Desiring God

Prior to Covid, I felt I had found my way in the church, in religion and in Christ. I had become active in church again, just as I had been as a youth/young adult. This time I had an understanding of my relationship with Christ and my obligation to God versus my obligation to my church home. Covid struck and we started online services immediately during the lockdown. While participating in services virtually, I slowly started to disconnect from the church again. I thought it was merely the fact that I was attending church virtually instead of in person. Then I thought it was because we were not having Sunday School classes or any other activities outside of the standard services that allowed us to congregate and fellowship. I wasn’t sure what it was but I become detached.

November 2020, I returned to church face to face and stopped going shortly after. I started again in March 2021 and while I’ve been going for a while, I still feel disengaged. I thought it was still the lack of Sunday School or the camaraderie we had pre-Covid or maybe it was my own spiritual journey at this point. I searched for different devotionals to use in my personal life outside of the church. I tried new gratitude journals to no avail. Finally, Sunday School started and I was elated. I was back to the norm, private devotional time with God, church, Sunday School and my old school gospel concerts in the car. However, I continued to come home feeling empty.

I started reflecting on what I was doing and what the church was offering. I decided I needed to change the books I chose for my devotional and really do some soul searching. I also reassessed what was going on at church. I realized that I don’t enjoy the praise and worship team. I’ve always enjoyed music but I don’t feel the presence of God when they are singing and the leader…I don’t know how to describe what she does. I also realized the Word that was being delivered was immature. In really, really listening, I’m realizing the pastor is saying the same thing every Sunday and he comes across as judgemental. On top of that he finds a way to incorporate the subject of sexual relations in every sermon.

Long sigh… So now what? I feel like looking for a new church home is like starting a new relationship. Based on what I’ve heard from friends is it’s safer to stay with what you have. I’ve tried large churches but felt invisible. I’ve tried smaller congregations but felt they were pushing too hard to quickly become a mega-church. So now what? How do I find a new church home? If the church is in me, am I the problem? Right now I’m confused and have truly become a lost soul.

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The Power of Words

Last school year was a very challenging school year for me, the hardest I’ve experienced. This school year, I was challenged with a new task/position and delighted was not on the list of emotions I felt at the time. The first few weeks I struggled. I grappled with lesson plans, instruction, the adjustments in timing and scheduling, meeting new kids, etc.

We are now a full nine weeks into school and I’ve realized how my thoughts and words changed my life. While I haven’t fully acclimated to my position, I’ve tried to highlight the good things that happen everyday. I started telling people why the position is a better fit and that is allowing me to grow in my season of being uncomfortable. Of course, quotes that apply to me during my unique seasons keep me optimistic. Some of the quotes that are visible to both me and my students are below.

  1. “Words can inspire and words can destroy. Choose yours well.” – Robin Sharra
  2. “Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.” – Pearl Strachan Hurd
  3. “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” – George Orwele
  4. Language creates reality. Words have power. Speak always to create joy.” – Deepak Chopra
  5. “There is power in words. What you see is what you get.” – Zig Ziglar

As I move throughout each day, my goal is to change my mindset and my words. Hopefully, this will encourage those around me to change as well. I’ve found the positive in having a modified schedule. While I thought the sessions was too short to fully assess a students’ understanding, I know realize it’s enough time to teach, assess and by the time the class ends the students have reached their frustration level. This gives them time to walk away and return the next day with an understanding of what’s to come. I now have an opportunity to work with students face to face that I had only encountered online. I get to meet personalities versus people. I can truly say I enjoy my babies. The lesson plans are actually scripted if I read between ALLLLLL the lines but half of my work is done. Because I’ve changed my words, I’m not as exhausted at the end of the day and I can focus on my own well being.

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Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

Last school year, my scholars and I read the book A Big Day for Baseball. It was a very entertaining but riveting read as we had an opportunity to “go back in time” and understand the experiences of Jackie Robinson and history being made. While I have no interest in baseball, after reading this book, I was enthralled and wanted to know more.

As we were preparing to head home from our annual vacation, my husband shared one of the stops was Kansas City, Missouri. BINGO! The Negro League Baseball Museum is located in Kansas City, MO. and I couldn’t have been more than thrilled. This was a perfect time to enhance my learning from the school year. Being in the museum really made reading come to life as I saw pictures of things that were highlighted in the book.

Upon entering the museum, the first thing we came across were statues of fans/spectators dressed in their Sunday best. This was one of the things highlighted in A Big Day for Baseball. Through pictures, readings, sculptures and statues, we got a chance to see how much baseball has evolved. From the seating to jerseys to dress codes to leagues becoming integrated, we saw it all.

The exit was really fun. The exit simulated an actual baseball field with players in position. It also had an area that housed awards for distinguished players that played in the Negro League as well as those that had gone on to break the color barrier and receive honors in Major League Baseball. What a joy this was to have the Magic Treehouse come to life!

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BONAJOUR Green Tea Water Bomb

Ipsy wins again! In one of my Ipsy glam bags, I was able to snag Bonajour’s Green Tea Water Bomb. While I use the mascara, eyeshadows, eyeliners and even the body scrubs I receive in my glam bags, I’m always hesitant to try facial products. I fear my skin having an adverse reaction to something I’ve tried or a product being too harsh for my skin.

During the month of June I sat in the sun for three straight days for approximately eight hours each day. My skin was four shades darker, dry and crisp. I was at the point of not having a foundation that was a good blend and I felt my skin needed some additional protection to survive the summer. I tried Cerave’, which is actually a great product, but when sitting in the sun all day, sweating, Cerave’s mositurizer would cause a light film that I had to wash off midway through the day. Unfortunately, this left my skin unprotected. Before purchasing another product, I started searching through my travel sized products I received from Ipsy and started reading the reviews for each product. After reading the reviews about the Green Tea Water Bomb, I decided to try this particular moisturizer while sitting in the heat at my next summer track meet.

The first thing I noticed about this product is how light it is. It actually revived my skin and brought my complexion back to life. It provided the protection I needed and even during the hottest part of the day, my skin felt cool and nourished. There was no need to refresh throughout the day and it minimized the amount of lotion/moisturizer I needed to use. I used this in the morning and my skin was secure throughout the entire day. More importantly, once my skin returned to its original shade, I noticed it never changed again. Even after sitting in the sun for six days straight, my skin maintained its color and its softness.

After using the Ipsy travel size, I ordered the full size from Amazon. It runs about $16 per bottle and is so worth it. I’ve stopped wearing foundation daily as this product provides a shine and a dazzle that makes it appear as if I have a light beat. When using foundation, I use a minimal amount and it helps keep my foundation in tact without having to freshen up throughout the day. This product definitely exceeded my expectations. Two thumbs up for Ipsy getting it right once again!

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Fall Fun

Autumn

Fall is around the corner and all 2021 people have been boldly stating “we outside” and that has held true. People are trying their best to return to some sense of normalcy. People are moving with precaution but not necessarily living in fear. This spring and summer, I had the opportunity to do some of my favorite things while continuing to practice social distancing and striving to follow the rules and regulations of establishments. As fall approaches, I plan to take the time to enjoy a few more activities before going in my house and hibernating for the winter. While summer is my favorite season of the year, fall is definitely the most comfortable. Things I plan to do this fall will include…

  1. Going to the pumpkin patch – I always enjoy the pumpkin patch. I never get a pumpkin but I do enjoy the eats and treats while at the pumpkin patch.
  2. College football games – I am a proud graduate of THEE best HBCU, Prairie View A&M University and there are several games I try to attend for the culture. I went to the Labor Day Classic on Saturday and it felt great to be in the atmosphere while sitting by myself, away from the crowds.
  3. Go to the drive in movie – We did the drive in movie some years ago and the hubby and I fell asleep while the kid watched the movie. Even crazier, the drive in was showing a two for one so we sat through two movies. I want to go back and hang out in the car and walk to the concession stand for a few snacks and enjoy a movie or fall asleep again.
  4. Wine tasting – We don’t drink much but we do enjoy trying new wines. It’s an opportunity to gain knowledge about wine, meet new people and it’s a pleasant experience.
  5. Start Christmas shopping – When my son was younger, I would have my Christmas shopping done by October and by the time people were starting their Christmas shopping I was planning a birthday party.

What are some good things to try in the fall? Drop some fun adventures below.

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In The Beginning

beginning

In the beginning…

We have associated this phrase with things coming to fruition for centuries. But this school year has started in complete chaos. In the beginning was madness and it has continued to escalate over the first few weeks of school. With Covid numbers rising and masks being encouraged but yet optional in our district, doors have been revolving since the first day of school.

Teachers are already exhausted. Students are in and out of the classrooms as they are testing positive for Covid. We can’t teach from home but we have to compile lessons for students to work/study at home. We’re having to teach face to face but plan as if we are face to face and remote teachers. We’re still having meetings and now we’re having to do interventions for students that didn’t demonstrate appropriate levels of growth last school year.

Parents are receiving letters everyday stating their student was in close contact with someone that has tested positive for Covid or was exposed to someone that has Covid. They are given the option of keeping students home or sending them back to school if the student has no symptoms. Fortunately, many parents are getting their students tested before sending them back, but how long will this last before they get tired of the testing? I can’t say that I blame them when they get to that point.

Parents are coming to the school angry because their child has been exposed and some parents are refusing to pick their students up from the nurse’s office after receiving a phone call saying their student is sick. We’ve even had a parent refuse to leave campus because he was so angry and wanted some answers.

How are we supposed to deal with this madness? Why do we feel rushed to get back to a brick and mortar setting? Why is remote learning not optional this year? From the elementary school to the college level, there is extreme concern. Where is the protection? What are we to do? What adjustments has your employer made in this season? Are you back in the office or still working remotely?

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Minnehaha Falls

Minnehaha Falls located in Minneapolis, MN. is noted to be one of the oldest and most popular parks in Minneapolis. At the present time, it is experiencing its first drought in over a decade so I am glad we decided to take the time to explore it earlier this summer. When deciding to visit, we were unsure of what to expect but the pictures online made the park look very alluring. What we knew for sure is there was a waterfall and we would have a very nice hike.

Upon arrival we were turned around because we couldn’t determine where to start. We parked and stood in one spot looking until we saw a flow of traffic and a stream of water. We followed the crowd (masked up, of course) and immediately heard the flow of the waterfalls. Although we were behind the cascade of water, we could tell the view was going to be astounding. We decided to hike a short trail that would place us directly in front of the waterfall. The scenery was thrilling. We stood around with other bystanders taking pictures and watching a gentleman scale the walls in an attempt to reach the top of the waterfall.

After basking in the beauty of the waterfall, we took off on our hike to see what else was going on. My husband and son had a race to the top of some rocks, my husband crossed a small body of water using a log and finally we found the road less traveled. We were one of few families that decided to take the hike that would place us on a “beach” in front of the Mississippi River. The hike was very quiet and whole others were present, we had once again stumbled upon complete tranquility.

After listening to the flow of the water and skipping rocks on the water, we headed back to the waterfall. We took more pictures from another angle. We grabbed treats from the ice cream truck before heading to the house of John H. Stevens for a quick tour.

After hearing the latest news, I am devastated that tourists and even the residents of the city of Minneapolis are not having an opportunity to enjoy this historic park. It is definitely family oriented and gives you another opportunity to enjoy God’s creations.

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Don’t Quit

“When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.” (John Greenleaf)

As a teenager, I remember hearing and/or seeing this poem in almost every English Language Arts class I entered. As a teenager, I got tired of it pretty quickly. I would think, “Why would one quit and what are we quitting?” All we had to do was go to school, go home, do homework, repeat the cycle. It was a pretty simple process back then. Now that I’m adult, I see why this was the mantra. They were instilling things in us long before we knew we needed it. Some days I want to place myself in time just to escape my responsibilities out but I find myself quietly reciting this poem and I keep pushing forward. As I reflect my failures, I realize my success has and will always outweigh my because I refused to quit. Below are some quotes I keep posted to keep me going:

  1. “You can’t beat the person that won’t give up.” – Babe Ruth
  2. “Winners never quit and quitters never win.” – Vince Lombardi
  3. “Just because someone stumbles and loses their path, doesn’t mean they’re lost forever.” –Professor X
  4. “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I know I can.” —Watty Piper, The Little Engine That Could
  5. “If you think you can, you are right. If you think you can’t, you are also right.” – Henry Ford

The goal in everything I do is to keep pressing forward. Finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is the goal. With that in mind, I have to remember, to get to the rainbow, I have to experience the rain.

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And The Beat Goes On

The school year has officially started and it wouldn’t be a first day without complete chaos. Ha! Honestly, first days are generally good for us, usually little to zero interruptions. However, we are returning from a year of remote and face to face learning, technically we have three groups of kindergarteners, and some parents are still in a frenzy. As a result, we had a ton of hiccups on our first day. If you name it, it happened. At the end of the day we had to take a moment to reflect on what went well and how we can improve our systems.

Getting parents out of the building to start school on the first day is always difficult. This first day was seamless. Most parents dropped their students off, waved goodbye and went home to breath a sigh of relief. They put their trust in God, the school system, the faculty and staff and ran as fast as they could. The day moved quickly with rapid and timely interventions for most disturbances and then real tragedy struck, dismissal!

Why is dismissal always the most difficult part of the day? It was a disaster. Radios weren’t working, teams were trying to talk on the same channels, parents were in the wrong pick up lines, students decided to take a different exit route at the end of the day… By the time we got every kid off the campus, our shirts were drenched in sweat and we were exhausted. No tired like first day teacher tired. Dog-tired, weary and depleted described the staff.

But the show couldn’t stop on the first day. So, what did we do? We gathered together as a team. We looked at the time we finished and made a goal to finish earlier on the second day. We high fived because we didn’t lose any students and everyone made it home safely. We came up with a Plan B, C and D so we could have options for each group instead of a one size fits all template. We printed lists, we familiarized ourselves with the kids on the lists, put names with faces because the beat goes on. Today we all walked in optimistic because no matter what day one looked like we know we have a challenge and a duty to be the best we can be each and everyday. Pray for us as we try again and again.

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Succeeding While Suffering – No Tired Like Teacher Tired

Every teacher by the month of March

As I prepare for another school year, I am thankful for the opportunity to impact the lives of families. Being an educator is a commitment and we spend so much time focusing on the well being of others that we easily forget to take care of ourselves. Educators complain, a lot, about being taken advantage of and the truth is we’ve allowed it. We’re afraid to not go the extra mile because we might seek a promotion later and we don’t want to be characterized as lazy. We’re afraid to speak up because we don’t want to be labeled as vocal or aggressive. We’re afraid to take a day to focus on our mental health because we’re afraid it shows we’re not concerned about the academic needs of our students.

The truth is we’re in partnerships with families that say no. They speak up when they’re against something or they feel there’s a more efficient way to do things. And I’ve seen very few students in 25 years with perfect attendance. Clearly, there’s a disconnect. If they’re worthy of these “privileges”, why do we feel we’re not?

At this point I’ve had a chance to recharge and reset and I’m looking forward to flourishing this school year. While I’m ready to run the race, I’m setting firm boundaries to help me run to the finish line versus crawl to the end.

  1. Say, “no”. No is a complete sentence. It doesn’t need an explanation. If I’m tired and/or uncomfortable committing to something, the answer is NO.
  2. Take mental health days – Acquiring and preparing for a substitute is more exhausting than actually going to work. Years ago we use to prepare substitute folders in advance. I will definitely go back to doing the work beforehand so when I need a day, I’m going to take that day.
  3. Plan for the next day – When at home, I prep my lunch, iron clothes, bags are typically packed, etc. Everything needed to walk out the door is ready. This affords me the maximum amount of rest. I get laxed at some points during the year but I need to stay the course this year.
  4. Stop burning myself out on Mondays – My Monday “To Do” list is always hectic. I try to knock out as many tasks as I can and I’m completely drained by the end of the day and not looking forward to the next day of work. This year I’ll try to balance my schedule so that everything is getting done but it’s not costing me my sanity and every ounce of energy I had when I started.
  5. Workout – Many people that I work with workout in the mornings and then rely on coffee all day. I’m not a coffee drinker and I haven’t found anything that stops me from falling over when I workout in the morning. Since I know mornings don’t work, I have to be a lot more intentional in making sure I am prioritizing my physical health and staying consistent with working out in the evenings.
  6. Prepare my classroom for the next day – Just like I prepare everything at home, I’ll devote approximately 15 minutes to getting my room in order for the next instructional day/group.
  7. Get rid of distractions (Teacher Talk) – This is one that will allow me to do more. Teachers have a tendency to stop by your room with a question that turns into a 30 minute conversation about their dog, the baby and the traffic on their route to work. The reality is sometimes we just need to sit and feel like we have a friend but that’s 30 minutes gone. I’m guilty of this as well so I’ll make it my business to stay in my box so I can work or sit in silence and others can do the same.

I’m going to post my list of boundaries as a reminder to myself. Hopefully by having them visible I can stick to my own rules. What are some healthy habits you think teachers can do more of or less of to help with their mental, emotional and physical state throughout the year? What are some of your stress relievers?

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