Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017: The Year of Harvest

Mom and Me!

Tomorrow, will be 2018, and it seems like the past seventeen years hurried by like a woman scurrying to pick up her child from daycare before those late fees kick in. Yep, it has felt like that type of hurrying; hurrying with a purpose.

My Dad us to say that time waits for no one, and you know, I am in the years of getting answers, and now I see clearly just what my Dad was talking about... Time waits for no one!

To prepare to write my annual end-of-the-year blog, I went back to read a few of my previous blogs, and I realized that in quite a few of my blogs, I was believing God for something. 

Now, in 2017, all praises to God and hard work, many of my dreams manifested. So, in 2018, I am going to do a whole lot more Giving Thanks and Surrendering and Trusting and Giving Thanks and Surrendering, and Trusting, and Giving Thanks and Surrendering and Trusting.....

My cycling teammates!

My bookclub!

A few summers back, I had this strong urge to work on literacy, especially for children of color. My readings and conversations with other passionate educators confirmed some things that were placed on my heart. So, I went to educational consulting camp and did just about every single thing that the leader of the camp told us to do. This past year, my company, Stallworth Educational Consulting Team, was formed, and I was able to work with two school districts on literacy. 

You know how God works, there are many more opportunities coming. All I need to do is Stay Ready, Surrender, and Trust. 

With my dear friend Kathleen and the writer Ibi  Zoboi

My cycling teammates!

I was advised at consulting camp that I needed to get my writings published in a literary magazine. So, I reached out to International Literacy’s magazine, and I wrote a proposal for their “What’s New In Literacy,” edition, and my proposal was accepted. Y’all, my piece was published in the magazine.

I also applied to present at the International Literacy’s Conference in Orlando, and my proposal was accepted. My current school district paid all related expenses, and I went to do what I am called to do. My session was packed, and folks seem to really be engaged. I had soooooo much fun. After I finished, I wanted to run around like we do in African American churches when we are in the spirit. However, I was not in that type of environment, so I had to forgo on the running.

Y’all this was fun!
Can you tell I was having a good time in my session?

While I was doing my thing, a wonderful lady was in my session from the company Booksource. Booksource provides schools with classroom libraries. This wonderful lady asked me if we could talk later about me doing some literacy work for Booksource, and NOW, I am a peer advisor for Booksource. This mainly means that Booksource open doors for me to go to schools and conferences to talk about my love for books and my love of getting children to love them as well. 

Bo Bikes Bama ride!
My favorite writer Jason Reynolds!

For the past few summers I have been training teachers to teach Advanced Placement (AP) Literature for Texas Christian College. However, my desire was to be a full time AP Literature Consultant with The College Board. I completed the application, emailed a few folks, talked to a few people, AND I am a endorsed College Board consultant. My heart leaps for joy when I think about the influence that I can have on college board literature classes; I want to see those classes be more inclusive of children of color, and now I am in the door. 

AND, I actually opened a spam email, and I actually acted on it; I am one of the teachers selected to serve on the National Humanities Center's Teacher Advisory Council for the 2017-2018 school year. This experience has been very rewarding, and I have met some wonderful, inspiring educators. Y’all, this was not an opportunity that I saw coming, but I am appreciative and humbled to serve.

In Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison there is this quote: “If you surrender to the air, you can ride it.”  Y’all, I have been riding the air, God, and... I was about to say it has been scary, but it really has not been. I’ve been preparing for every single thing that came my way this year...

So, I did not write all of this to boast; not at all. I wrote all this to remind myself of all of the doors that have opened for me. I am also encouraging you to write down all of the things that God has done for you, so you can see that you really are moving forward. AND, if you see that you are not moving forward, GET ON IT!!!

Today, I was thinking about all of the books that I have read over the last year, and in every story, fiction and non-fiction, people end up right where they are suppose to be and things seem to work out for their good.

However, you know how the mind works, and I thought of the story The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs. Robert Peace was a student from the inner city who attended and graduated from Yale without paying one penny. After graduation he was studying cancer cells for Yale. However, he eventually moved back to New Jersey, started selling drugs, and ended up being tragically murdered. Now, I have to ask myself, did Robert Peace have the ending that he was suppose to have; was this God’s doing?

I think about Robert a lot, and I believe that we all have free-well. Robert Peace could or could not have gone to Yale, it was up to him. The doors opened for him, but it was up to him to walk through them. Maybe, he could have capitalized on the research that he was doing on cancer cells or did something else? I believe that Robert Peace had free-will just like you and me.

I think what I am trying to say is that when we have that pull on our hearts, we can answer or not. We can run towards it or away from it; I think that we have a choice. When doors started to open for me, for some reason, I knew they were opened just for me, and I felt peace and excited, and I boldly walked in. Sure, I was surprised each and every time but READY!

Now, for 2018, I already have quite a few things lined up, and I have other things that I am working on, and instead of believing God, and being that child or spouse who never seems to be satisfied, I am going to try with my whole heart to not ask for more but to EXPECT more.

Not sure what season you are in, reaping or sowing, but know that there is a harvest with your name on it.

Consider writing stuff down and speaking it as well!

Happy 2018!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Autobiography of Gucci Mane by Gucci Mane with Neil Martinez-Belkin

The Autobiography of Gucci Mane is generating a lot of excitement in my classroom. So, I borrowed a copy from a student and read it. Y’all, I love this book...

For those who are not quite familiar with Gucci Mane, he is a rapper who is known for Trap Music. According to Gucci Mane himself: Trap Music is “something raw. Something that has not been diluted. Something with no polish on it. Music that sounds as grimy as the world that it came out of.” (P. 52)

Also, after a little research, I also found out that Gucci Mane has a reality TV show and lots of lots of fans, including a new fan, Jacqueline Stallworth. Yep, I’m a fan.

This story matters.....

I was not reading this book, just like with most of the books that I read, to disagree or agree, but to get an understanding, develop a little more empathy, and to enjoy. AND, with this book, I did all three.

Here are some things that are on my mind after finishing this book:

1. “I was playing around with my voice, my cadence, and my diction and after awhile all those reservations I’d had slowly started to fade away. (P. 51)

Gucci Mane may have been born with a gift for rapping, but he had to work to cultivate that skill. Gucci Mane worked on his voice, studied rap, and practiced. Overtime and with lots of work, he became Gucci Mane the rapper and created music that folks love.

Now, doesn’t that sounds like most of us? We have to work at things in order to get better and maybe even good. I hope that when the youth read this book, and they are reading it, they understand that we have to put in work to achieve dreams. This man was writing music relentlessly while in prison... and produced projects as soon as he was released that received a lot of praise.

To develop our skills; we have to put in the work....

2. “I was rapping for the young boys on the corner with dirty T-Shirts on. The ones cooking up in the kitchen. The car thieves. The shooters. The n-----ers breaking into houses. I was rapping my reality. (P. 110)

Stories matter... Whether or not I like what he says in his rap, he is rapping his reality and the reality of folks similar to him. I think that many of us love stories that we can relate to, and we have respect for folks who courageously tell their stories, because it gives us courage to tell ours.

Recently, a student gave me a book that she really connected to, and she wanted me to read it. Well, I read the book and found the student and desperately wanted her to tell me that this extremely sad story was not her story, and it was. This book helped me to connect to this student, and I am grateful that the writer wrote that story. Telling our stories matter...

So, Gucci Mane’s story matters, and him telling his story may be helping a whole bunch of folks, and maybe giving folks courage to speak their truth.

3. "This would become a trend throughout the course of my career. Whenever the music wasn’t going right I would fall back into the streets. Maybe it was a coping mechanism. Going back to something I knew I’d find success in when I wasn’t experiencing it elsewhere. Whatever it was, it was a habit that went on for much longer than you’d think." (P. 119)

I read this and thought: “Yes, Yes, Yes!”

Under stress, many of us go back to what we are familiar and comfortable with, and it seems like what we go back to are things that are not good for us: folks, food, drink.... and a whole bunch of other stuff that is within our comfort zone.

I want Gucci Mane to know, “Brother, you are not alone."

4. “... freestyling proved to be much quicker way for me to knock out songs. So that’s what I started doing and did so relentlessly. I became a machine. I would record six or seven songs a day. Easily.... My work ethic paid off.” (P. 140 -141)

Hard work pays off... PERIOD!

5. “It did not sit well with me that I was this gangster rapper talking about hitting licks and moving bricks in my music, but then I was hiding with rats when I got locked up. I wanted to be treated like everyone else. So when I returned to Fulton County in the fall of 2008, I signed a waiver to be in the general population.” (P. 145)

I totally respect the fact that Gucci Mane did not just “talk the talk but he walked the walked.” He was not writing one thing and doing something else.

At the end of the day, “To thine Own self be True.” I can’t tell my students that reading is important, and I not take the time to read. Folks are watching... “Walk the Walk."

6.“With all I’d been through of late I’d never felt more alienated. I was an outcast, a rebel, a weirdo. More than anything I was tired. Tired of running away from my reputation, tired of trying to convince people I wasn’t a bad person. I wanted to embrace the villain. (P. 191)

I’m wondering how many of us are living out what we believe people think about us....
How many folks are pretending to be things that they are not, because that is what folks expect...
What if we could be free of other folks' thoughts or what we believe they are thinking, and live our lives?

7. “Prison is time. I tried to use the time to better myself. I kept up the exercise... I lost nearly eighty pounds... I was able to work the cafeteria staff and eat a little better....I followed changes I’d made to my body by working to strengthen my mind. I was devouring books. A lot of self-help, inspirational stuff. Tony Robbins. Deepak Chopra. Malcolm Gladwell. James Allen. The biographies of Pimp C. and Jimi Hendrix. Mike Tyson’s autobiography.” (P. 254)

Discipline and Reading, Discipline and Reading, Discipline and Reading........
I truly believe that the amount of discipline that a person has, has a lot to do with his/her success.... AND, reading saves lives, reading changes lives, WORDS matter!

8. “If you keep lookin’ back you gon trip going forward.... I’ve taken heed to that. To start a new chapter you’ve got to turn the page on the last one. Still, every now and then I do think it’s okay to stop and look back, just for a moment, before continuing on your way. Especially when it’s a hell of a story.” (P. 270)

Not much I can say after that.... Gucci Mane basically summed it up!

I am excited about this book, and I can’t wait to get back with my students to hear their thoughts and takeaways....

In all of your getting, get an understanding....

Consider reading this book!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Books for Christmas 2017

It’s Christmas time AGAIN, and I am going to try and help those folks out who still need to buy a few more presents. And, you know that giving folks books is really like giving love.

I have tremendously increased my reading, and that made this task a little more difficult. However, after a lot of consideration here are my top ten book, gift ideas for 2017:

#10 Miles Morales, and Long Way Down, and When I Was The Greatest, and Ghost. I’m cheating, but all four books by Jason Reynolds are number ten. I just had to do it because all four of these books really are great. If you have a young adult in your life, girl or boy, please consider getting them these books. The book that you buy really doesn’t matter, or how about purchasing all four? And, while you are at the bookstore, pick up copies for yourself. Yep, I think grown folks will enjoy these books as well.

Miles Morales: Miles is a Black and Hispanic Spiderman with superpowers. And, just wait until you find out his adversary. I just loved seeing a brown boy with superpowers, and many of us know that brown boys do have superpowers.

Long Way Down: This book is written in verse, and it can be read in a short period of time. It is engaging and captivating, AND the ending had me sitting on the edge of my seat.

When I Was the Greatest: I finished reading this one and wept like a baby. I loved every last one of the characters, including the man with no legs. With this book, Jason puts us right in these characters' lives. These folks will be with people for a very long time, and once you meet them, you’ll understand.

Ghost: I picked up Ghost and was instantly sucked in. Ghost is the underdog with a heart, and I fell in love with him and his story. Easy read.... but full of lots of good stuff.

#9 Despite the Best Intentions: How Racial Inequality Thrives in Good Schools by Amanda Lewis and John Diamond. This book was completely eye-opening, and it helped me to do some true self-introspection. I do not want to participate in creating inequalities in ‘good schools.’ If you work in or send your child to one of those ‘good schools,’ READ THIS BOOK!

#8 Swing Time by Zadie Smith: Let’s just say that I got caught up in this book. This books shows that life is complex all over the place even in London; that’s the setting for this book. Read and Grow!

#7 Trevor Noah by Trevor Noah: Funny, Serious, Thought-provoking, and so many lessons about life. Trevor Noah grew up in South Africa; however, it was eye-opening to see the many similarities between South African and American when it comes to race, poverty, and the impact of a country's history on its people. Much, Much respect for Trevor Noah.

#6 The Awakened Woman by Dr. Tererai Trent. I really felt this book. If Tererai Trent can become Dr. Tererai Trent, anything is impossible. My big takeaways from this book are to write and verbalize your dreams, keep your torch so that you can light other folks torches, and trust, trust, trust the divine order. There is no way that a person can read this book and not feel compelled to keep on keeping on.

#5 Evicted by Matthew Desomond: At the National Book Festival, Jesmyn Ward and Roxane Gay both fondly mentioned Evicted, and so I read it. This book took my empathy meter over the top. This books deals with the poor of our country, both Black and White folks, and their struggles to maintain a decent place to live. The stories are true, and I became connected to each one of the characters through the way that Desmond tells their stories. This was a reminder that there are folks really, really trying to make it, but the cards are stacked against them. This book weighed on my heart, because I really can not see any immediate solutions to the eviction issues presented in this book. I just pray that the folks keep the faith and keep fighting the good fight. Y’all, if you have stable housing, count yourself blessed.

#4 Hillbilly Elegy J.D. Vance: Poor Whites in American! This is a story that I am happy that J.D. Vance told, because all stories matter, even those of poor Whites in America. Vance writes about his life as a hillbilly with respect and dignity, and we are able to see that poverty is poverty; it does not discriminate. Poverty is ugly....

#3 Homegoing: I loved this book sooooo much. Each chapter follows a different descendent of a woman named Maame, and the book spans over hundreds of years. In that very last chapters, Gyasi brings this story full circle and left my heart feeling content. Now, this is a book that you must make sure you follow closely, but it is worth all of the effort that it takes to follow it. This book felt good....

#2 Hunger by Roxane Gay: Daring! Courageous! I absolutely love the rawness of this book. Roxane is one woman who is daring greatly, and I must say that this book gave me even more permission to speak my truth and speak it boldly. It was definitely disturbing at times, but remember when I stated that reading builds empathy. Well, sometimes facing the disturbing parts helps us to walk in other folks shoes. Roxane, I am with you sister 100%. Thanks for showing the rest of us how to be brave.

#1 Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward: Jesmyn Jesmyn Jesmyn, she did this! After reading this book I walked into my classroom, projected Jesmyn and her book from the TV and stated “This is your Toni Morrison." This book is brilliantly written, the storyline is incredible, and the characters are magnificent, every single one of the them. This is one of those stories that I will teach and read and teach and read and hopefully cause as many students as possible to fall madly in love with Jesmyn and this book. Google her and go and hear her speak..... she is small but mighty. May she write more books and live forever. Y’all, pick this one up for yourself and folks who you love.

I hope that this list is helpful and gives folks some last minute gift ideas or give people books to add to their reading list.

Merry Christmas Y’all, and consider loving as many folks as you can..........

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sweet Home Alabama

Being that I was born and raised in Alabama, I’ve been feeling some type of urgency to do something about this Senate race in Alabama, and I just didn’t know what to do. Then it hit me, I can use my small platform and write.

When the news first broke about Roy Moore having inappropriate contact with underage girls, I nervously read all of the stories. I did not know what to think, but I just know that it is never all right for a grown man to rob a young girl of her innocence.

The stories continued to unfold, and then when asked when was the last time that he thought America was ‘great’ and according to CNN and other media outlets Moore stated: "I think it was great at the time when families were united — even though we had slavery — they cared for one another.... Our families were strong, our country had a direction.” 

Then I started to read even more disturbing things about Moore, and I feel like I want to go to Alabama on Tuesday and go door to door, and take everybody to the polls. We’ve got to stand for the moral integrity of the state of Alabama and our country.

I know there are rural, remote areas where people may not have a car and the polling places are far away, but I desperately want these folks to be heard and vote for the integrity of Alabama and our Country. I know there are people who may not have voted in quite a long time, and they may be a little afraid or intimidated to vote, but I want those folks to speak up for the integrity of Alabama and our country.

Yesterday, in one of my desperate moments, I reminded my eighty-three year old mother to vote.

“Jack, you don’t have to tell me to vote. I was pregnant with Tricia and the bottom of my stomach was hurting, but I still went and did what I needed to do to get qualified to vote.” (Now, my sister whom she was pregnant with is currently fifty-three year olds.)  "I’ve been voting every sense.” She went on to explained to “get qualified to vote” she had to fill out some paperwork, and someone had to vouch that she was who she said she was.

“Filling out that paperwork felt like taking a test to me.”

Mom told many more stories about voting, and I anxiously listened and asked tons of questions. Y’all, I wanted to know every single detail.

Still feeling like I needed to do something about this Senate race in Alabama, I stated: “Mom, will you call your sister and nieces and nephews and remind them to vote?”

We hung up, and I felt better!

Today, I read that Senator Corey Booker was at Tuskegee University encouraging students to vote in the upcoming Senate election, and my mind started racing. Yes, there are lots of Black colleges in Alabama and if those students who can vote, would vote, perhaps their voices could make a difference. I picked up the phone to call my niece who is currently a student at Tuskegee to remind her to vote if she can, and I wanted to ask her to remind all of her friends to do the same. However, I put the phone down. (I’m not sure if she has changed her voter registration from her home state of Texas to Alabama?) 

My folks in Alabama, I am not sure where you stand on this issue, but I really want you guys to stand for the integrity of Alabama and our country. I do not want to ask folks to do things that I have not done, like drive an old person to the polls. But, please check on your neighbors, talk about the issues, and do whatever it takes to get them to stand for the integrity of Alabama and our Country.

Our country is going through changes, and we all know that change is hard and many of us resist it, because it is hard. But, today we have to face the fear of change and be heard and recognized. I was telling some people that it seems like our country is experiencing a birth, and I believe that if as many of us as possible would search our consciousness and act on it, I believe that what our country gives birth to will be great.

Y’all, it is a great time to be alive, and we cannot be on the sidelines; we need to participate....

Alabama... please show the world that our country's arch is bent toward justice!


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Just Because...

Image result for image for thoughts

Lots of rambling...(You’ve been warned!)

Last Wednesday, I was able to sleep an hour later. I slept until 6:30 actually and that felt soooo good. I had Step Up To Writing training, and I thought we would learn more about Step Up To Writing, but instead we learned more about how to train people. However, I went with the flow. It was good to sit back and learn and not have to lead. I enjoyed every moment of allowing the leader to lead.


I got an email while in the training that pretty much made my day. It was about being on a literacy panel this coming summer. You know sometimes it feels like God stops talking to me, and then something like this email happens. I am sure God was like “Girl, I ain’t forgot about you; You of little faith!" I am still growing in this area.


After the training, I did an easy ride on my bicycle, washed my hair, cooked, and ate. I answered a few emails and sent a few text, wrote, and went to bed. Rest is not overrated. I felt so much better after having quite a chill day.


I just love GOD, I mean, I really love God. He knows me better than I know myself and is always on time. I mean he is always on time... Like always on time. I have been working on stuff, and he has been showing out. Oh, how I love Jesus. Not because he first loved me, but because I don’t want to think about not loving him.


I bought an electric trainer. For those who don’t know, an electric trainer is a way for me to do my cycling workouts on the inside connected to a computer. This trainer helps to make my workouts more efficient. I actually look forward to the workouts now. You know, when I finish, and I see my average speed, I kinda feel like a badass. AND, I love that feeling.


I’ve been thinking about Matt Lauer, Harvey Weinstein, and all of the other men who have been sexually harassing and raping women. I’ve also have been thinking about women, including myself, and our society. We got tons of work to do...  I was talking to a lady who told me that at her daughter’s orientation for college, they talked to the young ladies about looking out for each other and staying together to keep from being sexually assaulted or raped. I was thinking “Are they protecting themselves from their young, men classmates?” I wonder if the young men were being told to never have sex with a woman without her consent? Y’all, as a society, we got work to do.

Thirty minutes,

I’ve been writing almost every night, and it is amazing the amount of writing that can happen in thirty minutes. It is also amazing how we can start habits and continue them if we are committed. I am actually starting to look forward to sitting down each night and calming my thoughts, engaging my entire body, and writing.


Is Friday..... AND I am thrilled!

What have y’all been up to?

Monday, December 4, 2017

Evicted by Matthew Desmond

I finished Evicted by Matthew Desmond today, and I must say that I cried many tears while reading this book. After a few pages, I would have to take a break and think. This book has me thinking about so many things that really, really have not been on my mind. You know how people say out of sight, out of mind. Well.....

In Evitcted, Desmond puts names with these stories and humanize these people. I found myself really pulling for Lamar, Scott, Patricia, Chelesa, Arleen, and Natasha. Desmond helps us to see those cycles of evictions and how difficult they are to escape.

I want to believe that I am empathic, but I think that we can never, ever have enough empathy. I have never really given a lot of thought to people being evicted chronically. Folks who just do not get enough money monthly to pay their rent and bills and are chronically late on rent and are always facing the threat of an eviction.

Now, when I first started teaching, my money was tight. I remember coming home to eviction notices or my phone being cut off. So, I am not new to money problems at all. But y’all, there are folks caught up in these eviction cycles, and there just does not seem to be away out except perhaps some "Fairy Jenny" comes along and bless these folks with a lot of money.

What breaks my heart the most is the kids. Kids who have to go from house to house and school to school. Kids who can’t do homework because of their condition. This book helped me to see how a kid can get to the tenth grade and be on a third grade level.

Y’all, life is really hard and complicated for some folks... Like really hard and complicated!

Reading Evicted, I thought about my own life, and with just a very changes, like my Dad leaving or dying, I know my life would have been much different.

Grace and Mercy, Grace and Mercy, Grace and Mercy.......


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Finding Your Voice

Since school started, I have been grappling with how to approach writing; I know that the formulated writing that I taught in the past is a thing of the past. I know that it is important for students to get their thoughts out and find their voices.

So, today, I walked in and told them just that. I told them that I want them to not worry about grammar, especially if they are English as a second language students. I wanted them to focus on getting their thoughts out. I told them about me setting my timer every single night for thirty minutes, and I have been writing during those thirty minutes. I told them that I know it’s hard, and I know it can make a person feel extremely vulnerable, but I encouraged them to talk to each other, think about what’s on their minds and in the world, and write.

They started writing, and one stated “I have so much on mind all of the time, but now I can’t get anything out.” Another student stated “This is hard.” However, they continued to write. Through google classroom, I could see what each individual student was writing, and I observed some making list, a few were writing stories, and one was even writing about how school is the worse place for a child to be; there is never any time to have fun and laugh.

Their anxiety was running high worrying about when was the paper due. I had to reassure them that they did not have to worry about getting finished; they can work on this piece until they felt that they were finished. I never thought about how I had been pressuring students about the final project instead of putting more emphasis on the process.

I remember giving students two or three class periods to write an essay, and I would give them this outline, and tell them to write. I would hate reading paper after paper that read just like the paper that came before it. I would think “Where are the students voices?” I never thought about the fact that it was the way that I was approaching the writing.

Today, I nervously gave them my blog address and asked them to read my blog about writing. I asked them could they hear my voice, and they all agreed that they could. We talked about what I did to make my voice heard. I told them how I write from the heart, and I try and write with authority by not using “I think” or “I believe.” I told them how I give my thoughts, but I try and validate my thoughts through giving real life examples. They seem to get it, and they were writing.

Writing is hard, and I don’t want to ever forget. When I see my students struggling; I want to be able to empathize with them, and that is why I have been setting that timer and writing even when I do not feel like it.

Like right now, I have about eleven minutes to go, and I want to stop. I want to go the bathroom, and check my email, and look at Facebook, and do a whole bunch of other stuff to distract from the writing, and I noticed that is what my students were doing. Before the thirty minutes were up, I started hearing chatter, and folks started looking at their phones, and folks started to ask to go to the bathroom. I had to tell them to do what I have to do and that is sit with the discomfort and write, even if what they are writing is not making any sense at all. Just Write.

Eight minutes to go, and I want to quit, but I can’t. I feel like I have stated all that I want to say, but there is always more.... Oh yea, I can take these last seven minutes to look over what I have already written. Yes, that’s what I can do.

Y’all, you see my tactics to avoid the discomfort of writing, so I know exactly how my students feel.

I have changed my approach to writing with my students, and I am including myself in the process.

I’ll come back to this to let you know how it goes.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Ebbing and Flowing

So, it’s the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and it’s time to go back to work. Not feeling like going back to work at all; I was really enjoying waking up and doing a whole lot of nothing...

Since school started, which was the beginning of September, I have been doing a lot of preparing for my consulting gigs and also reading and preparing to teach my classes. I’ve been doing a whole lot of brain work, and that has been quite rewarding yet time consuming.

However, after returning home from my last trip of 2017, I was a little uncomfortable with all of the free time that I had all of a sudden. I would go to the gym at four and basically have the rest of the day free; I did not need to use my brain very much. I was going to bed early, I mean really early, I am talking about 7:30pm, and I would lie their and read and think and read and think and eventfully fall asleep. I thought a lot about the idea that at the end of the day, no matter how busy we are, we are always left with ourselves, and time keeps right on moving on.

I contacted my cycling coach and let him know that I was ready to start my winter training, I committed to start writing every single day, and of course I read every evening. I also thought that I could use some of this down time to sit with myself and explore my thoughts and feelings.

During the month of October when I traveled to five different places, I had to constantly remind myself to not get overwhelmed by the travel or the work; this too shall pass, and it did. Now, I am left with me, and it’s an adjustment.

I’ve made the conscious decision to reach out to people, because quality time is my number one love language, and it always does my heart good. From now until Christmas break, I will go to the gym three days a week, cycle at least four or five days a week, write, read, go to culturally events in the city, and spend as much time as I can with folks whom I care a lot about.

It’s like I am coming off some kind of high, and I’ve got to get back to my normalcy.

I’ve been wondering what do other people do with their free time, especially the weekends? Do they go to outdoor markets, museums, bookstores, malls, or do they stay home and talk to their family members or friends, watch TV, or maybe even clean up a bit.

It may the colder winter impacting me, but I use to love to go to outdoor markets, then a museum, then to a coffee shop, then go home all in one day. But now, I’d rather spend time at home, in my favorite chair, relaxing.

Life keeps moving, and I keep changing and evolving, and time keeps right on moving on....

There are dreams that I have and things that I still hope and wish for, but time just keep on marching on.

Sometimes I laugh as hard as I can, but other times I feel sad and I cry and sometimes not cry. And, time keeps on marching on.

Life happens and it happens consistently, and time keeps on moving on....

I’m 'ebbing and flowing,' and time keeps right on moving on....

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Well - Read


I was reading another literary blog that I absolutely love, and she was discussing being Well-Read. This got me to thinking about what does it mean to be Well-Read?

I proudly flaunt my Well-Read Black girl t-shirt, and now, after reading that post, I have been doing some really serious thinking about what it means to be Well-Read?

I use to think that being well-read meant that a person had read and had some level of  understanding of the classics such as at least two or three plays by Shakespeare, The Scarlett Letter, Catcher in the Rye, Jane Eyre, and a whole bunch of other books written a LONG time ago by a whole bunch of dead white people. I remember feeling guilty, because I was an English teacher and had not read Waldon by Henry David Thoreau. So, I attempted to read it. I am happy that I read it, but I must admit that I skimmed most of it, and I didn’t understand or enjoy most of it. However, I could check that book off my list, and join the Well-Read club. (Whatever!)

However, I know tons of folks who read a whole lot, and many of them have never, ever read any of those books that I thought made folks Well-Read. However, those same folks can talk about books that I have never, ever heard of  and have me making my reading list even longer. So, what makes a person Well-Read?

I have totally let go of the idea that folks have to read the books in the 'literary canon' in order to Well-Read. I even gave my students and myself permission to decide upon our very own literary canon and include all of the books that speak to our hearts. I wrote about that here.

I am thinking that being Well-Read may have something to do with the number of books that a person reads a year? So, what would be a magic number? Twenty or thirty? But, what if that person only read science-fiction books, or books by only White writers, or books by only Black writers... You get my point?

Now, I prefer fiction books written by folks of color; however, I will read just about any book under the sun. Folks tell me to try books, and if they about talk the books with a lot of love, then I will definitely read them. For instance, last summer I was at Texas Christian College, and this teacher mentioned the Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. You should have seen the joy on her face when she talked about it. She even sent me an email to ask if I had read it. So, you know what I did, I read that book and loved it. I must admit that I did not think highly of Jodi Picoult as a writer. Not sure why, but I thought her books were fluffy books, and I had no desire to read them. But, I sure did love every single word of The Storyteller. Like I said before, I will read just about anything.

For the past two years, I have read tons of Young Adult (YA) novels, and those YA authors are bringing IT. Those YA writers are writing and writing courageously. I am not sure about other folks students, but my students are eating those books up, and they are sparking some of those conversations and writings that causes my students and me to dig deep within.

I do consider myself to be Well-Read, and I am still not quite sure what that means. However, what I do know is that I read all of the time: books, newspapers, articles, my students' writings etc. When I really want to explore my feelings and thoughts, I turn to books. When I want to know more about the world in which I live, I turn to books. When I want to know more about human nature, I turn to books. So........

What y’all think about being Well-Read?

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