Saturday, June 30, 2012

They are doing their part!

(Random thoughts about our health!)

Are we doing ours?

It is evident that President Obama and Michelle Obama care about their health. I saw an interview that they did before they were in The White House and Michelle stated that she would get up at 4:30am in order to do her workouts. Often in interviews, since being in the White House, they talk about working out.

I had the the pleasure of seeing The President up close, and it is evident that this man works out and eats things that are good for his body most of the time. In order for him to keep up with his daily schedule, we know that he must workout and eat right. Also, we all know that The President does not have the belly fat that a lot of men seem to get overtime, which is a great indicator that he is taking care of his health.

My, my, my!!!

Even with his extremely busy schedule, it is evident that he finds time to workout. Yea, we can say that if we had people to train us and cook our meals, we would be healthy as well. Well, we all know quite a few people with money who are overweight and not healthy, so having the means to get help does not mean that a person will just automatically be healthy.

Michelle seems to know the benefits of being healthy. Just look at her body. The body does not lie and is a great indicator of whether a person is working out and eating things that are good for his/her body. You don't look like Michelle Obama by sitting on the couch and eating whatever you want too.

She sure has inspired me to work on my legs by running, doing squats
and wear shorter shorts that I absolutely love wearing!

Me in shorts!

Evidently, The Obama's want everyone to be more healthy. President Obama worked his ass off to get this healthcare bill passed. The #1 thing that I love about this bill is that we no longer have to pay the co-pay for preventive medicine: physicals, pap smears, mammograms etc. Michelle must be on the same page with her husband, because she started the Let's Move campaign. She wants to stomp out childhood obesity, and I am figuring that if a child is healthy, the child will grow up to be a healthy adult and will not bankrupt the health care system with treating people in records numbers for illness related to diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol etc.

So, I have been thinking a lot about Obamacare and will it actually work to help people be more healthy, and I sadly think not. I know people with health insurance who have not been to the doctor in years. I know people who are told that their cholesterol and/or blood pressure is high, and they will not make the necessary changes that are needed in order to fully restore their bodies to perfect health. I know people who are in pretty good health and bad health who continue to eat McDonald's, drink sodas, eat an abundance of sugar, and not workout, not thinking that one day the body will retaliate and stop functioning to its highest potential.

Doing things that are not good for our bodies undermines Obamacare, Let's Move, and any other things that they Obamas may try to implement in order to help people live a healthier life.

When it comes to my health, I've decided that I will work with the Obamas and not against them. Yea, I want to support them, but I also do not want any health issues that I can prevent through my diet and exercise.

The Obamas are doing their part, why don't we do ours!!!!!!!

People, what are your thoughts on this issue that is really huge and really concerns me and a whole lot of other people?

I want to leave you with Michelle taking the Let's Move program to DC public schools:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Shakespeare Theatre

There are so many things that I want to write about today. For one, my college roommate, Deitrea, came in town for business, and she was walking in downtown DC on Tuesday and saw a guy, Gregg, whom we went to Tuskegee with. They stopped traffic to speak and make arrangements to see each other later that night.

Well, that night, the three of us met at Bobby Van's, a restaurant in DC, and did some good old laughing and talking until midnight. (I really love laughter.)

Wednesday, Gregg, Deitrea, and I met on the national mall for a PFunk concert featuring George Clinton and Parliament, and we ran into other guys whom we went to Tuskegee with, D Marshall and AG, and the night was history. (Oh, the laughs we had! I love my Tuskegee people.)

Me,  Gregg, and Deitrea

Skegee family after the concert!

George Clinton

So today, on Thankful Thursday, I was considering if I should write about spontaneity, good laughter, or friendship. However, I decided that since tonight I will be seeing the last play of this Shakespeare Theatre season, I would bypass all of that and give Thanks for the Shakespeare Theatre.

I absolutely love the Shakespeare Theatre in DC. There are two locations that are right around the corner from each other, and they are located in a bustling part of town.

I saw every play that was performed at these theatres this season. I saw all of them with my dear friend, Dr. Semple, except for one; he was out of town when I saw Fela. 

This season, I saw The Heir Apparent, Fela, Much Ado About Nothing, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Strange Interlude, The Servant of Two Masters and tonight I will see Merry Wives. Being a subscriber to the theatre, I also got to see James Earl Jones being interviewed by Michael Khan, the director of the theatre.

It was so great to see all of these plays. I feel like my life has been enriched just by taking in these plays and the experiences. Dr. Semple stated that his favorite art form is dance, but mine is theatre, hands down.

Dr. Semple has been the best theatre partner. I normally send him a text and tell him that we have a show coming up. His response is typically "Which theatre and the same time right? That means that we would meet at Jaleo, a restaurant in DC, at 6:30 and head to the theatre around 7:50 for the show.

This week has been filled with so many things to be Thankful for: laughter, friendships, spontaneity, but today, I raise my hands in Thanksgiving for the The Shakespeare Theatre.

Long live the Shakespeare Theatre!

If you are ever in DC, please go to the Shakespeare Theatre and grow...

Make it a point to do the things that you enjoy doing often.

By the way, I am still plugging away at this novel that Toni Morrison loves. I wonder if it took her as long as it is taking me to read it. I am even more convinced that this lady is a genius. Things that make you say hmmmmmm.........

Happy Thursday!!!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Morning

I know that I decided that Thursday is the day when I will write about something that I am Thankful for, but today, Monday Morning, I must give thanks for early mornings.

I absolutely love early mornings; they are so quiet and peaceful. I really believe that God loves early mornings as well; he can do a lot of his thinking about and planning for us, without many distractions.

This morning my alarm went off at 5:30. (I really did not need the alarm, because I automatically wake up at 5:30.) I got up, ate my oatmeal, drank my green tea, and scurried to boot camp with non other then the greatest trainer on earth, Berhane. (This summer, on days when I am not doing personal training, Berhane told me that he expects to see me at boot camp. Oh, what will we do when we are expected to be somewhere! Join a group today.) There were about seven other people at the camp, and we did a workout that was true Berhane style: running up and down a hill with a twenty pound vest on, pulling about 35 pounds as we ran, push-ups and all of the other things that I find to be a bit extreme for 6am, but afterwards my energy was to the roof.

I left the workout, went home and ate, washed clothes, unpacked from my weekend trip, and wrote this post. And, while on the subject of what I accomplished after my workout, I went grocery shopping. Let's talk about the grocery store in the early morning. My, my, my....quiet, peaceful, orderly, the people working are friendly etc. I love the grocery store in the early morning.

Now, I am sitting on my balcony looking at one of the most beautiful views, birds are chirping, and I am at peace.....

Oh, the joy of early morning! Try it.............

By the way, I will be posting about a novel soon; I am reading a book that Toni Morrison loves, and it ain't an easy read, and so it is taking me a while to finish. The post about this novel is coming soon, I promise.

Enjoy this Wonderful Monday!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

What a Man! What a Man! What a Man! What a Mighty Good Man.

My nephew Brandon Reed!

World, look out! There is a young man who is going to take the world by storm..... I know that Aunts can really be bias when it comes to their nieces and nephews, but really, my nephew, Brandon Reed, is one awesome man. "What a man! What a man! What a man! What a might GOOD man.

His humility is too be admired, his silent strength is too be emulated, his courage is humbling, and his respect for others is mind blowing.

A while back he quoted on his Facebook page a line from Invictus by William Ernest Henley, and this made me so pride to know that Brandon knows that "He is the Master of his Fate." Oh what can a young man do with this kind of knowledge!

I truly believe that we can tell a lot about a person based on what he does, says, and read. Recently, Brandon sent me a copy of his favorite poem, and he said "Here is one of my favorite poems, and I think that you will like it." I had never read it before, but it really resonated with me, and as I read it, I started to cry. I was crying because this poem speaks to the character of Brandon, who is someone who knows when to shine and when to be humble.

I am so honored that Brandon thought enough of me to share this poem with me so that I can share it with you.

When a man finds me who has the qualities in this poem, he will be getting a wife really soon!!!

The Paradoxes of Being a Servant Leader

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

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

Thanks so much for sharing Brandon!

Two post in one day; it must be summer.......

Thankful Thursday: Time to Gather.....

Every Thursday this summer, I am going to write about something that I am grateful for. I will have Thankful Thursdays to remind myself and my readers that everyday, all day, every week, we have something to be Thankful for. I do not want to waste my time worrying about problems but really focusing on things that I am soooo grateful to have in my life.

So, today I am grateful for "time to gather"....

When I go hiking with my students during the winter, it appears that many of the trees are dead. Those leaves that are normally on the trees are gone. However, there is something about being in the woods in the winter that I really love. I think it is the quietness and stillness that I really enjoy. Knowing that the trees are not dead but are living off of what they 'gathered' from the summer, really leaves me appreciative of the many wonders of nature.

"First, like other plants facing winter, plants that perform winter photosynthesis spend time during the spring and summer storing energy. Some plants even have bulbs or tubers that hold the energy in special collections of starch cells for them. In the cold months, plants can convert these starch cells back to simple sugars that can be used to produce energy for the plant's system, or to provide energy for new growth in the springtime. Plants that grow throughout the winter also tend to store energy to help them get by in the cold months."

So, this summer, I am going to be like plants and 'gather' and store for the winter!

I will spend a lot of time in quiet meditation talking to and hearing from my creator.

I wake up energetic! I normally get to work around 7am, and I do something early every Saturday and Sunday morning. But this summer, I am going to be mindful to slow down and enjoy the stillness of the morning and everything that each day may bring. I am going to 'gather' slowing down and "smelling the roses."

I will spend time reading whatever I really want to read, and I will also read things for school. I know that school will start and time to read and plan for school will be limited, so I am going to 'gather' in the summer for the fall.

I will spend this time doing a lot of random unplanned things where I will not have to worry about time. I will visit every museum in DC, go to see plays, do great bike rides, hang out with friends, travel etc.

I am also going to look for, 'gather,' and perfect great recipes. Once school starts back, I get busy, and I ended up eating the same things over and over. However, this fall, I am planning to incorporate my new meals that I 'gather' into my diet.

Today, I am sooooo grateful for time to 'gather!'

Friday, June 15, 2012

Summer Motto

Listed below is my motto for this summer and hopefully forever. Pay close attention to the very last thing on this list.

DREAM more
TALK less
LOVE more
ARGUE never
HOPE more
FEAR less
RELAX more
WORRY less
DOUBT less
PLAY more
WORK less

I wish that everyone had more time to work less.

I wonder what would people do with the free time? Life work maybe?

(This was borrowed from a sign on the walls of Dunkin Donuts!)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Feeling Accepted!!!

Berhane: The Best Trainer in the World for So Many Reaons!

Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn't you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they're always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.
You wanna go where people know,
people are all the same,
You wanna go where everybody knows
your name.

Lyrics for theme song from Cheers, the televsion show!

Yesterday was such a beautiful day, and since I got off at 1:30, I decided that I would go for a run. I ran two miles from my house and ended up, on purpose, at the exercise studio that is owned by non other than The Best Trainer in the Entire World, Berhane!

Yep, I stopped on purpose for two reasons: 1) Berhane sure knows how to make people feel welcomed and accepted, and 2) It was hotter than I thought, and I needed water.

So, I was crossing the street to go to the studio, and I heard someone calling my name, and it was Berhane with this huge smile on his face. It was apparent that he was happy to see me!!!! (There's nothing like feeling accepted.)

We went into the studio and had our regular talk about diet, exercise, my dating life etc.

He suggested that while I was there, I might as well work on my back and shoulders and then run back home. I didn't want to, but I worked on my back and shoulders while he checked and responded to emails, ate his lunch etc.

After working on my back and shoulders, I ran home feeling content.

What was that content feeling about?

The content feeling was about just finishing a good four mile run and feeling accepted.

Berhane never makes his clients feel that he is too busy for us. Everyone who comes to workout with him feels the acceptance. I watch him as I am leaving and other clients are coming in, and he has this look like "I am so happy that you are here, and you are the only person in the room."

Of course I see him regularly, because I love the workouts, but I also see him regularly because he is warm and sincere and makes me and everyone else feel accepted: not judged, accepted.

Don't all human beings desire to feel accepted? Don't we go to our favorite places all of the time, because we feel accepted. I go to the same Dunkin Donuts once a week, the same cashier at Trader Joes, the same omelet maker at Whole Foods, the same waiter at Busboy and Poet's, the same running and biking group week after week, because I feel accepted.

So, today, and everyday, let's work together to make people feel accepted!

On my mental ipod I am listening to the Cheers theme song:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Reflections on almost 16 years of teaching; Times Flies When You Are Having Fun!


Yesterday, while eating dinner on my balcony, I started to think about my teaching career. I was thinking about the idea that next year will be my 5th year teaching at the school where I currently teach, and I have never been at the the same school for more than four years in my fifteen and a half years of teaching. (Follow your heart, and don't second guess it, and you will will know when to leave a job and when to stay!)

My first teaching job was in a juvenile center in Birmingham, Alabama. It was a holding place for students who were waiting to go to court for crimes that they may have committed. I am not sure why someone would place a twenty-three year old rookie teacher in a juvenile school, but I am so happy that they did. (We are always being prepared for next.)

My next teaching job was in Detroit, Michigan, and being from rural Alabama, I had never been in an inner city high school with metal detectors before. But, I am so happy that I ended up there. I worked in a school with very limited resources and no air conditioning. (Yes, Detroit does get hot.) However, I really did some great teaching there. I was stretched to make a way out of no way, and I did it. At this school with limited resources, I fell in love with teaching and literature. At this school is where I also fell in love with Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. (However, when it's time to go; it's time to go!) Faith is taking one step at a time, even if you don't know where you are headed.

I really wanted to move to the DC area and work in Fairfax County, and that happened. DC was placed on my heart a long time ago. Didn't know why at the time, but it's crystal clear now. I use to say, "Everything that I need is in the DC area," and that statement is so true. However, I was not a fan of Fairfax County; I really wanted to work in a smaller district so......(You must know when to leave, and KNOW that everything will be alright.)

I tried a job outside of teaching for about three months, and I was a like a fish out of water; I am suppose to always work with words and maybe children.

Taking that job outside of teaching helped me to really understand that I am a "words person", and that is what I am suppose to do; work with words. This is when I also learned that the advice that people gives, tells you a whole lot about the people giving the advice.

This lady told me that I should take any teaching job just to get back in the door; maybe teach history. (A lover of literature teaching history? "Oh yea of little faith!")

I got a teaching job in an awful county in an awful school, but I was surrounded by some of the most talented teachers that I have ever met. Limited resources and horrible working conditions did not keep us from reaching our teaching peak. I did some of my best teaching at this school, and this is when I started teaching and fell in love with Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. However, sometimes you must save yourself, and I could not longer teach in that environment so, after two years, I  moved on.......

The next school was much better and my teaching skills were getting better and better. However, I knew that this was not where I would be for long, I just had that feeling so.... after four years, I moved on.....

I ended up in a pure hell situation for a year, and I am so grateful for it, because that horrible teaching situation really, really, and I mean really, helps me to stay in a state of gratitude about where I currently teach. (Just know, there are teachers and students who are going to horrible places everyday in this country.)

Now, I am at a school that I really like. Yes, it has problems, but day to day, I am able to use words to inspire. I feel good about my teaching abilities, my knowledge of my subject matter, the relationships that I have cultivated etc.

I'm in a place where I do not need validation of my teaching abilities anymore; I know what I know and is willing to learn what I don't know. Every place where I have taught, I grew and invested in my best thing: ME.

Next year will be my fifth year at a school, and I am looking forward to it......Longevity does have its place as well.....

I'm just thinking!!!!!!

I can't shut my brain off.......

Friday, June 8, 2012

Ray Bradbury (1921-2012)

Ray Bradbury (1921-2012)

This post is to honor Ray Bradbury who has
short stories in textbooks all over this country.

Millions of students read something by Ray Bradbury every year: Fahrenheit 451, The Sound of Thunder, The Flying Machine, The Pendulum etc.

Gone but never forgotten!

What are we contributing and leaving to the world?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

Have you ever dated a guy or gone out with a guy, and everything about him was good: a family that you could deal with, he went to a college that you respect, he's the right height, right build, dependable, has a career that he loves, gets along with all of your friends, he's kind, considerate etc, and for some reason that you can't identify, something is just not right. You'll continue to go out with him and spend time with him, but for some reason, something is missing.

Well, that is how I feel about the novel Little Bee. This novel has all of the things that makes for a great novel: good writing, characters that I kinda relate to, and a decent story line, but something is missing.

The first line of the novels states "Most days I wish I was a British pound coin instead of an African girl. Everyone would be pleased to see me coming." Chris continues to talk about the British pound coin and it's great life. Then he starts to talk about the life of Little Bee, a Nigerian refugee who is in an immigration detention center, and her not so great life. 

Now, doesn't that sound like a comparison that would draw a reader in? Well, this did draw me in, but as I was reading, something still was missing..........

The main characters are Little Bee, Sarah, Charlie, Andrew, and Lawrence. However, the characters do not seem believable. Little Bee's character does not act like a refugee who is afraid that she could be deported any day. She has a very twenty-first century European girl personality. Sarah, does some things like sleeping with a man  in her house a few days after her husbands dies. Maybe this does happen in real life, but I really hope that it doesn't. Charlie is the son of Sarah and Andrew and this character is completely consumed with Batman, and it's overdone to a point of annoyance. Andrew was the husband of Sarah, and the character that I related to the most; however, he is the character that the reader only meets through the mind of Sarah. Lawrence is a character that I wanted to identify with, but for some reason, I just couldn't do it. Something with all of the main characters was missing..........

The storyline could have really been great. There were parts when I was reading, and I thought, "This could not be happening," and I would keep on reading. Then, this story takes one of those turns where everything, and I mean everything, seems unbelievable. It seems like he was writing this book so that one day it could be a movie.

At the end of the novel, Little Bee laughs as Andrew goes out to play with children who are fascinated by his whiteness, while she is probably about to be killed. This part really made me want to gag. At this point in the novel, Little Bee reminds me of the Uncle Tom character from the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Something was missing for this to be a great novel, ok novel, but not a great novel..........

This novel was recommended by two of my favorite neighbors: Ed and Jerry Bernier. I want to hear from you guys about your thoughts, about my thoughts, about this book.

Ed and Jerry Bernier

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I am the Master of my Fate!!

William Ernest Henley

Invictus by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me, 
 Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be 
For my unconquerable soul.

 In the fell clutch of circumstance  
I have not winced nor cried aloud.  
Under the bludgeonings of chance 
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears  
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
 And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley wrote "Invictus" in 1875, and every time that I read this poem, my heart starts to pound because of this poem's powerful message that we are the Masters of Our Fate! We get to decide, all day, everyday, how we will respond to things that happen in our lives. We can decided to surrender when we need to surrender and fight when we need to fight.

December 2010, I went in for my routine physical just like I do every year, and I felt confident, because my numbers: blood pressure, cholesterol etc are always normal. So, I knew that I had nothing to worry about. However, my doctor's office called and said that they wanted me to come in to talk about my test results. If you know anything about me, I went into a small panic, and I tried to get the receptionist to give me a hint of what the doctor wanted. She assured me that I would live, but they wanted me to come in.

I went back to the doctor, and she told me that my Vitamin D was low (Vitamin D that comes from the sun, and I am always outside.) and that my cholesterol was high. (She had the nerve to ask me if I wanted to take cholesterol medicine!) I am the Master of my Fate!!!!!!!!!

After the doctors report, I started to cry right there in her office. I started to cry, because at that moment I felt helpless, but instead of surrendering to the report, I decided that now was the time for me to fight for my life. I had recently turned 40, and I needed to make some changes that day. I am the Master of my Fate!!!!!!!

With aging, we MUST make changes in our diet and exercise routines. I, nor you, can do the same things that we did in our twenties, unless in your twenties, you were very health conscious, and even then, a twenty and thirty year old body is different than a forty year old body, and some adjustment may need to be made. By the way, if you are in your twenties and thirties, I would advise you to workout and be conscious about what you eat as much as possible. It's never too early to work on your health.

After that report, I went to see a nutritionist and did everything that was suggested, and I increased the rigor of my workouts, and here are new numbers:
  • Overall cholesterol went from 209 to 180 (less than 200 hundred is good),
  • My bad cholesterol (LDL) went from 127 to 102 (Below 130 is good, but under 100 is optimum),
  • My good cholesterol (HDL) stayed at 73 (60 and above is optimum),
  • My Triglycerides went from 43 to 29 (Triglycerides are the chemical form in which most fat exists in food and the body. A high triglyceride level has been linked to higher risk of coronary artery disease. A number under 150 is good, and I am at 29. Thank You Jesus!)
  • My Vitamin D is normal (I take Vitamin D everyday religiously.)
  • My blood pressure went from 120 to 100. (120 is optimum and 100 or less is athletes and children's blood pressure.)


So, I know people who say "I ain't gone do all of that," and the good news is that you do not have too. You Are The Master of Your Fate."

"All of that" is one hour of rigorous exercise and being mindful about what you eat..... So "all of that" ain't that difficult, but it can give you a better quality of life.

What I know for sure is that I feel great: my energy level is to the roof, my mental state is unbelievable, my body is showing the positive results of eating consciously and working out etc.

I'll be doing these things until I die:


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