Growing Things

I have one little secret that I am going to tell you about.

I have always wanted a little flower garden, and when I moved into my townhouse, last December, the owner told me that I could plant a garden if I wanted to. My eyes lit up! I was so excited for Spring to come! And now, that it is here, I am living at Home Depot and Lowe’s! 

Actually, I bought seeds from the Dollar General, and I had some seeds from a high school friend who sent them to me when my little Chica passed away about four years ago. I didn’t get a chance to plant them at my old place, but there is a small area in my backyard where they have found a home!

I am excited about my flowers blooming. I water them daily, and I watch them grow; in fact, I have Chuy (my Yorkie Poo) looking over them as well. He was smelling them (they don’t have buds yet) and curiously looking at them. I went to Home Depot yesterday and bought a couple of Annuals to place in a pot I have on the front porch. I believe that flowers on the front porch display the heart of who lives in the house. Flowers are welcoming.

The birds are tweeting outside, the sky is blue, and there is no wind. It is a beautiful morning.

So, what is it about nature that makes us humans relax? Exactly that…it is natural. It is a part of our genetic makeup to look and want to be a part of natural beauty. Flowers are the most beautiful creations in the world. When I scroll through travel photos on Instagram and see the beauty of flowers from all over the world, I smile. Literally, I smile!

I am working on my backyard to become a summer oasis; there is no room for an above ground pool, but I am on the hunt for patio furniture, and I am still working on hanging the Sky Chair purchased at the Renaissance Festival. I initiated my Weber grill with hamburgers, corn on the cob and asparagus. This is one activity I love to do without spending a lot of money: gardening and relaxing in my own backyard.

You see, I am trying to grow a lifestyle that will take my anxiety and nervousness down a notch. I am ignoring the shriek barking of my dog right now; he must’ve heard a mouse fart. Anyway, I am working on being more positive in my life and feeling good about who I am. In this process, I am working on losing weight after losing 57 pounds. I have more to go. I am working on drinking more water. I am working on my prayer life. I am working on my financial health. I am working on being more present. I am going to bed at a consistent time; I am walking every morning; creating a great exercise plan for myself; I am working on eating well (more fruit and vegetables); and, I have stopped listening to so many people who think they know me, but they don’t.

The more I do this, the more I grow.

For example, the annuals that I bought at Home Depot were already in a pot; a temporary pot. I had to transplant them into a larger pot and place them together. They may feel a particular shock, but I added more soil for them to grow. The addition of more soil will help the roots to stretch and reach.

I want to be positive. I want to be optimistic. There are plenty of times I have been negative and pessimistic, but optimism and positivity are rarities. I need to start with me –  from within.

Although I am 53 years old, I am still growing like my flowers!

There is always room to grow.

How 80’s Music Ignites an Idea

I am listening to an all 80s music channel right now. The familiar music has pulled me into various directions: high school and suffering from cramps every month; college and walking miles and miles from one building to the next; and, sitting at home watching endless videos on MTV.

The 80s songs from various artists send me into endless moments and stories about what happened in my life; some good memories and some bad memories, but they are my memories. These songs led me to write this blog about things going on around me…us. I began to think about how to make extra money during the summer. I know. I know. Just the other day I wrote about my total exhaustion from work and how I wanted a quiet, restful summer, and still plan to do just that, but I want something to provide a few extra dollars for me to cover some expenses so that I can relax.

I combed through the internet to look for “online parttime at home jobs,” and I found a slew of time-consuming ideas. First, it was Shopify. Now Shopify is a website where you can invest in getting an online store. There was a 14-day free trial, and I thought, “why not?” I am a risk-taker at times. I had my own little business years ago when I published an African-American newspaper in Tucson, and it was only attractive to the people who were in it. Anyway, I decided to try this Shopify, and it took me hours to really understand what to do. I even watched Youtube videos of people who claimed to have gained “thousands of dollars in seven days” when they used Shopify. I don’t know if it’s me, but it took forever to set up an online shop, and now I’m selling watches (I threw in a pair of Women’s Fila shoes too). I don’t know if it is going to work because I have to pay money to advertise it on Facebook and Google. My dad always said you have to spend money to make money.

Check it out when you get a chance: https://shopshelenestyle.myshopify.com/

I’m just trying it out and see where it takes me.

So my curiosity sent me to more sites like tutoring.

Ugh.

No. I can’t do it. I know it’s a decent job, but I can’t. I thought about DoorDash, but I don’t want to be in my car that much, and plus, I used to drive for Lyft, and it (driving for money) places a lot of pressure because you make the most money at night. I am not a great night driver.

Now, blogging is something I like to do but to make money blogging means I have to pay for ads to be placed on the website and if I’m lucky, you will click on the ad. I will get a payment based on the times a person clicks on an ad. Everything is by chance.

But, I’m not stressing over extra money. No. I am blessed to have paychecks over the summer months, and I need to save money instead of spending it.

Wow! All of these ideas from 80s music. Hahahaha!!

What are your plans this summer? Share!

Summer Kickoff…

I am trying to relax.

It is now time off for teachers, and this past year has been a roller coaster of emotions at my school. Once a school that housed the brightest and best students, we are now seeing a new caliber of students who have mental struggles, vandalize the school property, and use illegal drugs. Last year was definitely not stellar.

Now that school is over, I had promised myself to relax. The older I get, the more I find that my patience is wearing thin. While I contemplate leaving education, I am tethered to it because I actually enjoy teaching literature and writing. Yet, when I think about the two professions, I have been trained for, both require stressful situations. I was a newspaper reporter for years, and I left that career because of the pressure. Transitioning into teaching was smooth; and I found that I could reach my students because of my love for reading and, of course, writing.

I started that teaching journey in the mid-1990s. That was almost 30 years ago (actually 26 years ago). People have changed… A LOT! I am struggling to keep students engaged, and with the heavy weight of showing educational chiefs that students are “growing” through assessments, the teaching profession has become very stressful.

That’s why I need my summer.

BUT…

A few days into this summer break, I see work emails, and yes, I check them just in case, and I begin to feel the anxiety rise up in me. The work emails are informing me that I have to meet on July 15th and on July 19th. I had one email from a student asking me why did he receive a 0 on an assignment, and he wanted me to explain to him what he did wrong. My answer was kind of snappy, but it was worth it. I told him I did not receive his assignment. Where and when did he send it to me, and why is he asking me now that school is over?

My anxiety.

Being a teacher has its rewards, but the reality is that a teacher is expected to work year round. You’re probably asking me, “why do you look at your email?” or, “why do you involve yourself in things that you have to meet so early in the summer?” I have an answer: Money. As a teacher, we don’t get paid that much, and everyone knows that. But, if I don’t take on extra “things,” I won’t have a comparable salary to survive.

If only, if only I could write for a living and get paid a high salary, I would do just this. I don’t mean writing for a newspaper or a magazine, but writing for myself. I am looking into all sorts of side gigs, specifically blogging for money. I need a following, and to tell you the truth, I don’t think I have a significant following for this blog. If I titled my blogs “SEX! DRUGS! ROCK N’ ROLL!” perhaps I could capture people’s attention and draw a following to make money from my blog.

I need to rest this summer. I need to rejuvenate myself and push my chair far away from the table. I overate anxiety during the school year, and my body is telling me that I need to stop eating, and feast on more healthy thoughts and feelings. I cannot worry about last school year or the upcoming school year. I have to think about today and about me, for a change.

So, if I don’t answer your calls, or accept lunch dates, just know that I am decompressing and that I am all right. However, I am asking for a favor, keep reading my blogs because I have a lot to write about, and it’s not all going to be about me.

Thank you for reading! Oh…and respond if you’d like to. I won’t bite!

From the Perspective of a Writer

I love this title. In fact, I love making up titles. Before I start to write a poem, I write the title first. Then, I allow the title to make up the rest of the poem. It’s funny how that happens. I have heard about many writers who find their titles within the work. I believe that is ingenious and creative because they can see the message within before titling the piece.

I kept thinking about titles for poems I want to write. It’s summer vacation for me (I’m a teacher), and this summer I am going to allow my body and mind to heal. I am going to write every day and find solitude in my work; something I have wanted for a long time.

So, my writing journey begins with a list of titles (a list I change frequently), and from those titles, I will create my poetry. I am hoping to plan a poetry night for women of color soon; that means to plan out why I want that event to happen and to line up women of color in the city of Tucson who write poetry and willing to read it in a public setting. I need to find a place to hold the event, and I am hoping it will be something that will be accepted in the community.

The name of the event:

From the Perspective of a Woman.

Sounds like a great poem too!

 

“Bombs Bursting in Air…”

Before I retire for the night, I have to release these thoughts that are clanging around in my head. It’s about bombs.

Bombs are scary to me. Bombs are terrifying weapons. Yesterday (Sunday) when I heard the news of the numerous bomb blasts in Sri Lanka, my heart sank in sadness.

What kind of people would want to build a bomb to kill thousands of people? I asked this rhetorical-type of a question to a couple of my colleagues today, and the answer was:

“They gave up their right to be human.”

Yes, I agree. Any breathing human being could not even fathom creating a bomb to kill people. I mean (and please do not think I am making light of this subject) who wakes up in the morning and makes a plan to create bombs to kill other humans?

We no longer have to look to Hollywood to watch villains and their actions, we have them right here in our world.

When I sat in front of the tv and saw the people screaming and crying for their loved ones and the white sheets covering many of the dead, my heart bled, and I cried. It was Monday morning; the Monday after Easter. I had a wonderful weekend, as I usually do during Easter week and then to hear and see about the bombing was devastating for me.

I know Sri Lanka is miles away from Lil’ ole Tucson Arizona, but my God, they were part of the human race! The people were worshipping or in their hotel rooms, and their life ended so suddenly and violently!

Today was definitely a Monday for me. I was so upset that I became emotional and broke down. I was a little late for work, but I chatted it up with my principal when I arrived and blamed my weak voice and teary eyes on allergies.

I cannot do anything but to ask why?

The world has been violent since the beginning of time. All problems were solved by killing other people. In fact, four girls were killed by a bomb in their church during the Civil Rights era. I wish I could psycho-analyze these people who strap bombs to their bodies and kill themselves and everyone around them.

There will continue to be evil in this world. Evil exists, just as goodness exists; monstrosities gain more attention than goodness. A few weeks ago, I saw a movie with my church about a true story that brought a Klansman and black activist together. The black activist had much to learn just as the Klansman showed his ignorance. But, it wasn’t until they were forced to understand each other’s ideologies, the barriers became easier to tear down. The setting was in the early 1970s, and there was plenty of unrest with Vietnam War protests and African-Americans still working on becoming equal citizens in the United States. The gist of the movie was that the two opposites learned how to work together to a point where there was a change of hearts. So, it can happen.

If we, as human beings, sit down and accept each other for who we are, the world might be more comfortable to live in. Otherwise, we are going to keep witnessing and experiencing violence.

And in America, we will keep singing that line in the song that glorifies the significance of killing and destroying: a bomb.

 

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!