29 February 2012

My parents are Roosters

There have been tales of late about Tiger-moms who really push their children to achieve and to do better.

If I have to pick a title for my Nigerian-born parents, I guess it is going to be that they are Rooster-parents.

When I go to Nigeria, there is always the freshest of foods.  And I don’t mean Whole Foods fresh.  I mean that the pineapples are grown by my father, the oranges are grown in the yard, the goats are in your yard in the morning and on your plate in the evening (though not mine since I don’t like goat).  It is the same with the chickens.  I have never tasted chicken as good as the chicken I have had in Nigeria.  So fresh and so clean, clean.

The only annoying thing about the chickens and roosters is that they stay in your yard until you are ready to eat them or give them to a friend or family member as a gift.  The problem is not that they get in the way or that I trip over them.  

When I was a kid and read children’s books with tales of farms and the different animals on those farms, they always said that chickens and roosters crowed at the crack of dawn.

Maybe these authors had never really lived on a farm or maybe the chickens and roosters in Nigeria had on night vision goggles and thought it was brighter than it actually was.  

All I know is that their cock-a-doodle-dooing was a real problem for me many mornings as I tried to sleep.  They crowed way before the sun was even close to being near rising.

My parents are Rooster-parents for several reasons.

First, because when I lived in their house, my mother never let us sleep in on Saturdays or Sundays.  She either woke us up deliberately to start cleaning the house, or woke us up making phone calls to people.  I don’t know why it is that she can talk in a regular voice, even a soft voice when she wants to discipline us in public without people realizing it, but when she gets on the phone to someone in Nigeria, she talks as though she is yelling through one of those can-string-can phones that children concoct.  It wasn't even just mornings that she would awaken us.  There would be nights when we may have missed a dish or not cleaned the counter after doing dishes and she would wake us in the middle of the night to make us do it.

She and my father are Roosters together because the way they stay on their children reminds me of the peck-peck-pecking that chickens do when they walk and when they eat.  Throughout school they were consistent about checking on our grades.  They didn’t make sure that we were passing, because not passing was not an option.  Instead  there were checks to see how many As we had.  Even now as Kid Sis #3 is in graduate school she told my father that she had a B on a paper and my father thought she was joking and insisted that she really got an A on the paper.

I have a master’s degree in Education, but my father still insists that I need to go back to school and earn a PhD in something.  He always pulls us aside and tells us that because we have Nigerian names, brown skin, and are women, we need to work harder and be the best and have the highest degrees.  Although I sometimes have a little person in my other ear telling me other wise and to just relax, a mini-Dad is always in one of my ears telling me this.

Although they are Rooster-parents, they are very compassionate toward each other and toward other people.  The last time we went out to dinner for my brother-from-another-mother(and father’s) birthday, they were absolutely adorable.  Their were five of us eating and we were seated at a six person table.  The waitress set up one side so that there was an empty seat in between the two chairs.  My parents were on that side and in the middle of dinner, my mother took her plate, her drink and her silverware and moved over closer to my dad.  And they were sharing their food.  They always love going to parties and dancing together which is also cute.

Possibly aiding to their delayed retirement, they have helped numerous family members and friends financially throughout their working lives which in addition to the advice and sometimes the shoulder they have given and been for people adds to the level of respect they are shown by people they know.

They have opened their doors for college students who come to the region to study.  These people have been able to count on my mother for tupperware containers of food to stock their fridges, a place to go for holiday dinners, a local person who will attend their graduations, and a place to do laundry.  They are so generous to these students, that some of them call her their second mother. 

These two people have instilled a lot in me that I don’t even realize all the time.  Some days I’ll just be in different situations and all of a sudden I’ll realize that I am doing something based on what they have told me or I’ll laugh at a story from one of the two, or I’ll flip the channels and see something interesting on CNN Headline News and remember the annoyances of how they will have that channel on for hours at time repeating the same stories every 15 minutes.  Every.  15.  Minutes.

They have made various sacrifices throughout their lives for their children and we appreciate them and what they have done and all that they have given to us.

So on this special leap day of February, I respectfully show a small part of my love and affection and appreciation for those two Rooster-parents who gave me life in so many ways.

28 February 2012

Stretching and finishing lists... again

Day two of track practice, day two of finishing off everything on my to-do list.

I am happy that practice is going well so far.  I am happy that I am able to use some of the time I use to demonstrate technique to the students as a way for me to incorporate some cardio into my life.  I am also able to use the cool down portion of practice to stretch more (in addition to the morning (daily) and pre-bed (sometimes) stretching that I do).

I am a little sore in my back, but not quite as sore all over as I have been in past seasons after a few days and I attribute that to my morning stretching routine.

27 February 2012

Finished my list, hopefully it can happen again

I have been so productive today that it is surprising.  I have finished so many things that I am actually sitting here with nothing on my list that I can still do.

Reasons why this is shocking and good:

  • I have had a hard time waking up early the past few weeks, but today I was able to wake up early enough that I was even able to stop and see my parents (mother is going out of town tomorrow and with practice, I won't be able to see her tomorrow).
  • I had a brilliant idea this morning during my stretching that may advance my life.  Have been stuck about that area for a long time, but I think I may be on to something.
  • I have been so busy most days that I have not been able to make copies ahead of the day that I need them.  Today I am 4 days ahead and completely planned in one prep, 3 days in another prep, and 2 days in another prep.  Sweet.
  • Today is the first day of spring practices.  I have already said that I am not as into it as I have been in previous years, but I still want to not look bad.  I have not been stressed about the season, despite that we don't have a track to practice on.  I have somehow managed to get everything together and things will hopefully work out well.
  • I had a checklist of 13 things I wanted to accomplish today and all of them are ticked off.  That is unheard of.  That has never happened.  But today, somehow it did.

Hopefully, this is not a fluke and it continues for more days.

Yes, I still make lists on paper.  I am about to try out Evernote and Nozbe, but for now, I'm old school.

26 February 2012

Kid Sis #1

Today it is all about Kid Sis#1 - she made me a big sister on this date years ago.

I remember so many fun times we had as children.

There were Barbies whose hair we decorated, braided, cut, and then realized that they were then useless since the hair would not grow back.

There were bike rides down the slope of the driveway that we saved for the "older siblings" since it was so steep.  Seriously, we didn't let Kid Sis #2 or #3 go to that part of the driveway because it was too much of a hill and we feared that they wouldn't make it back to the garage.  If you have been to my parents' home, you know that a) the ground must have seriously eroded that hill away or if that is not true, then, b) we were really small and weak to think that it was a hill, or c) we really just wanted to keep the fun to Big Bro and the first two girls of the family.

There were our fabulous, itchy fashion tights, which she clearly didn't find too uncomfortable since she could sleep in them at picnics.  I remember that she used to really love wearing dresses.  All.  The.  Time.  And, somehow, she was still cute even with her braids sticking straight up in the air.

There were fabulous times of keeping ourselves entertained while waiting for the parents to finish their meetings with the grown folks.  We could poke fun of the adults as they tried to drive out of driveways that seemed to have suddenly become obstacle courses "Left, left, straight, straight, STOP!"  There were parents' screams to long lost friends that we adopted when we would greet each other.  Oh, how I love all those adults that were in my life during my childhood.  There were discoveries in the 'creek' behind the house.  There were band trips, football games, and so many great track meets.

Winning state my senior year with my kid sister on the relay team with me was really something I will not forget.

There were more fun times than I can remember dancing, singing, playing with the new puppy, and just laughing.

So much laughing.

As time has gone on, she has grown into an adult that I love to laugh with.

I always smile on the first of the month when she sends me audio of the Bone Thugs song.  Laugh when she sends me audio from The Princess Bride.

Oh, all the movies and books.  We used to adore Fox Thirtaaay (why did that guy say 30 like that????) and all of its 80s/early 90s movies.  Each time the Joy Luck Club comes on, I have to send my sisters a text that "You, you have best quality heart."

So many special moments I share with her.

I remember the fear that was instilled in me when I was around 6 and thought I had seriously brought her close to death after a jump rope accident (note to all - if there are only two people, do not tie one end of the jump rope to a semi-stationary bike or else the bike may fall and bust open your kid sister's head).

Now, she is off being a doctor on the East Coast.  Still making me laugh.  Still being a beautiful person inside and out.

Still sharing stories of her revolutionary fashion/cosmetic ideas.  Still living it up with friends old and new.  Still building upon her fabulous fitness, though it has changed from cheering, sprinting, and dancing to more distance running.

Still a compassionate person, and fortunately, still making her famous cheesecake that makes me not even like other peoples' (besides Kid Sis #3 who learned from her).

One of our favorite songs to sing on siblings' birthdays:

25 February 2012

Remembering to write

I just passed the 400th post mark for this blog last week.  It happened with no fanfare.  I didn't even realize it until today.

In honor of my writing and because I have posted for over 50 days in a row, I am going to put a spot light on some of my past posts that stand out to me (page views, comments, content, title, whatever).

Possibly the worst invention ever - Seriously!?! Who's idea was this and why do they still exist?

All-star game and meth issues - Because I don't love baseball like everyone else does.  Read what I would rather do than even think of going to a game.

Six Items or Less - No undies don't count:  I took part in the experiment of wearing only six items of clothing for an entire month.  It was truly great - liberating.  I wear more than six items now, but still find that they all basically look the same.

Basically effective - In part because of the 6IOL, I began getting rid of a lot of clothing.  That led to me simplifying my life in other ways.  Again, liberating.

Even Niecy has never seen such foolishness - If you have seen Messiest Home in America with Niecy Nash (I think Vanessa from the Cosby Show took over) you know that these people have a hard time getting rid of items.  The images of their homes are shocking.

Used sanitary napkins - come on! - Just disgusting.  Another messy home.

Wordless Wednesday: Beautiful images of women/girls - After all that nastiness it is great to look at awesome art.

Wordless Wednesday: Bras - Just because the pictures are funny.

Human Rights Art - Not all art is just to be viewed.  Some of it has messages.

After all my logic and my theory I add a... - There is no way this city should be in this top 10 list.  Even have a shout out to Lauryn Hill at the end and in the title of the post.

More than a pain in the neck - This surgery was just another ailment that I have had to deal with of late.  Fortunately it worked out and is healing well.

Courting, colours, cafeterias, and cotton - Looking at different issues of race and my past with such topics.

Worry less and feel good anyway - This is my goal for this year.

I've written a lot and hope that I am getting better as I focus on writing more often.  Congrats to me for 400+ posts.  Here's to continued writing and more consistency even after this NaBloPoMo is finished.

24 February 2012

Get that dirt off my shoulder

In my life I have come to realize that I get in my own way.  A lot.

Just this week, I made a plan to make sure that I was getting up in time for at least 20 minutes of stretching and getting my mind right for the day.  (I like to be thinking positively about what is to come because I believe that how I approach the day is how it is going to run - most of the time.)

There was not a single day this week where I woke up early enough to do this and leave for work at the normal time.

I had to rearrange some other things in order to get to work on time.  I kept my twists in a few days longer than they should have been in so that I wouldn't have to spend minutes doing my hair (don't fret, I still look decent), I took faster showers, I scarfed down breakfast faster, and I didn't fully catch up on WWF or HWF while eating like I like to do (I don't play during the day, so morning and after dinner are when I like to play mass amounts of games).  I also ended up having to deal with more traffic because I was leaving the house later.

I still managed to stretch, but it was mostly rushed, and I am aching because of it.

I hindered myself rather than helping myself out.  I stayed in bed after the alarm; sometimes even 25 minutes staying in bed after the alarm rather than getting up to get stretched and ready for work.

There are more examples of me getting in my own way just during this week.

I have not been drinking enough water during the day because I don't like to use public restrooms.  Blame it on The Discovery Channel and their germs (If you click the link, start at the 1:50m mark).  The school toilets have no lids, and that grosses me out completely.  My trying not to use public bathrooms is really nothing new.  My mother reminds me often that I used to go full days at school not using public facilities and that she really worried about what I would do when I went off to college and had to stay in the dorms.

Since I am not drinking enough, my lips have been dry. I'm not quite like Dave Chappelle's character, but I am constantly having to put moisturizers on my lips when all I really need to do is drink more water during the day and not try to make up for it during the evening.

Instead of getting into my own way, I am going to consciously try and lift myself up.

I am going to take care of myself in more than just the physical sense.

I am going to be even better at thinking positively and taking action to fix things that don't work in my life that I want to be better.

I will brush that dirt off of my shoulders from the falls I have taken and I will move and take actions and I will be better than I was yesterday.

Each day.

23 February 2012

I tried excessive complaining again

I've still been trying not to complain.

I've been pretty good with it.

Today, I deliberately decided to go back to my old ways of complaining to see what it would be like now.

I complained to colleagues, I complained to students, I complained to myself.

It wasn't the most complaining I have done in my life, but it was a good amount in comparison to the limited complaining of the past weeks.

I wanted to see what it felt like.

My conclusion:
  • Complaining did not make me feel better in any of the situations.
  • Complaining did not ease any of the situations I was complaining about.
  • Complaining did make others laugh and share some of their complaints - bonding, I guess.
Was it worth it?

It was quite draining and I felt awkward.

I guess if I want to entertain people and bond through shared misery, I can continue to complain a lot.

Otherwise, I can continue to make changes to things I complain about and to help others see things more positively.  I can bond through happier things and through trying to find solutions rather than gripe about the problems.

Today, I was talking with a friend who is going through some difficulties with her pregnancy.  I complained for a bit about some things to her, but then felt really horrible about her situation.  I acknowledged her pains, and then tried to make suggestions that she had not thought of yet.  I also reassured her that each day she makes it through, she is closer to being able to hold her suffering over her soon-to-be daughter's head when the daughter is older.

Helping her and cheering her up made me feel better than all the complaints I shared today.

22 February 2012

He's unbelievable

Yesterday was my uncle's birthday.  He was the only true uncle I had who lived in the states.

He had his issues, but as a child, I was oblivious to these.

To me, he was the cool uncle.  To me he was an amazing man who knew how to have fun and had a truly contagious laugh that I can still hear echoing in my head.

In December 2008, he passed away.  It was a month long process and it was a struggle to see him in the hospital there.

The whole time he was in the hospital, when I would lay down on my back, I would feel like I was breathing the way he did on the ventilator - my chest would move rhythmically as though it was being forced to breath by a machine.

One day, I had an extreme feeling in me around 4pm.  I don't know how to describe it.  There was a tenseness, and I suddenly thought of him and of wanting to see him again.

Later that day, I was told by my mother that they pulled the plug around the same time that I had been thinking of him.

I still remember him when I do certain things, and when I drive certain places in the city.  I remember him each time I see a funeral procession.  His name was Igwe and for some reason, the first time I heard the EMF "You're Unbelievable", I thought they were saying, "You're Uncle Igweble".  (I was young and didn't listen well, I guess.)  Many times, when someone says that something is unbelievable, I still think of those lyrics and of my uncle.

This month, as I write about loved ones, he is not forgotten.  As I remember him, and the love that I saw of his friends and family after his death, I am crying again.

In honor of him, I am reposting what I wrote about him on this blog when he died:

When I was a small girl I remember an occasion when my uncle's cop friend came over and checked on us while he was away at school and my parents were at work. I thought that was the coolest thing. Especially since the motorcycle cop was notorious in the neighborhood (and the rest of St. Louis) for pulling people over on Manchester Road if they went even 31 in the 30 MPH area. I went to school the next day and told all my friends. All the guys were so jealous of my dad's brother. I also told them how he let me touch his helmet and sit on his motorcycle. 
I remember clearly the night he was in a car accident and was hit by a bus. I woke up and couldn't go back to sleep for fear, seeing the accident in my head as the street lights lit up the ceiling over my top bunk. My heart still races when I imagine that night and see the bandages on his head. 
I remember thinking how cool my uncle was. He was fairly young when he lived with us. He was the ultimate cool. He was in college with these massive books full of math problems I couldn't even begin to wrap my elementary school head around, he lived in the basement suite, he had some super cool friends, he always seemed happy, and he had the greatest laugh I had ever heard. 
When we moved to the new house, he did not move with us. But he still came around a lot. I remember him coming with new cars, various new business ventures that always netted us some cool new gifts or free food. I remember at one point he was helping a friend of his get her music group up and running. They even opened up for Lauryn Hill and Busta Rhymes when they were in town. I remember going over to his apartments and seeing how cool it must be to live on your own. 
As I have grown up, I have seen that he is not the perfect person. I have seen him suffer. I have seen him cause my parents pain. 
But I have all these memories of him. Some are more current. Him using his new camera phone to take pictures of his first grand-nephew. Seeing him at my local grocery store laughing with the people behind the counter. Always that laugh. 
November 8th my uncle went into the hospital. He had pneumonia and kidney failure. The first week he was there he started swelling. Although I really like learning the science behind the body, it was hard to look at him. At one point for a few days his normally skinny face was so swollen that it was actually larger than the photos I have seen of Emmitt Till lying in his coffin. There were tubes and bags all over him. They had to use a screen-type of thing on his eyes to protect them because he was so swollen that his eyes were bulging and could not close all the way. His kidneys failed and they put him on dialysis. His lungs collapsed and they had to put him on the new-fangled breathing machine that shook his entire body as it tried to move more oxygen through his lungs. He would get better and then he would get worse and then he would get better. There were days when we prepared for the worse and days where there seemed to be some semblance of hope. 
Monday, December 15, he passed away. The doctors had tried everything and they said that he was way worse than when he entered the hospital. It took four minutes. 
When I was younger there was a year when we went back to Nigeria for winter break. I was young. Our first dog, who was absolutely awesome despite her penchant for locking herself in the bathroom during storms, was dying at the time. She had cancer, or something similar. They took her to the doctor. We left for Nigeria and she was put to sleep on December 19th of that year -- my birthday. 
This year on the 19th of December I will attend a funeral. It is strange and difficult because we have never had a funeral in this country. We had to find a funeral home and figure out what this will be like. At the same time, we are going to do some things similar to what we would do at home. My parents have a good, super large circle of friends who are going to help us a bit, but it still mind blowing. 
I've cried, I've laughed at the memories, I have cried some more, I have tried to be strong. I am now to the point where when I think of him I constantly am hearing his laugh in the background of each memory. I am trying to not focus on the images of the past five weeks that I have of him. It is hard. But his laugh seems to be winning out so far. 
Hopefully that and other happy memories will reign on the 19th so I can at least have a little bit of a nice memory of this coming birthday. 
Until then, I'll keep singing some Blind Melon in my head: 
Hey I'd like to daze away to a
Place like no one has known
In a state of mind I could call mine
That only I could own
Where I could hum a tune anytime
I choose, and then there is no such thing as time
Where I can feel no pain just calm and sane
What a place for one to find
"I Wonder"
Blind Melon

21 February 2012

Mission: More sleep, more water

As part of my mission, my goal was to wake up in time to have at least a 20m stretch/meditation/get my mind right session each morning.

I don't know if it was because of the three day weekend, or what, but this morning, I snoozed until 5:30. I got up with only about 10m to do my minimized routine.  There was not really time for deep thought, but the stretching was quick, but useful.

Fortunately, at school today, the admin had three massuers during my planning period set up in one of the meeting rooms.  WIN!!

Another goal was to drink more water.

Somehow during the work day, I only drank about 8 ounces, I was so busy trying to make things happen.

Now I am dehydrated and my lips are super dry, but on the brighter side, after I moisturize them tonight and exfoliate them in the morning, I will have some really fresh lips.  And I didn't look like a crack head.

I will go to bed earlier, wake up earlier, and drink more the rest of tonight and all day tomorrow.

20 February 2012

Removing negativity from my life

As part of the 31 Day Reset, I am removing negative people in my life.  I started to do this when I first read about the assignment last month, and it was really a great idea.  Now, I am going to do it even more.

I find that most of the negativity I encounter is at work - surprisingly (to those not in education), it is often more of the adults than the students who are negatively.

I have already started to not be involved in negative commentary between classes or at lunch.  When around these sorts of conversations, I don't add my two cents of negativity.  I either try to bring up the positive, correct the person who believes something to be negative or attacking them even though it is not, don't say anything, or (I find this actually refreshing) leave the conversation entirely.  I have already found that some of the coworkers don't bring up the negative things to me any more.  Not sure if this is because I am always bringing out the positive, but it is better than hearing them constantly complain about something.

Outside of work, I will likely be ending "friendships" with people on FB who are always negative in their updates.  I am sorry that you are going through some things with your boos in your life, but I don't need to read about it constantly.  Constantly.  Work on you.

It really has been putting me into a better place during the day.  

With students (I can't get away from them unless it is not during class time), I tell them about what the positives of the situation are whether it is an assignment, the lack of snow days, the fact that they were up late with friends and are now tired, etc.  I put a positive spin on assignments and encourage them that they are prepared for quizzes and tests.  I let them know that they should feel good that they have a choice in what they choose to do for their projects.  I tell them that they are cool people and that they can choose not to associate with someone who is bringing them down.

Track starts up in a week.  We have no track at our school right now.  I have already told the other coaches not to complain about it, that we should be excited about getting a new facility.  I have told them that our attitudes about it all will impact how the athletes view it.  We'll see how it works out when we start.  I also have to work on seeing the positive in track even though it takes me some time to get used to being "on" for that many more hours in the day, especially with weather playing a part in our conditions for three hours outside.

I hope that I am imparting a more positive spin in all of the situations.  

Snark is fine at times, but when it is the only thing you are doing, it is really a bad look.  

Isn't there anything better for you to do than be negative about almost everything happening?

19 February 2012

Kid Sis #2

On this day, I recognize Kid Sis #2.

Despite the fact that she had some serious childhood issues...

  • her imaginary friend being killed by a car, though it turned out to be her imaginary friend's twin who was killed
  • being curious about bobby pins in holes so much so that she cut the power out on the main floor of the house when she stuck one into a socket one Saturday morning
  • the dog believing her beloved Cabbage Patch was a chew toy - please don't bring Carmen up to Kid Sis #2
  • being called 'Honey' constantly for a few months by Kid Sis #3 to the point where Kid Sis #2 would tattle each time and probably wanted to sock #3
  • having to deal with us joking about how young she is (she started school early and graduated HS when she was barely 17 and we continue to joke that she is still seemingly under 21 so much so that I seriously forget that she is as old as she actually is)

... Despite these things Kid Sis #2 turned out to be an incredible person.  And I hope she realizes that I have nothing but love for her *as I channel Heavy D*.

I remember one trip to Nigeria when I was trying to be the good big sister and scolded her for going off to talk alone with a strange guy at a huge party.  Fortunately, she didn't listen to me, because that strange guy has turned out to be a great husband for her as the push through their seventh year of marriage.

She is such a strong woman.  She has not only dealt with the older sibling academic pressure as #3 did, but just like #3, she strived to do even better, winning awards, scholarships, and completing medical school.  While in med school, she even managed to give birth to my fabulous nephew.  He is definitely not shy with the cameras anymore.  She has managed to build her family in Houston and raise her son to respect his elders so much that he was upset when he found out his cousin was a month older than him... now he has to listen to what cousin Nik tells him to do.

She has shared fabulous stories of her medical exploits including smells that rival my students, stories of naming children wild names, and doctors who seem to be using derogatory terms (until she found out that it was just a Chinese saying).  Her stories make me laugh, worry, feel comforted, and sometimes bring me close to tears.

Kid Sis #2 is so supportive and giving.  I cannot think of anyone who could say anything bad about her.  She always has an open ear to listen to me complain, ask random medical questions, or just take a load off of my being.  She is so loving that she has let innumeral people stay (sometimes long term) in her home, even offering up her house for our family's Thanksgiving reunion.

She has recently gone through some rough times trying to have another child.

In addition to that, since November, she has been on modified bed rest with her current pregnancy - can't imagine doing that myself, though I would play a lot of WWF!  That lasted until mid January when she had to stay in the hospital for 3-4 weeks because they thought the baby (not due until Pi Day in March) was coming early.

This interrupted her medical residency time, but fortunately, the baby did not come too early and she used the hospital time to catch up on some studying.  Hopefully, will not have to redo this residency year.

I honor Kid Sis #2 for all she has done and for all she has yet to do.

I especially thank her today for giving birth to my second nephew last night.

He is a bit early, and I'm sure there may be struggles as he has to grow bigger, but she will continue to be a fabulous mother!!

Congrats, and keep being great!

18 February 2012

The solution to my DNA problem

My sisters and I always have made fun of the fact that our feet are super light in color.  We would sometimes sit outside by the pool with pants or a towel over our legs in the summer time in hopes that we would miraculously be able to make our feet closer to the color of the rest of our bodies.

It never worked.

We were somehow cursed with a mis-blending of our parents DNA.  

Our mother is darker in color, and most of us have that coloring in our bodies.

Our father is lighter in hue, and somehow we all gained his coloring mostly in our feet.

Strange, but true.

I once was standing behind some sort of screen that showed my feet, but not my upper body.  A person saw me step out and said that they thought it was a white person.

I have always wondered about what would happen if I went into a tanning salon and asked them to just do my feet.

When the spray tanning phenom became larger, I wondered what that would do for my feet.  One great thing about most people I see with spray tans is that they are no longer white and pale (not that there is anything wrong with that coloring, some of the most beautiful people I have seen are super-white).

Unfortunately, most of the people I see who spray tan turn umpa lumpa orange that looks very unnatural and you can tell that they have sprayed themselves.

This coloring made me worry even more about what spray tanning would do to my brown skin.

Yesterday, at the end of the school day, I had a student who had some spray tan with her.  She had on shorts that day since it was in the upper 50s.  I must have said something about how she wasn't pale after a winter of covering up and she mentioned spraying herself. 

She happened to have the spray with her and I asked to look at it.  I read the instructions and decided to try it out on my hands.  

I had my summer brownness.  It was great.

Then the real test.  My feet.

I tried it out on my feet and it was so great that I had to take pictures and send them to my sisters.  Still not the same color as the rest of my body, but a much closer match.

I have never seen my feet so brown.  Even when I would tan them for hours, wear thong sandals constantly, take off my shoes at summer track meets - never browned my feet as much as this.

Besides the fact that it stinks, and washes off really easily, and will end up being costly...

I may have found the cure to my mis-blended DNA - spray tan.


17 February 2012

Short list of things that make me happy

Today's assignment for the 31 Day Reset was to make a list of 100 things that make me happy.  What a great assignment.

Some of my list:

  • My boyfriend
  • Laughing at memories with loved ones
  • Great love songs
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Twist out hair styles
  • Pants that fit
  • Compliments (giving and getting sincere ones)
  • Water pressure in a shower
  • My sisters' cheesecakes
  • My nephews
  • Growing bank accounts
  • Sharing knowledge
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Music, not talk on the radio in the morning
  • Blogging
  • Friends
  • Relatives
  • Good hugs
  • Seeing loved ones happy
  • Ticking off items on my to-do lists
  • Social justice in action
  • DVRing shows
  • Seeing my hair grow back
  • When my body is hydrated

16 February 2012

I can't take any more sitting

Yesterday and today I have sat in an incredible iWork workshop learning how to do some really cool things that I will soon start implementing with my students (and using for my own personal use).

We have learned how to create slideshows, use the cool tricks that Macs have, read internet documents better, annotate assignments that students turn in, annotate websites that they visit, and create and manipulate iMovies.

It has been really cool and super informative.  I took a TON of notes and tried everything out and am looking forward to doing them in the classroom.

However, there is nothing more tiring than just sitting all day.

I don't know how people with jobs like that do it.

I love teaching and walking around and presenting information and moving.  Sitting on my ass for seven hours and eating lunch in the same room where the workshop is occurring is really not conducive to me staying awake and being productive the entire time.

I actually had to drink a soda today to gain some energy... and I don't drink soda.  Have only had about two handfuls of them in the past 15 years.

Looking forward to getting back in the classroom tomorrow and playing with my new knowledge to create lessons and projects.

15 February 2012

Kid Sis #3

When she was younger Kid Sis #3 and me called each other Best Buds.  I don’t remember where the phrase came from, but we had our own special way of holding hands, she only liked me (not any of the other 5 members of the family) to do certain things for her.  She is nine years my junior, but she is awesome.

And she continues to grow into a wonderful adult.

When she was younger she used to complain about how she had to follow the rest of us in school (all four of her older siblings were good students).  Somehow, she managed to surpass all of us in many of her accolades.  She had the highest (or tied for the highest) ACT score of all the chill’run.  She received the state’s scholarship to any state school based on her test scores.  And she got money to run track in college.

She won state championships in high school and set school records (that beat her older sisters'), but I will never forget when she qualified to Nationals at the age of 11 on a team I was an assistant coach with.  It was memorable not only because of her feat in qualifying, but also because of what happened to her, Bio, and me at the end of the trip.

We were flying standby because one of the coaches worked for TWA.  On the way back, we were pushed back more and more flights until finally, they started calling names of some of our teammates and coaches.  One by one, each name was called.  The head coach had his name called and gave all the people who had not been called yet a bright smile, a salute, and a peace sign and then he disappeared into the tunnel.  More names were called. 

The only ones left were Kid Sis #3, Bio, and me.  We were not called.  I was 19 and didn’t even have a debit card, forget about a credit card.  We were stuck in Virginia.  The rest of the team and coaches were on the last flight of the day. We were stuck over night in Virginia with no place to stay.  

Eventually, we were able to talk to our parents and get a hotel to let us stay over night with Bio’s mother giving her credit card over the phone (which they did not want to do at all).  We had a friend of a friend of a friend of Bio’s mother take us to some fast food place for dinner.  There we were not given food or food money by the people who drove us, we were instead able to split the last few dollars that we had between the three of us and buy the equivalent of a value meal to eat between the three of us.

She is not only a business school grad who is currently earning her MBA while working at a very large successful business in StL.

She bought a house a few years ago and is the first of the siblings (beside the married with children one) who has done so.  And it is a beautifully rehabbed house with awesome floors and she has a tenant staying with her to help pay the mortgage.

What else do I love about her.  The fact that even with her busy schedule, she finds time to be a personal trainer to her friends and my mother.  

And even though she was blessed to be thrown money as a childhood dancer (see the like in the picture), she gave back to some other children by spending a lot of time last year tutoring refugees in the city.

Kid Sis #3 has been awesome since her early days when she used to call her older sister "Honey," I adored her then, and I still adore her now!

14 February 2012

Text reminder of sharing the love

I can't stand Hallmark holidays.

I purposely dont buy people things, and don't even buy the candy that is on sale in protest.

For this day, I was reminded of my failure to meet one of my mission.

I got a text from my cousin who I haven't really talked to since December.  Just a short message, "Hey, a.eye!  I haven't heard from you in a while.  Hope all is well."

Just that message reminded me that I haven't been keeping in touch with the people I love in my life.

I am going to refocus.

I am going to make sure that I am talking with all my loved ones more often, even when I am tired and feel busy.  Just a few moments.

Already have a phone call date scheduled for my cousin on Thursday since that is her day off.

13 February 2012

A friendship that will never end

When I was younger I used to love to close the door to my room and record music on tapes from the radio (yes, I am dating myself).  It would sometimes take forever to get a song recorded perfectly.  You had to make sure the DJ’s voice interrupting the beginning or the end of the song.  It was an art to get the intro and outro perfectly.

When I got a song perfectly, I would replay them and pretend I was the artist with my fake mike, dancing on top of my bed, watching myself in the large dresser mirror.

Some of my favorites were Whitney songs.  

As I got older and went through various teen issues, different songs piqued my interest.

The Waiting to Exhale soundtrack was on point for so many reasons - despite the not-so-great messages of the movie, I took away the great friendships.  Still to this day, if I hear a song from that album and it comes to and end, I start singing whatever song was next in order.

Today, when I was driving to and from work, they were playing Ms Houston.  

It brought back so many memories.  

There were so many songs that she sang where the lyrics touched me and what I was going through (in reality, or in my imagined life).  Every song that was played brought back memories of times past and lessons learned and how I got through things I didn't think I would make it through.

I think that those memories as well as the thought of her daughter are really touching me at this time.

I know that as I listened to the songs they were often reassurances to me that things would be ok.  That friends would be there for me, that I would one day find a man to run to, who would love me for me.

I hope that her messages in the songs will one day be a form of peace for Bobbi Kristina.

12 February 2012

Should we feel sorry for these people?

I have a friend who says that almost all people deserve the bad things that happen to them.  That if a girl is dating a guy who continually abuses her, she deserves it.  If a guy dates a girl who takes advantage of him, he deserves it.  If a person experiences some sort of hardship with their job based on their actions or inactions, they deserve it.  If a person’s car breaks down on the side of the road because of lack of maintenance, they deserve it.  If a religious leader is doing immoral actions and gets caught, they deserve it.  If a politician gets caught in a lie or is beaten in an election because of their decisions, they deserve it.  If a person uses a lot of drugs and something bad happens because of that, they deserve it.  If a person gets involved with shady people and something bad happens because of that, they deserve it.  If a rich professional athlete or actor makes millions upon millions and then ends up broke due to bad money decisions, it is deserved.

I have really tried to understand his perspective.  I have moved back and forth between agreeing with him and not fully agreeing with him.

I have known people who were in bad relationships and did not leave the relationship despite the prodding from other people, despite the black eyes and bruised cheeks and arms and necks they suffered.  I have seen men and women in relationships who are basically being stalked by their significant other - can’t go anywhere without the person calling or texting to see where they are, have the other person checking their phone, car mileage, smelling their clothes, etc.  There are people who get involved with people who are into "bad" things and then they begin to do the same bad things (drugs, gambling, risky sex, not paying bills, etc).  

I always wondered why they stayed with these people.  Are they really needy?  Are they desperate?  Are they settling?

I don’t know.

But it is some situations like this that make me really think about what my friend says about deserving what they get.  

I know it sounds horrible and goes against a lot of what many women (and men) believe, but if you keep putting yourself in a situation that you know is not good, that you know is really bad, that you know is awful, do you deserve sympathy any more?

I think about Whitney Houston.  I know the autopsy is not released, but I also know that many people are assuming that her sad death must have been related to drugs.

A long time ago, people stopped feeling sympathy for her because she kept making choices that were detrimental to her.  Instead she was the face of ridicule.  The face of shame.  The face of many jokes about drugs and bad choices.

Now the sympathy is back.  

I was shocked and not shocked by her death.  I feel horrible for her family that must deal not only with her passing, but also with the public nature of it (can’t get on Twitter, can’t watch the news, can’t watch the Grammy’s, can’t even turn to Vh1 Soul without seeing her everywhere).

I am not saying we should’t feel anything for the people in these various situations, but perhaps (don’t hate me) we should not be using up our energy feeling sorry for them.  

Instead, we should try and help them see their situations in a different way so that they realize that they really are better than what they are suffering through.

This is my Stream of Consciousness Sunday post.  Learn more by clicking the button below.


11 February 2012

I finally got caught and ticketed

Last night on the way home from a great dinner celebrating Bio's birthday, I stepped into a store in the Loop for about 30 seconds.  I don't exaggerate - it was about thirty seconds, maybe 50 if you count the time it took me to get out of the car, go into the store, get out of the store, get back into my car.

I was parked in just west of the theatre in the Loop.  I was parked just ahead of the no parking sign.

When I got out of the store, I saw that there was a cop that had just pulled up in front of my car.  Just pulled up.

I quickly got into the car and pulled off.

As I pulled off, the cop was just stepping out of his car getting ready to gather my information and put the parking ticket on my car window.  (He hadn't even had time to get all that done - that is how quickly I was in and out.)

I was too quick, though.

Or so I thought.

As I passed his car with him standing by the door of his car, he quickly got back into the vehicle, turned on his blue and red lights, and tried to catch me.

I pulled over, and waited for him to give me the ticket that I had been able to avoid each time I parked in the same space for the past 6 or so years.

The cop finally walks up to me and I immediately think that he looks familiar.  Not just like anyone I know, but something about him is familiar.

He tells me that he is not going to do a long-form ticket, just the paper one.  Hands me the ticket.

As I reach for the ticket, I check the name badge on his right chest pocket.

Turns out that he and I graduated from high school the same year.

I didn't say anything about it, and he walked away quickly.

I wonder if that is why he was taking so long when he sat in his car getting ready to ticket me.  Maybe he saw my last name when he looked up the registration and decided to be kind despite giving me the ticket.

When I got home, I looked at the ticket and realized that he said the car was green - which my car is not.  I momentarily wondered if that could be protested and a reason for me to get out of the ticket.

But he had my correct license number.

I am out of 30 bucks - if I remember to pay up on time.

10 February 2012

Not the absence of fear

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.
~ Ambrose Redmoon
This is what I am focusing on right now as I strive through life.

This is what everyone should focus on.  Always.

09 February 2012

Rest and reflect on discontent

For day eight of the 31 Day Reset I rested and reflected.

The question I reflected on that was most disturbing to me was, "Which exercise [from the week] did you struggle with the most and why?"

I didn't struggle with any of the exercises, but the day 2 and day 5 assessments of my life, what I value, and how I am working/not working toward valuing my values were tough.  I realized that I dislike quite a few things in my life, and that many of the things I dislike are things I have, at least some, control over.  

It is difficult to see myself this way.  To know that I am the real reason why I am not doing many of the things that I value and that I am holding myself back.  

Why am I doing this?  

Perhaps a large part of it is laziness, another large part may be that I am fairly comfortable in my lack of contentment - I have a steady income and a roof (though one I am literally afraid will fall down) over my head.  Another part is fear; fear that I will f-up, fear that I will not do the right thing, fear that I will become uncomfortable.  Another part is not knowing what to do in some cases - but with many of the things I value, I know what I need to do, and how to go about doing them.

07 February 2012

Mission statement to reset my life

Last month, I saw something on Twitter about a 31 Days to Reset Your Life workshop for helping manifest change in your life.  I read many of the 31 activities, even did a few of them.

This month, I saw that the author is sending out the messages again, so I decided to start from the very beginning, a very good place to start.

For Day 6, the activity was to make a personal mission statement that incorporates values that were developed and analyzed during Days 4 and 5.  Here is my mission statement:
I value all manifestations of love in my life, so I will make sure that I remain honest and open with the people I love.  I will take care of myself and my health, diet, appearance, and mental stability.  To do this, I will not work to please others, I will work to meet my goals and follow my mission.  At the same time, I will think outside of myself so I see the bigger picture of my actions and inactions.  Thinking outside of myself will help me to have a positive impact on the people I encounter, and the people those people will encounter.  I will be kind to everyone regardless of how I am treated or how I feel because a smile and kind words really can make a difference.  I will always pay myself and will always continue to learn and to share my knowledge with others.
I will occasionally post some of the activities I complete through the rest of the 31 Day Reset.

06 February 2012

Brother from another mother

When I was younger I had a group of friends who were like family.  I don’t really understand how it happened, but somehow we used to regularly fit 8 (sometimes even more) of us into the Toyota Camry (The Camr since the y was missing) that my parents let me drive at the time.  I was newly 16 and newly licensed, but our parents were happy that they didn’t have to drive the almost 20 miles between each of our homes for us to visit - that became my job.  We would regularly drive back and forth to each others' homes like it was driving around the corner.

We had so much fun together.  The girls all went to Girls Inc and suffered through the stale bread, chunky milk, and incessant hysteria, severely mispronounced names, and hand claps that were the summer camp.  All of us danced together learning moves from Aunty Gloria’s brilliance.  All of us would scarf down freeze-pops like they were our fix.  We would suffer through making chin-chin in the kitchen Saturday mornings and random days in the summer time.  We would make hot wings and French bread for lunch and follow it up with more freeze pops and some Sister Act II or Sarafina singing.

It was great. 

As time went on, they moved to Texas, and I still miss those hilarious times where we literally had all of our heads sticking out of the Camr (including mine) and just acted a straight up fool in public places just to see if we could.  Good times.

We rarely saw each other over the years, but we are still cool when we see each other.  Kid Sis #1 was a bridesmaid in the oldest one’s wedding.  Their mother is the first to know anything that is going on in our family as my mother and theirs are still the best of friends.

Last summer, Bio moved back to StL (for two years) to go to grad school at Washington University.  I was super-excited when I found out.  He is, of course, no longer 10 yrs old, but he is still awesome and hilarious - just in a bigger, more muscular frame.

It is really awesome to see him as a responsible adult going from collegiate scholar-athlete, to work, to grad school, to summer internships with the company of his dreams (hook a sister up with some Gatorade for my teams, bro!), to a job offer from the company that is no longer a dream, to seeming to be genuinely enjoying the life.  

He cracks me up about something each time we are together, and each time we text each other. 
And he was ready for me the instant Lauryn Hill announced her StL Pageant concert.  What a blast.  So happy to have shared that experience with him.

Just like my brother, before each of their births, I hoped that each of my three little sisters was a little brother.  It never happened, but I love my sisters incredibly.  

Even though my birth parents did not provide me with one, I got one in him.  

His birth mother and father took him away from me for a long time, but being reunited has been great.  I know I don’t see him as often as I should, but when we do see each other, we haven’t missed a step and everything is fabulous.

Happy birthday, Brother-From-Another-Mother (and father).  I love you Bio! 

05 February 2012

Minimizing, but I love my skinny jeans...

I used to have a really hard time getting rid of clothing.

I kept t-shirts as reminders of events - first athlete I coached to the state championships, first meet I hosted as a head coach, first shirt I designed with an awesome quote on the back, shirts that were gifts from friends/family, shirts that I can wear to work since they are affiliated with the school.

I kept work clothing that I basically knew I would never wear.  But, they were trendy, or they cost more than I usually spent on clothes.

I kept clothes that might be getting too small, or that were too big.  Because, who knows, I might be able to fit them better one day if I start working out again.  Or I may get bigger if I continue not working out.

Last year around this time, I took part in Six Items Or Less.  It was awesome.  Six pieces of clothing that I wore for thirty days.  I did it twice.  No one noticed.  Even people that I told about it couldn't tell I was doing it.  I actually got a lot of compliments on my clothing since I was paying more attention to making sure I looked decent.

Since then, I have been on a mission to get rid of my clothes that I don't wear.  I got rid of a lot after that experiment, and have gotten rid of even more since December when I started trying to minimize my life even more.

It is still somewhat hard to get rid of sentimental t-shirts.  Even harder to get rid of my favorite skinny jeans that I adore, but that my thighs are not adoring at this moment (t-shirts are gone, some shoes are gone, old bags are gone, old wallets are gone, old hair accessories are gone, but the jeans are still in a pile just in case it was monthly water-weight gain and I can still fit into them later this week).

It feels good to get rid of them, though.  Each thing I throw out/donate/recycle gets easier.

It feels good to know that I am donating items to a store that will sell them and use the money for good.  That someone will buy the t-shirts and one day they will be worn as vintage by some youngster.

I'll double check the jeans later this week and see what's up with them.  It's harder with them since I know I will only have one pair of jeans after getting rid of the skinnys - and I don't feel like spending the money to get another really good pair, and don't want to buy a cheap, ill-fitting pair.

This was today's Stream of Consciousness Sunday 5 minute post.  Prompt was "Write about something that you unexpectedly had a hard time saying goodbye to."

Click the button to learn more, join in, and to read others' posts for today.


04 February 2012

My big bro

Since the theme of this month’s NaBloPoMo is “relative” I will take a few posts this month to talk about some of my relations.

My brother is older than me by three years.  When I was younger, I absolutely adored him; I wanted to do everything he did and be around him as much as possible.  I wanted to wear his Michael Jackson jacket and gloves, but they were completely off limits to me.  I loved my bro anyway and admired his jacket each time he wore it.

I remember when I started elementary school, I was so upset that we would be going to separate schools.  I was going to be going to the local school that was a pilot program for incorporating computers into every classroom’s regular learning.  He was going to the regular school.

I so wanted to be able to wait for the bus with him, and to be able to see him in the halls or at recess and be able to tell my friends that he was my big bro.

Despite our close ages, we never attended the same school at the same time.  For some reason, sometimes this makes me think we are further apart in age than we actually are.  He started school early as I did, but because schools became more strict with kindergarten age cut offs, I had to repeat that year.

Once I entered junior high, the teachers always knew of my brother and his greatness.  High school was even more so.  Every teacher who had had him or had seen him commented on his seeming perfection and I had to try to keep up their perception that our family was full of genius.  It was hard, but I think it motivated me more to try and do well in school.

Bro and I were never really best friends, but I always have found him to be a good person and a person who will laugh at some of my jokes and stories.  He also teaches me about technology.

This past Thanksgiving was the first in a while where all my siblings and parents were in the same place at the same time.  

Afterward, Bro called me up and we talked.  Really talked about various things in our lives.  

Honestly, it was the first time I have really opened up about some of those things with any of my siblings.  I guess, I feel like I don’t want them to see the real me, just the idea of me, not the broken pieces of me.

That talk was really great.  I felt a weight lifted off of me.  

He apologized for not talking with me (and the other siblings) more like that, for not being more of a big brother.  

I almost cried.  

He has been an excellent big bro - loves all of his sisters even though with each of the four births, I know he hoped for a little brother.

At the same time, it was nice to turn to him that night, and since, for life advice and to just let him know more of what was going on in my life.

I adored him as a young person, and still adore and admire him and all he has accomplished as an adult.  He really goes after what he wants and is a great leader who really cares about people.  And it is also really cool that he has been voluntarily car-less for years and utilizes public transportation and bike and car rentals in DC.

I still don’t talk with him daily, even weekly.  Sometimes it can be a month between our talks.

But each time, it is like no time has passed.  We fall into story telling, joke telling, money woes, relationship information, and just good times.

He is my big bro, and I always have and always will have nothing but love for him.

03 February 2012

A slip of a complaint

Today I slipped a little bit with my goal of reducing my negativity at work.

There were several students who were just irksome.

Most students don't seem to understand the idea of discretion.  They feel they can talk about what ever they want whenever they want.  I had to explain the concept to my Advisory a few times in just a half hour period.

Other students don't understand the reason they should not use derogatory terms when referring to people, even if a person the refer to is their friend.  I had to explain this to them several times today.

Another student has no concept of personal space and can't seem to understand that she should not stand over my shoulder and watch me grade, or just stand in front of me and stare at me as I am doing work.  Not because she has questions, or needs help with something, just because she wants to stare.


All of these made me slip into a negative mindset.  I didn't really snap on any of them, just a stern explaining, but I had several negative thoughts about the girl and even complained about her to other faculty members.

I haven't complained about a student in a few weeks, and I almost feel guilty for doing so.

I guess I just had to get it off of my chest at the time.  I don't feel better for doing so, though it was, momentarily, nice to hear that others have similar problems with the girl.

Complaining did not accomplish anything, though.

02 February 2012

Goal setting review

One month into the year and I am doing better than usual.  
Usually I don’t make resolutions.  This year, I set a few goals to help myself become a better person.
One month into the year, and I am reviewing the goals I set at the start of the year to see where I am with their achievement.
  1. Limiting contact with people who cause me stress:  I have been pretty good at this.  I have limited contact with people at work who are almost constantly negative to the necessities.  When they are negative around me, I either leave the situation politely, or change the subject to something more positive, or try to help them see the situation in a more positive light.  In my personal life, I don’t really have people who are negative around me.  
  2. Becoming better at letting people closer to me:  I haven’t really worked on this as much, though I am trying to be more open with people.  On the flip side, I am trying to keep some of my personal stuff more personal while at work - we are acquaintances and not really besties, anyway.
  3. Becoming a better verbal communicator:  I am working at this and believe I am becoming clearer with what I am saying.  Sometimes, this means that I have prethought about what I will say to someone, but I am also becoming better at doing this impromptu.
  4. Doing things to help become healthier:  I have been stretching every morning, which is helping my back.  But I have definitely not been doing it as long as I need to because I am really loving my bed in the morning.  I never used to be a snooze buttoner, and still don’t hit it, but I do sometimes lay there an additional 5-20 minutes some days.  I have not done any cardio this year and I have yet to see the chiropractor.  I am taking care of the other medical stuff and have been eating more vegetables and healthier food.
  5. Getting rid of items in my home and at work:  I have gotten rid of something each day of January and each of the two days this month (today it was an old pair of running shoes that I have been saving to use when I start cardio, but that I know are way too worn to be comfortable - they hurt just to stand in, I can’t imagine what they feel like to run in).  

I believe that I have a way to go with each of the items, but I am happy that I am following through with each of them.
My motto is still “Be better than you were yesterday”.