Day Six, Seven, Eight & Nine: Who’s counting anyway

Correct, success is about showing up; therefore, today I accept that blogging daily will not happen for me. However, when I do show up, more than two or three times a week, I will be pleased. I will accept those days as successful blogging days. And I will aim for the same satisfaction in each part of my life: spiritual, physical, emotional, and social.

Day Five: Writer’s Relief

I think I skipped Wednesday, but I'll focus on the positive;I'm writing on Thursday. Actually, I'm taking the easy way out because I have 30 essays to grade and I've just returned from open house at the high school, so this visual explains how I feel about my attempt to write daily.
Help For Writers Help For Writers

Day Four: oops, I skipped a day

And life moves on. Who knew I’d be grading 25-50 papers a night, falling alseep and waking up to more grading when I accepted the assignment as TFT instructor. I’m not complaining, it’s a learning curve like all new things in life. And this curve– from adjunct to full time– has its pressures.

Five classes, 125 students, five varied lessons is not the tough part (for me); it’s building resumes and professional development performance. I’m sure this part will pass, as long a I stick to a schedule and not skip a day (like my blogging).

Tonight, only 25 quizzes graded (with more to go) but I’m done. A good five hours is on my agenda for tonight’s rest. Plus, I’m nodding off while typing this entry.

Day Three: Here I go again

Wow, today marks the third day in a row that I blog. Of course yesterday was Sunday, and even God rested on Sunday. On my drive to work this morning, I thought about what to write on angchronicles. And an encounter with God came to mind.

I don’t know about you, but tithing is extremely important to me. I’ve spent years battling how to balance paying tithes and catching up on bills. I try to follow the Old Testament rule of 10 percent of my first fruits and the modern rule:  increase to 12 percent. Then one day in my reading, and I don’t know which scripture or sermon, I realized my tithing technique  was comparable to the laws of the Pharisees. My giving based on  the law, not  from the heart.I’d find myself on a tighter budget than expected, (You know, those unexpected expenditures.) and cut my tithe in half. Or begrudge my offering.

One Sunday, the offering plate passed me for the second time, and my girlfriend reached in her purse and put in all her change.

“It’s all I have today,” she said.

Hmm, I thought. I had about $30 in my wallet, which had to last for two weeks. How could I possibly, reach into my purse a second time. But I did.

The week that followed included, unexpected discounts and free items causing me not to dip into my wallet. In addition, an unexpected writing assignment.

My encounter with God showed me he knows the matters of the heart. Now, I don’t hesitate to empty my  wallet or give a $20 instead of a dollar bill, when the offering plate passes my by–for a second time.

Day Two: Making a Entry

Saturday, September 19, 2009 marks the second consecutive day making an entry. As I tell my students, if you write everyday, in class on the spot writing will get easier.

So, I return with news from a high school friend that I connected with through FACEBOOK. My12-year-old insisted I get FACEBOOK.  When we logged onto to create an account, my daughter noticed I’d already created one. Hence, I needed to use this social connection. And who would have imagined that my high school friend remembered me without seeing a photo. My alum has moved back to her hometown in Trinidad. I’ve never visited Trinidad. You guessed right, if the FACEBOOK connection works out, I know where I will vacation next year.

Day One:Too Busy

Life is busy. Work overflows into writing. Writing takes a back burner to family. Family starts to separate, and the separation shows signs of teens growing independent, as their mother reinvents herself.

Today I have decided that even if I write a few lines a day; I will journal. I will come to the page and chronicle ang’s stories, after all that was my original purpose for angchronicles, a journal keeper’s journey.

Until tomorrow.

When Art Replicates Your Life

“All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts.” Shakespeare.

As I ready myself for the last weekend of my stage presence, I think of how this past week my life seems to imitate art in various forms. On stage its improvisation (my life making it up as I go along). At one point I’m Louise the wife of Gilbert Jonas the painter. Louise is dedicated to her man and his craft, until she too develops her own craft: mothering and housekeeping. When I first read Albert Camus’ “The Artist at Work,” in which this stage adaption originated, I was awed at how it paralleled my own life as an artist, not a mother.

Like Jonas, the painter, I am a writer dedicated to my art, but in the midst of the creation have to juggle family, friends, finances and “disciples.” Disciples who want to tell you what to do, versus follow your thought pattern. And through balancing the demands of life, you learn, give back, lose yourself, and believe you are alone. Jonas did, although he was not. Despite rejection, after rejection in my writer’s life, I am not alone in this feat. Now I am just playing a different part.

Many times I think of exiting this stage: “writer;” but then I read a story or essay that replicates my own life, and I understand how important merely being a player is. Ironically, I’ve just read James Baldwin’s short story “Sonny’s Blues” for the fourth time and upon completion of this analysis not only was I the narrator, I was also the writer. Baldwin’s story, written in 1957, simulated my latest essay “The Last Eight Months,” published in The Truth About the Fact: International Journal of Literary Nonfiction. One sibling’s internal conflict when they flashback to moments when a brother or sister reached out and because of their own judgment turned a deaf ear. Sonny became a jazz musician and suffered. His brother, seven years older, became an algebra teacher and suffered. My sister stayed in the family business and suffered. I, five years older, became a writer and suffered. Yet through the suffering we come to a realization about ourselves and others.

That realization is no more than exiting and entering pattern of life. So, if you get a chance peruse Camus’ “T he Artist at Work,” and Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues.”

Five Months Later Something to Say

My public journal voice has been silenced; hence no blog entries since the presidential inauguration. Five months later, I have plenty to grip about; however, I just want to be grateful for all that I have: a God who is faithful and keeps His promises, a house with a roof and food in the frig, teens and spouse to sup with, laughter and joy of friends, a shoulder to lean and cry on, a thriving mother daughter relationship, in which I am the mother or the daughter in either instance, and a healthy mind striving for a healthy lifestyle: spiritual, physical, social, and emotional.

Amazingly life’s circumstances—illness, divorce, job loss, death—ours or someone else’s, can give us a new perspective on life. So if you’re in need of a fresh outlook, read Immaculee Ilibagizi’s second book Led by Faith: Rising from the Ashes of Rwandan Genocide. This book reminds me of God’s faithfulness and how we must not waver when we put our life in his hands. While going through one of my own tests—accepting that I was not selected for the ideal job, lack of experience—Immaculee’s faith to trust God with everything, although she literarily had nothing, caused me to look at what I did have and be grateful. In the book, the Rwandan genocide survivor gives two miraculous stories: one from her own experience and another someone else’s.

One day Immaculee needs an emergency visa. She gets to the office and the woman tells her the man who can issue visas is out of the office and will not return until next week. Immaculee pleads, the woman tells her to go away. Immaculee sits in the waiting area and prayers. She thanks God for all she has and reminds Him that he promised if she asked he would answer. She prayers for hours, each time taking a breath to open the visa believing it would be stamped. Soon the woman tells her the office is closing and she must leave. Immaculee sits outside the office and speeds up God giving him seven o’clock deadline. Immaculee continues to pray. The woman looks out the window bewildered that Immaculee is still waiting. At the eleventh hour, when God is known to show up, a large car pulls up in front of the building, a man steps out, the woman opens the window and points to Immaculee. Immaculee’s visa is stamped. She waited on the Lord, even in the darkest hour.

Immaculee tells another story of a young girl shielded from killers by a lioness. The author clarifies that people in her village were not sure if this tale was true, but it was one that when told continually strengthen faith. This young girl was separated from her family when trying to escape the killers. Alone in the woods the killers, one or two, returned to where the girl had been left. Upon their appearance, the girl began to pray for God to send His angels to protect her. A lioness came and scared off the killers. The next day, the killers returned again, only to find the lioness with the girl. Immaculee says that the lioness cared for this child until the day her parents found her. And when the parents came, the lioness left without a roar.

After reading this story, these faith experiences, my thoughts: “How strong is my faith?” “Would I too be able to wait on the Lord?” The answer: “yes.” Hence I am grateful and will share my public voice once a week.

Living to be 100

Did you know 85,000 centenarians live in the United States? I wasn’t surprised to hear the news; after all, my grandmother is 92. Yet, I was stunned to discover a book and a workshop, in which a motivational speaker, in the medical profession, is crusading across the nation teaching people how to live to be 100. My spouse went to the health seminar. As soon as he told me he had received a complimentary $39 ticket from his chiropractor, the first thing I thought of … marketing scheme or book sales. Book sales, it is.

When I think about today’s centenarians, I can’t imagine how someone could scribe their efforts in a book and sell them. Centenarians have lived a very different life than we do nowadays; we have modern medicine, plastic surgery, personal trainers, special diets and a mishmash of vitamins and minerals. Meanwhile, centenarians have lived through: World War I and II, a depression and a recession, women receiving the right to vote, and a tumultuous civil rights era, to name a few. Also, 100-year-old people have less stress, less medical expenses, free of cognitive disorders and some are uncommonly healthy.

I’ve never thought about living to 100, but I guess if it’s a possibility I should imitate those who have come before me with:

  • Have good longevity genes (my great grandparents also lived well into their nineties)
  • Learn to respond not react- increase my emotional resilience
  • Become and remain self-sufficient
  • Remain intellectually active
  • Have a good sense of humor (OK this is going to be tough!)
  • Maintain religious beliefs
  • Keep strong connections with other people
  • Keep a low blood pressure (Piece of cake, hopefully that will outweigh my deficient sense of humor.)
  • Appreciate simple pleasures and experiences
  • Have a zest for life
  • No heavy smoking and drinking
  • Uh, Oh, I’m in trouble, many centenarians play musical instruments (I neither play an instrument nor sing.), female centenarians are known to have bear children after 40 (This shop is closed.), and they eat an anti-inflammatory diet (Does that mean eventually giving up the chocolate and salty Doritos?).

BTW, my spouse did not enjoy the seminar: old news, different spin and said he plans to live to be 100, I guess it’ good I’ve made a list.

Text message etiquette

It’s the fifth day of the new year and already time seems to being flying by. This Monday morning my girls have returned to school and the question hot on their agendas, along with their friends is “What did you get for Christmas?”. Wait a minute it’s a new age, for those close friends that information was exchanged during the past two week’s vacation via text messaging. I haven’t really mastered the text messaging, I’m slow, it’s cumbersome, and it takes too long. My youngest daughter reminds me I have a dinosaur phone. (Since I was born in 1404 what does she expect?) What I’ve noticed about text messaging is those who text have little respect for people around them. Last week my eldest daughter had a friend stop by and during the visit my daughter played Sims and Pop Sing Star while her friend pretended to play, but was more engaged in a text message conversation with a friend. She laughed and shared the joke with my daughter (who was not impressed at all).

That same daughter will sit at the dinner table with her Voyager, ready to respond. More often than not, I have to repeat the rule: “no texting at the table, it’s family time.” However, for the new year I have to enforce one of the new parental behaviors that Dr. Kevin Lehman stresses in his book, Have a New Kid by Friday: How to Change Your Child’s Attitude, Behavior & Character in 5 Days, don’t threaten, follow through. In other words, the next time she thumbs messages during a family mealtime, I calmly confiscate the phone for the rest of the evening and say without anger or annoyance in my voice “You cannot have the phone for the rest of the evening, you did not follow the rules”.

This book is informative, easy to read, accessible to parents with kids of any age from terrible twos to still at home thirty-twos, and tough on parents. Yet I must say, I no longer threaten, I just enforce. One of my worst habits was to give sixth grader three warnings to get up and get ready for school. Now, she gets one warning or suffers the consequences: arriving to school late or staying home to clean the house. On days we leave the house simultaneously, or I leave minutes before her, she sends me a text message to let me know she’s on the bus. Of course this is good, yet leads to unacceptable texting:

  • Sending a text message to a parent, or anyone, while they are, or you are, driving is dangerous.
  • Composing a message while in a face-to-face conversation with someone is as rude as taking a voice call.
  • Sending or reading a text message in class, impolite.
  • Delivering bad news by text.
  • Expecting someone to read a text that’s more than 160 characters, make it short and sweet.
  • Using indecipherable codes or messages that can be misinterpreted.