Elegy For The Child

My heart breaks

My body aches

For the child

That was slain.

I start to cry

Asking God, “Why?”

For the child

That was slain.

Weapons are loaded

While politicians are bloated

Against the child

That was slain.

Schools are not for education.

But for platforms of premeditation.

For the child

That was slain.

Innocence has broken

Ugly words are spoken

For the child

That was slain.

But despite the pain

There is hope again

For the child

That was slain.

Eyes will see

How the future will be

For the child

That was slain.

And God hears

Our prayers and fears

For the children

That was slain.

It’s Duck Season! It’s Rabbit Season! It’s Prom Season! It’s the End of the School Season!

I wish I had $800 right now.

Anyway, my school’s prom happened last night, and I joined in with close colleagues to chaperone the socially awkward teens during this rite of passage night.

Prom, short for promenade, was an east coast ritual for college students to introduce young women properly into society. The event was adopted at the high school level for seniors from a quaint “Sunday Best” dressed tea party to a formal dinner and party. And, if you have been to a prom, it usually ends up a big party full of dancing, sweaty, and loud teenagers.

But, seriously, our students looked so lovely last night! They were dressed formally (some had on tuxedos), shined shoes, elegant long dresses, makeup, classic updos, and smiles! It was great to see them out and about, dancing (or at least trying to dance), holding conversations, and scoping out each other.

I tried to remember my high school prom, but it’s a bit fuzzy. Perhaps I’ve been out of high school for about 40 years. But, I know that prom is the season of vulnerability – every teenager is on the hunt for a prom date, and it is the brilliant time to ask that one person to the most magical night of the year.

Most of us crotchety adults think prom night is when teens lose all inhibitions and decide to have sex. Yeah. It’s one of the buttons we adults push in our heads because either we: 1. Remember our prom night 2. Have forgotten what it means to be young, happy, and always willing to celebrate.

It’s not my business what the teens do after prom (as long as they’re safe); I was glad that they enjoyed the music, danced, ate lush delicacies, and drank Hibiscus lemonade and water. It was an uneventful evening.

Now that is over…

We have five weeks left of school, and within those weeks, there’s one more hoop to jump through: graduation.

Stayed tuned.

Still wish I had $800, but that’s another story.

Teacher Woes

It’s April.

April showers bring May flowers. April brings spring and warmer days, with sunshine and flowers – the birds and the bees are back. Easter is celebrated among Christians worldwide – as a sign of renewal and hope.

Photo by Alena Koval on Pexels.com

But for teachers, April is a long month.

For the teachers in Arizona, it is testing month, and it is a month where students are challenged to sit at their desks for hours and take tests to compare themselves to their former selves and others.

Maybe that was a bit much. Let me try to simplify it. These tests measure students’ growth from previous years, and it is a measurement to see how our Arizona students are doing against the rest of the country’s children in schools.

It is also a glimpse of whether we teachers are teaching like we should be doing. We could be doing more if we didn’t have testing interruptions! At my school, we have two weeks of testing, and yes, the students have to stay at school after testing, but I’m worried that I’m not going to get 100% attention from the students.

Do you want to know why?

Students will use the “I’ve been testing all day! I’m tired!” Or, “Ms. Watson, can we have a free day today? We’ve been testing!”

The excuses teachers hear daily are overpowering and tiring!

I know that in other parts of the country, schools are not out until June. In Arizona, our school year ends in May. It should be an easy coast downhill to May, but the hoop in April is testing, and we still need to finish our units or novels for a proper closure to school. April is like rolling a stone uphill with curves (I think I heard that from someone else recently, and it’s a great analogy)!

I am grateful to be a teacher; please don’t get me wrong. The beauty of teaching students to look deeper into the text or novel and write about it using new vocabulary and other skills brings me joy! However, the testing portion of this educational system puts a damper on keeping the students motivated. The older students get, the more they become aware of what testing is all about. Some high school students deliberately tank the test because they don’t care: “I’m not getting a grade for it, so what do I care?” When I was in high school, and we had to take the Stanford 9 tests, this guy who sat in front of me bubbled the four-letter word that began with F for his answers. He showed it to us, and it was funny. Everything was funny at 16. Although I always tried my best, the results were the same: I had high scores in Reading and Language but lower scores in Math.

Well, things are different now in Arizona. The Stanford 9 has been long gone; we had the AIMS, a high-stakes graduation test (I was glad that came after I graduated). The AIMS morphed into the AzMerit tests, and now the state has decided to use the ACT as the state-mandated test. Students are confused about why they are taking the ACT, and a few of them asked me, “Do we need to pay to take the test?” “What if I don’t score well? Will I not go to college?”

Ugh!

Arizona in April is not a teacher’s best friend.

Teachers are worst than the students with senioritis!

Or, maybe it’s just me.

March Madness!

It’s no secret that I am a sports fan. But, dagnabit, March Madness makes me – well – mad!

I will admit that I have several (and I do mean several) brackets out there, and I’ve listened to sports analysts about different teams, and bless my soul, two teams have busted my bracket already!

Ugh!

Madness!

I am not a basketball expert, but this is an exciting showcase for these young men and women in college basketball. They get a chance to showcase their skills and talents on national television against mega teams who have flexed their court muscles!

We have heard of Kentucky (who lost, by the way), Kansas, Villanova, Duke, Michigan, and now Gonzaga, and Arizona are in the pedigree of basketball. But teams like Richmond, St. Peter’s, and Akron are giving these significant basketball schools migraines!

I love the excitement and the commercials – it’s like the Super Bowl all over again! I’m flipping channels affiliated with CBS, and I’m rooting for teams based on my brackets. I guess that’s the fun part because I’m an alum from the University of Arizona Wildcats, and I am a fan of those colleges that I’ve chosen to move on in the tournament – it’s so odd!

Madness!

You see, I love college ball better than professional basketball. These young people play honest and genuine (especially the men’s basketball teams), and they have the drive, ambition, and integrity to make plays – and they do not showboat.

So, I’m going to hunker down tomorrow and Saturday and flip channels to watch these exciting games!

Oh – who do I have winning it all?

Well, like I said, I have several brackets with a few winners, but the majority has the Wildcats winning it all – and it sure isn’t Kentucky! LOL!

Upcoming Poetry Book: Dreaming At Night

It’s done. The poetry book I’ve been writing is finished, and I am happy about it.

It’s funny because last weekend at the Tucson Festival of Books, when people were looking at my books of poetry, they asked, “So what’s your poetry about?”

For some reason, I had to pause and think about the answer to that specific question. Usually, I write poems that are stemmed from life experiences and feelings – they are free verse – no haikus or sonnets. As a student of poetry writing at the University of Arizona, our journey consisted of word choice and being specific about what we wanted to say. Dreaming At Night is the new poetry book that poured out of me in a few short weeks; my persistence in writing this book was high because I was overflowing with thoughts about key issues and my heroic efforts to save myself from drowning in my words.

I want my book to be successful in helping people understand my standpoint in life and hopefully help others recruit them to love and enjoy poetry. Something came alive in me, and it was my love for poetry. I have a motto: “Poetry is Alive!”

Next month is National Poetry Month, and I will be writing a poem a day on my blog. It will be titled “Poetry is Alive!” I hope to gain a following of people who will respond to the poems and share their favorite poem or poet in the comments.

Next month, I will have a link to buy my new book Dreaming At Night.

Poetry is Alive! And, so are you, so enjoy living and do something special for yourself.

Validation

This past weekend, I exhibited my books for sale at the Tucson Festival of Books along with two beautiful friends who were also showcasing their books. The weather during the two days was terrific, and you could see the happiness on the faces of the people visiting hundreds of vendors, walking their happy, tail-wagging dogs and puppies, and little children having fun and socializing! I’m not going to mention COVID, but if we still do what we need to do, we will enjoy more activities like the festival!

However, that is not the point of this blog; the fact is that I learned a valuable lesson about validation during these two days. Yes, I am exhausted from talking to many interested people who wanted to know about my books, but I’ve learned something I’ve always known: validation comes from within.

This is the second time I’ve attended the festival as a participant (COVID shut the festival down). The first year I was, of course, extremely nervous and my friend, colleague, and fellow writer who asked me to join him in the booth had to help me with my confidence.

That’s a long story, but let’s say I sold out during those two days at the festival. Now, here we go again in 2022, and my confidence sunk to the bottom of the ocean. This time, I was flanked by two writer friends whose books had intense and great plotlines – and then there’s me – the poet. For some reason, I believe that most readers are not into poetry. I know that sounds silly, especially coming from an English teacher and writer of poetry, but it is not as popular as novels.

Since Amanda Gorman showcased her extraordinary talent as a poet and wrote a spellbinding poem for Joe Biden’s Inauguration, there has been a popularity rush to heave poetry back on the creative writing table (maybe it’s only me who feels that way). When I stood in the booth over the two days, the first book out of the three I was selling (a romance novel, a book of short stories and poems, and one of my earlier works of poetry), the first one I sold was – yes – the poetry book!

The potential customer who came to the booth was an elderly woman with a cane. She came up with her friend, picked up my book (that I jokingly call a pamphlet) of 15 or so poems, looked through it, and purchased it.

She said to me, “It seems your poetry is personal, but it reflects emotions that we all feel.”

I shivered.

She got it! She understood my poems. And that became validation that my poetry is not so far out! I am relaying some feelings that people can understand.

After selling out later that day (I had one book left), my friend gave me the eye of “I told you so” (I hate it when he’s right)! And the next day, the woman and her friend returned to our booth, so the friend could buy a historical fiction book from my other friend. My first customer gave me a positive review of my poetry book, I teared up!

What am I trying to say here?

I love poetry because I can express my feelings and thoughts in many words and phrases. I do not have secrets about composing poetry; I see pictures of my words (Now I sound like I’m explaining myself on a talk show).

Before my journalism career, most of my writing was always locked up in my file cabinet – only for my eyes because I never thought anyone would get excited about poetry like me. But, what happened to me over the weekend validated that I can write poetry and not feel ashamed! I have poems that people want to read!

I am stepping out on faith, and I will network with other poets, enter poetry contests, and, yes, keep writing poetry to share with others who enjoy reading poetry. I will also open the doors to reading more of my work.

Validation.

And, by the way, if you don’t mind, please go to my author’s page on Amazon.com and take a look at my books. Humor me, or not.

https://www.amazon.com/author/watsonlisa

It’s that time again!

The Tucson Festival of Books begins tomorrow (Saturday, March 12) and ends on Sunday.

I will be sharing a booth with two friends and colleagues who wrote books, and we are going to sell our wares.

I’m nervous.

I am getting out of my comfort zone again – I am a self-publisher, and I write poetry, short stories, and a novel, a ROMANCE novel for the first time.

While the entire purpose of writing books is to possibly sell them, I’d always thought that by now, I would have an agent and be a part of a publishing house! But, here I am being scrappy and selling my books like a hawker on a street corner selling newspapers.

OK. OK. That’s dramatic, I know, but I’m a writer! My imagination gets the best of me.

So, I ask myself: Why are you afraid? I’ll tell you why. People may not like or understand what I wrote about, and they will ask for a refund or chuck it in the trash. They might whisper behind my back, “she shouldn’t quit her day job.” That would be crushing!

But, who do I write for? I did not create a survey from Survey Monkey to ask the public, “How can I please you with my writing?”

No! I write for me. I write about stories that I find exciting, and I build characters that have been stuck in my head for the longest, and they need an outlet! I create towns, cities, people with issues and problems that I steal from friends and family.

There’s one thing I KNOW that I have to do: I need to stop apologizing for my work – my art. For so long, people who found out I write begin talking to me about “you should write about this…” or “you should write about our family history…”

No. I might weave some of our family stories and history into my writing, but I cannot create something because someone said so. I’m not a seamstress and make tailored-made stories or poems.

And, that’s another thing: poetry. I write poems, and people constantly criticize poetry by stating: “I don’t understand it, so I don’t read it.” Poetry is like any other literary work – mixed with fiction and nonfiction. Poetry comes from the poet’s past or present. Poetry tells stories and symbolizes events and commentaries about the world around us.

I write poetry because it reminds me of drawing or painting a picture, and I choose careful words, like how an artist determines colors and strokes. I feel very close to my poetry, and to put it out there is like ripping my chest open to expose my heart.

OK. Again, maybe too dramatic, but I’m weighing my anxiety so that I can laugh at myself and become positive.

Whatever happens, though, I’m going to keep writing. If people buy my books or pass by, smile politely, and take my postcard, at least they see me and what I have out there.

If you’re in Tucson, please come to the Tucson Festival of Books at the University of Arizona. The weather is going to be pleasant! There will be famous authors, lots of books, food, and in Booth 232, you will find “The Poet, The Pilgrim, and The Pirate.”

See you there!

What Is It? A Cold, the Flu, COVID?

It started with a scratchy throat.

Years ago, when you had a scratchy throat, a few things floating around in your head:

“Oh, it’s allergies.”

“I might be catching a cold; I will pop a throat lozenge in my mouth and go on with my day.”

Now, it’s a stop and pause:

“Is it COVID? But, I wear my mask! I have tests now thanks to the government.”

These were my thoughts. I had a scratchy throat, but no fever, no body aches. The first thing that floated into my head was COVID, and I used half of my at-home COVID tests to find them both negative.

“What is it? Are colds still popular? I got my flu shot. I’m triple boosted! I wear a KN95 mask!”

Panic sets in because I believe in COVID when most people do not. This will not be a vaccination rant or any of the kind. However, I want to point out that what used to be a simple sore throat can turn into something so deadly!

Needless to say, I nearly bought every over-the-counter medication to help me get well. I struggled with my throat for a few days, and as a teacher, I couldn’t perform my duties with laryngitis and congestion. The following week, I was suffering from headaches and sinus pressure. Finally, I went to my doctor told him the entire story, including my at-home test results, and he concluded that I had a sinus infection.

A sinus infection? Do they still exist?

I laughed to myself because all I am worried about is COVID. People who know me warn me to not self-diagnose and look on Webmd.com, and I will comb the internet to look up my symptoms and get the wrong information.

What has this pandemic done to me?

If I suffer from indigestion, I might think it is a symptom of COVID!

While I am not making light of this horrific virus, I am trying to wrap my head around how I can literally get frightened about my health.

Everyone says “Be Safe” now. Have you noticed that? Instead of “Have a good day!” it is “Be Safe.”

I don’t mean to drag this on, but I needed to review this with someone. You, I guess.

I am feeling better. My doctor explained that I needed to drink lots of water and prescribed Amoxicillin.

I have to chill out. Relax and take care of myself. But most of all, I have to Be Safe.

Be Safe, everyone! And, remember, not every ache, pain, or sniffle is COVID.

A Long Walk to Losing Weight

I am overweight.

It’s funny because when I say this out loud to other people, their brows furrow and their heads shake.

“No, you’re not.”

Yes. Yes. I am overweight. In fact, my doctor told me that I am overweight and I need to lose weight. A few years ago, I underwent bariatric surgery. It was successful for a few months, then, the weight began to creep up again. Needless to say, I cannot overeat because my stomach is small, but I was eating the wrong foods!

Along with diabetes, my diet radically changed as my doctor scribbled out referrals and orders for blood tests. I am on the other side of 55, which means I’m closer to 60 than 50, and I need to finally take care of my body the right way.

There were times when I said to myself: “Who cares? I am going to eat and be happy.”

Yeah, right.

I am not comfortable with my weight. My knees hurt. When I climb the staircase in my home, I’m breathing heavily. I don’t feel good. My taste buds love the food, but the inside of my body and bones are suffering. I cannot lie to myself any longer; being overweight does not feel right at all.

I was skinny as a young girl. Many people thought something was wrong with me. I mean, I didn’t look like a skeleton, but I was tall, very thin, and I ate food. I was active (and that’s part of my issue since I am not that active anymore). I had always thought that I would NEVER gain weight.

I was wrong.

As soon as I moved out of my parents’ house to California, I began to gain weight…gradually. My first apartment was down the street from In N Out Burgers. I didn’t cook so I ate out. I didn’t work out in the traditional sense. Every weekend I was out clubbing, so I considered dancing my exercise!

But, along with being a new adult and trying to pay bills, work, getting in debt, trying to date, the stress levels went up and I ate!

So here I am, years later and silently cursing my young self for not paying attention. I am on a journey to lose 75 pounds – I must get to the ideal weight for my height.

Before you make comments about what diet to choose, and which gym to join, I am on a plan directed by doctor. I have to do it right.

The other day, I looked up a healthy grocery list, bought the groceries, and literally wiped out my kitchen of the junk and unhealthy foods that I engrossed myself in (bread, pizza slices, etc.).

I am not a good cook, and I will admit that to anyone. My mother was an excellent cook and my sister, Elaine, emulates our mother’s cooking. She was blessed with that talent; unfortunately, I wasn’t. With that being said, it is a challenge for me to make meals – I can do it, but it takes so much effort and preparation.

I have such supportive family and friends. When they heard that my doctor suggested I do intermittent fasting and eat low carb and low fat food. My colleagues said they would join me, my family sent me recipes, videos, love and prayers when I told them.

I am going to execute this plan because I want to feel refreshed and I want to challenge myself!

My first step was the grocery shopping and the second step was meal prepping. I prepared little egg muffins that I received from my niece. With egg whites and almond milk, I poured in spinach leaves, turkey sausage, tomatoes, green chili, mushrooms, and cheese into muffin tins. Wow! It turned out so well and tasted so good!

Success! I was so happy and confident! These little victories! I took the rest and put them in the freezer for my breakfast during the week. My sister sent me a video from a doctor she follows on YouTube and I learned about the 12:12 Intermittent fasting: Stop eating three hours before bedtime (for example, if my bedtime is at 10:00 p.m., then I need to stop eating at 7:00 p.m.), eat breakfast the next morning around 7:00 a.m., eat lunch, eat dinner and start the fasting over again. It’s for a beginner like me.

Anyway, it’s a start for me. I am excited because I have lost five pounds since beginning this journey and I promised myself something big if I lose 25 pounds by December!

Stay tuned for more of my journey to lose weight.

Soul Poetry

It makes me wonder

All of the positive vibes, words of wisdom, scriptures on social media

And the world is still rotten.

There are glimpses of love and sincerity –

if you blink an eye, someone will smile – even under masks.

People lie saying “I hate wearing masks because I can’t smile at people or see people smile at me!”

Did you smile before? Did you smile back at others?

Do we wear masks over our masks?

Do we need to separate our darker selves?

Yes!

The demolition of our souls – the rebuilding of our spirits is underway.

I offer words of calm and comfort.

Peace.

Tranquility.

Joy.

Love.

Especially love.

Our souls need love.

I’m not wrong about this – everyone is wondering

Some are wondering is there a God? Some of us know there is.

Can you see the wind to know it is wind? You feel it. We feel God.

What does God feel like?

When I smile behind a mask, people will know it.

When I take off the mask, I will keep smiling.

I have removed the mask that has hidden my heart for so long.

I am free to love and to share that love and joy!

When I write something on social media, I believe it.

I’m not afraid of loneliness

I’m not afraid of standing alone

What I believe is something I cannot concoct in my own mind.

The rain falls and cleanses the Earth –

How will you cleanse your soul?