Among Other Things…

At this moment, I am pausing to write. I was grading my English 10 Honors homework papers, but I was disrupted by a student’s constant need to drink ice water out of a metal container. I can hear the ice cubes hit against the container as he drinks it, and for some reason, it bothers me. So, I decided to stop grading, stare at him as he smacks his lips together after drinking it. An upperclassman told me once, “That kid looks like a muppet” and the more I look at him smacking his lips together, the more he does look like a muppet.

Oh. I’m sorry. I know as a teacher I should be more compassionate, but today, I am not. This is the “” day of state standardized testing (I don’t know how many days we’ve been testing) and I am in a state that has the lowest education score. The testing is more of competition (if you ask me) between schools, districts versus districts, charter schools versus charter schools, and charter schools versus district schools. The schools in Arizona want that “A” rating, so we put our poor children against each other to do their best on the test so that administrators can shine in the limelight and say, “We’re the best!” “We got an A!”

Do I sound bitter to you? It’s hot. I need to adjust the thermostat. Hold on.

The kid with the ice cubes and water has finished his test. He was the first one to complete his test; in fact, he always finishes his tests first.

But there’s more in my head. I am thinking about the fire that ruined Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. I am saddened by this loss. I had visited Paris twice and I have gone into Notre Dame Cathedral. The beautiful stained glass windows made my mouth drop as I looked up to see the faint sunlight glisten through. It was totally silent when I went inside although there were lots of people milling through. The Gothic architecture was immense around the building and I took a picture of a tiny gargoyle’s face that was the inspiration for Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  The damages to that building tore my heart in two; it was so old, rare, and majestic. When I was on a boat on the Seine River, the biggest landmarks I could spot was the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral. Although the spire fell, there was a cross inside that was not damaged, which leads me to another thought: spirituality.

I am a Christian and it is not because my parents dragged me to church every Sunday; no, I am a Christian because I believe in God for myself because I have seen miracles! I heard on the radio that many Americans are either atheists or agnostics, and that’s fine for them. They are proud to believe in nothing or believe in luck, or coincidences. But, I don’t trust luck or coincidences. I do trust science, to an extent.

The first miracle I have witnessed was my mother. Although she passed away in 2004, my mother could have died in 1986. You see, in 1986, my mother had an aneurysm burst in her brain.  She should have died on the spot; however, when my neighbor rang the doorbell and told me the story that she and my mother were having a conversation while my mom was in the car, my mother held her head and said “Something just popped in my head. My head hurts.” I escorted my mother back inside, put a cold towel on her head and I called my dad. My dad rushed home and my mother told him the problem. He took her to urgent care where a doctor prescribed some type of “horse pill” as my dad put it, and my mother was in bed for the remainder of the day. Yet, in the evening hours, my mother began to slip into a semi-coma. I am going to fast forward for the sake of time.

A surgeon, who was visiting another patient, overheard another doctor tell my dad that there was nothing they could do. The leak had started and blood on the brain is like sandpaper to wood; in other words, my mother was dying. The neurosurgeon took my dad aside and told him that he could perform the surgery. My dad saw hope and approved it. He told my dad that my mother could die on the table, but if he was willing to try to save her life, he would do it.

My dad asked us, the children, to pray with him in a circle in the living room. We did. He said if any of you feel weak, I am here to ask you to be strong for this prayer. We prayed. We prayed for the surgeon. We prayed for my mother. We prayed for the anesthesiologist who had to anesthetize a comatose patient for surgery. It was a risk, but we believed.

My mother survived the surgery, but she was still in a coma. She had a stroke on the table, but she was still alive. We had her moved to another hospital in the city that had adequate care for my mother, and the surgeon followed her. He found that her brain was swollen with spinal fluid, so he asked my dad once again if he could place a shunt to remove the fluid. My dad said yes, after deep prayer and contemplation. As they rolled my mom into the operating room, the doors closed behind her and I stood there and placed my hand on the door and asked Jesus to be in there with her.

My mom survived that surgery. It was a waiting game until one morning when my dad called me from the hospital and said, “She’s awake!” The story is the nurse in charge of my mother came into her room that morning and greeted her as usual. They say that talking to comatose patients helps because they can hear what is being said. We had limited my mother’s visitors to only family members because we had church women who were more gossipers than helpers. Anyway, as the nurse opened the curtains she asked my mother “How are you today? The sun is shining…” and before she could finish her sentence my mother said, “I’m doing pretty good.” The nurse jumped and looked at my mom, whose eyes were opened and she was smiling. My mom had the prettiest hazel eyes and the nurse complimented on her eyes.

I rushed to the hospital and I walked into her room.  “Momma?” She had opened her eyes and smiled. “Hi baby,” she said to me. I dropped on her bed and wept. She rubbed my back and asked me what was wrong. I sobbed my answer. My mother began to tell me that she had to go pick up daddy’s suit from the dry cleaners. I batted my eyes and remembered the day my mother had the aneurysm that was what she was going to do: pick up my dad’s suits from the dry cleaners. She rubbed her shaved head and looked at me with widened eyes.

“What happened to me?”

I told her the story. She batted her eyes and whispered: “Lord, have mercy.”

She still believed.

When her primary care doctor visited her, he told her: “We didn’t think you were going to make it.”

My mother’s reply: “Didn’t you know there is a God?”

When science didn’t believe – we believed in God.

Another miracle that was not luck or coincidence was an accident I had in 1990. I was living in California and for a vacation, a friend and I decided to drive to Guaymas, Mexico. I drove my car, a red Mitsubishi Mirage, and on our way up there I made a simple lane change and my car skidded off of the highway, flipped in the air and landed upside in a ravine. My friend who was with me did not wear her seatbelt and flew out of the window. The car landed on top of her and I was hanging upside down in my seatbelt. The most significant thing about this is, as the car was flipping, I saw nothing but stars in the night sky and I said, “Jesus, please, not now.” Immediately, the car stopped. Obviously, I survived and yes, my friend survived too.

The federal police in Mexico looked at my car and said, “It’s a miracle you survived this.” My insurance guy looked at the car when my dad towed the car here from Mexico. The man looked at the crushed car, and then at me. “Wow! I’ve seen cars like this and the driver didn’t survive.” My dad cried.

So, it wasn’t luck. It was a miracle. I believe that miracles come from God and I believe that miracles come to people who truly believe. I know people will argue with me and say it’s luck. All I can say is that I am alive today and thanking God every day for the breath and life He has given me.

I have written a lot and now I must return to grading papers. All of this has been on my mind, among other things.

Happy Easter.

 

Mas Palabras

It is the first day in April.

No. I am not going to write about April Fool’s Day. My buddy Dusty Humphrey wrote a great blog about the stupid day. I’m going to write about April is Poetry Month.

I guess I can imagine why April is considered poetry month: it’s Spring and everything is blossoming and blooming! The air is fresh and clean, birds are chirping, and the snow and frost are finally melting. We are beginning to see the bright sunshine in the bluest of skies, and bunnies are hopping all over!

Lovely, isn’t it?

Well, I am just guessing the reason why “the powers that be” decided upon April as National Poetry Month, but I don’t care! I love poetry! My favorite poet is Robert Frost. His poems are simple and resonate with me. When I was younger, I saw the movie “The Outsiders” and when I heard Stevie Wonder’s harmonica accompaniment with Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay” I was mesmerized! The music and the words filled me with so much emotion that I can still hear it right now.

Another poem that comes alive for me is William Carlos Williams’   “This is Just to Say.” When I read the poem, I am transported back to my childhood home, in the middle of summer (in Tucson a blazing temperature of 115 can fry your brains if you’re outside too long), opening the 1970s brown-colored refrigerator to see frosted plums sitting in a glass bowl. I remember taking that cold, dark-colored plum and biting into its juicy meat until I reach the pit. The juice running down, I had to quickly get a paper towel before my mother could see the mess around my mouth and on the floor! I remember feasting on plums during our annual fishing trips too. They were the highlight of the trip for me; not only were they delicious, cold, and sweet (as Williams writes), but I could grip the plum between my teeth and pretend I had a big purple bubble protruding from my mouth before my mother would say “Stop playing with your food and eat it!” Isn’t it fun to have one short poem send me back to recall so many memories?

That is the power of poetry! That is what I love about it! The many words in the combination of a theme provoke emotion, memory, feelings, thoughts, and it inspires a person to read or write more poetry. And, that’s where I am at. I have homework for my doctoral studies, and I have papers to grade. However, I am a writer and lover of poetry too. Therefore, I am committed to writing a poem a day this month. By the end, I should have enough poems for another book. But, that’s not the purpose of my “poem-a-day” activity; my intention to keep in mind I am a poet first. I am a lover of poetry, and I am going to celebrate this month because it’s my month!

I am going to end this blog with a poem if you don’t mind:

Mas Palabras

Mas Palabras necesitan ser habladas

Somos Una Raza Quebrada de personas

llorando y cazando por el Amor y la Vida.

Donde Estan tus Palabras?

Estan perdidos en tu boca o pegados en tu lengua?

No hay palabras no Vida.

No hay Vida, no mas Palabras.

 

If you want to know what I wrote and need a translation, then the poem is correct!

Happy National Poetry Month!

 

That’s the Way of the World

Right now I am listening to Earth Wind & Fire’s song “That’s the Way of the World.” It is one of my favorite songs from this group.

But, this song means more to me than any other song, because it makes me contemplate about what’s going on in the world today; especially with our young people. You see, I’m a high school teacher, and daily I am interacting with young people with damaged lenses. I hear the way they talk to each other and the way they talk to their teachers, and it is becoming such a lackluster generation that I’m afraid for them.

I am experiencing the attitude of students who tell me that they cannot do their homework because they are sad. That’s viable, and I am not going to knock that because it is hard to concentrate when you don’t have the motivation for it; however, it’s so sad that they are unhappy! A 15-year-old student should have so much enthusiasm for life and happiness for their future, but it is a bleak existence for them.

What’s going on? What are we, adults, putting out there that our teenagers are so hard pressed with depression? I am merely trying to get them to spell laboratory (by the way, I looked at their spelling test and yes they spelled it “lavatory”).

But, the truth is sometimes this downward spiral is contagious and causes other students to feel overwhelmed with the sadness and anxieties, and soon it is an epidemic.

What happened to “senioritis”?

Anyway, I am boggled by the heavyweight these children bear. If I had children, I would want to make sure that their young existence did not entangle with the adult world. I would hate to see my child despondent and worried about….about…

And, I guess that’s what I am trying to figure out. What are these teens worried about? I’m sure their household has its issues, and some parents cannot help but tell their children what is going on. However, at school, we teachers have expectations from them, and we want them to do their best and to do their best, we expect them to have room in their heads to ingest the explicit lessons we have prepared for them.

One of my sisters asked me if my “motivation” has run out for teaching? I’ve been churning the idea of leaving the teaching profession. However, I enjoy teaching the many works of literature to students. I am not sure if it’s the weight I feel from my students that is dragging me down or not. I am a sensitive person, and what I hear them say and what I see them do sometimes bothers me. When I want them to write quietly, they are talking; and, when I want them to share their thoughts and opinions, their mouths are shut tighter than the pursed lips of nuns who have vowed silence.

But today should be a good day. It is Friday, and I have the weekend to cleanse my emotions; to breathe and relax. But, sometimes, I can’t do that.

I believe that I am not giving my students my best. I feel defeated, and I think that they need more, and my “more” is not enough. I see how students flock to specific teachers, and maybe those teachers can give them what they want or need.

Maybe I need to teach elsewhere; perhaps I need to leave Arizona and find greener pastures where students need a teacher like me; a teacher who loves to provide the depth of life and love inside literature.

Right now, I don’t have an answer. I don’t have the words. I know that I am in an emotional spin right now, so to process my conundrum, I created this poem:

As I teach, I want to reach

the masses

my classes.

Empty eyes silent cries

but vocab and spelling words

are absurd

also, there’s a riddle in the middle

of the room

a hush blooms

one student draws a gun

and learning is done.

Now the class is in a panic

and the students’ moods are manic

and I’m working to keep hope alive

until 3:35

but the eyes are on the phones

looking like Orwell clones

Reading, writing, and an intervention

warrants their attention

until socially

and emotionally

their minds are drawn away

from the lesson of the day

There are a few

who are eager to do

the work I’ve prescribed

literature and writing they have imbibed

and I have reached more than one

before the setting of the sun;

a little wisdom pearled

and yes, that’s the way of the world.

The Itch I Have to Scratch

The past week was Spring Break and normally during Spring Break, I stay at home, sleep past 9, and take things slowly. However, for the first time in forever, I was still working and in school. The week was a residency for my doctoral degree at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix.

To explain what residency is about, it is an intensive week for doctoral students to come together with the College of Doctoral Studies faculty and work closely on the beginnings of our dissertation. We were in class from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Yes. You read that right.

I sat in a windowless room with 14 other doctoral students and two professors Monday through Friday. At the beginning of the residency, I had second thoughts about why I was there and, as you know, it is an individual’s choice to move upward on the educational ladder. However, when an individual (me) is going to school on loans, I hate to quit now. But besides that, I heard an inspirational message during my residency.

I am working on obtaining my Ed.D in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in K-12 Leadership. Dr. Wayne Schmidt, the Ed.D program chair at GCU, spoke to us twice, but in his first speech, he asked us a question: “What is the itch that you want to scratch?”

I loved that analogy!

The itch is my passion for this degree: teacher leadership. It is a part of the Watson family business. My parents strongly suggested that we should get educated as much as we could. They reiterated to us: “Education is something no one can take away from you.”

While I’ve been trying to get my doctoral degree since 2008, many obstacles have tripped me and I refused to get up and start over until recently. As a teacher in the American education system, I have seen so many good teachers leave the profession because of the demands and stresses of eductional reforms, and the government blaming and shaming teachers if students do not perform well on assessments. Also, in Arizona specifically, teachers are not compensated well; fat pockets are holding back resources for the classroom. Arizona is struggling to find teachers and it is so bad that good ol’ Governor Ducey declared that anyone who has a Bachelor’s degree can become a teacher.

The topic of my dissertation is creating and retaining teacher leaders through appropriate teacher leadership professional development. Education failure is my itch, and my dissertation is what I am using to scratch that itch.

Being a lifelong learner is a journey. We had people come and give us words of encouragement, professors closely worked with us, and I made a few friends along the way. The camaraderie was wonderful and refreshing; we sat around a fire pit by the pool at the GCU hotel (it is student-run for those who are majoring in business management/hotel management/etc.) and rehearsed our presentations. We had breakfast, lunch, and dinner together; shared our knowledge and snacks as we worked diligently on our topics.

I met women who fought against so many sad issues and problems to keep their journey going! I met a woman from South Africa who was a child slave and a woman from the South of France who had hard times too. But, they were in that classroom, asking questions and working hard on what was itching them.

I liken my journey to the Camino de Santiago. I have my poetry and my blog to keep my creative juices flowing; and, my education to keep me grounded. I am learning to organize my research (thanks to a new found friend who showed me easy ways to organize my notes and articles) and with the help of the librarian, I know how to accurately research my topics.

My nephew will be graduating with his doctoral degree in May and I am so proud of him. I know he has worked hard for it and he’s a young man with a promising future. By the time I get my doctorate degree, I will be 55. It is a goal. There is so much I want to do, and I will do it if I keep scratching.

Which reminds me. We received little goodies in a bag when we arrived at the residency and one of the small gifts was a purple rubber bracelet that had white writing: “What progress have you made on your dissertation today?” I can answer that question. Yesterday, Cate, my organized new friend, suggested I buy an accordion file for the research articles; different colored highlighters and tabs to annotate the articles. Fortunately, I had two Amazon gift cards that arrived in my email, and I used them. I received the box today!

So, I’m scratching. I’m scratching the itches that I am passionate about: writing and education. I am excited about my life; and in reality, I will be tired (I am tired now), and frustrated, but it is my choice to continue on the journey because otherwise I will be itching and complain about the itching – so I might as well scratch!

I’m looking at my bracelet right now and I want to pose this question to you:

“What progress have you made on your life today?”

Scratch that itch!

March Madness!

I’m not a seasoned sportswriter. Back in college I wrote for the city’s newspaper as a high school sports reporter, but that was it. I am a sports lover (I watch football, basketball, baseball, soccer, volleyball, and track and field). I don’t know all of the athletes, but I enjoy watching sports.

Unless you have been in a cave or if you don’t follow college sports, this blog may not interest you. However, it might be entertaining because there are things I am going to say that may be inaccurate and I don’t care.

This time of year, Buffalo Wild Wings is gearing up for business; many places of employment are wondering if their workers will be live streaming some of the games instead of working.; March Madness brackets will be spreading across the Internet and in family homes and, again, in places of employment with nice prizes attached for the winners. Sports America is gearing up to watch young men play basketball daily.

And that’s great.

But, there is also a March Madness for the women’s basketball teams as well, but they do not get as much attention as the men. And do you want to know why?

It’s because they’re women.

Everyone is excited to see Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett from Duke. I mean, the sportscasters are having bromances with Zion Williamson because he is a talented young man who is headed for a multi-million dollar career in the NBA in a few months when he is drafted.

Have you heard of Megan Gustafson the center from Iowa? She worked hard defensively and earned top honors for being such a powerful player in Division I basketball. She’s 6-3 and is dominant. Then, there’s Rhyne Howard, a freshman from Kentucky. She’s 6-2, a guard for the Wildcats, and has scored 68 3-pointers this season.

One of my students said the reason why sports fans are not focused on women’s sports is because men’s professional sports is a money-maker. He said that nobody really watches the WNBA and that the NBA makes more money than the NFL, but not as much as MLB. Although I want to say he’s wrong, I know that he isn’t.

Women sports, especially collegiately, are not popular. There are some talented women who compete season after season and are nameless. At the beginning of the WNBA, we were astonished to see women like Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes, and Sue Bird display their talent on the court. At the college level, Pat Summit’s Tennessee Volunteers women’s basketball team was tremendously talented and swooped championship after championship until Gene Auriemmo of Connecticut coached his womens’ teams into numerous victories.

But that was the extent of it all.

I know here in Tucson, the U of A’s women’s softball team brought home championships, and Tucson rallied around these very athletic women; and, when Lute Olsen took our basketball boys to the Final Four and finally won a championship, Tucson became a basketball town (forget the softball team).

But, I am disturbed about the attention of men’s sports on different levels. Again, I do enjoy sports, and yes, I enjoy watching the Dallas Cowboys during football season, and I root for the Celtics and Rockets during the NBA season; but there’s a blur in the WNBA season. I see ads buying tickets for the Phoenix Mercury and then the next day, the season is over.

Say what?

Like I said before, I am not a professional sportswriter. But, the conversation I had with my student incensed me. NCAA is a billion-dollar industry. He (my student) believes college athletes in the “money-making” sports should get paid.

Uh…no.

That means females in college sports will not get paid. Men who play college golf, soccer, and other non-money-making sports will not get paid. So, no. College athletes should not get paid.

Before I end, I’m going to say something that I’ve always wanted to say since we’re talking about sports: the draft is nothing but a new slave auction.

Anyway, March is noted as Women’s History Month too.

Happy March Madness. May the best teams win!

Saturday Sauntering

I’m playing a game on my tablet…I was playing a game on my tablet until I decided to write about relaxation.

Today is the beginning of my Spring Break, and what a way to start the week with beautiful weather! Today, I did my weekly chores, paid bills, bought groceries, and now I’m on my recliner, with an opened front door (until my dog Chuy started his yapping because some person is walking past the house) and I am feeling very relaxed.

You know how I can tell that I’m relaxed? Today, while driving, I began to read bumper stickers and I was trying to guess what type of person drove the car based on their bumper sticker. I had to laugh at one:

“Caution: Driver might be singing.”

I thought that was pretty clever and cute.

Of course you have those vehicles that advertise how many people are in their family. I never really got that. Why should we know that? I know the reason behind the “Baby on Board” sticker so that we will drive carefully and cautiously around that car.

Yeah. OK.

But, I did like the bumper sticker that read:

“Puppy on Board.”

Enough of that.

Safeway has the game Monopoly where you get playing pieces to win fabulous prizes including one million dollars. I am collecting these pieces, and on my game board, I am always on or two pieces away from winning a prize. I would like to win one of those prizes, but I believe the winning pieces are somewhere in Minnesota or Indiana (by the way, Safeway is not the only store, Albertsons is also playing Monopoly and there are other stores under the same corporation across the country).

I have a lot of game pieces to match, but I know that many of them are repeats.

I watched “Finian’s Rainbow” with Fred Astaire and Petula Clark. It is a 1968 musical with lots of social justice subtexts, especially when Petula Clark’s character wishes a racist senator, played by Kennan Wynn, to be black. She uttered her wish while she was standing near a pot o’ gold and her wish came true: he became black. I liked the movie, although I was only 3 years old when it came out, one of my older sisters introduced me to the world of musicals when I was younger and I came to appreciate them. I miss musicals!

I remember “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” “Oklahoma,” “Carousel,” (I’m drawing a blank right now)…”Fiddler on the Roof.” I loved watching musicals!

Now I’m watching “The Huntsman: Winter’s War.” I’m confused. I thought this movie had the seven dwarfs in it.

Anyway, I wanted to pause and write for a minute. I am trying to write daily so that I will not forget.

Writing to Not Forget.

By the way, my latest book, “Daddy’s Girl” is being edited and will arrive in late April, early May. Keep subscribing to my blog to find out when and where to get a copy!

Now, back to relaxing!

Happy Spring!

Looking in the Mirror

I have a bad habit.

I measure myself against others.

I know it’s bad and it doesn’t matter how many times people say, “don’t measure yourself against others,” I still do it. It doesn’t matter that I say that to other people, I find myself doing it.

Yesterday, I went to a scholarship breakfast sponsored by a local chapter of an African-American female sorority. The theme was “Hats Off to Sisterhood” and a “loose” requirement was to wear a hat. I am not a hat person; I’m very casual and the one hat I do have is a University of Arizona baseball cap. A good friend, who bought my ticket for the event, had extra hats and told me she would bring me one.

Now, as I stated in the last paragraph, I’m very casual, to a fault. I did not wear jeans, but I wore business casual, not dressy. When I arrived at the hotel, I saw beautiful African-American women wearing these hats one would see at the Kentucky Derby! They were dressed in heels and cocktail-type attire. I was floored! I was embarrassed! Although I wore business casual, I felt like I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt compared to them.

My friend kept reassuring me that I looked fine as I tried on hats. Everybody kept saying, “You look beautiful” but I didn’t feel like I did.

I told you it’s a bad habit.

I had all types of mixed emotions flowing through my head as I looked through the crowd of these fabulous dressed women of color adorned with these fabulous hats. It was more than what I was wearing: I began to think about how all of these women knew each other and I knew only the people from my church.

I began to think about how I have lived here all of my life and I don’t know people! How sad is that? Most of these women come from the East Coast, the South, or the West Coast and they have connections!

I don’t want to sound envious, and I hope I am not by writing about this, but I was worried about how I am not in the community – a person who loved the public, a former journalist, what happened?

So, I thought back to a time where it all began: high school. I was intricately involved in high school: high school newspaper, president of the Black Culture Club (they had that type of club back then because black kids needed a space for identity and purpose in high school other than sports). My involvement in that club promoted a Thanksgiving Concert fundraiser at my school where we invited local church choirs to come and sing. That was a blazing success! This landed speaking engagements for me. I was a keynote speaker at a statewide Black Youth Conference. Prior to all of this, the summer of my junior year, I was a contestant in the Miss National Teen Arizona pageant! I look back and wonder how I got over!

In college, I did not do as much as I did in high school; however, I was the photography editor of the U of A’s yearbook. I loved taking photos and I was hired based on my enthusiasm of taking photos. The job led me to get a part-time job as a sports reporter for high school sports at the Arizona Daily Star, which led me to an internship in the editorial department. As the string of jobs continue, I became a reporter at two newspapers in Moreno Valley California and I was given an award for my reporting and published in a Los Angeles publication.

Then, I was done with California and moved back to Arizona, where I started a weekly publication for the African American community called The Tucson Sun Press. It was free, but if people wanted to subscribe, they could get it mailed to them. I was featured on KVOA-TV, an affiliate for NBC about the newspaper, which was very exciting for me! However, the excitement did not last; an angry man called the Sun Press line and left a nasty racial message and asked, “Why aren’t there white newspapers?”

Ugh.

Internal grumblings were happening within the volunteers of the newspaper and some African-American businesses were not supportive; in fact, the community was less than supportive, so I decided to let it go.

And there it is. I was discouraged. Discouragement played a key role and I went into a quiet room, worked as a teacher, and wrote. I did not frequent events, I did not get into the public eye; I was a hermit.

But, as a hermit, I wrote. I wrote poetry and I delved into my feelings and thoughts. I wrote when I was angry and when I was sad. I wrote when I was happy. I wrote poetry and attempted to write novels and short stories. I found the convenience of self-publishing and published my books and recently, I found camaraderie with my work colleagues and sold my books at a local large book festival! I felt my self confidence rise again and I felt determined to concentrate on my craft in writing.

And then Saturday hit. I saw that I did not know the public, my peers, my community. Although people said affirmations to me, I felt out of place. The keynote speaker had us doing something wonderful: she had us say our name at our table and everybody at the table had to repeat our name and say an African mantra which translates to “I see you.” The reason why, as she explained, is because we go around asking people how they are doing, but we never really pause to listen to people. Therefore, we don’t really “see” the person we are talking to. I loved it!

I have to admit this that sometimes, specifically around African-American women, I feel invisible. I don’t wear braids, not a lot of makeup, big shiny jewelry, nor am I in a sorority. I am different. My two older sisters are in the community and are known; people know who they are and will stop and talk to them; but, I am different. They know me as “the youngest sister.”

Another blow to my ego, happened on Saturday when I got home. I am working on my doctoral degree and I had to submit an assignment on Friday, which I did so. I opened my grade and I got an F. The professor’s comments ripped through my self-esteem like blood on the brain! I had thought I did a pretty good job, but according to the professor’s words, everything was wrong! And to make the wound more painful, his comments were, “If you have any questions, contact me.”

“Yes!” I exclaimed out loud and frightening my poor, sleeping doggy. “I have questions! Why am I doing this?!”

I want to quit going to school, but I have a passion to help teachers, and my dissertation is all about helping teachers become leaders in their school! I have the potential, but I lack the courage. I am in battle and my armor is falling off and it is dented. I guess this is how my students feel when they get a poor grade. Yes, it is damaging and you want to quit.

OK. You’re reading this and saying, “Wow. You need to stop feeling sorry for yourself. There are worse things that can happen.” And, you’re right.

I am writing this for a reason.

I don’t need the limelight. I don’t need to be seen. I need the “F” on my assignment to work harder at what I want. I mean, who do I want to please and why do I want to please them? What’s the point to be everybody’s friend or have everybody talk to me? Why do I need that? I’m 53 years old and I have made it so far with few friends in my corner and without a lot of limelight! In my younger years, I was in the limelight like the saying says, “Been there, done that.”

I had to examine myself yesterday and find out why do I allow my emotions to take over my senses? I have appropriate clothes to dress, I just didn’t know what the event was all about: now, I do. I had people at my table who didn’t even look at my clothes and we laughed and talked and loved one another: therefore, I had a good time. The professor gave me comments to improve my assignment and said he is excited to work with me during the residency event next week: I am relieved.

The problem is I overreact. I jump to conclusions, and the truth is I judge others. That’s the the problem. People are doing what they need to do and what they are passionate about! I should do the same thing. While I am spending precious moments worrying about what I am or not wearing, or if people know who I am or not, I am wasting time not writing, not doing my assignments correctly, and adding unnecessary gray hairs.

My parents raised me better than that!

I look back at all of this and realize it is really silly. However, I had to confess this because the first step to healing is to admit your mistakes. I am transparent in acknowledging the mistakes I have made, and I have made lots of them!

I feel lighter. I am going back to work on my assignments now.

Bring It On!

The Tucson Festival of Books has ended. The weekend event, which brings thousands to the University of Arizona campus mall, is an inspiring and motivating event for writers and book-lovers. Tents cover the green grassy strip in the center of the U of A where authors, booksellers, publishing companies, and other local community organization display their wares. After years of attending the Tucson Festival of Books, I was finally one of the authors in a tent. First, I want to thank my friends, Dusty and Toni, because they invited me to share the tent to help me get my books out to the public. Theoden Humphrey (aka Dusty) wrote a book too, and we wanted to fight our fear about talking about our books, face the public, and see what would happen.

We did it. We talked about our books, we answered questions, and we sold our books. All. Of. Them.

But you have to understand; before this weekend, I was going to “back out.” Negative thoughts were surfacing that no one wanted to buy poetry books – people weren’t into poetry. I was getting cold feet. I wasn’t ready. But I had shared the investment in the tent, I invested in my books, and I could not afford marketing materials for my books.

On Saturday morning, I was as nervous as a first-grader on the first day of school. I knew there were hundreds of authors who were seasoned and wrote better books than me. I felt terrible that I didn’t have bookmarks like Dusty had, or business cards. Toni took me around the festival to show me how a lot of authors were slowly selling their books, and some did not have a lot of marketing either. I listened to Dusty eloquently and excitingly talked about his pirate book, and I grew weary because my poetry is all over the place! But, slowly I began to talk about my books with help from my friends, Dusty and his wife, Toni. People started to give me money for the books (I wrote three poetry books), and I began to feel a bit better. At one point a woman came by and began to criticize my font and page number placement in one of my books. I have to admit that it tore me up inside. I am a self-publisher, and all I wanted was to get my words printed and share them. I did not know that the Times New Roman font was a problem.

However, as a writer, I have learned to let go and become confident in my craft. I am an artist and I have so much more to write and share. I am preparing for next year’s festival by incorporating marketing materials for my books into my budget.

I invited my family and close friends to come by to see me, and I was very disappointed that they did not. But those disappointments are seeds for my poetry; poetry is my escape and my sounding board.

Therefore, in this reflective moment, I am feeling something I have never felt before. This stirring inside of me has caused my eyes to open; I have made a gigantic step in sharing my most precious secrets – my poetry. My words are in unknown homes right now. People who bought my books will either hate them or love them; but my most treasured piece of me, my poetry, is now out there and I can’t do anything about it but send more of me out there.

Am I ready?

Bring it on.

My fourth poetry book is on its way.

I Am Nervous!

On Saturday, I am going to display three of my poetry books on a table for people to come and peruse them, ask me questions, and hopefully purchase. And, I am scared.
Why?
Because people are lost when it comes to poetry, I am assuming that most people do not purchase poetry books, and if they do, why?
I am not a salesperson, but after talking with a couple of friends, who were gracious to ask if I wanted to join them in the exhibition at the Tucson Festival of Books, I’ve learned that I need this “exposure.”
Tucson Festival of Books, I’ve learned that I need this “exposure.”
I believe I am nervous because the poetry I’ve published was from years ago; these poems spoke of young love, naivete, and not much experience, but they came from my heart. I write with passion.
I won’t make a lot of money on this two-day event, but I am hoping that some people will feel excited to read the “mature” writings of L.S. Watson. I am trying to write daily, and I have this great book titled “Write The Story” to help me write little snippets each day. I’ve had it for a long time, but I never used it until I felt crappy about my teaching profession (well, that’s a blog for another day).
I have prepared for these two days as best as I know how to for a book festival. Everything is rudimentary. I’ve created a brochure, and I am stealing an idea from my tent-mate to make bookmarks. I have to invest in myself because I want to be a published writer. I’ve had articles published since I was a journalist almost 30 years ago, but writing creatively has always been something I’ve held close to my heart.
Usually, I am an open book (no pun intended) and very transparent when it comes to teaching, but close examination of my books, I crawl into my shell.
I am trying to do some outreach, and what makes me look bad on my record is that I do not do enough research on how well poetry books are doing in the public sector.
So, I have to look at the brighter side of life: I will have people look at me or look at my books on a table as they pass by to listen to published authors on a panel. I will hand out my brochures or bookmarks, or both, and if I don’t sell anything, I will keep writing. I can’t stop now.
Therefore, if you’re in Tucson and come by one of the two days, don’t ask me questions; take one look at one of the books, and if you like what you see…thank you for your purchase (plus I will even sign the darn thing!)
See you at the Festival!

Why Can’t I Write?

I asked God this morning, “Why can’t I write?”

I have these brilliant story ideas in my head, and just before I sit up in bed in the morning, I am thinking about these excellent stories. But as soon as I open a Word document…nothing happens.

Why can’t I write?

What’s wrong with me?

I am so frustrated that I decided to pour out my frustration to you, my non-readers. My followers who really don’t follow me at all. So I am gutting myself on this blog to understand what is happening to my brain.

Sometimes, I am so afraid that I becoming forgetful. I am afraid that perhaps I have something that is preventing me from using my creativity. I want to pour out the stories onto the page and see a masterpiece, but what I see are primitive words that perhaps a nine-year-old could write. Even now I feel like a criminal for writing this piece.

I have a brilliant piece of writing about my father called “The Grieving Tree.” I want to complete it and published before Tucson’s Festival of Books. The Festival of Books is a beautiful event for readers and writers! It has a similar feeling of a child’s excitement when they enter Disneyland and see Mickey Mouse’s face on the sprawling green lawn. At least, that’s what the festival makes me feel like: I see tents across the University of Arizona’s mall filled with books! And, usually, I like to go alone because my meandering would make a person dizzy.

I love books.

Oh…that’s the answer. Books. I haven’t been writing because I haven’t been reading.

I am an English teacher, who is also working on her doctorate degree. My reading is limited to journal articles, nonfiction reading. Writing papers have dominated my time too, and I am behind on grading my students’ work. Therefore, I have no time to write!

And no time for writing is very frustrating for a writer.

So I am on a journey to help myself professionally, but I am not fulfilling the creative part of me. I cannot imagine a visual artist who doesn’t have time to draw, paint, or sketch.

I am also doing other grown-up things, like moving to a more inexpensive place to live; paying outrageous bills; and, finding ways to organize myself.

Oh, I cannot forget that I have another outlet: Chuy.

Chuy is my six-year-old Yorkie Poo. He is energetic and gives me kisses when I sit on my couch with my laptop and sob softly because I don’t understand how to write an assigned paper for my class.

Last night, while I looked at my overdue paper, he brought me his green ball, and we began to play. He is so attuned to me. He will look into my eyes when I am talking to him, and he stares as I explain to him how I need to organize myself so that I feel like I am not floating through time. Then I profusely apologize to him for not walking him in the morning, and I make promises that we will walk in the evening. I don’t do it.

But, that’s the beauty about dogs: they don’t care about promises. They don’t care about assignments. Chuy steps on my keyboard when he feels my anxiety level rise. He doesn’t care. He gives me kisses on the cheek and grunts, jumps off from my lap, runs outside, barks and barks come back inside, checks on me sit next to me and do the same routine over again until I get up and we take that walk. One of my friends suggested I write a children’s book about Chuy.

I can’t even write a children’s book about Chuy!

So…I’m writing about my frustration. Yes, I am taking the time to write this, but this is a rant, and I am releasing this anger and pain. I don’t want to talk to anyone about this because I don’t want to hear someone say, “You need to take the time to write. Just do it!”

Easier said than done.

Maybe, just maybe, after I finish this piece of writing on the wall, I can look at it and start fresh. I can reorganize myself and check off the duties I have: catch up with my grading; finish my overdue paper; pack; walk and play with Chuy; and, then relax by completing

design desk display eyewear
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my dad’s story and write some poetry. I believe that is what I need to do.

“Just do it.”

Thanks, Nike.