Monday, December 16, 2019

Grateful Post, because I Need To Be Reminded.....

This time of year, when the days are short, and I get into my winter routine of going to work, working out, and sprinkling in a few author talks, concerts, sporting events, and time with friends, this can feel sort of like hearing someone beating a drum, with the same cadence, over and over again. So, I need to remind myself that I have lots to be excited about such as....

My hair. I love my natural hair; it is my Pride and Joy. My Crown and Glory. I love when I wash it, and it is curly and soft, and then it dries into an afro. I just love my hair...

The students at the school where I teach. Yesterday, I saw two students at a restaurant near the school, and they were extremely happy to see me. Today, I went to an ice cream shop to visit a student, and he said that I could have whatever I wanted. And, I had three small scoops of ice cream, a brownie, and a cookie that were ALL so good. Grateful for these students......

Friendship. I spent a whole lot of time this weekend with three friends who all graduated from Tuskegee which means that this felt like hot chocolate on a very, cold day. We were together, in a restaurant, until they literally put us out. There was lots of talking, and laughing, and sharing, and it felt great to be a great listener.....

Podcasts. I have been listening to tons of podcast, and I must say that I am learning a whole lot, and I just love them. My top four are NPR politics that basically gives a quick rundown of what’s going on in politics daily. Oprah’s Master Class; I just love folks' stories. The Stacks where writers talk about books and the craft of writing; it is umm umm good. Teach Me, Teacher is about teacher stuff, and I have learned so much about my craft. Long live Podcasts.....

My commitment to health. I get on the elliptical every day for thirty minutes before I eat. I workout with my trainer, Berhane, three days a week, and I ride my bike, on the inside, just about every day from forty minutes to an hour. I love the routine of it all, and it makes me feel quite accomplished. I feel blessed that I use the time for my benefit. Y’all know I could easily be on my butt reading a book!

Berhane, My Trainer.  He gets on my nerves, but I am grateful that he is consistent and compassionate. He was asking me if I had time to work out before I go to work, and I said “Of course not, I am at work by seven.” However, he pushed it more, and said something like “So, you are like everyone else?” And, the next day I was on the elliptical by 5am and at work by 7am, and I absolutely love it. I thought I couldn’t do it, but thanks to the encouragement from Berhane, I am making it happen.

A good school year. Looking back on the past two or three years, I think that those years were rough, because this year feels like the clouds have moved back and the sun is shining brightly. I got great students, I feel good about the educational direction of my classes, and every, single day, I finish early… GOD IS GOOD!!!!

Not acting on my feelings. For awhile, I have been practicing sitting with my feelings and being thoughtful about my responses. Y’all know that we cannot trust our emotions. Many, many times they are dead wrong. I am getting good at allowing myself to feel what I feel and doing absolutely nothing until I have had time to think. It is working!!

DC. I love DC. The culture is everything… U Street, Union Market, the countless happy hours, the concert, the plays, the author talks, the independent bookstores, sporting events and the many, many restaurants, and the Smithsonian. DC feeds my spirit.

Time alone. I love folks, and I love being around them, BUT ain't nothing like my time alone. I have TONS of time of alone, and I am grateful!

What y’all grateful for?

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

A WHOLE lot in.....

but not much coming OUT on paper....

So, that has been my life; I have been reading a whole lot and writing very little.

However, I have been having that nagging in my head that has been saying clearly: “Write.” AND, so I am committing to writing at least an hour every day whenever it is possible.

You know, every, single time that I thought about writing, all I could think about is how it requires my full attention and my entire body, and I was resisting it. Writing ain’t easy, and I was resisting the focus that it requires.... sometimes our thoughts are worse than actually doing the activity!

I read How To Be An Antiracist by Kendi Ibram, and this books has been on mind every since. I have given lots of thoughts to how hard folks are hard on each. I mean, we do not extend each other one ounce of grace. AND, folks are human, most of us are trying the very best that we can, but if we mess up just a little or do not do things exactly like other folks want us to... then, all hell breaks loose... Grace and Mercy. We got to allow each other the space to be human and all that comes with that. This is one of my takeaways from that book.

I was recently at the book tour in DC for Tomi Adeyemi, who just released her second book Children of Virtue and Vengeance, and it was put on by a Black bookstore, Mahogany books in DC. Oh, how I love Mahogany Books. The entire auditorium was filled with Black folks supporting a Black writer. Tomi, came out in tears; she was being human. She revealed that something terrible had happened that day, and she was not at her best. However, she felt what she was feeling, released it, and it was a wonderful night. I completely felt connect to Tomi who felt comfortable enough to be vulnerable and say “I feel like shit, but I am going to embrace this moment." Y’all... I felt the love in the room go straight to her, and she gave it right back... It was a phenomenal night.

However, this woman next to me stated “folks didn’t come here to hear about her troubles. You can tell that she is young based on her response to her troubles.” Y’all... all I could think was Grace and Mercy... Grace and Mercy...  Can we allow each other to be publicly vulnerable, get ourselves together, and then carry on? I thought about the book How To Be An Antiracist again; he touches on this.

Anyway, I cannot wait to read Children of Virtue and Vengeance, because I thoroughly enjoyed Children of Blood and Bones. 

I have seen the movie Queen and Slim THREE times on the big screen. I just love ALL of that Black beauty on the big screen, and I had to see it more than one time on the big screen. That Black love and sense of community displayed on the screen really did my heart good.

I read Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell, and he basically writes this entire book to say that we really don’t know each other, and most of the things that we assume about each other are probably wrong; however, we should try to swing towards human goodness as much as possible in order for us to live in harmony. He ends the books by talking about the Sandra Bland incident and how the cop basically read her all wrong, and if only he had dealth with her a little differently, she may not have been arrested and later found dead in a jail cell, and this led me back to the movie Queen and Slim.

In the very beginning of the movie, Queen and Slim are stopped for not signaling and swerving. The officer assumed that Slim had been drinking, and he treated him like he had committed a crime, and Queen ended up shot and the officer ended up dead. BUT, what if the officer had assumed that they were two people on a date, approached the car and told them why he was stopping them, gave them a chance to explain and really heard them, gave them a ticket or even warned them, and let them go about their merry business, then there would not have been a movie.

Do y’all remember the OJ Simpson trial and how many Black folks were pulling for OJ. Not that we knew whether or not he was innocence, but a whole lot of people thought he was not innocence, but he got off and for many Black folks, it felt like we had finally won for once. AND, this is the exact feeling that I felt watching Queen and Slim. I was pulling really hard for those two; I wanted them to win. And, not just win for themselves, but for us. However, the entire movie could have ended or been a whole ‘nother movie if only the cop had assumed the best about these two young Black folks and acted on those notions.

Recently, I was in a school, and I saw a student running and two administrators, a cop, and security was running after the student. I instantly thought of Sandra Bland. First, the student was not violent, she did not have a weapon on her, so I was not sure why it took all of those folks to stop the girl. And, I thought about how her anxiety must have been going to the roof with folks chasing her. If she stopped, would one of those folks following her give her hug that I am sure she needed, or would they hastily take her to the office (jail), drill her, and take her to detention? (Jail!!)

I have been thinking about the idea of how can we get to know folks, not be friends, but to understand, be empathic, and be their allies. I was listening to a podcast, and a writer stated that most folks do not have a person of another race whom he or she would call friend. I am talking about friends, where you can be vulnerable with them and tell them everything. So, how are we going to get to know folks, and get pass those stereotypes if we do not spend time with folks who do not look like us and folks who look us but have totally different backgrounds.

I imagine groups meeting up all over this country. Uneducated and educated folks, with folks who live in inner cities, with folks who work on capital hill, folks on welfare, millionaires, all talking about their lives and experiences, and why they do what they do. I want these folks to exchange numbers and do things together and really get to know each other, and I believe that we can heal our land.

Now, will these meet up happen? I want to say no, but we can read fiction and non-fiction stories to understand human nature and folks stories. I think I know human nature well because of literature. I know that I am very empathetic because of reading. I know I know a whole lot of random stuff because of reading, and this type of knowledge is accessible to almost everybody. I say almost everybody, because you know there are places in out country that have books deserts. Yes, book deserts, where people have limited to no access to books, and this makes my heart weep. But those of us who do have access to books, we can read, and read, and grow, and reach out to folks, and join groups, and heal our land.

I hope this made some type of logical sense, and I guess you can tell that there has been a lot on mind. If you read it and was able to follow it, I hope that you got something out of it. BUT, if it was far to much rambling for you; I understand that too.

Not sure what y’all have been up too, but I am hoping that you guys are trying your damnedest to live your best lives... loving a whole lot of folks.... communicating with folks and not just texting. Winter, in places that get dark early and cold, like Northern Virginia, can be quite daunting.... but I just keep on keeping on.

Holler y’all!!!

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