Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I tried.......

I tried, couldn't do it, so..........I let it go!

Life is too precious to spend time doing things that do not bring you JOY!!!!!

Happy Tuesday!!!!!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

One Year of Blogging!!!! Yaaaaaaaaaa

I am writing this post to honor all of the people who faithfully read this blog, those who read from time to time, and those who read when I prompt them. I don't care what makes you read, I am just happy that you do.

It's my One Year Anniversary, and I am so happy to be here in the world of blogging!!!!!

Happy Anniversary to Me!!!!!!!!!!

Me and My Nook Forever!

By the way, feel free to go to the top right of this blog and where it says follow by email, put your email address in, and every post will be emailed to you directly!

Great feature right?


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Oh My God! She Did it Again.

The Honorable Toni Morrison

I just finished reading Toni Morrison's new novel titled Home, and all that I can say is that she did it again. I mean "She really did it again." As I was reading the novel and now, as I am writing this post, my heart is truly on fire. I can't say how much I love the writings of Toni Morrison. I really believe that her writings portray her most private thoughts, and I really want to meet and get to know Toni Morrison. Toni Morrison, Toni Morrison, Toni Morrison........There is something GREAT and SPECIAL about this lady, mother, writer, professor, Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner etc.

With the reading of Home, I am convinced that Toni thinks a lot about the importance of taking a figurative and/or literal journey, women doing some type of self discovery, and she definitely thinks about why people are the way that they are.

In Home, the main characters Frank and his sister, Ycidra, known as Cee, both took a journey that had to be taken for their growth. The only way to really understand themselves and their lives was by taking a life journey. Their stories portray that through the pain comes peace. I know that sounds like another cliche, but when we think about our lives, some of the growth that we are forced to have comes from pain. I remember when my father died, through that pain, I learned that I could stand on my own and take care of myself, and I did not need my safety net, my dad, as much as I thought that I did. I was ready to fly on my own!

When Ycindra, known as Cee, was coming back from her life journey, Ethel Fordham, a lady "which soothed and strengthened her the most" told her over a plate of oven hot biscuits and a jar of blackberry jam:

"See what I mean? Look to yourself. You Free. Nothing and nobody is obliged to save you but you. Seed your own land. You young and a woman and there's serious limitation in both, but you a person too. Don't let Lenore or some trifling boyfriend and certainly no devil doctor decide who you are. That's slavery. Somewhere inside you is that free person I'm talking about. Locate her and let her do some good in the world."

Ethel and other women in the novel serve as guides for Cee to self-discovery.

If you saw the movie Beloved or read the book, the above quote reminded me of the speech that was given by Baby Suggs when she tries to teach her followers to love their voices, bodies, and minds.

Baby Suggs from Beloved.
Home is only 102 pages and in these few pages, the reader learns a lot about Frank and Cee. Toni develops these characters and many other secondary characters in 102 pages, and it's a lot of information but not too much. It's just enough too make the reader really understand why the characters do what they do. Developing characters through different characters' perspectives is something that Toni does in quite a few of her novels, and it really makes us love and identify with the characters, even the bad guys. Frank, one of the main characters in Home, did something really bad in the Korean war, but with the way that Toni explains why he did what he did, it just doesn't seem that bad.

Everything, and I mean everything, in Toni Morrison's books are important. She is a master with words and every word should be read with care. Read and reread Home and think and grow.

I am only scratching the surface of what is in the 102 pages of Toni Morrison's Home! You've got to experience Home for yourself.......

On a side note, Toni is 81 years old and is still doing what she loves. We must find what we love to do, and do it until we die.

"Suck All the Marrow Out of Life!" (Henry David Thoreau)

I had to add Stephanie Mills singing Home, because that's what's on my mind.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

An Apple for a Teacher

I know that I have said it before, and I must say it again: "I teach some of the greatest students in the entire world." Saying this does not mean that they do not have typical teenager behaviors such as loving to laugh, talk, and be silly etc. However, laughing, talking, and being silly are not necessary bad behavior is it?

The end of the school year can really test the patience of teachers and students. Yesterday was the seniors last day, and I must say that the last two or three weeks with them has been what I call "A True Test of Patience." Not that they were disrespectful or anything like that, but they were mentally through with school, meaning that it was very difficult to get them to review for the AP exam or do anything that was academic related. So, I had to try and review creatively and just let the end of their school year "Sail On."

The underclassmen have about four more weeks and they are trying to hold it together. What is working to our advantage is the irregular schedules for standardized testing. With the irregular schedule, we see the students sporadically. After the standardized testing, we try and review for final exams. After exams, all of the pressure that is built up over the school year is released, just like a balloon when all of the air is released from it. Oh, the joy of the end of school!!

Teacher Appreciation Week was the week of May 7th , approximately two weeks ago. Last Thursday, a week after teacher appreciation week, I was feeling a little overwhelmed with trying to get the seniors to finish up those last few things before they stampeded out of the school doors forever.  One of my freshmen, one week after Teacher Appreciation Week, approached me as she was urgently digging for something in her book bag. She said "Ms. Stallworth, I forgot to give this to you last week," and she pulled out a red, shiny apple. Being pleasantly surprised, I stopped, gave her a huge hug, and "eased on down the road."

The apple that she gave to me looks very similar to this one!

The apple was given to me a week after teacher appreciation week, but it was right on time :)

See, I do have some of the greatest students in the world!

Everything is gonna be alright!

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

My student Emily who is going to West Virginia in the Fall.
Today is her last day of high school!

If a high school English teacher gets the opportunity to teach just a few students who really love literature in her career, than I would say she is a lucky person. This year, I felt like one of the luckiest teachers in the entire world, because my student, Emily, really loves to read and loves to share what she reads with the teacher, me.

Emily is the student whom I saw reading The Hunger Games, and I knew that if Emily was reading it, then I must give it a try, and you know how I feel about The Hunger Games; I absolutely loved it. I trust Emily's recommendations.

One of the assignments this year was for the seniors to do a thirty minute presentation on a novel, and I wanted them to own the novel just like I own Their Eyes Were Watching God, Sula, Song of Solomon, Lord of the Flies, books that I teach often and really, really know. Emily chose to read and do her presentation on The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Her presentation was so impressive, and it made me really want to read The Road. The next day, Emily gave me her copy of The Road to borrow. (Boy, was I excited.)

The Road is a futuristic book about a father and his son living in a world where no one will be able to survive long term, because the earth has experienced some type of catastrophe and all vegetation and all almost all animals, including humans, have been completely destroyed.

This book made me think about the theme of "Humans desire to survive is very strong." Even though it is inevitable that there will no longer be life on the planet, because there will soon no longer be a food source once all of the people die, yes, people are eating other people in this novel.  The few people who are left are still trying to live as long as possible. I wonder if this implies that people love life or people are afraid of dying!

I really loved this book, because even though it is written with no chapters and in fairly simple language, it is still a page turner because McCarthy does a great job of creating suspense by helping the reader to identify with the characters and want to see people, whom we feel that we know, survive.

However, you do not have take my word that this is an excellent, here is what the critics have to say:

"His tale of survival and the miracle of goodness only adds to McCarthy's stature as a living master. It's gripping, frightening and, ultimately, beautiful. It might very well be the best book of the year, period." —San Francisco Chronicle

"Vivid, eloquent . . . The Road is the most readable of [McCarthy's] works, and consistently brilliant in its imagining of the posthumous condition of nature and civilization." —The New York Times Book Review

"One of McCarthy's best novels, probably his most moving and perhaps his most personal." —Los Angeles Times Book Review

"No American writer since Faulkner has wandered so willingly into the swamp waters of deviltry and redemption. . . . [McCarthy] has written this last waltz with enough elegant reserve to capture what matters most." —The Boston Globe

"There is an urgency to each page, and a raw emotional pull . . . making [The Road] easily one of the most harrowing books you'll ever encounter. . . . Once opened, [it is] nearly impossible to put down; it is as if you must keep reading in order for the characters to stay alive. . . . The Road is a deeply imagined work and harrowing no matter what your politics." —Bookforum

If you are really busy and do not have a lot of time right now to devote to reading, but you want to read something that is a quick, page turner, then read The Road!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Women Rock!

 My mom and sister Dorothy!

Reading this blog, it will seem as if I watch The Oprah Network quite often. I know that I refer to things that I have seen on her show quite often. But, actually, I rarely watch TV, and when I do, I really want to watch things that may add positively to my life. To this end, I will switch over to OWN, and it seems like I always end up watching something that makes me ponder.

A few weeks ago I was randomly changing channels, and Oprah was doing an interview with Gloria Steinem. I love Gloria Steinem!

Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem is a name that is closely related to the Women's movement. Being a woman of color, I have wondered over and over, did women of color really have a place in The Women's Movement? All of the women that I know worked. My mother never worked outside of the home, but she worked in our acre garden just as much as my father. And, she went a step further than he did, she not only picked the food, but she canned food, cooked, washed, pressed hair etc. 

However, after watching Gloria's interview with Oprah, I had that light bulb moment. Gloria's movement seem to not be about women just working, but about women having the right to enjoy many things that just were not afforded to women such as the right to compete in marathons, to bike competitively, to play tennis professionally etc. I love to bike and run, and I like to do these things with women and men, and the thought that there were women who were not allowed to do these things along side other women and men really baffles me. I wonder if the suppressors used the same logic to suppress women that they used to suppress African Americas? Hmmmmmmmm

Today, on Mother's Day, I am writing this post to celebrate women and choices. The choice to have children, to not have children, to get married, to not get married, to be an Olympic athletic, to bike, to run, to laugh, to dance, to get a driver's licenses without her husband's signature, buy a house in her own name, to be damn happy, to throw up the middle finger at anyone who dares to say "Women shouldn't be doing that?"

Today, I am paying homage to my mother who decided at 76 years old to buy a house in her own name; my sister, Dr. Dorothy Reed, who decided to "take the road less traveled" and attend and graduate from Tuskegee Institute, sparking a family tradition of college educated women; my sister, Tracy, who had the audacity to decide that she would start and pastor a church in the South; Zora Neale Hurston who decided that she would abruptly leave the man whom she loved in order to pursue her writing passion; Billy Jean King who was determined to play tennis competitively; Hillary Clinton who decided that a woman can be taken seriously and even one day be The President of the United States; Sojourner Truth who had the courage to stand before a whole lot of men and boldly state "Ain't I a Woman." 

Today, I want to send a special shoutout to two of my co-workers, Erica and Angie, and the countless other women who made the choice to spend the morning biking, with me, along side of many men, women, and children of all different backgrounds on Mother's Day.

The official ride logo!
In front of The White House!

In Front of the Air Force Memorial!

Terria: soror, friend, and biking buddy made the decision to do the ride today!

We ran into another co-worker and his girlfriend at the end of the ride!

Women, we don't have to wait to be celebrated; we can celebrate ourselves!

Women Rock!

Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow by Elizabeth Lesser

I heard about this book through Oprah a while back. When I saw the author, Elizabeth Lesser, on the show, her story really sounded interesting, and I downloaded the book. Recently, I was scanning my Nook, looking for something to read, and I decided to try it.

Normally, after I finish a book, I can't wait to write about, but with this book, I was not going to blog about it all. After much thought about the purpose of this blog, which is to support people in living "Their Best Lives", I decided that I can not only blog about books that I love, I have to blog about books period and hope that they are a blessing to someone. So, here is the blog about Broken Open.

This book deals with experiencing difficult situations such as a divorce, death, loss of a job etc. Elizabeth tells her own story of divorce and tells others' stories of how they went through hard times and prevailed.

If I had not read so many self-help books and had not done quite a bit of life work, I would have found this book to very insightful and helpful. But, this book has a lot of the same ideas that are in other self-help books so, I never had that aha moment.

However, if you are going through difficult times, I think that this book is one to give you concrete examples of what others did to WIN!

Elizabeth Lesser

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Rejoice With Those Who Rejoice, and Weep With Those Who Weep! The Bible

(This post is just a whole lot of Stream of Consciousness, in other words, random thoughts!)

My sister, Tracy, and I!
If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I have been reading The One Year Bible, and for those who are new to this blog, I am in the second year of reading The One Year Bible. After the first year of reading it, I was not going to read it again, but my sister, Tracy, convinced me that when I read it this time, I would see things that I did not see before. She was right, I see things this time that I did not see before, and I am more connected to the word than ever before.

The Bible!
The above passage is taken from Romans 12:10-18. I took a picture of this page from my Bible, and I read it quite often. I normally mediate on verse 15, and for some reason, it gives me peace.

Verse 15 is so important to me and it states to "rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep." Now this one is very easy for me, and I love to practice it. I love deeply; when I am in your corner, I am in your corner. I will fight with you, laugh with you, cry with you, dance with you, run with you, encourage you, tell you the truth as I know it. However, when I am not in your corner, I am not in your corner. PERIOD! (I am a work in progress.)

I am in a period in my life where I am reflecting more and thinking about what it is that I want to contribute to the world daily, and one thing that I know that I can do is to be present with myself and people whom I love, and God knows that I try to do this. I am working on being the best listener that I can be, not offering unsolicited advice, walking in another person's shoes, really rejoicing when others rejoice and weeping when others weep.

One of my friends called me the other night, and I could hear the worry and stress in her voice. I listened and empathized, and I wanted us to go to battle and solve this dilemma and bring her peace right away, but I had to remember to weep when others weep. So, I went in that dark place with her, and then we were able to think and talk things through and end the conversation in a lighter place knowing that everything works out just the way that it is suppose to.

My biggest weakness is wanting to jump straight to solutions, because I hate feeling my pain and the pain of others. I know that there is growth in pain, and it is important to feel it and move on. As I am gaining more wisdom, the pain is more intense, but so is the joy. So, I guess it's true that joy and pain are cousins.

There is this guy whom I went to Tuskegee with, Jahmal, and he puts the greatest quotes on his Facebook status. Well, today his quote really spoke to my heart: "You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; in just the same way, you learn to love by loving" by Antaole France. The first thing that came to my mind is that life is about doing, not sitting. This quote shows us that action is required in this life. We must do in order to have. "A dream comes through much activity."

Love is an action word to me. I show love through asking someone to bike with me, showing up when my friends want me or need me to be present, sending random text just to check on someone etc. One of my favorite ways to show love to my mother is by cooking for her, washing her clothes, taking her to her favorite place; the bank etc. Nothing in this world brings me more joy. On the other hand, she knows when I visit I need to exercise, hangout, and lay on her couch. The thing about our love is that I feel no pressure to do things for her, I do because I want too. She makes me feel free to do things for her, and she understands and supports my need to exercise and fellowship. I feel so free when I visit my momma.  As stated by Paulo Coelho from Eleven Minutes: "Freedom only exists when love is present."

Tonight, I am reflecting on love and showing love through "Rejoicing when others rejoice, and weeping when others weep."

Friday, May 4, 2012


All Smiles for THE PRESIDENT! Look closely, I'm behind the guy
with the red shirt on.

So, at school on Wednesday, it was in the air that the Secret Service were seen around the building. (Just for the record, High School Students don't miss anything.) One of the students stated; "The Secret Service were having a meeting in the conference room yesterday, and I also saw them looking around in the gym." She went on to say "Somebody's coming!" (All I could do is look at her in amazement, and think, how did she see all of that, and how did she know that the strange people in the building were Secret Service?)
Well, she was correct! On Wednesday, we had an impromptu faculty meeting where we were told that The President of the United States, Yes, The President of the United States, President Barack Obama, the first African American President, was coming to OUR school to talk to the Juniors and Seniors about student loans. (I mean really?? Somebody pinch me.) I can not began to explain the excitement in the school once the Principal made the announcement. However, being that he only wanted to see juniors and seniors, everyone was not going to see him live, but his speech would be live-streamed into every class. (One of the advantages of being in a school that is completely technology savvy.)

Guess who has free time during third and fifth periods and could go see THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES live! (Me! Highly Favored all of the time.)

Today, I got to school around 6:30, about 30 minutes earlier than I normally get there, and I was so excited to see Secret Service everywhere. I bounced into the main office to get my ticket, yes, people on the list needed tickets to go in the gym to see THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!!!!

The ticket!

Here are a few teachers after we picked up our tickets!


Representing Howard and Tuskegee and all HBCU's!
He is here to talk about college right?

Around 9:45, I proceeded to the gym, but first I had to show my ID and make it through security. I wish that you could see the excitement that was on my entire body.

Ok, so I must give this plug for The Greatest Historical Black College in the land:Tuskegee. I wore my Tuskegee t-shirt, and as I was going through security, one of the Secret Service asked me if I went to Tuskegee and if I knew anything about Clark County, Alabama. Well, my mom is from Clark County. After a conversation, we realized that we are related through marriage. Now, if I had not worn that Tuskegee t-shirt, we would have never made that connection! Yaaaaa to Tuskegee; The Pride of the Swift Growing South!!!!!

Cousin who is also a Secret Service Man!

After this encounter, I scurried into the gym and pushed my way to the very front and anxiously waited along with colleagues, parents, students, and many dignitaries for The President of the United States.

Kids were in place!
Banner was up!

The Principal Spoke

A student who met with The President privately introduced him!


He gave the student a genuine hug!
And it was on:

After the speech, he shook our hands! WOW....

and I had to take this picture with our Superintendent!

The Superintendent!

As stated by Janie from Their Eyes Were Watching God, "Ah done been tuh de horizon and back..."

By the way, this is my 100th post, and I am so grateful that it is about The President!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Night by Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel

I love to read fiction novels, because I love the way that writers can use their imagination to write stories that speak to a reader's heart. Very few writers' imaginations are as great as Toni Morrison's, Stephen King, Tananarive Due, Octavia Butler and on, and on, and on.

However, Night, by Elie Wiesel, is about Elie's experience of being a young boy during the Jewish Holocaust. Reading his story is like reading a suspenseful fictional novel; he draws the reader in with the many descriptive details such as babies being used as shooting targets, people being so hungry until they eat the snow off of each others' backs, and children having to decide between saving their lives or trying to save the life of a parent.

I have taught this novel for at least the last seven or eight years, and it has never cease to move me to want to continue "The Good Fight of Faith." Elie, and many other men, women, and children, during the Holocaust, went through so many horrific incidents that would break the strongest amongst us, but some kind of way, many people who thought they could not and would not make, made it, and live to tell the story that must be told over and over to remind us of how evil WE can be, and how strong we are.

Reading this story, I thought a lot about Hitler, but I really thought a lot about all of the nameless people who helped him to completely destroy about 11 million people. The SS officers and Gesatpo were people who had families and normal lives but helped Hitler to devise and implement a plan that I hope is never, ever repeated.

It is amazing to me that people can be so awful to each other. Not sure why I am still amazed when I see stories of child abuse, rape, and random killings on a daily basis. Not sure why I like to think about the horrible things that I see on the News as something different from what happen during the Holocaust; however, both are examples of horrible things being done to people by people who walk, talk, and look just like me and you.

Everytime that I finish reading Night with my students, they say "This is so sad." I have to remind them that not all stories are happy, but there is something to be learned from every story, even the sad ones.

Readers, this book is fairly short, but the content is heavy. Read it and grow, and let's do our part to make sure that history does not repeat itself in any shape or form.

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