Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My Birthday!!!

Yesterday marked the anniversary of the day that I was born. I got my first birthday message around 6:30am, and they continued throughout today, and I am still getting messages today. (Grateful!)

Being that God sent a storm so that I didn't have to go to work on my birthday, I spent the day reading, thinking, and then I got restless around 3 o'clock.

"To Thine Ownself True."

I ain't the kind of girl who can stay in the house for days! Nope, that's not me.....

So, I went to Wholefoods to eat raw kale, string beans, a whole lot of other vegetables, and I had a latte.

I sat in Wholefoods and ate and talked to a friend on the phone, and then I went to the mall.....

I tried on a few things but left with nothing, and I was ok with not buying anything.

When I returned home, I had cured my restlessness and was able to pack my lunch for today and read.

The Birthday messages continued and continued, and I was told that I was loved more times than I could count......(Blessed!)

Being in my 40's, YES, my 40's, damn, I have learned "To Thine Ownself, Be True!" William, Shakespeare

What an awesome day....

BE BLESSED my people!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Unexpected Holidays!!!!

Hurricane Sandy 2012

Yesterday, I went for a run with a friend who happens to also be a teacher. We talked about Hurricane Sandy and whether or not we would have school today. Beth came to the conclusion that we would have school today, but I didn't agree or disagree, because I knew that I needed the Unexpected Holiday, and I really wanted to believe that God knew it too and just might help a sister out.

After the run, I went to the grocery store, took a nap, and I did all of the other things that I normally do on Sundays. However, something about this Sunday felt differently with Sandy looming somewhere in the background.

Watching the news, I started seeing where school districts in the area were going to be closed today and tomorrow, and my district had not made that call yet, but I figured that they would. So, I started preparing to have today off by cooking dinner, washing my clothes, calling the trainer to make a morning workout appointment, making sure that everything was in order because there was no way that I was going to spend my day off doing house chores! NO WAY.......

I kinda feel like God is sending this storm just for me. Yes, I know that he has so many other children, but I believe, that this time, he was thinking only of me; I needed this mental break, and tomorrow is my birthday, and I know that he wants me to get some good rest on my birthday.

Sounds selfish right? But, can't children be selfish when it comes to their parents?

I am the youngest of nine, and my Dad knew how to make me feel, at least some of the time, that I was the only child that he had. I was in my high school's band, preparing to be in Tuskegee's band, and my Dad would come to just about every game. For the away games, we would need chaperons, and nothing made me feel more pride than telling Mr. D, our band director, that my Dad would be riding the bus, that Friday, to the game.

On game day, the two of us, all by ourselves, would drive to the school to catch the bus to go to the game. (I really wish that I could remember what we talked about on the way to the school.) My Dad would help out in preparing to leave for the game, and he would sit on the very first seat, looking straight ahead, as we ventured to the game. After our halftime performances, he would bring me a Coke, and I am not sure if he told me that he was proud of me, if it was showing on his face, or that Coke was his way of telling me, but I always felt that this man did all of this JUST FOR ME. At this moment, I feel the same way about God and this storm; He is doing all of this JUST FOR ME.

My Dad: All that I needed and so much more!

Last week was one of those weeks, and it took me the longest time to figure out why? However, after much thought, I realized why last week was tough; I was helping four classes of 9th graders to write high school essays about literature. (Oh My!) If I say that this takes 100% of my students' and my effort, that would be an understatement! Also, when I stated that we were going to write an essay, I got complete resistance. I had to spend some time explaining about the power of  thoughts, and that we can change the way that we feel about anything, if we would only change our thoughts. I had to go on to let them know that in order for me to get us to the point where we would complete this essay, then I MUST not have any resistance. The good thing about my students is that they bought into this idea, and I was able to start the writing process, and as stated previously, it completely takes ALL of my energy. So, after a week of some hard core teaching about essay writing, I know that God saw my need for a break and gave ME a surprise: An Unexpected Holiday!!!

Also, tomorrow is MY BIRTHDAY! I was not planning to go to school anyway, but I want to believe that God sent this storm so that I could have the day off without having to use my personal leave. Now, my school has not stated that we are not having school tomorrow, but I am quite sure that we will not, because IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!! (As I am writing this, my phone rings, and it's my friend and coworker Angie, and she says "School is closed tomorrow.") See how God favors JUST ME sometimes......

So, this morning, I had a ridiculously, difficult workout with the greatest trainer in the world, I went to two grocery stores to make sure that I eat healthy on my time off, and I had my favorite breakfast from Wholefoods. I am planning to take lots of naps, read a lot, write, think, and do a whole lot of other stuff on MY Unexpected Holiday........

How great is MY GOD who can and will do THE UNEXPECTED!!!!!!!!

All of the people who are enduring this storm with me, know that God got this........

Enjoy one of my favorite Gospel Songs: "How Great is Our God!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Spirituality in Nature

Beth Norcross: Our Guide and Teacher

Everything that we need shows up exactly when we need it!

I learned about a class called Deepening Your Spirituality in Nature through one of the many email groups that I am apart of, and this class spoke to my spirit right away. I love nature, and my spirituality seems to grow deeper and stronger each day so, I knew that I needed to take this class. I checked the dates and my calender and everything lined up, and I spent two hours on Thursday night and about three hours today, with our teacher guide, Beth Norcross, and five other students.

Thursday night was completely magical for me. Beth read poems and excerpts to us and also showed us a slide show about nature. Listening to Beth and looking at the slides, I had so many epiphany moments. Moments that helped me to reach the conclusion that if we would only look at nature closely, we would see that it mimics life.

Here is the poem by Mary Oliver that Beth opened the class with title "Mindful:"

Every day
I see or hear
that more or less
kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle
in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for--
to look, to listen,
to lose myself
inside this soft world--
to instruct myself
over and over
in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,
the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant--
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,
the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help
but grow wise
with such teachings
as these--
the untrimmable light
of the world,
the ocean's shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

What a great, feel-good opening for the night's class!!

After listening to this poem and looking at the slides, I had so many thoughts about life and nature. One thought that I had was about the warm Fall colors that we see on the trees right now. Those beautiful colors that we see on trees have been there all of the time, but the true color was covered by chlorophyll in the summer. Once the chlorophyll goes to the bottom of the trees to store for winter and get ready for spring, then the true magnificent colors of the trees are revealed and that is what we see in the Fall. Some of our lives are similar. Our true selves are always there, but it may be covered with experiences that we may have had that may cover our good nature and cause us to act in ways that are not of our true nature. But, if we stay on life's course and learn its lessons, our good will show back up because it never really left; it was just covered by life experiences just like the true color of trees. This is just one of the many thoughts that I had about nature and life during the course of the class.

So, day two of the class was at Turkey Run Park. Turkey Run Park is such a wonderful little nature park that is located right outside of DC. Being in this park, I felt so many miles away from the city, but the city was just around the corner. 

Being in the woods, with our guide and teacher, was like looking into the eyes of God. At times, the feelings that I was having were overwhelming. I felt so at peace, because God was everywhere: in us, the trees, the Potomac River, in small and larger animals, and in other people who were also in this glorious, woody park.

I think a lot about life and death, and Beth made an observation in the woods that resonated with my soul and made it leap with joy. Beth picked up a decaying leaf, and she stated something like "Do you believe that anything ever dies?" She went on to explain that once the leaf was completely decayed, it would be absorbed into the soil and more life would spring from that soil; it's a continuous process. She went on to say that this process is confirmation that there is life after death; life and death are a continuous process. At that moment, my heart and soul were completely filled with joy. I've always believed that there was life after death, but it was so warming to get that confirmation again from nature. 

While in the woods, we also took turns reading verses from Psalm 104: 

Psalm 104
1 Praise the Lord, my soul.
Lord my God, you are very great;
you are clothed with splendor and majesty.
2 The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment;
he stretches out the heavens like a tent
3 and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot
and rides on the wings of the wind.
4 He makes winds his messengers,
flames of fire his servants.
5 He set the earth on its foundations;
it can never be moved.
6 You covered it with the watery depths as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.
7 But at your rebuke the waters fled,
at the sound of your thunder they took to flight;
8 they flowed over the mountains,
they went down into the valleys,
to the place you assigned for them.
9 You set a boundary they cannot cross;
never again will they cover the earth.
10 He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
it flows between the mountains.
11 They give water to all the beasts of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
they sing among the branches.
13 He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
14 He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to cultivate—
bringing forth food from the earth:
15 wine that gladdens human hearts,
oil to make their faces shine,
and bread that sustains their hearts.
16 The trees of the Lord are well watered,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17 There the birds make their nests;
the stork has its home in the junipers.
18 The high mountains belong to the wild goats;
the crags are a refuge for the hyrax.
19 He made the moon to mark the seasons,
and the sun knows when to go down.
20 You bring darkness, it becomes night,
and all the beasts of the forest prowl.
21 The lions roar for their prey
and seek their food from God.
22 The sun rises, and they steal away;
they return and lie down in their dens.
23 Then people go out to their work,
to their labor until evening.
24 How many are your works, Lord!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
25 There is the sea, vast and spacious,
teeming with creatures beyond number—
living things both large and small.
26 There the ships go to and fro,
and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.
27 All creatures look to you
to give them their food at the proper time.
28 When you give it to them,
they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
they are satisfied with good things.
29 When you hide your face,
they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
they die and return to the dust.
30 When you send your Spirit,
they are created,
and you renew the face of the ground.
31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
may the Lord rejoice in his works—
32 he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
who touches the mountains, and they smoke.
33 I will sing to the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
as I rejoice in the Lord.
35 But may sinners vanish from the earth
and the wicked be no more.

Praise the Lord, my soul.
Praise the Lord.

After meditating on the word, Beth gave us time to be alone, and then she read one of my favorite quotes from The Color Purple: “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it,” and we left.

This experience was so good for my soul, and I felt a deeper understanding for Henry David Thoreau who stated in his collection of essays called Walden that "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. ...."

Not sure what it is that you do for your soul, but I hope that you do something......

Seize the day my people......

By the way, Beth is doing this class again in the winter to see what nature teaches us in the winter, please, please join us.

Here are images from our trip in the woods:

People, do the things that you love to do often.


Monday, October 22, 2012

What if Booker T. hadn't?

Booker T. Washington

This past weekend I traveled to Tuskegee, Alabama for the GHOE. The entire MONTH before Homecoming every year, I get so excited. People start calling to make Homecoming plans.

At homecoming, I had the opportunity to reconnect with so many people whom I met during my formative years. The impact of meeting people from all over the world, coupled with the experiences that we shared at Tuskegee University, helped to shape me into who I am today.

Sometimes, well, a lot of the time, my brain will work overtime thinking about ideas, people, words, etc. Last week, my brain would not stop thinking about Booker T. Washington, Tuskegee's first President.

I shared my ideas with a few people at Homecoming this past weekend and some stated that I was thinking a little too much, and a few stated that they really hoped that they were answering their call.

My idea is What if Booker T. Washington had not been determined to walk about 300 miles to attend Hampton University to further his education? What if Hampton had not answered the call to allow the young Booker T. into the school? Then, Booker T. may or may not have answered his call to go to Tuskegee and establish what we know today to be one of The Greatest Universities around.

Without Booker T. answering his call, then many people's lives may be quite different:

Maybe, George Washington Carver would not have had a place to do his great research in agriculture, and where would we be without that research...

Guy on the front row, in the middle, is George Washington Carver!

Maybe, Lionel Richie would not have met the other "Commodores," and we may not have the song "Brick House." Imagine the world without "Brick House."

The Commodores

Maybe, Tom Joyner would have never gotten the confidence to believe that he could be "The Fly Jock:"

Tom Joyner

Maybe, I would have never had the experiences that cultivated my love for teaching, reading, and writing. Imagine all of the students that I wouldn't have reached.....

Being in this band taught me about difficult work, perseverance,
dedication, commitment, and reward!

One of my MANY dear, life-long friends whom I met at TU
who keeps me grounded!

These guys are images of perseverance.
So happy that I met and learned from them at TU!

My saxopone section leader
who taught me about taking leadership seriously!

These guys all live in the DC area, and I feel a sense of security 
knowing that they are near and we share that common "Tuskegee Bond!"

So, in order to answer your call, you must know your calling! Well, how do you know your calling? Think about what it is that you love to do. Make no excuses, and do it often, and see what will happen.

Answering your calling is not just about you, but it's also about all of the people who are connected to your calling.

Booker T. Washington is in my collection of people whom I revere, because he did not shy away from difficult tasks, but "answered his call" and many people's lives, including his own, have been changed forever.

We must "Answer" people!!!!!!!

Enjoy this week, and get busy.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Joy, Joy, God's Great Joy!!!!!!!


First, my friend Cliff self-published his very own book. Not only did he write and publish it, but he put them together himself. Yes, he actually took the time to glue the books together himself or bind them, for a more literary term.

A few years back, my book club read his book, and we were so impressed. I loved Cliff before I read this book, but after reading it, I both loved and respected him. Boy, does he have a story to tell. Such a book of struggle, survival, courage, and it's his own true story.

Yes, this is the same guy who I wrote about that "pulled me out" when I was having "one of those days."

Anyway, Cliff's book, The Time of My Life or Was It is now being sold on Amazon, and you can download it to your Kindle. Now, EVERYBODY in the world can read it. Glory to God!!!

Here is the link to the book:


Secondly, my 77 year old mother is ONLINE. She has a BRAND new Smart TV, and she is officially online. My sister said that the first thing that she did was go to The Mobile Press Register's obituary section. (You know older people love to keep up with who died.) And, she also has an email address. Glory to God!!! I am sooooo thrilled for my momma. Now, she can be "In the World" with the rest of us.

I wonder what is next for her: Facebook, passionate love, marriage, home business etc.

Live Until You Die!!!!!!


Thirdly, My nephew Brandon is home resting after having surgery this week! He said that he is still trying to recover but is a little weak. I was happy about his recovery progress, but I was even more thrilled when he said "Also wanna make sure that I stay healthy too. I remember ur post about staying healthy and doing the rights things for our true for me now."

With that attitude, the world better look out.

So happy for Brandon!!!!!

Sonia and Me!

Fourth, My friend Sonia, whom I have known since we were Marching Crimson Pipers at Tuskegee, told me news this morning that made my heart skip a beat. I wanted to cry, but I was in the grocery store and was not sure if that was a good idea. She and I and a whole lot of other people have been standing with Sonia on this issue, AND it's Harvest Time!!!

While we have been standing with Sonia, she has truly been blessed with so many of the desires of her heart.

I have learned so much from Sonia this past year.

I am Overjoyed Today!!!!

Joy, Joy, Joy, Down in my soul!!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Panic is NEVER a good response is it?

This was borrowed from Facebook; I think that it speaks for itself!!!!!!

Have a Panic Free Friday...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Seagull Century (100 miles) and Metric (62 miles) Ride

Ready to ride!!!

This past weekend, I traveled to Ocean City, Maryland to do the the Seagull Century Ride. While there, I was thinking that I wish that all of my friends would start biking so that this Seagull Ride can be our annual event to laugh, talk, and ride.....

When you ride for 100 miles, there is a lot of time to think. Here are a few of the things that I thought about on the ride....

1. People need other people! 

I was suppose to do the century ride with my friend, Nancy, but she decided that she would do the metric ride, and she was also staying at another hotel. Therefore, I did not see her the entire weekend. With over 8000 riders participating in this ride, I knew that I would find someone to ride with, and I did!

I ended up staying in the same hotel with riders from Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York, DC etc. Friday, I hung out on the beach with a few of the riders, went for a quick evening ride with some other riders, and went to check out some of the vendors and buy arm warmers with other riders.

At 4:50am, someone knocked on my door and stated that I had a few minutes to get dressed, because they were going to eat breakfast and start the ride. I scurried outside and lots of riders were filling their water bottles, drinking coffee, loading their bikes onto their cars, and I was part of this group. We rode in a caravan to eat breakfast and do this ride.

Breakfast of Champions!
Riders Eating Breakfast

It was so good to be on this course with people whom I was looking out for and people who were looking out for me. I needed these people, and I believe that they needed me also.

Joyce Meyer's stated that "When you shut others out, you also imprison yourself," and I could not agree more.

People need other people!!!!

2. If you take one step, God will open the doors WIDE.

The step that I took was to register for the ride, get a hotel, and expect everything to work out just fine, and it did. I met great people, got to really enjoy a weekend getaway that I plan to do as many times as I can, and I completed my first 100 mile ride that was completely liberating. For a slight moment, I thought, what am I going to do by myself, and people showed up.

I've learned not to worry, stress, or fret about how things are going to work out. I just make the first step, and things usually work out better than I could ever image.

Get to stepping!!!

3. God is literally everywhere.

One of the riders who knew that it was my first century ride, told me to make sure that I enjoy the ride, and I intentionally made sure that I enjoyed every moment. I took in every view, and God was literally everywhere: amongst the riders who all had joy on their faces, at the rest stops where people were talking and laughing and respectfully waiting their turn to use the bathroom and enjoy the snacks. (There was apple pie and ice cream at the last stop.)

We were riding along a stretch and there were riders as far as I could see, and on the side of the road, there were bright yellow soybean plants, and the sun was shining, in full view, directly in front of us. I said to one of the guys "This looks like a postcard."

 God was literally everywhere!

4. Spend time with people who like to do things that you like to do and see how much you will learn.

If you like to write, you may want to consider spending time with other writers to grow and learn right? Well, it's the same principal with biking, teaching or whatever you do often.

Spending the weekend with other riders, I got so many tips about riding. We talked about biking just about the entire time. I got pointers on how to become a faster rider, what gear to wear in the winter, why my elbows were getting stiff during the ride. I learned things that I could only learn by spending time with other bikers. I am Thankful for wisdom and knowledge and other riders who are willing to share.

Spend time with like minded people at least sometimes!

5. If you take your body to it's limit, the mind will follow. It just has too, right?

After riding for 6 hours and 30 minutes for 100 miles, I felt invincible. My mind started to say "There is no limit to what I can do." I feel now that I can do almost anything that I train for: start a revolution, blog full time, travel the world teaching literature etc.

Take your body to it's limit and see how your outlook will change.

I wonder what's my next adventure???

If you think that you would like to start biking, then you should. Start where you are and just ride. It can change your life forever.....

Still smiling after 100 miles with one of my new riding buddies!!!!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Smiling from Ear to Ear!!!

One of my students has colored her hair a bright blond, and of course, we discussed hair. I want mine cut as low as it can possibly go, I want braids, and I also want a bob! (I'm all over the place when it comes to my hair.)

She showed me a picture of her hair when it was cut all the way short; It was similar to the picture above.

I asked her "What made her do it?" and she responded "It was summer, so I asked to go to a barber," and she went on to say "My dad said to go on and do it."

I said: "Why did he say that?"

She said: "I guess that he likes the way that I express myself."

WOW! Ain't nothing like approval from your Dad!

This made my day........

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I Got To Tell It!!!!!

So people, I got something to tell, and I must tell it NOW.

Here it is......

I got fire shut up in my bones.....

and the fire was caused by Toni Morrison and.......

this awesome novel: Song of Solomon!!!!

I did a sigh as soon as I got that out.

I have read Song of Solomon so many times, and every time that I read it, the urgency that I feel is unreal: I think about it, and I think about, and I think about, and I see something new every single time, and then I have more to think about, and I think about, and I think about........

I am so blessed that I teach Advanced Placement (AP) English, and I get to teach whatever novel that I want  to, and you know that I start every year with Song of Solomon. The discussions that this novel generates is enough to make me need to run around the school at least five times just to squelch some of the excitement that is "shut up in my bones."

Last week, one of my students asked me a question about breastfeeding in relationship to one of the main characters in Song of Solomon who was breastfeed until he was "old enough to talk, stand up, and wear knickers." This lead into a discussion about the woman on the cover of Time Magazine who was breastfeeding her child who was "old enough to talk, stand up, and wear knickers."

I mean, I have a whole classroom full of people to discuss one of my favorite novels with for at least three weeks or until every last one of us get sick and tired.

And every single time I read and discuss this novel, I am given something new to think about....Oh, how BLESSED I am...

Now, I am on chapter four of Song of Solomon, and it's literally like "fire shut up in my bones." As I am reading it and writing this blog, my heart is racing, and I almost want to cry tears of joy that Toni Morrison wrote this incredible book that has taken my love for reading and teaching to a whole 'nother level.

Wow, if you have not read it yet, you MUST......

Please read this novel.....OK

And if you have read it before, Please read it again......

My heart is on fire........

I got to go; Song of Solomon is calling my name!!!!

By the way listen to Toni Morrison talk about Song of Solomon...

"Ain't she amazing?" or in my teacher voice "Isn't she amazing?"

I just had to tell it.........

Monday, October 1, 2012

A New Way of Thinking

Today is Monday, and I had a really great weekend. I got the chance to do some things that I really wanted to do, and I also got my usual amount of rest.

However, I was moving slowly this morning, and I had to ask myself if I was moving slowly, because that is what is expected on a Monday morning, or was I really tired?

The weekend is time to do things that we enjoy and to rejuvenate in order to get ready for the next week. So, why does EVERYONE say, "I'm so tired, it's Monday." Is it out of habit, or are we really tired?

After I thought about this and really assessed how I was feeling, I'm not more tired than I normally am, and as I matter of fact, I feel rather good!! So, I had to ask myself, "Why was I giving into this Monday IDEA of being tired, when I'm really not tired?"

So, today forward, let's try and change our mind sets about Monday and a whole lot of other stuff, and maybe we will see that many things aren't that bad after all.

I don't need to conform to the thoughts of the world IF what it says does not apply to me.

Ok, back to feeling good on this wonderful Monday morning..........

People, sit for a minute and analyze how you are really feeling today and everyday.

"To Thine Ownself be True."  William Shakespeare
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