Monday, November 22, 2010

Dear cancer...

As I approach Thanksgiving, I have many things for which I am eternally grateful.  I also feel conflicted in my heart and spirit because of the anger I feel towards my mother's cancer.  I am angry, bitter, and full of rage at the disease that puts my mother in a state of "dis-ease."  I am purging my feelings here in order to move forward with a spirit of eternal gratitude, because I am most grateful that she is still here with me.

Dear cancer,
I refuse to capitalize your name simply because you do not deserve a title of importance.  I teach my students that everything important gets capitalized and you are not important.  You may be powerful, but you are certainly not important.  I am writing this letter to you to express my heart-felt bitterness I have towards you.  It is my prayer that you will find no place to reside in my mother's body and that you will flee immediately.

I know that you didn't realize whose body you had invaded, you were on a blind attack.  If you knew then that you were attacking a woman who has done and continues to try to do more for everyone before herself, then you probably never would have even noticed her.  She has done more for friends, family, students, and humanity than anyone I know.  She is not your average woman, but by now you have figured that much out.  She's not a quitter and she's not weak, she is a fighter!  Do you see that your struggle with her is becoming more difficult?  Do you sense the chemotherapy destroying you faster than you could destroy her?  Then, by all means, feel free to evacuate, but please don't leave any traces of yourself behind.

There are a few things that I am sure most people don't ever say to you, but I would like to say them now.  cancer, you have helped my mother eliminate some of her bad habits and you have made her open herself more to the blessings and powers of God.  For that, I thank you.  But she could have done those things without you, so go ahead and see yourself out.

An important person writing on behalf of an even more important MOTHER!

Gratitude List:
1.  Health and healing in body, soul, and mind
2.  Doctors who know what's best and are selfless givers
3.  Family support
4.  Unexpected blessings from unexpected people
5.  Being able to rely on God for all things and trust in Him to make them happen

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

4th Graders Disguised as Adults

Unfortunately, our legal system does not excuse teachers from serving Jury Duty.  I decided to respond to the latest threatening summons, hoping that I would be excused by the end of the day without having to serve on an actual jury.  

As I sit here waiting for my turn, I realize that the Jurors Waiting Room is full of 4th graders disguised as adults!  The gentleman doing orientation did an outstanding job of telling everyone what to do and what NOT to do, and he even infused a bit of humor.  Of course, he made it very clear that if anyone approached him in his office at the wrong time, he would kindly tell them to go away!  He specifically told us NOT to use cell phones in this room, but we could talk in the hallways.  

Now, I am listening to a lady and a man both talking loudly on their cell phones.  There's another man snoring non-stop on a bench.  A few people are standing at the man's office door as if he will eventually let them in, and I'm wondering if anyone listens and follows directions anymore!  It's very sad that I have to be away from my students who really want to learn, and I'm forced to sit here and spend the entire day with 4th graders disguised as adults.

I really pray that I am not selected to serve on a jury because I plan to tell them that unless the person being charged is in 4th grade, then they are automatically GUILTY in my mind!!  Folks need to learn to listen and follow directions!

Finally, why were we given an hour and 40 minutes for lunch?  I am not in a familiar area so I definitely would not venture too far and risk missing my return time.  I wouldn't dare eat in the courthouse cafeteria, and risk having my stomach turn inside out in the middle of jury selection.  Thus, the 100 minutes were given so that I would have time to reflect on what my role is in this experience.  As I approach the 7th hour waiting and listening to low rumbling voices in other languages, loud chatter from the man on his cell asking why his car was towed, and the lady breathing heavily through her mouth but happens to be WIDE AWAKE, I realize that my role is to be thankful that I am not the one who needs any of these people (including myself) on a jury to decide my fate!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Do You See What I See?

This was our first week back to school.  I was eager and excited, as always, to see and meet my new students.  I sensed the anticipation of a new and rewarding school year in the air as my students walked into their new classroom.  They were smiling, nervous, and showing signs of relief, as they learned that I would add unexpected humor and fun to diminish their stress throughout the day.

As the first and second days of school concluded, I had that conversation in my head that I have every single year:  "Do you see what I see?"  As a parent of a son and a daughter, I have kept my eyes open to signs of struggle, signs of success, and any signs that may have indicated that either of them needed more than just a nudge to get through school.  They have both completed high school and are continuing their educations in college.  Struggling from time to time, but nonetheless, they have pushed through obstacles and asked for support when needed.  As a teacher for 25 years in elementary education, I keep my eyes open the same way for my students, but I have to ask every year, "Do you see what I see?"

Parents are special, as are their children.  Many times, I have had parents who tell me that their child is not the same at school as they are at home, and they are shocked when I tell them their child is wonderful!!!  Then, quite often, I have had the parent who says, "I don't know what you're talking about, my child doesn't do anything like this at home."  This response follows my question, "What can I do to help your child to perform and succeed, because at this point he/she is showing signs of serious struggle and conflict in my classroom?"  "Do you see what I see?"  Of course not!  According to the parent, this child goes home, does chores, does homework and then loses it before returning to school, speaks respectfully to parents, and shows responsibility and love in the household.  They are just not doing as they're told at school, and they don't know why or what to do about it.  Thus, they tell the child to stop being lazy and to apologize to me for not doing the right thing!

What am I to do when the parent does not see what I see and does not think there could be anything wrong? What am I to do when a child says he doesn't care if he never gets any rewards because they don't matter?  What am I to do when a child says she doesn't do her work because it's not fair that she has to do it??
What am I to do when a child has full academic potential and ability, but the rage that distracts him from my positive intentions overpowers him and speaks louder than any of my lessons?

My husband says I will figure it out, I always do.  My sister says that there should be someone at the school who can help kids who struggle like this.  My mother says she feels sorry for me and hopes it gets better.  My coworkers all say to focus on the positive, keep reaching out to the parents, and know that one day that child will remember what I tried to do.

I say, "Do you see what I see?"

I believe that some children have become immune to the realities of our school system because they're immersed in a virtual world that allows them to change their virtual reality with the simple click of a thumb on a plastic controller.  I believe that if I'm not careful, I might say or do something that triggers the mental device to delete me from their consciousness.  I guess I need to put myself on a video game and teach through technology.  I need to show them how to conjugate verbs, solve for the variable in algebra, identify the causes/effects of war, and value the empowerment that human suffering had on the building of our country!  Should I do this through degrading music, violence, and superhuman powers that defy all mankind? 


Monday, August 23, 2010

I Was Chosen

This morning, as I trudged through the bedroom like a wounded animal, my husband said, "Honey, are you ready for your day with the kids?"  I said with frustration in my response, "Of course not!  It's Monday and I don't wanna go to work!  The kids aren't trying to be there either!"  He replied with sweet sincerity, "You were chosen for those students and they need what you have to offer.  You may not be teaching the kind of students you are used to teaching, but these kids need you and you were chosen for them."

I had to stop in my pity-tracks and think...He's right and I need to realize working within my purpose may not always be so warm and fuzzy!

I left for work today feeling better than I had felt all summer.  I no longer felt that sense of frustration that taunted the joy of my morning, but I felt inspired and encouraged to do what I have been "chosen" to do!

Upon arrival in the classroom I am teaching in for the summer program, I discovered that, since my departure on Friday afternoon, someone had come in and thrown papers all over the floor.  Since the classrooms remain open from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m., this could have happened with little or no notice.  And quite honestly, even if someone had noticed, I'm not convinced anyone would have cared enough to stop them.  Oh well, I thought, clean it up, and get the room ready for the children who I have been chosen to serve!

This day was unlike any of the previous 15 days of summer school.  Today, most of the students said, "Good morning" and meant it!  Today, I said, "Good morning" in return and meant it.  Today, the 7 students who were absent saved all of us a few headaches.  Today, the 10 students who came to school really wanted to do their work and make me proud.  Today, I realized that my husband was right, and I was chosen to teach the 10 children who may or may not be so bright, so prepared, or so accustomed to learning. I was chosen to teach. Period.  That does not mean I get to choose who or where I teach!  I simply must choose to continue to fulfill my purpose!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Remembering When...

When I close my eyes
I see buttlerflies and sunflowers
Walking on clouds
That dance above sudden rainbows.

When I inhale your love
I feel orange blossoms
Touching the core of my sun
Blowing kisses in autumn's evening wind.

When I sink into dreams
I sail on oceans of melodies
Floating away on fantasies
Bringing petals of perfect pleasure
As I relinquish all control
and become a blend of new bliss
Into the fabric of your being.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Entitled Children of Today

I have had a summer to reflect on the effects my husband's and my parenting have had on my 19 yr. old daughter.  She has been home from college since May.  We were pleasantly surprised to find out that she had earned a 4.0 for the second semester, distinguishing herself as an Academic Scholar worthy of a special certificate from the university.  Recently she was offered a small scholarship from  her Armenian professor in recognition of her achievements.

I didn't accidentally or carelessly use the word "surprised" when saying we were pleasantly surprised.  She was a good student all of her prior school years. However, upon entering Fresno State as a freshman, moving away from home and into a shoe-box size dorm to share with a girl who snored loudly every night, having had no idea that skating to class in 100 degree heat would be an issue, and that the food in dorms would be disgusting...she managed to study, do homework, pass exams with A's, and successfully manage to lose weight instead of gaining the traditional 15lbs!  I failed to mention that the second language course she selected was ARMENIAN!  She aced Armenian speaking and the writing...go figure!  None of this success was the result of us pushing her or reminding her of the seriousness of her doing well considering the deep financial crunch college was putting us in.  We let go and let God.

Now, it is summer, and this scholarly daughter of mine has been home, unemployed, and glued to the television and/or novels since May.  She sought employment the way that teens do nowadays...through Craig's List and on other sites that allow them to submit applications online.  Hmmm, when employers never meet you how do they determine your value to the company?  But this is not to be debated with a 19 yr old.  She had ONE successful interview, leaving with a feeling of accomplishment and possibilities, and then never got the job.  Hmmm, maybe perseverance and persistence would have helped, but a 19 yr old is "not going to keep calling!"  OKAY so no money, no plans, nothing but CHEAP fun this summer, fighting villains through PS-3 and reading courtroom drama novels by Sandra Brown!  Will she be able to return to campus in a few weeks with any semblance of scholarly motivations or intentions?  This has nothing to do with how we've parented her.  We say now she is on her own path and we have laid the foundation appropriately.  I HOPE!

We, teachers, often see the results of parents "entitling" their lovely children to more than they need and sometimes more than they deserve.  The result is the lack of motivation to work hard for the sake of accomplishment, but rather they work lazily and EXPECT rewards and success!  When a student doesn't get constant tangible rewards but is taught the value of education, he/she has a profoundly more positive demeanor in the classroom and much greater respect for teachers and for learning.  So what I wonder is...since my daughter did not get any tangible rewards from her hard work, was only offered one scholarship which wouldn't even cover 1/3 of a semester's tuition, and she basically starved at home all summer, will she value her education and realize this was her one and only summer to be "entitled" to be the princess of the house.

In closing, I will reminisce on this summer in a few months and deeply miss the former princess as I return to my reign as QUEEN!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Pleasure Echoes

Resounding from within
me all day
into the night
at sunrise
Your pleasure echoes.
In the wind's touch
Upon butterflies' wings
Temptations in a sunset song
Rising up
As I lay
Watching midnight endure
Sleepless dreams
Mind's eye staring
Your pleasure echoes.

Stacey Joy, 2008

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Cancer Battle

Me, Mom, and Sis
Sadly, another loved one has been diagnosed with breast cancer.  My dear friend's big sister found out that she has Stage 2 breast cancer.  I remember many years ago, when we heard someone had cancer, it was shocking and we would fear the worst.  Now, I add another name to the "People With Cancer" list, begin my prayers for that person and the family, and trust God to do what He does best...take care of His children.

What do we need to do to win the battle?  How many more names will be added to the list before we have truly won the fight?  I am thankful that I don't have to fear the worst anymore, but I would much rather go back to that feeling of shock, knowing that cancer just doesn't happen to us, and if it does then there is nothing to worry about.

Dr. Keith Black, one of the top neurosurgeons in the world, operated on my mother over 10 years ago to remove a benign brain tumor.  I wonder now, as ovarian cancer is fighting to control her body, why isn't there a Dr. Black kind of cure?   He said that he creeps up on the brain like a thief in the night to avoid disrupting normal brain function.  Why is there no thief in the night to creep into the body and destroy the cancer cells?  Why is cancer such a cancer, so ravenous and unpredictable?

Please continue to pray and fight for our loved ones who are courageous with cancer.  The battle is not theirs, it's the Lord's!
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Saturday, July 31, 2010

if u cn rd ths thn u r smrtr thn a frst grdr

What does it take to be smarter than a first grader?  I have some issues when people who can't spell publicly display their inadequacies and deficiencies.  Some of you have seen my collection of writings that were taken from the educational realm that I work in.  Some of you have heard about the terrible errors presented to educators, not from their students, but from their leaders.  I would like to include this type of debacle in the teaching section of my blog.  If it's something I find in public view, I will try to capture photos and share.  If it's something I hear or read, then trust me when I present it to you in writing.

Finally, I will not share commonly misused/mispronounced words that have their roots in slavery.  We have learned that many of these forms of English were the result of the West African slave trade, and they are really not "mistakes" but they follow a rule-governed system in language.

The following examples have nothing to do with slavery!  I hope you aren't fans of these errors!!  :-)
  • Is "supposably" a word?
  • How hard is it to know the difference between it's and its?  Does anyone know the purpose of the apostrophe?  When in doubt choose "C" not "apostrophe!"
  • Cindy Nail  (This is the sign of a nail salon, but I guess you only get one nail polished or possibly you may purchase a nail and hammer)
  • Cigarettes and Tabacco -Sign on Manchester Ave. Do they mean Tobacco or Tabasco? I'm not sure!
  • Saw a truck with a painted panel for his business that said "Hany Man Hauling and Repairing" OMG isn't it easier to spell "handy" than "hauling and repairing?"  Or was his name Hany?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Things That Make My Blood Boil (new items added)

Maybe it's just me and my lack of patience, but there are some things that really make my blood boil!

1. When a non-black person joins the internet dating service, "Black People Meet" and expects other blacks to want to meet him/her.  It's just dumb.  That's what EHarmony is for!

2.  Someone talking on their cell really loud in line anywhere where it's inappropriate.  And when I turn and look at them, I can't even get eye contact because they're so caught up in their conversation.

3.  When someone says I'm expecting too much of someone else.  Hell, everyone expects too much from me and I strive to do it all so why can't they do the same?  LOL...I'm just sayin

4.  When someone's blinker is blinking for 5 minutes and they never turn.  When they finally turn, it's the opposite direction!

5.  When a parking meter only takes QUARTERS.  Money is money!  And don't most people NOT have quarters?

6.  When a bill collector asks me if I can get a payroll advance from my job in order to make a payment on time.  Duuuhhhh, when your job has furloughs, they don't have money to give IN ADVANCE!!!!!!!!!!!

7.  When I come home from the grocery store, finish making pancakes, and realize there is no SYRUP!  Who didn't remind me before I went to the store?

To be continued...
8.  When I hold the door for someone going inside a building and they don't acknowledge that I could've let it slam in their damn face!

9.  When I'm in the grocery store looking for something on the shelf, with only a little space between me and the shelf, and someone walks in front of me and gets an item off the shelf!!! 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hoarder Headquarters

I was watching television this evening and saw the preview for the latest reality TV craziness called Animal Hoarders!  I instantly thought, "Well I would rather hoard pets than trash!"  Then I realized how easy it would be to have a show called Teacher Hoarders (teachers who hoard school supplies, not students or animals).  Here's an example:

Sometimes a teacher is in need of yarn at the spur of the moment.  She (never he) sends a note to alllllllllllll the teachers she thinks may have extra yarn to loan her unexpectedly.  Each teacher she sends the note to, reads it and thinks to herself, "Is the yarn easy to get to or do I have to hunt for it?" (hint: sign of hoarding)  By the time the student monitor goes to each of these teachers for yarn, the lesson has lost its excitement.  Why?  Because when the child comes back WITHOUT yarn, the teacher will tell the class, "We will do this another day because no one in the whole school has any yarn!" (hint: placing blame is a sign of hoarding disorder)  The class grumbles and the teacher says, "Well let me look really fast to see if I have any yarn." (hint: signs of hoarding coming).

The teacher opens the "supply closet."  She stands there, with her mouth agape, hands on hips, back to the class and scans the closet without touching anything first.  She knows there is yarn in there somewhere.  She moves a few board games with missing pieces, empty scissor racks, and old jigsaw puzzles out of the way, and there lies 5 packs of colored construction paper!  No yarn.  Does she bother to keep looking for yarn?  No, because she is more excited to have found the pink construction paper that she has been looking for since Valentine's Day!

Yes, teachers hoard, but it's only because we are never sure if we will ever get paper again!
And the reason this teacher is a "she" and never a "he" is because if he had been teaching and needed yarn, he would have told the class to be ready for his magic trick and to keep their eyes on the imaginary yarn!
My mom has been fighting cancer for over a year.  The poem, "Gloria's First Chemo Treatment," was written while sitting in the Cedars infusion unit for the very first time with her.  It's very eye-opening and heart-humbling to experience the infusion unit.  If you are ever unsure of your peace, take a moment to visit.

Gloria's First Chemo Treatment

The first was the worst
I didn’t think I would make it through
My whole being burned a flame bathed in sickening blue
The pain was bigger than an ocean wide
Nothing was making me feel better inside.

The coming of dawn brought a new day
Feeling God’s presence in a welcoming way
I gave thanks for the breath of fresh morning air
And looked in the mirror to see I had lost my hair.
God, what is next, I asked in sorrow.
Quietly He said, “You will live to see tomorrow.”
Thank you, I whispered in complete gratitude
Now let me put on my new attitude!

The pain will come and it will go
Wigs will disguise the shame I won’t show
My appetite will change as the sun rises and sets
But knowing I am still alive is as good as it gets!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Shades of Blue

A sample of my poetic reflections
Shades of Blue

Every time I am near you

I feel a new shade of blue

When you touched my soul with your royal red fire

My passion burned in the glow of fuel blue

The day you told me my heart was golden

I was lighter than a cloudy sky’s blue

Every time I am near you

I become a new shade of blue

When you walked me into June’s purple sunset

My skin twinkled like stars in midnight blue

I slept in your arms of strength and onyx

Before you awakened me to love like indigo blue

Every time I am near you

I adore my new shade of blue

That sweet orange morning of sunrise and you

I absorbed you in a rainbow of azure blue

You kissed me like a wisp of violets

And I cherished that moment like Mediterranean blue

Every time I am near you

My joy is never blue.

Stacey L. Joy
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Whiteboard Reflections

This school year was particularly difficult and I have been reflecting on it this summer.  Many people who don't work in education think that summer vacation is the "three months off" that teachers are given.  Well, quite the contrary, this summer it's the few weeks off that I have been "given" in order to plan lessons for the next 180 days minus 7 furlough days (173).  It's the few weeks I have been "given" to figure out how I will manage the cuts on my paychecks while "enjoying" a whole week off for Thanksgiving this coming  November.  It's the time I have to decide which workshops I will take in July, which program I can teach for in August, and when the money will actually show up on my paycheck, because of course teachers aren't paid for at least 2 months after attending a paid training.
Basically, I am spending this summer "vacation" working for delayed gratification...every awesome teacher does this, right?  

Heroines With Cancer

My mother has stage 4 ovarian cancer, meaning that it has spread to other organs.  But cancer is also spreading amongst my mother's circle of girlfriends and loved ones.  My mother's good friends, Lois, Jane, and Bernice have breast cancer.  My mother's long-time friend, Alora, has lung cancer that has spread.  My mother's friend and former co-worker, Evelyn, has skin cancer.  Of her dear friends, Gwen is the only one who has passed away from cancer that invaded her intestines.  What I wonder is why is cancer spreading through this circle of friends so viciously?  But what I am most proud to reflect on is how heroic each of these women are as they battle cancer for each other!
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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Why is there a Naked Reflection?

Welcome to my very first blog! I’m so excited to have a forum to release and reveal my thoughts to the world! I can only imagine the praises, laughs, judgments, criticisms, and WTF’s that are headed my way!

I was inspired to do this blog as a result of 3 different people within a few days telling me that I always say what other people are thinking, and they asked if I considered blogging. I have always been one to share my thoughts either in writing, speaking, or through my eyes. Remember, your eyes are windows to the soul. So I thought, why not expose myself in blogs??

I anticipate that my Naked Reflections will open a door or two, at least one door in my life and hopefully one in yours. The most important goal for me is to uncover my thoughts and boldy face my Naked Reflections.