Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year

I am not one to focus on the past but I will say that the last two years have brought change, required major adjustments, and lured me into a very low low in my life. When I say that nothing has gone as planned, I am not exaggerating. But I continue to look forward and to live the best life I know how. As I look ahead to 2017, I am hoping for more of some things and less of others so I thought I would put together a list.

In 2017, I would like less:

  1. Worry
  2. Reposts and copy posts and please-copy-&-paste-this posts on Facebook
  3. Spam accounts on twitter
  4. Screaming in the hallways at work
  5. Failure, just in general
  6. Old guys asking me out
  7. Bills
  8. Questioning my abilities
  9. Fast food
  10. Disappointing first dates
  11. Racism, Separatism, Hate
  12. Days when I forget to bring my lunch to work
  13. Fake News
  14. Video challenges
  15. Loss
  16. Drama
  17. Fear and loneliness
And, in 2017, I would like more:
  1. Love
  2. Hugs
  3. Renewed relationships
  4. Dates with Dwayne Johnson
  5. Career opportunities
  6. Publishers sending my books to market
  7. Financial freedom
  8. Road trips with friends, to see friends, to make friends
  9. Credit where credit is due
  10. Events on my social calendar
  11. Unity, peace, solidarity
  12. Originality & creativity
  13. Benefit of the doubt from and for everyone
  14. Forgiveness
  15. Did I say love? Is that worth saying twice? Ok... how about Love Love. That's a little different. 
  16. Truth
  17. Chances to CHANGE THE WORLD
In the meantime, I wish you a new year of peace, health, love and prosperity. In spite of the insanity of this life, I am so blessed to journey through this time and space with each of you. Love and REAL HUGS to all of you. See you in the new year!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

My Hatefulness

Often, we fail to recognize our own hatefulness because we naturally, and sometimes easily, find justification for it.
"Well... but... look what THEY are doing. It's not worse than that."
"I said what I said because they said that other thing."
"I believe what I believe because it's what I know, it's what makes me comfortable, it's what my parents believed, I don't really understand the other sides, I just can't relate. I just believe what I believe."
"I reacted or responded the way I did because, in that moment, I couldn't see anything but what was right in front of me."
"I think what I think because I have never experienced that ANY other way but this one way."
"It can't be possible. I would be a horrible person if that was REALLY possible and I just ignored it... avoided it... failed to acknowledge it. It just can't be possible."
"OH MY GOD this is uncomfortable. NOTHING good can come of it... I feel like I am losing control. I AM. I am losing control. I can't see what is next. How can I be prepared for anything if I have no idea what might happen next..."
I have spent my whole life working to understand the experiences, beliefs and ideas of others. I grew up knowing that my normal was not the normal of others and wanting more than anything to explore the normal of others so I could relate. What is like me is fine. But that which is different is my preference. I crave diversity. I seek it out. I love it, in all things.
My hatefulness rears its ugly head in the moments when I am scared. Fear is my monster.
I am not often afraid. In fact, my mom has always said that the one thing that scared her most was that I wasn't afraid of anything at all. But as I grow older, I become more afraid. I become increasingly aware that I can't conquer everything, I can't fix everything, and I can't save everyone. Sometimes people will get hurt. And sometimes, I will get hurt.
If I allow it to consume me, I lose valuable time that could be spent continuing my journey of learning about people and loving people which is all I want to do in this lifetime. It is never my intention to allow my hatefulness to breach the surface of the loving, caring being I am purposed to be and intent on being. But it happens.
And for that, I am heartily sorry.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

The Team that Always Loses

When you are the coach of the team that always loses, you begin to question not only your ability but the impact you are having on your players. You wonder if your ability to see potential, to see the good in others, and to sometimes be a "fixer" has clouded your view of reality.

People do not play sports "just to have fun." There are cave carvings in France that depict running and wrestling competitions. So, before we had written word, we competed. Sports are played to find a winner. Who is better? And, eventually, who is the best?

As an athlete, I had my share of success in grade school and high school. I played for some really great teams. College was a different story. I didn't go to school to play sports but I ended up playing in a program that was rebuilding. It is a program that, today, has found tremendous success and grown from just 60 athletes to hundreds of athletes. As young as the age of eight, I understood that, ultimately, the goal was to win. Losing is not fun so whoever says we are just playing to have fun is either lying or trying to make the best of a ridiculously bleak situation.

As a coach, I have always chosen to lead the athletes that everyone else cuts from the team. I am the "B" team coach. And my "B" teams have always found their niche in the sport and excelled to success. Until last season, I had never had a year with no wins.

Teaching a sport is relatively easy. Teaching teamwork and decision-making skills and execution under pressure is an undertaking that is markedly more difficult when you work with kids who never played organized sports until high school. Day to day is fun. Practices are more than just bearable. They are training grounds on which we watch as athletes blossom from hesitant and nervous kids. But game time brings the pressure to not just play well but to win and most of my kids? They don't believe they can win. Some don't believe they deserve to win. And after a few losses, I am no longer convinced that I have what it takes to help them experience victory.

In the midst of a game, I doubt myself. I don't know what to do next. The wheels start coming off and short of dressing out in uniform myself, I feel desperate and frustrated and discouraged. I know everyone is watching and listening and I think maybe I just don't want to do it any more. I don't want to torture these kids by forcing them through the motions every day. I don't want to drive 40 minutes for a 2 hour practice every day. I don't want to develop a new line up or teach the rotation ONE. MORE. TIME.

As the coach of the team that always loses, I shed a lot of tears. I reach back into my past and try to dig up any ounce of glory I once lived so I can remind myself that it's all worth it. I wish that I could bottle up my good times and pour them over the heads of my players so they can feel that big win JUST ONCE. Because like potato chips... you can't have just one.

As the coach of the team that always loses, I wonder if there will be a next year. For any of us. Then I remember, I still have to get through tomorrow and the rest of the week and the months of September and October. So I try to shake it off and get some sleep. But the sleep does not come easy.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Glimmer of Light

Wandering woefully along a desperate path
The glimmer of light at the end
Seems so far off
So I continue.
Distractions come frequently in various forms
Like ice cream and playful puppies
And a new guy
Who's so familiar.
The sand slips from the top glass
Into the bottom so quickly
Day after day
And I wait
For the heavens to turn my life over
End to end so
I can start again.
Sometimes encouragement makes an appearance
But only briefly so I will not falter
For I know
I cannot stop
Not now, not ever, not even on the most painful days.
Whether I run or skip or walk or trudge
Up every hill
And down into valleys
The key is to move it or lose it forever.
Sometimes I forget the greatness of my purpose
I lose sight
Of the why.
But I look up and see that glimmer of light
In the face
Of a child
Of a student, of a friend, of a relative, of a stranger
In need of love
of a little hope.
Like an empty cup, I beg and borrow and steal
For a refill so that I can pour out again
Into those around
Me, those nearby.
Sometimes I wonder if that glimmer of light at the end
Of this path is really anything at all or
Just a figment
Of my imagination.
Wandering willingly along a hopeful path
The glimmer of light at the end
Seems so bright today
So I continue.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Still I Rise

From Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you? 
Why are you beset with gloom? 
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken? 
Bowed head and lowered eyes? 
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you? 
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you? 
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs? 

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise. 

Wednesday, August 03, 2016


I am not a placeholder.

I am not a placeholder until you find a better date. A prettier girl. A smarter girl. A girl with a better body or what you think is a better body.

I am not a placeholder until you find better plans. A party. A friend you like better. A date with a guy who is looking for a better date.

I am not a placeholder for the other friend. A friend who always agrees with you. A friend who pays for dinner. A friend who always shares the perks of her job with you.

I am not a placeholder for your other daughter. A daughter who did everything in the right order. A daughter who rarely disappoints. A daughter who is good.

I am not a placeholder for the future doer of my job. A worker who is a morning person. A worker who stays inside the box. A worker who will stay for thirty years.

I am not a placeholder for anything that is not me. I am not a placeholder for anyone who is not me. I am not a placeholder.

I am the date. I am your plans for tonight. I am the friend and the daughter and the employee.

I am not. A placeholder.

Monday, June 13, 2016

A Journey with Friends

I love my friends. They are from every economic and educational background. They are old and young, homosexual and heterosexual, red, yellow, black and white. My friends are from various ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds. Their politics vary and some of them make me crazy but they are my friends. Some love cats and others prefer dogs; while there are a few who are just not pet people. I have friends who love to camp and those who prefer the city. I have prissy, high-heel-wearing friends and sweats and tennis shoe friends. I have guy friends and girl friends. I have friends who are incredibly picky eaters and friends who are adventurous with food and many other things. In fact, the more different you are from me, the more I like you because I want to learn from you and seek out the common ground somewhere beneath our differences.

My friends and I met first on the street where my parents have lived in a quiet neighborhood in south St. Louis for 48 years. While my first friends were all fairly similar, I enjoyed their special quirks and unique qualities. Later we met at Francis Park and at swimming lessons at the YWCA on South Kingshighway and at the cabins on the shore beside Table Rock Lake in the Ozarks. Out in public, I sought out the kids who looked the least like me and desperately tried to become their friend. Then at home, I would beg my mom to "PLEASE USE ALL OF THE BARRETTES" because I wanted to have hair like the beautiful, brown-skinned girl I had met at the grocery store.

Eventually, my friends were my classmates. We discovered each other in class, in the parking lot which doubled as a playground, and playing sports in the evenings and weekends. My friends were short and tall and chubby and thin and some were only nice when we hung out on our own but were kind of mean when everyone else was around. But I liked them anyway.

My high school and college friends introduced me to diversity. Diversity of thoughts and ideas, diversity of beliefs, diversity in culture and upbringing... And I loved it. Most taught me about loyalty. Some taught me that I couldn't trust everyone. Others introduced me to heartbreak.

The workforce afforded me the opportunity to meet friends from all over the city, state and country. When I entered the workforce and the ages of my friends spanned from ten years younger than me to twenty years older.

My friends have been a tremendous part of my journey and my development as a person. I love my friends. I love their differences and their sameness. I love when we agree and I appreciate when we disagree. I cannot imagine living in a world that would not allow me to understand the human experience from as many perspectives as possible. I am grateful when things happen that exponentially increase the happiness of my friends. Even the friends who are vastly different than I. And I am profoundly saddened when tragedy hits, no matter who is affected.

The tragic event in Orlando, FL yesterday caused me to reflect on the similar senseless tragedies that have happened throughout history. From Wounded Knee to Black Wall Street to 9/11 to Orlando, no matter the numbers of those killed and wounded or the ethnic background of those affected, each event was carried out in hatred. Those events happened as a result of closed-mindedness and the inability to understand that different is not bad, it's just different.

Every time something like this happens, everyone wants to know what they can do. Well you can write your representatives about changing the gun laws. You can go donate blood. You can send money to somebody's Go Fund Me effort. OR you can just START WITH YOU. It is not too late to broaden your circle, to get to know someone who is drastically different than you. It's not too late to learn to love people because they bring something new and different to the table. It's not too late to learn to be ok with someone else's normal. Just be kind. To everyone. Especially the ones you just can't understand. And the world will be a better place.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

At a loss... Again

Prior to becoming a teacher, I had experience the death of a coworker only one time. I had never known a teenager who lost his or her life. The rate at which our children are dying is not only heartbreaking, it is practically paralyzingly. As a teacher of these young people, I am sick, I am scared, I am at a total loss for what can be or should be done. 

I wish we could make them stop growing up so fast. I wish we could teach them to be little longer. But... We rush them... Hurry up and walk because I can't carry you. Learn to dress yourself so I can get myself ready. Get yourself a snack. Let yourself in the house after school. And on and on...

I wish they'd just stay babies longer. There's supposed to be plenty of time for all that grown up stuff.. But we rush them.

I wish we could love them more and just spend time teaching them to daydream, to imagine and to pretend. I wish we could SHOW THEM how to WONDER. 

But we rush them. WORK HARD then play hard... If there's time to play. Clean up that kitchen. No you can't go outside--it's not safe. Quit playing! I just cleaned up the house. No you cannot be the tooth fairy when you grow up. You have to do something more practical. We can't afford for you to pursue your dreams so...

Then they hurry through the time that should be set aside for wonder and awe and there's nothing left to do but grown up stuff. And then we wonder why they are dying in the streets. 

I am sad for the family of my former student who died tonight, especially for his brilliantly clever 14-year-old brother who will have to figure out how to keep going. I am heartbroken for his friends and former classmates who have seen this too many times to fully comprehend. I am disheartened for our community that barely had time to breathe between incidents much less collect ourselves and come up with real ways to turn this around. 

But here's what propose, for now:

• Move forward in LOVE
• Embrace your family members. PHYSICALLY HUG THEM as often as you can.
• Let your children play and pretend and imagine and wonder. Take some time to do those things yourself too.
• Say hello and SMILE at strangers.
• Give compliments freely.
•  Be happy for others.
•  Instead of revenge, seek opportunities to spread joy to others in the name of evening the score.
• Say "Thank You."
• Say "I love you." It feels weird at first but the more you say it, the more you feel it and the more you feel it, the easier it becomes.

My suggestions may seem trite or might lack the intensity or passion that seems warranted after the death of a young man. But to continue on the same path without making some adjustments will just lead us to this place over and over again. So let's start small with manageable tasks that EVERYONE can fulfill. And when we are healthier and happier let's get back to changing to world in bigger ways. 

To my students who are sad and suffering tonight: It IS going to be ok. This world will get better. I know this to be true because YOU are in it. See you soon. I LOVE YOU.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Summer of the Hustle

I always imagined that I would be living a stable life by the time I was 30. I thought I would be married, financially secure, and mothering a house full of kids. So to be 45 and struggling is not only disappointing but it is tragic. I worked hard for a lot of years to help others and never through about my own security. While I didn't anticipate being a career-driven woman, once that became my reality, I thought the money would just keep coming. And it did, for a very long time. Until it didn't.

When I lost my last job, I took it as an opportunity to transition into teaching which is what I always felt I should have been doing anyway. Now my struggle is very real. I am barely keeping my head above water. I feel like I owe everyone $1000. Like... EVERYONE. 

This weekend, I started a new part time job that brings in a little extra money each week. But it's not enough. Not yet anyway. I have never been great at the hustle but... this summer? This summer will be the summer of the hustle. And hopefully there will be a little time to sleep.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

My Wait

It's difficult for us to understand why people don't want the same things as us, especially if whatever it is seems integral to our own lives. The beauty of the world, however, is that we like and want and need different things. To be the same would be boring. Some of us love and crave that diversity. We thrive in situations where we are not like anyone else or where everyone is different from each other. Others find it uncomfortable and weird and sometimes they feel driven to push others in a direction that is aligned with their own likes or wants or needs. But while that makes them more comfortable it creates an awkward situation for those other people.

Our greatest strife as a world, a country or a community comes from our inability to be ok with our differences.We have to learn at a lesser level, one-on-one, that uniqueness is alright. There is not just one way to do something and just because it isn't your way, that doesn't make it wrong.

Last week, I began reading a book called "The Wait," by DeVon Franklin and Meagan Good. Thanks to the media attention they have received, numerous interviews and book reviews, the book has garnered attention for the couple's decision to wait until marriage to have sex. But the books is about so much more than that. It is about waiting, in general, for what is right for your life and not settling in any area.

In my younger years, I settled a lot. As I have gotten older, I truly have an understanding for not only what I want but also what is right for me. For anyone else to make an assumption about what is best for me based on their own likes, wants or needs would be wrong. I don't necessarily want what might be obvious for a woman of my age or with my education or from my background.

Additionally, my singleness is not an indication of anything other than the fact that I am not married. I am not looking for easy. I don't want whatever job I can get. I am not looking to jump in the sack with whatever guy is available to me. I am not ready to settle into life and just coast until I am old and gray. I have never done what is comfortable or expected. I have carved my own path and I will continue to do so. And I will only have people along for the ride who understand that, who support it and who are deep enough thinkers to appreciate it.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Finding Freedom

It's that time again... In 45 days, I will reach another milestone in my life when I turn 45 years old. As a little girl my imagination never reached beyond life in my twenties. My dreams teemed with the blessings of family. I hoped that, like my mom, I would be married with children by the time I was 26 years old. Going to college, traveling, and having a career were never on my radar.

I soon discovered that my life would take a different path than I had dreamed. And the journey on which I embarked became a quest for freedom in many aspects of my life.

For the next 45 days, I will be posting on a new blog, aptly named FINDING FREEDOM.

Please join me there and follow me over the next month and more until I turn 45.

See you on the other side!