Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you and your family the most wonderful day filled with love and peace!

By Joseph J. Mazzella

I had yet another birthday recently. It is strange how they keep popping
up year after year. They must come from the same place as the grey hairs
and wrinkles, because each year I seem to have more of them too. Still, as
my body gets older and older my soul seems to get younger and younger, so
I don’t mind celebrating a birthday now and then.

For some reason this one seemed especially good. It may have been the
chocolate cake and chocolate chip ice cream that made both my face and my
stomach smile. It may have been the good natured teasing and hugs I got.
It may have been seeing that childlike sparkle in my grown children’s eyes
when they gave me my gifts. It may have even been the thoughtful gifts
themselves picked out with such care. I think most of all, though, it was
the gifts behind the gifts that filled my day with so much joy. You see,
each gift was filled with the love of the person who gave it. Each gift
was a package of love delivered from their heart to mine and each gift
made my own love burn brighter.

The more birthdays I celebrate in this life, the more I see that love is
really the only thing that matters. The parties you have, presents you
get, or years you age aren’t important. All that counts is how much love
you choose, share, and give in this world, because love itself is the
greatest gift there is.

God in His loving wisdom has given each of us the two best gifts we can
ever get: a life to live and the love to live it with. Let’s not waste
them. Let’s not put them on a shelf and ignore them. Let’s use them
instead. Let’s fill each of our birthdays and all the days in between with
loving others, helping others, giving to others, teaching others, and
sharing joy with others. Let’s truly enjoy these gifts God gives us from
our first breath until our last sigh.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Unexpected Perks

I am having surgery a few days before Christmas and when people hear that, the first reaction is usually something like, "Oh, that's too bad; you will be laid up for the holidays!"

But, me, being me, always looking for the positive (even as I worry), I have found some perks in this situation. Aside from the obvious (the promise of being in better health and less physical discomfort), am happy with or looking forward to the following:

1. This is the first time ever that I have completed my Christmas shopping by, what's today? Oh yeah, December 10th!!!!!

2. Because I don't want to return to a mess at work, I am taking the time (which I somehow could never find in the past) to clear out the clutter in my office.

3. I will have a legitimate excuse to partake of my favorite activity for a couple of weeks ... SLEEP!

4. No work until sometime after the new year.

5. I get to go shopping for new things ... ok, so it's post-op stuff like meds and comfy clothes but I'm still excited.

6. People are so darn nice to me right now.

I'm sure if I dig deeper, I can think of some more but I'll stop here for now. Suffice it to say, I am eagerly awaiting the forced vacation since I probably need one and would not have taken one otherwise.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I wish you all a safe and peaceful holiday! I am thankful for everyone who takes a moment to read my words and for all the support you have shown me.

Be blessed!


Friday, November 18, 2011


Earlier this week, my sister in Christ, Kim Cash Tate, posted a message in which she mentioned that the Lord gave her a mission by way of a particular scripture. I thought, "Oh wow, maybe I should find a scripture that encapsulates my mission".  This seemed like something I should pray about that could help me focus on my purpose. But when I opened my bible, I was immediately reminded that I do have a scripture, that I was using it to guide me in my ministry, yet somewhere along the way, I let it go. Over the past few years I allowed circumstances and events to pull me off course. I have sort of been floundering, trying to figure out which direction I should go, when I already knew. I started thinking I was in-capable of continuing the work I was doing because my situation changed. In reality, my experiences only enhance my testimony and give me a deeper understanding of where I can reach others as I help them learn to empower and advocate for themselves and their families.

I am thankful for sisters like Kim and others who encourage me but also redirect me when I am veering in the wrong direction. They embody the scripture that motivates me to do the work I was called to do:

Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don't want anyone looking down on God's Message because of their behavior. Titus 2:3-5 (The Message)

What motivates you to do the work you do?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The wait is over ...

I am pleased and excited to announce that Spirit Song: the lyrics of my heart is now available for purchase when you click the "Buy Now" link to your right. As the holidays are fast approaching, consider securing a copy for yourself and one to give as a gift.

Check out a few excerpts on the "Sneak Peek" page.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Kinyarwanda - A Must See Film

If you are in or near any of these cities - New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Washington DC, San Francisco, Seattle - I suggest you run, not walk, to the theater on December 2 to see this new film, directed by Alrick Brown. Kinyarwanda is not just about the genocide in Rwanda, it is a film that holds significance in many areas. In general, I believe it is important to support independent films because the world needs to see multi-dimensional representations of people of color on screen. Specifically, the people of Rwanda want their story told and not to be forgotten.

Rwanda can teach the world about forgiveness, unity, and perseverance. Today, citizens do not identify themselves as Hutu or Tutsi; they are all Rwandans. This film highlights the humanity of survivors and perpetrators. On the screen, we are enveloped with Rwandan culture and language. Viewers experience the dreams of children, a history lesson on what ignited and sustained the division amongst brothers, the ability for Muslims and Christians to work together, and Africans saving themselves. The executive producer, Ishmael Ntihabose, is a survivor who wanted to share his story. Many of the actors and crew are native Rwandans.

During the post-screening discussion, Marie Claudine Mukamabano, the founder of Kuki Ndiho Foundation, addressed the audience. She is a survivor who shared two statements that resonated within me. First, she noted that when dealing with persons who have wronged us, we have two choices; either forgive or seek revenge. To forgive brings us freedom. It we can't exact revenge on those who we feel deserve it, we turn the vengeance toward ourselves and those closest to us. Second, if women stand together, we can bring about peace in this world.

Some things you just have to experience for yourself. Kinyarwanda is one of those things. I hope I have inspired you to look into this film. Please watch the trailer. Visit the website to learn more about the production. Also check out Imagenation and AFFRM, organizations that are working diligently to showcase our stories to the world.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Birthing Story

Once again, I am the mother of a teen-ager because my son celebrated his 13th birthday yesterday. (My daughter is 21, so I had a couple of teen-free years there.) Anyway, I believe 13 to be a momentous age, particularly for young men. While my son does not participate in a rites of passage program, I am aware of lessons that need to be imparted to him and I try to align him with people who can supplement what he learns from home. Although he has a heavy female influence, because he lives mostly with his sister and me, his father and other men are there to assist him in his transition to adulthood, which is crucial.

I believe a child's knowledge of his or her birthing story is also an important element of creating a positive self-image. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding conception (planned or un-planned, parents married or un-married, etc.), children need to understand that their existence is not an accident. With that in mind, I have a tradition (which started with my daughter) of reminding my son of his birthing story at least once a year. My goal is to reinforce the fact that he is a gift to his family and that there are expectations of him in life. Highlights of his story are below.

1. He was prayed for before he came. I was anointed by the Queen Mother of our church on February 8, 1998 and he was born exactly 9 months later.
2. His father and I were intentional about naming him. We want him to live up to his first name, honor his grandfather with his middle name and be proud of his family name. He should be mindful that he is the only male born in his generation, from his grandfather's line, who carries the family name.
3. As soon as he was born, his father lifted him up and dedicated him to God.
4. His sister was in the room while he was born, so he was welcomed by our whole nuclear family.
5. He was created with a purpose. God and his family have great expectations of him.
6. I am proud of who he is now and am certain that I will continue to be proud as he grows to adulthood.

At various times throughout the year, details are fleshed out as the conversation arises. For example, last week we were talking about his problem with being late but I noted that he wasn't always that way. He was actually born on his due date, in the wee hours of the morning. I also find that telling the birthing story can be a good segue into other family historical stories. All in all, this practice has been working for us. I would love to hear about any rituals that you participated in while growing up or that you instituted with your own children surrounding birthdays.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sometimes we over-think the really simple things ...

Yesterday afternoon, I felt like a big jerk because the answer to a problem I was mulling over for the past week (maybe two) was revealed to me. And it was so simple. My day job is in accounting; I had to reconcile payroll documents with my own records. (Let's not dwell on the fact that if I did this quarterly, like I am supposed to, then I would have found and resolved the issue a long time ago - procrastination will be another post.) But I reviewed this particular schedule, my auditors reviewed it, I went through every register from every pay period and could not reconcile the numbers. I finally called our payroll service and asked for some insight. As the representative was speaking, it hit me that I simply did not take certain deductions into consideration - I was following a template from last year, but things changed. It's not rocket science. The place I should have started, was where the answer was. However, I didn't think it could be that apparent, so I looked all over the place and back.

What did I learn? First, don't make issues bigger than they are, one ends up wasting a lot of time and energy that way. Second, don't overlook the obvious; it's obvious for a reason. Last, don't make calling experts (or those who have knowledge of the issue) the last option; check with them first. There is no shame in seeking assistance.

I'm also reminded not to over-think relational issues. What generally happens is I build great scenarios in my mind of what a person's actions mean or what they are thinking - all which have nothing to do with reality. I have learned that if a person says or does something that I am uncomfortable with or unsure about, it's best to just ask for clarification. That makes for better communication and understanding all around.

There are also times when my gut tells me how to react to certain situations and I don't trust it; I start over-thinking all the details. In the end, I usually come to the original conclusion, while precious time has been wasted.

My final thought is when over-thinking becomes in-action. I may get a great idea, but then I think of all the reasons why it wont work, or wont be successful. When all is said and done, if I put the energy into just planning how to move forward, rather than think about all the negative possibilities, things would move along at a quicker pace.

All-in-all, life is not as complicated as we can make it. I am going to embrace the simple way from now on; how about you?

Monday, October 31, 2011

As Domestic Violence Awareness month comes to an end, I encourage you not to end your awareness ...

This is a re-post from Susan J. Elliott's website, Getting Past Your Breakup. If you have questions about your relationship, please read. If you think you know someone who is in an abusive relationship, please read and share.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

It's a lazy, rainy/snowy Saturday ... and I am loving it!

My mama used to ask me why I thought I should always be doing something, to which I never really had a good answer. I was always occupied around the house, minding the family, working, serving at church ... whatever. So today, with my mama in mind, I am doing absolutely nothing other than relaxing and enjoying myself. It's dreary outside; perfect weather for staying indoors. I recently bought a bunch of dvd's (documentaries & indie films that no one else in the house would be interested in) that I plan to watch. My children are not here. I am cooking foods that I like to eat. Can we say "blissful day"?

This was a particularly stressful work week, so this slow down day is greatly appreciated. I was reminded of a couple of old sayings this week and I reflected on how true they are, at least for me. The first was "an idle mind is the devil's workshop." (Hmmmn, this may be the answer to my need for business.) Being so busy at work - having to stay late & work at home a few nights - meant that I had no time to dwell on random thoughts (craziness). Things that were weighing on me recently, items that were disturbing or gave me discomfort, were so far removed from my mind. Now, I can look back and see that these concerns are really not that serious. For the entire week I didn't think on them and guess what? The world is still turning and I am still here, pressing on.

The other saying was "laughter is the best medicine." I love to laugh. My children are hilarious and keep me cracking up. I have some very funny co-workers who make the days pass quicker. I even find myself laughing at times, just because I feel so good and there is nothing else I can do to express my joy. This makes me realize that tiredness will pass, aches and pains are temporary and nothing is really so grim that I can't smile through it.

Wherever you are today, I hope you take time out to laugh and relax.

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Inspirational Corner

I have a large window in my office; while sitting at my desk, I can see it clearly. One day I was thinking that the sill looked so bare, I really needed to put something on top of it. The Spirit led me to make this my inspirational corner.  I love cards and really enjoy receiving them.  Actually, I love to just look at cards, read them, pick them out and give them also (but I do like getting them as well).  In my circle, people are not big on cards, so I am sort of alone in this and usually miss out on my card fix. 
What I did with this corner is place inspiring or otherwise uplifting cards on display.  I have one that says "You are an amazing woman" on the front and has a picture of a woman standing on the beach who seems so free.  I love it!  It helps me to reflect in moments when I don't feel so amazing.  I have a couple of thank you cards. Also, one that reminds me someone was thinking of me and sent a card simply for that reason. I have a card from my son and beside it I placed a leaf that he gave me one day while we were walking.  And, I even went out and bought myself a card. I took the time to choose something that I would love to receive and then I gave it to myself.  I figured, why wait on others to show me the love I can show myself?

Now, when I need a moment to regroup, I can look to my right, read the words or just take in the pictures and I feel refreshed and ready to continue.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Haven't been feeling too well, so I don't have a lot on my mind ... I won't regale you with intricate details of the weird dream I had yesterday (I can count on my fingers the number of dreams I have remembered during my life) - even though according to Dream Moods, it seems like this one reflects that I'm trying to communicate my feelings and need for contact by way of acknowledging my innocence, helplessness and vulnerabilities while I'm getting to know my rational, aggressive, assertive, and competitive aspects as I recognize my true inner value. :-)

Anyway, I figured I'd share a piece I wrote recently ... hope you enjoy!


the god in you caused my earth to quake
with a sudden release of energy
the tremors pulsated through me
a magnitude so intense
it was beyond measurement on the richter scale

this natural event caused by frictional heating
released the build-up of strain and stress
denoted by forceful shaking
it created a rupture
forcing waters to overflow my body perimeter

and now I am stricken with aftershocks
ripples that decrease intensity by the day
yet still wreak havoc on me
dangerous and unpredictable
they come without warning
shattering the calm
erupting like volcanoes
leaving fires burning in their wake

reminders of the main explosion
a foretaste of the next seismic wave

Shahmet Gordon © 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

Essential Reminders ...

Below are some points I was reminded of this week after the "moment" mentioned on Monday.  I toyed with the idea of calling these lessons that were learned. However, I recognize that truth already inhibits my being. I just need a little assistance recalling it at times. In no particular order:

1. I am loved; by God, my friends and family who I can touch in the real world, and my sisters in cyberspace.

2. It's perfectly normal to question; we have been given the gifts of intellect and a sound mind for a reason.

3. Don't always get caught up in the presentation; the message is what's important.

4. Choosing to love is never the wrong answer.

5. The difficulties we endure are not always part of a demonic plan; God grows us through our struggles and we are then able to testify about His grace and mercy.

6. Rather than feeling guilty for falling short in certain areas of life, we need to use our experiences to edify our sisters and brothers.

7. Faith and fear can not occupy the same space.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Monday night random stuff ...

Sometimes I get in a mood which I call "having a moment". The more time that passes, the further away I am from the effects of the post traumatic stress disorder, the better I am able to handle things that trigger me, the less I have these moments. I have experienced a couple of losses during the past year, so I recognize that grief brings on these moments too. But all in all, I haven't had one in a while - well, tonight is one of those moments. Actually, I have been feeling some kind of way for a couple of weeks now. I have a pretty good idea of what the cause is; just have to figure out how to navigate this juncture in my life.

So with that said, I have no profound observations tonight (or this morning since it's after midnight). Just doing my normal stuff. Went to work, came home, hung with the offspring a bit, went to the laundry-mat. I am marveling at how warm it still is to be early October - so I'm sitting on the terrace in shorts & T-shirt, sipping a Mike's Hard Mango Punch, listening to Adele (& Jazmine Sullivan & Timothy Bloom, & Sam Cooke), and chilling ... being in the moment because sometimes we just have to. Sometimes, we just have to accept all that we are feeling and let it be. Can't stay there, that's why its just a moment - but for that time, it's ok to just sit, reflect, cry, whatever ... then I will get up, go to bed, and God willing, wake up again to take another crack at life.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Learning Through Motherhood

I was reviewing some old documents and came across this very brief summary I wrote about a discussion I led during 2007 on the topic of Motherhood: A Sacred Journey. I was one of four presenters; my section concentrated on lessons learned through child rearing and through studying the biblical story of Rachel and Leah. It was interactive and each session was tailored to the audience. My individual journey is what I speak on below; hopefully you will gain a little more insight about me through these words.

I am 38 years old and I am the mother of two children – a 17 year old daughter and an 8 year old son. We are given the responsibility to care for our children; they need the basics - nurturing, feeding, clothing, shelter, education, etc.  But through our children we are given the opportunity to learn so much about ourselves and the world around us.  Each child brings a different lesson and a different leg of our journey.

Being the mother of a girl child has forced me to evaluate how I view myself and to make adjustments where needed. I realized that behaviors or traits that I wanted to instill had to be operating in my life as a pattern for her. Some tools that help me prepare myself as a woman and a mother include: being still, praying and listening to what God has to say; anointing myself; offering my body as a living sacrifice; praising God always, through all situations; reading and studying the word of God.  The bible provides many examples of sisters whose lives we can connect with and learn from.  For instance, Rachel and Leah (whose stories are told in Genesis 29-33) are true examples of mothering and nation building.  They, along with their maidservants, Zilpah & Bilhah, gave birth to the twelve tribes of Israel, the sons of Jacob.  These sisters had conflicts with each other, yet they were able to grow beyond their envy and competitiveness to the point where they were able to see their common ground.  Rachel and Leah understood that they were both being treated unfairly by their father.  It is possible that their relationship with each other was strained because they were raised that way and pitted against each other, not realizing that they were pawns; much like our enslaved ancestors who were trained to distrust each other based on differences such as age, sex, and complexion, to name a few.  Leah & Rachel decided to put aside their differences and agreed to follow Jacob wherever his God led them. The essential lessons surrounding Leah & Rachel are the reasons we gather, at such a time as this. We are all in this together.  How do we celebrate our essence as women and encourage our sisters at the same time? How do we honor our men, acknowledge their leadership, put aside our differences and come together for the betterment of our families and communities?

My son has brought me to another aspect of my journey. I had to come to terms with the fact that as descendants of an enslaved people, our notions of parenting are warped.  Much of what we think of as normal comes from a reaction to how we have to survive living as an oppressed people. What I perceived as my normal inclination to protect my son, because I know the dangers that await our Black male children in this society, is really not the natural order.  Men are made to cover and protect women and children.  Our male children need to be taught this from a young age and reared for their role as leader and priest of their home.  God has blessed us with partners in parenting, our children’s fathers. We have a joint responsibility to raise our children, whether we live in the same home or not. Men and women each have a unique perspective and the two together help to create healthy and whole individuals.

Motherhood is just one part of my whole journey but it is a piece that has helped to transform me from an immature girl into a virtuous woman.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Old Patterns Can Change

"I'm not married anymore, but I still ..."

During a conversation last week, I found myself starting a sentence with the above words. It didn't hit me until later what I was actually saying; I'm not married anymore, but my mind still follows the patterns of a married woman at times. Granted, since I was married for 20 years and only divorced for two, the majority of my adult life was lived as one half of a partnership. I was, and still am, an advocate for marriage. While I was married, I viewed that as my most important ministry. As such, I even moderated an online fellowship for married, Christian women. Through networking and researching, I gained insights that were geared toward strengthening marital unions and providing individuals with tools for navigating healthy life partnerships. I subscribed to various newsletters, magazines, blogs, and discussion boards so that I could see different views and flesh out ideas. Which leads to the talk last week where I mentioned that I still participate in these marriage dialogues.

The question I asked myself was, "Why?" I thought I was adjusting to single life, doing me and all that jazz. I say that I have no intentions of getting married again, so I'm not preparing for the future, right? I have come to realize that regardless of what I think I'm doing, old habits die hard. I was used to thinking about my other half when making decisions, so much that I recognized behaviors I continued because of his personal preferences (such as cooking particular foods or keeping my hair a certain length). Because I had a husband, I leaned on him and got used to not exerting myself in certain areas. However, another thing I have realized is that when you are forced to, you can break those old habits and sometimes you find reserves you didn't even know existed. For example, I learned that I can assemble small pieces of furniture, fix minor plumbing issues, kill mice, maintain a workable budget, and take care of other people without neglecting my own well being. 

I was also used to thinking of intimate relationships only within the context of marriage, so I held on to these discussion groups out of habit. The good thing is that topics such as communication, trust, respect and responsibility are valid in all relationships, so the conversations are still useful and can be tailored appropriately. Acknowledgement is the first step in any change. Once you recognize that change is needed, make the decision to act. Alas, I have since unsubscribed from the marriage e-mail tips and such so I can focus more on where I am in life right now.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fight Against Violence

The first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed in October 1987. During that same year, the first national domestic violence toll-free hotline was initiated. Although we need to be aware and fight against domestic violence all year long, I want to highlight a few things today.

Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abuse presents itself in many forms such as physical, sexual, emotional, economic, and psychological. Domestic violence can occur with people of every gender, race, religion, socioeconomic status, age, sexual orientation, and education level.

If you are in an abusive relationship, know that there is help and you are not alone in your struggle. The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE) provides advocates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to assist victims, or anyone calling on their behalf, with crisis intervention, safety planning and local referrals. The website,, offers a plethora of information for victims and anyone who suspects their loved one may be in an abusive relationship. Another great resource is the book by Lundy Bancroft titled Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men.

Below is the piece I wrote that was published in last year's The Purple Poetry Book in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. My hope is that you will all be safe.

silent no more

he tried to break me
when I thought I could take no more
he proved he wasn’t done
he wanted to crush me
but I’ma shine through it
I’ma soar above all the bullshit
transcend that tiny bag of tricks
assume responsibility for my life

I got wings, can’t you see?
I’m a survivor
I’m already free
my anger is real and justified
thankfully it’s led me to open my eyes
the secret has been revealed

I now comprehend that it’s all a game
he thought he was winning at hopscotch
him throwing rocks, me jumping in a box
as I open the chess board I realize none of this is personal
we are at war and it’s a shame
but I finally got the rules to this ole game
entitlement, control, manipulation are the moves
acquiescence, keeping the peace is how we lose

I am silent no more
I must speak for my sisters who can’t
because of the bullets in their heads or the knives in their chests
I must speak for my sisters
who are too afraid and have not yet understood
if they don’t walk out, they will be carried out
I must speak for my sisters
who only see the physical
and don’t yet understand the impact of slowly dying
mentally and spiritually
I must speak for my brothers
cause they are overlooked and disbelieved
I must speak for the children
who don’t know any other way
who think this is how life is supposed to be lived
I must speak to a system that perpetuates the torture
that holds us in contempt and does not keep us safe

they say a rose by any other name is still a rose
well abuse by any other name is still abuse
I am silent no more.

Shahmet Gordon © 2010

Friday, September 30, 2011

Take Your Loved One To The Doctor

Since he's been broadcast in my area, I have been listening to the Tom Joyner Morning Show (TJMS). TJMS has declared today as  "Take Your Loved One to the Doctor Day". I am fully on board with this. It seems they started with "Take Your Man to the Doctor Day" because historically, women have a tendency to get check-ups and screenings while men, not so much. I'm not going to pull statistics because by now we have all heard that prevention and early detection are life savers. This call has expanded to all loved ones because, honestly some people just need a nudge and it's not only men. I encourage parents to ensure that your children have their yearly physicals including a visit with the ophthalmologist and semi-annual trips to the dentist. Ask that full blood work ups be performed because sometimes children don't complain, but there are issues that can be detected. If you are sexually active, get an HIV test, even if you believe you are in a monogamous relationship.

I may be a little selfish but over the past year I have spent way too much time in hospitals and nursing homes. I encourage everyone in my circle to get to the doctor and know what you are dealing with. Get the pap smears, mammograms and prostate exams. I know they are uncomfortable but they can provide you with information to help you make wise decisions about your life. Chances are you won't get to see a doctor today but call now and make an appointment. I want you all to live long and abundantly. While you are at it, consider becoming an organ donor, a blood donor, or a bone marrow donor so that you can help others achieve optimum health as well.

On that note, I'm off to make my dental appointment!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Round and Round

I realize that I have a pattern of starting and stopping, the same things - basically going round and round in what seems to be a never ending cycle. This is my fourth blog - I start - I write - I stop - I start again. I looked at a post I wrote in 2007 where I was mad hype because I had an action plan. I was going to lose weight and be all fit & fly (for the umpteenth time!). I had just gotten my learner's permit (for the third time). I was on those lessons and going to be driving within months. In my head, I worked out that I was going to finally complete school since I had already attended three colleges and earned not one degree.

Yeah ... let's fast forward to the present. Still on that losing weight tip. My permit will expire on my birthday next year if I don't do something about it. Haven't graduated yet. These are just a few items that come to mind; I have some others that are on perpetual repeat also.

On the surface, it may look like "wow, this chick can't get it together, huh?" But what I recognize is that this is a process. Life is happening all the time. There are things I didn't anticipate which I have handled and now they are done. To do lists may not be completed, but relationships are being built and strengthened. As long as I have breath, I have another chance to take a stab at my goals. I may look as if I am in the same place, but I am not. Each time I begin a cycle, I get closer to achieving my desired result. I also learn something, either about myself or the world, that helps me and provides an opportunity to share with others.

So today, as with everyday, I will continue moving forward, content with the knowledge that I am where I need to be at this moment in time.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

High School Daze

So, my first text of the morning was telling me that Stuyvesant HS ranked #18 on the US News & World Report's list of Best High Schools for Math & Science, while Brooklyn Technical HS ranked #50. My son & I attended an open house for Stuyvesant last night and this text was follow up, to reinforce that there should be no choice between the two schools; the obvious one to try for is the highest ranked.  (There is another school in the city that ranks higher, Staten Island Technical HS #13, but who goes to Staten Island?)

I feel as if the game has changed since my daughter entered high school in 2002. She attended a small private middle school and went to a pretty small Catholic HS in our neighborhood. She tested/auditioned for the specialized high schools, but it seemed we already knew she was staying in private school. Her father and I didn't want her traveling too far because we wanted her to be able to participate in after school activities and not worry about her safety coming home late. She didn't want to take more tests than needed, so she skipped the whole independent school process. We didn't go to high school fairs or open houses. I wasn't scouring the internet for months in advance and reading reviews or report cards.

This time around? My son has already been accepted to an independent school (that hasn't opened yet) during the early admissions process. I mentioned this is high school, not college, right? Wow, an acceptance? Sounds like the work is done and we should just be sitting back waiting for next year to roll around, right? Wrong. The tuition is almost 60% of my annual salary and we are on the financial aid waiting list (I'm a little curious about who was granted aid if I wasn't deemed needy enough, but ...). Anyway, the process continues and it seems to be a tedious one. September through November are crammed with fairs, open houses, buddy days, admission and scholarship exams, applications and letters of reference.

But I had to stop and think, did the process really change or did I change? What I realized is that I need to be more aggressive and vigilant about my son's education than my daughter's. Not because her education was un-important - she is 21 and currently in her second year of graduate school - but because the world views young, Black women differently than young, Black men. My daughter is not perceived as a threat to the establishment so wherever she went to high school, as long as she applied herself, I knew that opportunities for internships, college and careers would be available and not too strenuous. Not so with my son. Young, Black men are viewed as threats, some think they are an endangered species. His intelligence and diligence will not be enough. He needs to be positioned strategically so that he can have access to the most opportunities for future success.

My son has been blessed to have started his education at an African centered, Christian school where he was nurtured with knowledge of self and faith in God. He is currently in a school that continues the tradition of academic excellence and preparation for the next steps in life. It is my job to ensure that his training encompasses a well rounded experience providing access to high quality academics, current or cutting edge technology, facilities that are conducive to learning, appropriate social development and opportunities to serve the community. I am glad that he is taking ownership of his future and is fully engaged in this process. So we press on and the search continues.

It's really happening ...

After years of pregnancy with this dream, Spirit Song: the lyrics of my heart is actually going to be birthed. The book has been sent to the publisher and I am awaiting the copy for proofing.

I thought I didn't want this anymore yet when my daughter recently asked what is going on with my book, I thought, "why not print it?" It's been edited and formatted for years. The ISBN #'s are going to expire soon if I don't use them. I figure this has been a year of transitions, a year of seeing what I'm really made of, so I might as well go for it. I've always said I just want to see my stuff in print, want to be able to hand my children a book that says, you can do anything you put your mind to. There you have it.

I want to thank everyone who has been in my corner, supporting me, critiquing me and providing whatever it is I needed from you. I even want to thank those who were blocking me because I was able to grow through those experiences as well.

So, just be on the lookout for the post that says "buy now" because it will be coming soon!