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I Know the Way Home


I Know the Way Home

The moment wasn’t lost on me–the first time in 4 days during my Rest & Relaxation Weekend that I powered on my computer. The moment was just after take off –just after my usual and very deliberate counting down of runway yards until liftoff. 8 hundred yards, 7 hundred yards and counting until between 500 and 400 yards most planes ascend. Wheels off the ground.

As I looked out of the window and enjoyed the takeoff, I watched the beautiful city of Boston, my home for many many years, twinkle by. As I looked down up the city, lovingly noticing the waterfront, The World Trade Center-Boston, the bustling downtown with its vibrant lights and tall buildings and lastly, at the beautifully lit, Zakim Bridge bathed in purple.  I thought about how much I love the city, my friends and my family yet I knew as we passed the Zakim Bridge on the left, that the plane was headed in the wrong direction. I said in my head, we have to turn left to go home.  zakim-bridge

The plane banked left and I felt the wonder of modern air travel. This huge machine taking all of these people somewhere, taking me somewhere, with the power to bank at just the right angle at just the right time at just the right speed.

The aircraft straightened and I knew that we needed to turn more. We weren’t headed home. We did and I saw the beautiful city of Boston–a city that has so many wonderful memories for me, a city that contains so many of my beloved family and friends. I saw it for the second time, smaller now but no less as beautiful, no less powerful.  I thought of how I need the beautiful picture of all of the cities that mean so much to me. New York, Boston and Richmond. I need to look at them everyday. I need to remember everyday.

The plane banked again and I knew then that I knew, I really knew, the way home.

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Posted by on October 16, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Nose Up-Toes Up, Control your Dissent


On my walk today with my dogs, I realized something about myself–more than realized something, I realized and reflected on a pattern, a way of interacting–a way of being that doesn’t serve me all that well in some situations. A way of being that causes unnecessary emotional bumps and bruises and longer recovery times.

To set the stage, my teenage daughter, Danielle and the exchange student, Blanca, who is living with us, went to the river to rock hop and enjoy the water on a hot summer day. Blanca noticed a narrow rush of fast-moving current between where I was precariously wedged between some large rocks and a calm pool of water. I engaged every muscle I had to avoid the faster moving water, while Danielle and Blanca went on down the “baby rapids”–toes up, nose up — thus avoiding all rocks and having a glorious ride to the calm pool of water on the other side. They in their mini oasis for what seemed like an eternity while all the while cajoling me to get into the rapids. I would not. Nope. Even though I’m a strong swimmer and knew that I could get to the other side, for some reason, I just would not do it. I would not let go.20150525_110219

It was not until my leg muscles finally gave out that I went ahem…unwillingly down the rapids– bumping and getting bruised on the rocks along the way. Instead of going through the churning water willingly to get to the other side, I was forced to by my own exhaustion and the result was painful and embarrassing.

This what I tend to do emotionally as well– I avoid conflict at all costs. I acquiesce. I just go along and figure it out later and often by myself I have trouble sitting in the swirl– being in chaos. I often don’t value my own inner strength to get through it and therefore,  I sit paralyzed, peace on the other side deferred until I can figure out how to devise a contraption or go allll the way around to finally get to the other side. However, more often than not, I get yanked into chaos because I simply get too tired to hold on any longer and I get hurt.

As I sit here writing this and reflecting upon my life, I have to admit that my legs are tired, my brain is tired, my heart is tired. The swirl is here. The swirl is everywhere.  The swirl is real. The key is to trust that what’s one the other side is worth it AND to control the entrée into the chaos. Does one go unwillingly or have a controlled descent–nose up, toes up?! It’s hard to trust that will work and sometimes, even when you plan it all out, it doesn’t work out. So, I’m searching inside for the peace within to get me through the swirl of raging water and the trust in myself that yes, I have incomprehensible strength given by God, I can manage it. Time to let go.

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Badass, Goodass Goddess


I have been away from blogging for a year or more as I have been writing quite a bit professionally and just kinda keeping my stories in my head. Suffice it to say that I am an emotional writer (I guess there are worse things) and alas, I have been snapped back to writing (on paper) by several recent events that struck a chord.

For the past several weeks, I have enjoyed reading FB posts by my female friends coping with the relentless winter weather in Boston. I have participated in discussions featuring everything from throwing pantyhose filled with ice melt on roofs and gutters to prevent disaster, enlisting the help of neighbors to push cars out of driveways so very important exercise training schedules can be maintained. Some friends are managing commutes that are 3x as long as normal all the while maintaining pick up and drop off times for little ones and yep, some friends are bemoaning the fact that they have to shovel their own driveways over and over again. But the real icing on the cake in my power of the pen reclamation event was a second party FB post by a dear friend.

The article, 15 Things All Badass, Fearless Alpha-Women Do Differently From Other Types Of Women by Brenda Della Casa on Thoughtcataloge.com captured my attention as the accompanying picture features the ubiquitous white woman, eyes glazed upwards, arms strongly angled on her hips, standing in a field complete with blousy shirt and yep, heels. (I’m not even kidding!)

Number one on the list of how to tell if you are badass woman is:

They cultivate a life they actually enjoy living.

Great, I can totally get with that because, you know…I’m badass. That’s enough for me to continue reading. I start to look through the other 14 affirmations and by number 4, I see it. Yep, right there:

They don’t need a boyfriend but they’re open to having a partner.

Here we go… and yes, even a badass can see through this. In total, 6 out of the 15 affirmations are directly related to the “boyfriend- strong single woman- don’t let anyone define you category”. There are a few others that relate to this theme peripherally. The correlation of badassness related to single-womanhood really bothered me in this article even though I was a single woman for 10+ years with a child and know that I’m totally badass because of it.

However ,for me, attributing being a badass to one’s ability to cope without a partner is so passé and I said so on the shared post.

Me: Yeah, but why are 6 of the points focused on single-ness, men and relationships…

The response back was something on the line of being fearless and not letting others define your happiness.

I couldn’t agree more but…

Me: Yeah, but then it should have one or two ” love yourselves” and not 6 “you are single so that makes you a badass”. Too much weight on that, in my opinion. I was single for 10+ years and yes I was badass because of it but there’s a whole lot more that I was badass about that didn’t even focus on men/or not having a man.

So, ladies, let’s talk about what IS badass that is not defined by a man.

Going through cancer treatments and asking for help from family and friends when you are usually the giver.  Asking for help. Tracy did that. That’s badass.

Working during the week and on weekends to make ends meet for your family. By any means necessary. Ashley did that. That’s badass.

Dealing with a sudden and tragic death of a loved one and then moving across country to start living again.Putting yourself and your kids back together.  Suzanne, did that. That’s badass.

Choosing to teach in an impoverished school and getting kids to love (I mean really love) learning MATH. Capturing students hearts and minds. Kyle did that. That’s badass.

Studying and working your butt off. Being a great friend and a great servant. Garnering a promotion to be the Senior Vice President, Chief Lending Officer of a major bank in a large city. Being humble and strong. Blondel did that. That’s badass.

Protesting the unjust treatment of young Black males while putting your own personal safety on the line. Being selfless.  Addis did that. That’s badass.

Facing a sudden divorce, picking up the pieces of yourself emotionally and physically and becoming a triathlete in the process. Physical and mental strength. Rebecca did that. That’s badass.

Striking out with your husband and young child to move to Indonesia for five months while you use your research on infectious diseases as a model for instruction in universities. Strong intelligence. Carleitta did that. That’s badass.

Badass is about loving yourself. It is about being a strong woman whether you are single or coupled up not because you are single or coupled up. As my badass friend Diane said, Badass is Goodass. Badass is Goddess.

I’m a badass. I’m goodass I’m a Goddess in my own right and I know A LOT of woman who fit into these same affirmations and while some of us do, some of us really don’t wear blousy dresses and heels and stand in fields. Some of us, like Adina, climb mountains physically, mentally and emotionally. That’s badass. That’s goodass. That’s Goddess.adina

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Kyle


Kyle represents so many teachers in the world. She wants her students to excel academically and personally. Yet Kyle is different in many ways. Her unyielding grasp on her own sense of self, as well as her unwavering and highly attuned social justice orientation leap out before her in everything that she does, especially when she teaches.  However, her in-depth content knowledge, as well as her adept teaching pedagogy arekyle pic1 only a portion of the story. For Kyle, her social justice orientation is the fuel for supporting students whom the system has otherwise given up on, to excel.

This focus on social justice, particularly in schools, particularly in the area of mathematics has been explored at length by educators and activists such as Robert Moses in his book, The Algebra Project. In this book, Bob Moses indicates (and backs up the fact) that mathematics, Algebra in particular is a filter for continued student success, not only in mathematics but in college and the workforce. For this reason, it is vitally important to have teachers like Kyle, teachers that understand the intersection of mathematics and issues of social justice.

For Kyle, these issues are not only apparent professionally and personally for her within the walls of her own classroom, they are also part of her experience as a parent, particularly of boy, specifically of a bi-racial boy. Like many of us who juggle professional and personal around issues of education and social justice, Kyle experiences these same joys and dilemmas, which some may say are heightened by her experiences in a large urban school and in her home as a white woman with bi-racial children.

I am intrigued by how Kyle navigates her world at school as a teacher, at home as a parent and in the school community for her young son as a teacher and a parent.  Kyle and I are embarking on a journey together to peel back the issues as she sees them and document her experiences (and others) in order to not only tell her story but to draw connections to the stories that so many of us share.
Stay tuned. We’re excited.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Why I love Richmond.


Why I Love Richmond.

Seems apropos to re-start my blogging (which I left for 6 months or so when I discovered that people from work were…well…reading my blog) with a focused account of Why I Love Richmond !

I’ve spent a little more than a year readjusting to life in The South after living in the Northeast for 27th years. I’m back home in Richmond, Virginia with roughly 69 square miles, the population averages 205,000 with 50% Black, 44% White, 6% Latino (that’s a huge change)

  • 1/3 of the population has a bachelor’s degree of higher (which is probably why people call me Doctor at every given opportunity)
  • 13,000 Veterans (although students do not get a day off from school for Veteran’s Day)
  • mean travel time to work is 21 minutes (my commute is 10)
  • home ownership rate is less than 1/2 (yup)
  • 3rd best city for industry however, the median household income $38K with 1/4 of the population living below the poverty line (lots to talk about here)
  • 20% of the population smokes tobacco (yup…Phillip Morris is a big industry)
  • 11% of the populations has with diabetes, 1/4 -high blood pressure and 1/3 – high cholesterol levels)
  • right on the fall line of the James River, there are lots of river-based activities here, hiking trails, museums, theaters and restaurants
  • Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson and all their contemporaries used Richmond for important historical events and there is a lot of amazing architecture here
  • the humid, subtropical cliimate is framed rolling hills, beaches and mountains
  • AND the people are super friendly     

The first question that people usually ask me after “why did you move back here?” is “Do you like it down here?” When I respond, “yes” they go on, “Better than New York and Boston”. I respond, “yes”.  I always…ALWAYS get a quizzical look after my affirmative responses, which makes me think …‘wait, am I missing something’.  As I thought about why I like living here, it became apparent to me that I had to put it on paper–maybe to prove it to myself. This topic strand will serve as notes to myself on why I love living in Richmond. Sometimes, I will use love to describe things that I really love about living here. Sometimes, it will mean love with a question mark (imagine your voice going up at the end) and sometimes love will purely be used as an oxymoron-as in, I really don’t love it. For starters, here’s a list of stuff that I really do love:

  1. Larry is here. My dad is here. My grandma is here.
  2. There is a line dance for every song, literally.
  3. You can have a pig roast-just because–and throw in a fried turkey for Thanksgiving too.
  4. You have be in the midst of a very foul mood and the nice lady in the grocery store will call you ladybug and instantly you feel better
  5. Walton’s Mountain and papa’s Secret Family Recipe –‘nuf said

There’s more but I’ll stop here…Happy Thanksgiving       

http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/51/51760.html

http://www.vdh.state.va.us/ofhs/prevention/tucp/documents/2012/pdf/Data/TobaccoIndicators/Tobacco%20Indicators_Richmond%20City.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richmond,_Virginia

 

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Valentines on the Bus


So many levels of energy come and go in waves on the bus as it traverses the city. In fact, the ride goes through cycles just like love, just like life. Cycles of stillness and silence, of unbridled laughter, of confusion and deep thoughts as the world seems to fly by the window. But, in all of this, you can count on the bus to turn left right there and the driver to stop to rest over there. There is something comforting about that-about moving and resting in the River City.

A man reading Nietzsche, another asking for directions to City Hospital-clearly fuzzy thoughts and movements to match. Both riders receiving the same cordiality from the driver and passengers. Everyone is just who they are on the bus.Shouts of Happy Valentine’s Day as riders board. Men with balloons taking up multiple seats, a lady with a red coat and pink gloves trying to get her crumpled up dollar into the slot (yes, with her gloves on) -after all, it’s Valentines Day on the bus in the River City.

A baby swatted for crying, another lulled to sleep by the bus. Driver humming Christmas songs and raising a fist in solidarity to comrades on other Valentines’s Day busses in the River City.

I could have ridden on that bus with my Valentine all night.

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

I can show you better than I can tell you


I think today I decided to stop trying so hard and just let things fall the way they are supposed to fall. I’m not in control anyway and I’m getting sick pretending to be. Finally, I have a golden opportunity to really focus on my own stuff; my own issues, my own concerns, my own relationships, my own desires, my own happiness, my own writing, my own life.  

Today, I think I have decided to let other people deal with their own issues and not carry the weight of not acting or reacting the way they think I ought to. I don’t have the brain space or the volition to deal with the merry-go-round of pity, self-doubt, anger or frustration.

My friend, Larry, always says to me, “I can show you better than I can tell you”.    Me- I’ve always been a, “I can tell you better than I can show you” person so I’m going to try something different and expecting different results. I’m tired of talking about it and I’m really tired of worrying about it and I’m even more tired of writing about it so no more talking. Just doing.

Good God

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2011 in Uncategorized