training Peaks. He puts the workouts in training peaks, I go and do the workouts, he analyze the data, and gives me more workouts. I normally do six days a week of cycling workouts, and I get them done by any means necessary. If it’s raining lightly, I go outside and do my workouts. If it is raining heavily, I put my bike on my indoor trainer and do my workouts.

What I love about being coached is the structure and routine. Yes, I am a structure, routine person. I know what I am going to do each time that I get on my bike, and I go out and do the workouts with a glad heart. Yes, most are intense and hard, and sometimes I even feel like I want to throw up. However, I never complain, because I remember going out to ride and feeing frustrated about not knowing what to do to get to the next level. But now, I have a plan, and I work it.

Greatness is not accidental!

Now, the coach is not making me do these workouts. Nope, he’s not. I am intrinsically motivated to do them, because I want to become a stronger, faster, more efficient rider, and I need to trust the training or stop being coached.

Work gets me to the next level, and I enjoy doing it!

My people, I want to enjoy cycling and racing. When I show up for a ride and racing I want to ride efficiently and to the top of my potential, because that makes me feel strong, and when I feel strong the joy that I feel is indescribable.

On many days I see my personal trainer and ride my bike on the same day. I have also been reading daily, teaching a three hour class, enjoying outdoor concerts, hanging out with friends, going to the pool, going to public forums, writing blogs, and thoroughly enjoying this life that I Thank God for Daily.

Being coached has enhanced my life in more ways than I could have ever imaged, and I grateful to God for this journey...

Cycling is well with my soul.

If you see me on the road, eat my dust! (I had to laugh at this myself!)

Find a hobby and Become Its Slave......

Happy Saturday, My People!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Border War by Stanley Harrold

Reading about the extent that people went through in order to maintain slavery, and reading about the lengths that people went through to end slavery was both disturbing and liberating. It was disturbing that many people did not see humans who were turned into slaves as human and wanted to use them to economically prosper the country and liberating because it is good to know that there was so much fuss about humans who were turned into slaves.

"Harrold defines the border as nineteenth-century contemporaries did, encompassing Missouri, Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware in what he calls the “Border South,” and New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa in what he terms the “Lower North” (p. xi). He describes the borderland more generally as a site where “contrasting economic, political, and cultural forces compete, interact, and clash. They are most volatile when residents on each side of the border may easily pass to the other” (p. 2). Contrary to Michael Holt’s assertion that controversies over the peculiar institution had not led to violence, this book focuses on the violent clashes that occurred in this region. The border struggle may not have reached the proportion of full-scale, organized warfare, but it was a protracted quarrel arising from the tension between free and slave societies existing in close quarters.” (

I absolutely love John Brown, and after I read James McBride's historically fiction novel The Good Lord Bird I fell more in love with John Brown. It was surprising to read in Border War that John Brown and his raid at Harper's Ferry escalated already heighten tension over slavery and basically put the fire under the movement toward the beginning of The Civil War. And, at Fort Sumter, South Carolina on April 12, 1861 The Civil War began... HALLELUJAH!!!!!!!

This is a book that reads more like a textbook, and it took quite awhile to get through it. Not that it was not a good read, but it was dense with information, and my brain was forced to actively engage the entire time.

In the times that we are living in with much ado about the Confederate flag, it may be helpful to read books like Border War to understand the history of the Confederate flag and be able to put it in its proper context.

The more that I read about what led up to The Civil War, the more excited I get, and I CAN’T WAIT to spend three weeks discussing, learning, and exploring Abolitionism and the Underground Railroad... with other teachers and the great Dr. Graham Hodges.

Tonight, I am going to start reading Heart Beating for Liberty: Women Abolitionist in the Old Northwest by Stacey M. Robertson.

Happy Summer, My People!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Where Do We Go From Here???

I am sitting in a restaurant in DC where we are having a panel discussion on the recent massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) in Charleston, SC, and I am thinking, listening, and writing!

Race, racism, and our country has been on my mind a lot....

From seeing a man running from a cop and being shot in the back, seeing a cop throw a young girl to the ground and putting both of his knees in her back, reading about riots in both Missouri and Baltimore, and finally hearing the details of a man going into a church, sitting for an hour, and then killing nine of the African Americans in the church out of hate; I am asking myself Where Do We Go From Here!

My people, I have analyzed, criticized, read, cried, and have been afraid.

Yes, a free African American in American has been afraid...

I live in a very diverse neighborhood, and I normally never feel afraid, as a matter of fact, I actually feel quite safe. However, last Friday, I got dressed to go for a bike ride, and for a minute I felt fear. Yep, FEAR. I began to wonder if someone would run me over, because I am Black. Yea, I thought this and so much more. BUT, I put on my Black Girls Bike DC jersey, and boldly went out my front door to do what I love. I decided that if someone was going to kill me because of my color, I was not going to hide but mark myself as Black; I will not hide my race to be safe ever

I am wondering Where Do We, Black people and this country, Go From Here?

I still believe in love, and when I see angry post on FB by Black people and White People, it scares me, because it seems to directed towards entire groups of people, and that same angry may be causing cops to mistreat Black people and may have caused a young man to go into that church and brutally kill nine people who were praying to God.

Yes, I have gone from sad to angry to confused and back to sad, and God keeps reminding me that all White people are not bad!

After all of the hate, anger, and hurt that is going on in this country today, I have been deliberately trying to not allow myself to put everybody in the same box: Black People or White People!

People are people and the history of this country is not all good, and I want to believe that all of the things that are happening in this country are happening to expose the racism that has been simmering in our country since we were forced here many years ago. With exposure, hopefully, we can deal with this racism that permeates America. 

I know for sure that Knowledge is Power, and we must read, study, be critical thinkers who are not led by the media, get to know each other, and hopefully heal this land, but I am not sure if this land can be healed. 

Everyday I am pondering Where Do I Go From Here?

So, I will continue to inspire children and teach them, through words, to search their own hearts, be true to themselves, learn about other people and cultures, learn to listen to people whom they disagree with, and to go out and be the change that we need to see in the world....

I am going to live my truth and carefully speak my truth and not worry about the people whom I offend when I speak my truth. I will continue to educate myself, so that when I speak, I will speak from a place of knowledge and not emotions, emotions do have their place, and I will continue to attend and participate in public forums to be in communion with people who are continuously doing the work that matters.

Well, the panel discussion is over, and it was very interactive. The audience got a lot of time to express their ideas and ask questions. So, you remember me stating earlier that I do not want to put people in a box? Well, after this discussion, I realize that people can not be put into a box. The people in that room and their ideas and experiences with race and racism and their ideas about how to deal with these issues were as varied as crayons in a huge box.

The atmosphere felt a little hostile at times, and to be honest, my spirit felt quite heavy after that discussion. I felt like people were being attacked and judged, and this was definitely not a meeting to make people feel good at all. However, I am sort of feeling like maybe this is not the time for us to feel good. However, one of the panelist suggested that we meet her at Malcolm X Park, a Black space, on Sunday, to celebrate and have a love festival; however, this definitely contradicted the feelings that she was emitting into the building.

My people, after this forum, I am feeling sad, confused, angry, lost, judged, like I just don’t understand all of this stuff at all, and I am wondering....Where Do We Go From Here?

However, two guys who were at the forum have sat down next to me, and I am feeling this conversation on race that we are having sooooo, I got to go.....

Hopefully, we can figure out Where do We Go From Here!

Until the Next Time......

Monday, June 15, 2015

Wisdom for people in the teaching profession...

Last week of school excitement!

So, I have been teaching for quite awhile, and it just never gets old. I am always trying new things, and this keeps me relevant and energized.

My fellow teachers, I must offer this piece of advice... If you want to stay in this profession for quite awhile.... Please, please, please use the time that you have at school wisely so that you can fully enjoy and be present in the other parts of your life.

I LOVE my life outside of school, and nothing brings me more joy than traveling, cycling, hanging out, being with people, working out, reading... So, I have learned to work at work, and leave work at work... I seldom talk about my job when I am not at work. It's part of my life, but it is definitely not the majority of my life.

Teaching is a very taxing job. I think that most teachers get use to the stress, and we handle it so well until, we oftentimes forget how stressful it is. However, it does come with its stresses, and that is why we must be able to compartmentalize it and not allow the job to take over our entire lives.

I am fortunate to be in a school that does not use my planning time for duties or meetings, and I can actually work during my plannings, and I do. Yea, it's ok to socialize a little at work, but remember that if you like the people whom you work with, you can consider socializing with them after school and use the time at school to work.

Summer! Yes, summers can be glorious if you are a teacher. However, I know that there are teachers who must teach summer school or do other jobs. However, if you can make the time to unplug from the job: no emails, no talking to teachers about the job etc., I promise your body will Thank You for it!

I have taught summer school before and have done other jobs during the summer, but now I make conscious decisions to do things that I know that I will enjoy, and I try and get paid to do those things.

For instance, this summer I am going to spend three weeks at Colgate University studying Abolitionism and The Underground Railroad, a topic that I just love. I applied to attend this seminar through The National Endowment for the Humanities, and I get paid to go. Yes, I get paid to go, and I do not get a grade or have to write papers or anything of the sort. I get to be with sixteen other teachers and talk about Abolitionism and The Underground Railroad, go on field trips, live in the dorm, eat in the cafeteria, and almost be like a college student again. (CAREFREE!!)

I have done several programs like the one that I am going to do this summer, and let me tell you, they are relaxing, and they always fire me up about teaching.

Because the program is only three weeks long, I will have about four weeks when I return home to do whatever I want: read, relax, swim, travel, visit my momma..... whatever my heart desires!

Teachers, I think that most of us love our jobs, but we need our breaks. If we allow teaching to consume our lives, it will take over, and our health and personal lives can and sometimes do suffer tremendously....

I love my job, but I love the other parts of my life just as much, and I make sure that I cultivate them. We NEED lives outside of school....

Happy Summer, My People!

My fellow teachers, Take Care of Yourselves...

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Choice Novels Update......

Project 1

In a previous post I wrote about giving students the opportunity to read almost any book under the sun....

The experience of giving students choice in what they read has made for the best end of school that I have EVER had, and I ain’t exaggerating.

I would start every class by telling the students about the book that I was reading, and then I would allow them to volunteer to tell about the book that they were reading. Then we would all read, including me, for thirty minutes, and then we would spend the last thirty minutes of class working on their individual projects.

Each student had to complete three projects that were due on three separate dates. The beauty of the choice novel unit is that it allowed every student to work at his or her own pace. My faster workers could read and complete a project, maybe finish the first book and start another book and do the next project on the next book. Some of my slower workers could take the time that they needed to read their book and maybe complete the three projects on one book... This unit accommodated all students.

Project 2

I gave them a questionnaire to complete about their book, and if a student read more than one book, then he could pick which book he would use to complete the questionnaire. The students used the questionnaire to present their novel to the class.

The presentations went well. Students listened to each other and asked questions of each other. Every student stated that he loved having a say in what he read. However, a few students mentioned that they missed having class discussions on one book, and I will definitely take this into consideration as I tweak this unit.

I have two students who are English as a Second Language students who admitted that they did not read any of the books that I assigned this year, but they read and finished the book that they chose to read. (SUCCESS!)

Project 3

All of my fellow English teachers, consider giving your students more choice and see how much easier it will make your job; no more begging reluctant readers to read!!!


Last full week of school, and I hear freedom in the air...

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass written by Himself

Frederick Douglass....What a remarkable man!!

I haven’t read Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass in quite awhile, and my people, if you have not read it in awhile, or if you have never read it, it is worth reading.

Here are a few things that I thought about while reading this book:
  1. Douglass came to the realization after hearing one of his master’s speak that learning to read would make him unfit to be a slave, and his master was definitely right. Reading and writing made Douglass unfit to be a slave. Knowledge really is power!
  2. The way that Douglass described the brutality of slavery made me extremely sad. I felt sad to know that humans were subjected to such harsh treatment, and many died never knowing how it feels to be free. I tried to wrap my mind around being beaten with a whip, and I can not even began to imagine the blow to the body, self esteem, self respect etc. 
  3. I thought a lot about what would make a person treat another person like he/she were not human. I wonder did the masters ever think about how their slaves may have felt, or did they see them as nonhuman, and drove them the same way that a person may drive a mule. 
  4. I thought about Frederick as a person, and how he went from being a slave to being a recognized, respected person. I have visited his house in DC often, and I thought about the miracle of going from being a slave to owning a home in DC that is built on one of the highest points in DC. Frederick could literally see all over DC from his home. Miracles do happen!
  5. I was very excited to get to the end of the book, and see Frederick mention David Ruggles, and this time, I was familiar with him. Seeing David’s name in this book made me feel some satisfaction that David’s abolitionist work was not done in vain. 
  6. Many of the events in the books occurred in places that I am familiar with such as Baltimore. As I walk the streets of Baltimore and the other places that Douglass mentions in his book, it’s hard to imagine that slaves walked those same grounds... I’ll be looking for some of those historical markers in the cities that Douglass mentioned one day soon.
  7. And finally, I am so happy that Frederick wrote this book. So many of the slave stories are written by other people, and I am so happy to read a book about slavery that is written by a former slave.
This summer I will be visiting Frederick’s home in New York, his burial site, and many more sites that pertain to Douglass.... EXCITED!!

This is definitely a book that should be read and read and read!

Join me in reading Border War: Fighting over Slavery before the Civil War by Stanley Harrold:

Summer 2015 is going to be great!

Monday, June 1, 2015

David Ruggles: A Radical Black Abolitionist and The Underground Railroad in New York by Graham Hodges

Saturday I went for a ride with my cycling coach who just happens to be White. We cycled in a sort of remote area with few cars and quite a few inclines so, it was ideal for cycling.

As I was riding behind him, I started to think, as I often do when I interact with White people whom I like a lot, I am grateful for Dr. King who made it possible for me to cycle with my White coach. However, this time I thought, after reading The Forgotten Fifth by Gary Nash and David Ruggles by Graham Hodges, that I am grateful for the people who fault during The Revolutionary War and people like David Ruggles who paved the way for Dr. King to work on his dream "that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls.” Unlike what we are typical taught in schools, My people, the struggle for freedom started long before Dr. King was ever born.....

Dr. Hodges does a great job of telling the story of David Ruggles who was an abolitionist and instrumental to The Underground Railroad. What struck me the most about Ruggles is that he did not rule out the possibility of using violence when needed, he supported the idea of women being in the movement, and although he was born free and had no bad experiences with prejudice as a child, he still fought relentlessly to abolish slavery, worked against slave catchers, and helped others to freedom including The Frederick Douglass. Yes, David even housed Frederick Douglass on his way to freedom.

At the young age of eighteen, Ruggles moved from Connecticut to New York and eventually opened a small shop that sold products that were not manufactured by slaves, he became a writer and traveling public speaker against slavery, owned a reading room and emphasized “reading and writing as expressions of freedom,” and went on to own a hospital where he personally cared for patients while he was going blind and sick.

Reading David’s story, I thought a lot about the late, great Malcolm X. David stated that “we can recommend non-resistance to persons who are denied the protection of equitable law, when their liberty is invaded and their lives endangered by avaricious kidnappers.” Doesn’t this sound familiar to a statement made by Malcolm X: "The day that the black man takes an uncompromising step and realizes that he's within his rights, when his own freedom is being jeopardized, to use any means necessary to bring about his freedom or put a halt to that injustice, I don't think he'll be by himself.”

Malcolm X

The struggle eventually got to David, and he ended up blind and sickly and died at the tender age of thirty-nine, but he accomplished so much in such a short amount of time. His life was short but wide.

This man lived a courageous life, and his name should be called regularly in households and schools all across America. I am grateful to Dr. Hodges for his research and bringing David into our homes, minds, and lives.

Long Live David Ruggles....


I’ve started to reread an oldie but goodie: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass written by himself. Join me if you dare....

Summer 2015 is going to be good discussing these incredible books!

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