Educational arenas oftentimes determine how we finish “Our Race….”

Daily I sit and listen to my students cry or just vent.  I hand them paper towels because I have still failed to go by the store to grab a box of Kleenex.  When they vent, I am still and I actively listen.  I look at their body language, I listen to their words and typically every encounter ends with a hug and I remind them to go to counseling.  Most of them do not go to counseling and they ask me not to push them to go to counseling.  I don’t worry about many, but in the past those that I have worried about, I walk them to counseling services.  

                I have one young man this year that sends me messages almost daily to ensure I am going to meet with him in the library.  We have a day during the week that we meet in the library and honestly he doesn’t need me there with him, but we discuss the assignments he has done throughout the week;, I remind him again what he has to do for my class, although he knows; and we learn about each other via simple conversations.  He doesn’t need me there, but I am certain it is because I am holding him accountable for his actions.  He is afraid to fail.  I have called a number of my contacts to help him and encourage him during our weekly interactions.  He takes notes sometimes and asked me one day, “How do you know all of these people?” 

                I write an inmate.  I met this guy my sixth grade year at Huntington Middle School.  He was a trouble maker and constantly suspended. Whether it was in-school or out of school, he was suspended.  I wrote him a letter after I was searching the web almost sixteen years ago with my middle school year book next to me.  I began teaching that year and I was at an alternative school.  I taught kids that reminded me of him; the desire to be loved, engaged, but afraid, and hopeless because no one taught them self-efficacy.  I took a bold step and sent him a letter and a couple of weeks later he sent me a birthday card.  He remembered my birthday; June 1.  I had not spoken with him or communicated with him in about seven years at that point and he remembered my birthday.  He also remembered other things and was elated that I sent him a letter.  Sixteen years (mostly continuously) we write and email each other.  The second letter I sent him opened up conversations that helped me to become a better educator, better person, and will always remind me of the importance of remaining grounded.  

                I took a red pen and corrected his letter and mailed it back to him.  I am certain I said something about you literally have nothing but time to write in Standard American English (pun and sarcasm intended).  Over the years I learned about his living conditions as a young boy, I learned about sexual assaults made by teachers that we trusted, and I have had the opportunity to become acquainted with one of his five children that he had before he was eighteen years old.  I recall him sending me a copy of his GED.  That letter was full of excitement and I was proud.  He admitted to being pretty much illiterate in middle school. Through is letters he shares how embarrassed he was when called to read aloud.  I would send him worksheets that my middle school students were completing to help him with his writing.  I praised him for all that he does and I also share what I have going on with him now and then.  He praises me and one of the things that he always says to me is how proud he is of me.  That makes my heart happy because he knows what Newport News, VA or what we call BadNewz was like.  He has shared that I am his therapist and each time I plan to visit him in prison, I become scared because I have never visited a prison, although I have taught GED courses for ex-prisoners.  I have read so much and I have listened to friends who have been to prison share their nightmares that I am unsure if I am ready to visit him.  

                 I always leave the letters in the open and from my son’s younger years, I read them with him in hopes that he learns from the mistakes of this former classmate.  He shared one of his son’s is in prison now.  I watched my own son’s face when he read that part of the letter a while ago.

                Whenever I am asked what he did, I always share I don’t really know because not only was I not there, but I have truly forgotten his charges.  Each email or letter has shown me why our education system has to do a better job.  He left five kids in this crazy world that loves to follow those generational curses.  He never denies his wrong doing, but knowing his story is like many of those students that sit in my office using my hard paper towels (I promise I’m going to get Kleenex today) and share their hardships, their horrible encounters with educators, forces me to be a better human.  He lives vicariously through the world of letters and emails that he receives.  I am not always so great with sharing with him, but when I do write letters, I sit down and write very long ones.

 One of his daughters who approved of me using her name), Skaakira De’Janae Carr was excited a few weeks ago to be approved for food stamps.  She has lived her entire life via foster care and while we can make assumptions about choices that were made by both her parents, we should not. She shared that “…not having my dad in my life, [she] gets attached to the wrong men and hold on tight to them because I don’t want nobody to leave me or I feel like I have to have a man I my life to always make me happy.”  She actually desires to be a lawyer to “work on bringing him home so we can replace all the times he wasn’t here with me…I pray about it all the time because sometimes I do feel lonely and something I always wish for was a family.”  As educators, we are not mindful of the big picture.  We are not just there to teach content, but we are also the gatekeepers to ensure students with such bad lives like Robert Hines are pushed towards their goals.  One conversation that I will never forget is his statement sharing he never even set goals for himself because he saw what our environment did to their youth. 

                As a lifelong educator, whose desires are advocating for our youth by sometimes “fussing” at them to make smarter decisions, going out into their environments to truly understand their conditions, and hugging them when most never get hugs, this is what I find is key to progressing in our educational arena.  Daughters and sons like Shaakira should have the same advantages and much of it begins in the educational arena where our students spend so much time.  While we cannot change the world, we can take moments to actively listen and put down our red pens to help the next child.

Part II of Robert’s story will be available soon!

www.epifhanyshappen.com

www.thisthingcalledlifebyki.com

Some will always “race” to the front of the line because they are scared to be pushed to the back….

I realized I was healed the other day. I mean I still see the scars and I’m certain that I’ll have moments every so often, but I’m healed. It took a bit to heal myself because their are truly mean, vindictive people who are angry with themselves, but after prayer and my counselors suggestion to get mad, I’m fine. There issues are not my problem. I prayed, took lots random trips, loved on me a lot, and had to place myself as a priority.

I no longer feel sorry for those that are so focused on getting to the front of the line that they will hurt others, or in some cases become afraid to tell the truth. But then again, I never grew up in that kind of environment where I had to be scared of what to say. Ive never had to worry about winning a race because I walk in faith and even in those hard situations, I’ve never had to fear that I would end up in the back of the line. I will always win my race.

I sat still for awhile to pray on Part II of #ThisThingCalledLife. I was unsure if I wanted to truly address the “race “issue or if I wanted to remain centered on discussing positivity and encouraging people to conquer goals, and I realized I can’t do the latter without the former. My experiences as someone told me recently are you help others battling the same things.

A dear sweet sorority sister asked me to write the forward in her book and as I wrote and rewrote it, it was impossible to talk about the “race” we are still running in life without addressing race and racism. I have noticed that the more education, the more I advance, I see it. I see how so many cheat to win “race” and how many fall on purpose because they are afraid to run the “race.” The latter fear running because they know those obstacles are dangerous as hell and they are not strong enough to maneuver and I realized many are not even rationale or smart enough to see that the “race” takes more mental power than anything.

As I continue to sit still and continue to wait for a response to that racial issue I had at my last place of employment, I have finally exhaled. I read through testimonies and I laugh at what was said about me; I’m a bigot, I’m a racist, and so many other things because I am comfortable shedding light on what should not be accepted. I even laughed so damn hard as I think of the young person that recorded me. As much love as I project out to the world, as much wisdom as I have projected and receive, I smile knowing that I’m not going to change who I am. I am ok with being me. I recall the lunch I had with a parent whose child I “pushed” because others were to afraid to help him win the race.

I exhale knowing that the comparison made between being a homosexual and being Black is an unfair comparison; pineapples cannot be compared to fried okra. I exhale accepting that many will never get the that Black skin will never fade to a lighter color. I exhale and have finally accepted that my race will never put me in the back because I am confident, I am what some might deem as radical, and as I help my young Black males are who I teach by advocating for them, loving them like my own child, and saying things that many are afraid to say, I find satisfaction that I can stand my ground and not be afraid to lose my race.

I’m healed, I’ve forgiven, and I have elected to run my race without caring what others have to think.

#PartIIMYIwillWinMyRace

#ThisThingCalledLife

#MyRace2020

#unbothered #notafraid #resultsDontMatter

Today I got to breathe in the same room with Oprah

Today I got to breathe in the same room with Oprah. It’s not my tea date, but it’s coming!

I have a respect for Oprah. I admire how she always sees the good. Her fame has nothing to do with my respect, but it’s her actions. Today as I sat listening to her, my seat neighbor asked me had I always followed her. I did watch her show many evenings after school, but as I have gotten older, I took time to learn her story.

I see me in her. I see so many of my girlfriends in her. I especially take note of her tenacity, drive, and her ability to be true to herself.

I have asked myself who I am many times. I know who I am just like you know who you are. I’m a lover at heart. I have been a people pleaser. I use to care what others thought of me and I must always reference things (show texts, messages, etc) to prove myself. I know I’m a genuine person with a genuine purpose, but I use to allow society to drive me crazy. I say use to because effective … now I’m living my life with a goal; to be who God placed me on earth to be. My superpowers are to love, to remind people of how great they are and to do that I must learn to better love me. To do this I must do things that align with my goals. This means pulling away from things, saying more, not being available, and anything else that will help me live my Devine purpose.

What are your superpowers? How do you use them to be a better person?

Don’t bypass those lessons…embrace them

Be excited about your new journeys….

I know when my journeys end. I’m aware of when it’s time to close the door, lock it, and throw away the key. But not all of my journeys end like this. Some have ended and merged with the new one. A few have ended with the door remaining open to revisit anytime, but my major journeys have ended with the key being thrown away.

I use to become frustrated and a lot bothered by this. I was petrified! Why did I have to continue learning these hard lessons? From divorce to seeing death to experiencing so many variations of hate, this frustrated me. Why? I have conquered and learned all the lessons I needed, so why do you keep closing doors and making the slam in my darn face? I would ask these questions to God and some days I still do.

And then those days where I truly see how those lessons were needed make me smile and realize that HE is much smarter than I am.

To grow and be the best you, lessons are needed. To become better at your hobby, you have to learn the good, bad, and ugly of that craft. So life is the same….

To truly understand how to be better at #ThisThingCalledLife you must embrace these lessons that I’m sure you would prefer to bypass…

#LaughAsYouLearnThoseLessons

#CryIfNeeded #ThisThingCalledLife #AreYouEmbracingThisThingCalledLife

Cheer for yourself

I’m the product of following your dreams, and sometimes feeling as my dreams will never come true, but I always eventually see the light. #BlessingsKeepComing

If you want something go for it and stop making excuses. Yeah it’s hard and crap happens, but it’s possible! Don’t be a failure because you have put your own light out….

ThisThingCalledLifeEmbraceIt

SetYourGoalsAndConquer

SeeYourOwnLight

BeYourOwnCheerleader

HeadedToSeeOprahandIMExcited #2020 #LearningToBeSelfishForKi #KiIsEmbracingThisThingCalledLife

Having the ability to forgive… or not

I started my year off centering on positivity, but I also had a bit of “hate” in my heart. I was unable to let something go and it would have stood in my way had I not let it go.

I received Common’s book for Christmas and the beginning of his book made me call my son to apologize to him. In his book he discusses a pretty intense discussion with his daughter. I am always afraid that my son will come to me years and years later and throw a tantrum or get mad at me for not providing him with the television version of the American Dream. And then it doesn’t help that over the years I didn’t think I was the best mom ever. I have been unable to truly protect him from “life” all of the time and I wanted him to know that I wish I could have. I shared stories and gave analogies and while it made me feel better, I still do not know if he truly understood where I was coming from. But, he said he forgave me. It made me feel ok, but it was not really about the forgiveness as it was about being understood or maybe….it was not about either?

Honestly, I do not know why this was important for me to say, but I was happy that he forgave me and told me that he was not bothered by my parent or lackthereof. (I really am a great mom, but society has certain expectations that many feel we should meet to be a great mom/dad; hence remaining married…) Many of the things I shared with him, I really had no true control over them, but I wanted to ensure he felt as if he was able to discuss them with me whenever he felt.

I share the above because recently I had a discussion and my own personal battle with forgiven. We want people to forgive us, but oftentimes we cannot forgive. I battled with this for the first eight days of 2020 and what I said I would never do….let’s just say that I have learned to keep my mouth shut regarding what I will not do. I was pretty mean and harsh about never forgiving, but my son forgave me, God forgives me daily, and so many others forgive me for my shortcomings, but I am pretty darn special that I deserve something different? Well, I did until God pushed me last night to forgive.

Yesterday I sat at Woolworth counter in Nashville. My photographer took pictures of me. I asked three gentlemen if they would allow me to photograph them as well. This entire session made me think of a racial matter. My mom is sixty years old. Sixty years ago people that look like my mom and myself were advocating for the right to sit at a lunch counter. These same people were advocating for just equal rights. I have many mentors that lived and were part of the Civil Rights Movement. They were there to remember the sit-ins and while they are still cautious of the acts of certain people, they have forgiven. This is the only way that they are able to grow and live their lives. I could never imagine living during this era, but to see my mentors share stories and even remind me of #lifeslessons, it took a lot for them to forgive people who hurt not just them, but their families and even friends.

https://luciapazosphotographer.pic-time.com/portfolio

And I must say that forgiving is not easy at all….but holding on to grudges and hate is not easy either. So, as you conquer the joys, the challenges, the beauty of life, take a moment to forgive.

#ForgivingDoesNotMeanYouHaveToBuildAnotherRelationship #ForgivenessIsGrowth #ThisThingCalledLifeEmbraceItbyForgiving #HaveYouForgivenToday #NashvilleSitIns

https://luciapazosphotographer.pic-time.com/portfolio

When people show you their authentic self…. embrace it!

I look at the good in just about everything. It takes so much to upset me and I’m always so forgiving.

I smile and am typically always the peacekeeper. This works for me, but to assist with my growth I had to make modifications so that I will not continue learning those same lessons, but instead I’ll be an expert in teaching them.

#EmbraceYouButProtectYou

Today’s photo shoot captures my authentic self!

#DontLetPeopleChangeYou

#BeAuthenticallyYou

I Give Myself The Permission to be Authentic

Over the last year I’ve learned so many vital lessons, but one stands out. This lesson revolves around giving myself permission to be authentic; to include, how I feel.

I heard several times this week (and it’s only Monday🤷🏽‍♀️🤦🏾‍♀️) that I hold things in and I need to release. I do a good job of that, but eventually it will affect my health one person shared with me and they are exactly right.

I have perfected being “ok” even when that means I do want to tell a person how bad of a person they are, or look that deceitful person in the eyes and share how angry they have made me, but I elect to be “ok.”

A year ago I was defending who I was, protecting my space when people inquired about my personal life and the lesson learned is….#ItsOkToBeEmotional and #ThisThingCalledLifeAllowsMeToBeAuthentic

It’s not a 2020 thing, but a life style change for me to #embraceMyself and I challenge you to do the same!

I’m beginning to do this and I challenge you to do the same!

Share your story and I’ll continue to share my journey!

#ImEmbracingMyEmotions #ThisThingCalledLifeEmbraceIt

Let it go; place that mess in the autoclave and put the temperature on HIGH !

A few months ago I decided to burn a list of things that I felt were holding me back.

I did this with a friend and while I almost burned my kitchen down, the symbolic gesture is something that helped me to let go of my past. This gesture and idea was originally for my friend, but I realized I needed it just as much.

I remember someone questioning me about what happened with my marriages. They couldn’t accept they just ended. They wanted to know EVERY…single detail and and none of this was their business. They just desired something to talk about versus allowing me to focus on the good so I can accomplish goals. For me, when I let go of things, I don’t like to revisit them and because of how surface level I am, I just don’t believe in sharing everything because like the person shared, “I’m just being nosey” and I politely shared with them “I know and that’s why it’s still none of your business.” 🤷🏽‍♀️

I let things go; and I place that mess in the autoclave –

I’ve been searching for a package that a friend sent me right before Christmas. My informed delivery from USPS shows that it was delivered, so prayerfully if someone picked it up, they will return it. Because of this, I have frequented the mailroom a few times a day to recheck the shelves in hopes that someone might have returned the package or maybe in hopes that I overlooked; maybe the box is sitting right in front of my face.

Last night I walked in to find a young gentleman looking for his package too. I’m unsure of exactly how our conversation began, but over an hour later, we were still standing in the mailroom talking about…#ThisThingCalledLife

We both with some hesitation shared a tad bit about ourselves. I understood the reason for this and because of a recent situation (I should call this a recent horror), I truly have been on reserve talking to people, but I can’t let circumstances change me.

My phone rang during our conversation. It was one of my mentees. He called; actually FaceTimed me (he doesn’t believe in just calling anymore lol) to tell me that while he has been in Italy he did not forget to pick up postcards for me. This sentiment means the world to me and after I ended the FaceTime I let go of my hesitation and was pretty open with the young male. We stood there and I even opened up the two packages that I received yesterday, which gave us more to talk about.

You see, sometimes when we encounter #life we allow it to change us and I refuse to be that person to judge one person based off of the actions of others. So, just like one of my therapists told me years ago; share my story, and I shared parts that were needed with this young man. I’m unsure if I made an impact on him, but he made one on me. I reminded him, and reconfirmed to myself that with every bad, good is always there and thought about all of the good that I encountered this week alone; to include new opportunities, growth, unconditional love and friendship, trips, peace, serenity, overcoming new obstacles, and so many other things. I have a girlfriend that loved on me this past weekend and has made sure I have been following the doctors order all week; that’s a good that could easily be overlooked. I am strong enough to realize that this lesson was needed for me to see me…

We exchanged numbers, he promised if he ran by my mail he would reach out and I promised to gift him a book once they came later this weekend. There is so much good that came from this; to include:

ALOT…..

But the biggest good was being able to end our conversation with a handshake…. which was just not suffice for an hour mailroom conversation. So I turned back, told him I had to give him a hug, and we hugged as if we were long lost friends who just needed a reminder that eveything will be ok and to always #EmbraceThisThingCalledLife

A friend shared they didn’t think I was ok after my weekend recent event, but even if I wasn’t (which in my mind I am and was) I know I’m ok now. I fail to practice what I preach sometimes and to ensure that I never make that mistake again I did a few things for myself and will continue these things moving forward:

1. Promised to love myself more –

2. I booked a trip to the Caribbean –

3. I forgave after praying and remembered that I will not become one of those hurt, hurt people –

4. I wrote what my therapist wrote to me a couple of days ago to remind myself never to second guess Ki. “You are an extraordinary individual with an excellent support system within it the ability to dig deep if necessary. A trait and element that everyone doesn’t have. Yet you also exhibit humility. Which is beyond awesome!”-

5. Continue walking in faith and never losing this optimism regardless of these crazy things that might happen; do not allow life to get me down-

So to do this, I must open up the door to the autoclave and push all of those toxic people, events, and things that will never help me grow in my purpose in there. Then I must put it on high and walk away. (Thanks Jen for this!) And just like this great friend of mine who is a scientist and I laughed about this earlier yesterday, when I close the door, I give a big ole’Color Purple laugh and remember that I will not be defeated because My Father has me!

He has created such a strong circle for me, He has given me mental strength, emotional strength to turn and keep pushing…

#ThisThingCalledLifeEmbraceIt

#ICantBeDefeated

#IForgive

#TheBlessingsKeepComing