Sunday, November 20, 2011

Holiday Smoliday

Hustle and bustle, shopping and spending, running around and stressing in crowds.  Not my plan at all.  This holiday season will be the first in my life without my parents to celebrate with me.  I decided a few months ago that I would focus on blessings, memories, and not get caught up in Holiday Smoliday.

What is Holiday Smoliday?  To me, it's when everyone else's plans, wants, and needs become priority.  My priority has to be the wellness of my mind and spirit.  My priority has to be the happiness of my own family.  My priority has to be appreciating what I already have.  I am expecting nothing other than peace this holiday season.

I pray that Holiday Smoliday doesn't come my way.  I just want to rejoice in all that God has given me. I don't need Thanksgiving or turkeys, dressing, pies, or icky mashed potatoes to feel that kind of joy!  That joy lives inside of me, and for that I am eternally thankful!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Swamped and Surrounded in Love

I can't believe it's been a month since my previous blog entry.  That's because of school starting and life going back to the regular routines of "busy-ness."  I have to say that I am overwhelmed with gratitude and thus I must share.

When the school year began on Sept. 7th, I felt rejuvenated and literally reborn.  I knew that this year would be so much easier and more pleasant than the last.  Why??  Simply because I have no sick parents, no hospitals to trek to daily, no medicines to administer, no pain to pray away, and no sleepless nights.  2010-2011 brought many unexpected life changing experiences with the loss of both my mother and father.  Now, I can reflect, write, continue to heal, and move forward with their blessings and unconditional love flowing through me.

I have begun a new venture through the U.C.L.A. Teacher Ed Program as a Faculty Adviser and an instructor for the LEAD Teacher Certification program.  It's amazing how God has given me new opportunities, the tools to make them rewarding and the people to help me along the way!  He is an amazing God and such a wonderful Father.

I know that Mommie is proud and watching it all from her special spot in heaven.  I feel her presence and her love like never before, and for that, I am truly blessed.  I can say with a smile now, "My Mommie is with me all the time!"

I knew this day would come, but I just didn't know when.

Peace and Blessings!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lake Tahoe Time

I am in Lake Tahoe with my sister and husband.  It is absolutely beautiful!  Unfortunately, we are here because of my father's sickness and ultimately his passing.  A few months ago, he offered his week-long vacation (fully paid) to us because he realized he would be too sick to travel, especially if he were still undergoing chemotherapy.  We really appreciated the offer and obviously accepted it without much thought.  We have only been here 2 full days and already I am wondering how I can make the most of the remaining 5 days.

Why is it that when I am given an opportunity to relax, refresh, rejuvenate, my mind spins on things that will destroy this relaxation and rejuvenation?  School resumes in less than 3 weeks, and my thoughts continue to drift to what I should be doing to be better prepared for the opening of the school year.  This is insane and ridiculous.  Do I need therapy?  Do I need someone to tell me "give it a break and just relax!"  What do I need?  Maybe I need someone to say, "Hey, I do that too!"  Misery loves company, but I don't want to be miserable!

I look out at the picturesque and breathtaking views from this perfect resort, and I see possibilities, strange curiosities, and really ridiculous insanities.  It's possible that people really do have fun on vacations even when they have full knowledge that in a matter of days their bliss will come tumbling down and they will be back to the daily grind of work.  It's possible that some people go on vacations once in their lifetimes and therefore what I see them doing is appreciating the blessing.  It's possible that a few people, like me, appreciate the time away but don't know what to do when their minds won't just stop spinning new thoughts.

I am curious to know why there are so few opportunities like these that have come to me.  Why is it that I had never been here before and wonder if I will ever have the chance to visit again, possibly in the winter, to witness what so many other people around the world have witnessed.  Snow-capped forests and mountains are seen from the freeway by my house, but very rarely are they seen up close.

I am driving myself insane with wondering what, why, how, when, who, and where.  I don't really want to think about any of it anymore. I just want to enjoy this blessing and see the people, places, and experiences as once-in-a-lifetime moments that I get to re-live for 7 days.

I have a few minutes left before I need to figure out dinner.  I decided that I won't think about that...I will take a nap instead!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cool With Being Me

I don’t go camping
I have never skied
Oldies but Goodies don’t make me wanna dance
And I don’t need Cocoa Butter for dark spots on my knees
I am a black girl, African-American woman, simply cool with being me

Don’t put me in the One-Size-Fits-All box
I don’t have a big juicy booty
I don’t have rolls that make my man happy (take that literally)
And I really could care less if water makes my hair nappy
I am a black girl, African-American woman, simply cool with being me

I will never be seen in pajamas outside
I don’t wear my husband’s shirt to go to breakfast with the dog
I never read the newspaper, but I spell better than most
And I have been known to lie in the sun along the coast
I am a black girl, African-American woman, simply cool with being me

Please don’t ask me to make you some soul food
I don’t eat that shit
Please don’t ask me to play Bid Whist
I don’t play that shit
Please don’t ask me to do the Cupid Shuffle
That’s some stupid ghetto shit
Ask me to dance one-on-one
And I’d love to do that shit
I am a black girl, African-American woman, simply cool with being me

I overachieve in whatever I believe
Because that’s what I’m supposed to do
I appear sweet and thoughtful
But I will kick your ass if I have to
My face may say what my mouth won’t
But I will cuss you out if I need to
I am a black girl, African-American woman, simply cool with being me

I don’t wear size 16
I don’t use double negatives or misconjugate my verbs
I never put Vaseline on my lips
And I won’t change a nation with my hips and curves

But I will teach you to love when you’d rather hate
And I will show you why it’s wrong to be colored-people’s late
I will give you my very last dime
And I will write you a poem that doesn’t have to rhyme
I am a black girl, African-American woman, simply cool with being me

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Silent Dialogue
Stacey Joy

In the beginning,
Almost anything can happen.
This is when you first hear the news
When light becomes dark
Days blend into nights
And whispers are noisy
Like everyone knows the secret
Except you
You have the “C” word
The word that’s harder to say when it’s personal
You have cancer
This is the very beginning.
The doctor is not yet someone you admire or trust
more the bearer of news you’d rather never hear
White and powder blue lab coats don’t know your name
Your face is not yet recognizable

This is the opening scene, Act 1
Cancer creeps on stage
Cloaked in mystery
Your solo is now a duet.

Act 2, the middle
Everything normal fades
Medications and doctor’s appointments
Scans, needles, questions
Probing and searching
The second scene, Act 2, takes place in the sky
The first-time skydiver’s descent
Praying through the fall
Not to hit the bottom
Before deploying the automatic activation device
Backsliding through MRI’s, PET Scans, and ultrasounds,
Crabbing from hospital to home
The parachute opens
as your duet falls freely to the ground
Only to realize you will jump
Many more times through Acts 2 and 3
But you always rise again in Act 2
Until the duet
Becomes more complicated
Cancer’s silent dialogue
Competes with your spoken monologue
The fall begins to feel more like the end

Intermission awaiting remission
But Act 3 opens
You and cancer take center stage
                Who has more lines
                Who has more pain
                Who has more strength
                Who has more life to live
                Who can change the blocking for this scene
You need a wardrobe change
Gowns grace everyday fashions
Hair and Make-up artists can’t fix
Broken skin
skin with remnants of vitality
Water, cancer water, fills you
Cotton pricks your skin
that burns fragile, transparent, bruised

Act 3, The Grand Finale
This is the last straw
The last row
The last one chosen
But this time you didn’t want the part
The lab coats, needles, and scans
The last round of chemo
The last chance for poison to protect
The last prayer to SAVE a solo
The last stench of the putrid bile
The last “morphinic” stare
The last cry
The last blink
The last kiss
The last hug
The last breath.
No Curtain Call
Everyone leaves
Cancer now a solo act 
Without an audience.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


The conclusion of the 2010-2011 school year comes at the end of this week, and I am truly thankful.  I am not sad, I am overjoyed.  I know that it has been one of the toughest years in my 25 year career, but I also know that I have given it all I possibly could give.  I have only done what I have always done, and that is work within my calling.  I am a servant of God.  He chose me to teach, that is one of my gifts, and I teach with 100% determination, perseverance, and purpose.  If my students faltered in any way, there is peace in knowing that I did all that I could do, each and every day.

I had a discussion with my principal recently.  I expressed concern that educators today are not equipped or trained to deal with the changing generations we are teaching.  Somewhere along the way, children became technologically responsive, but personally disconnected.  Somewhere along the way, children were given what they wanted, but never had to work hard to earn anything.  Somewhere along the way, parents allowed their children to disrespect their teachers because these children were imitating their parents.  Somewhere along the way, teachers were expected to continue to reach, teach, love, guide, nurture, plan, facilitate, and educate regardless of the types of children they were given.  This is what I have done, and for that reason, I am overjoyed to see the conclusion of this school year ahead of me.  Although I am not trained to deal with the changing generations, I am highly trained and effective at doing what God gave me to do.

I know that in a matter of weeks, the fire will be reignited.  The fire that calls me to the classroom in the Fall with new ideas, fresh materials, and a rekindling of desire will burn on high to make a changing generation believe the unchanging dedicated teacher!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Nanny Day

Some days feel like Nanny Days.  When my mother was still alive, every day was a Nanny Day.  I would talk to her several times a day.  She would ask me a thousand questions within the first few minutes of our conversations.  She always wanted to know all the details about everything that mattered to me.  I could really use a Nanny Day.

Some days feel like Nanny Days especially when one of us hurts.  If Nanny were here, she would take the hurt away.  One thing she would never stand for is someone she loved feeling down, sad, or hurt.  She made it her personal goal to keep a smile in everyone's hearts.  My daughter got her 4 wisdom teeth pulled this morning.  She awakened from the anesthesia very emotional, and she said, "This should be a Nanny Day."  Of course, her Nanny would have been right there to make her feel all better.

Some days feel like Nanny Days.  I am recovering from the flu.  Kids who come to school sick usually share their sick germs with their teachers and classmates.  That's why as a parent, the most thoughtful thing we can do for our children and their teachers is to keep them home when they're sick.  So I began my much needed Spring Break in bed with chills, fever, cough, and body aches.  Nanny would have called several times a day to check on me, offering to bring me whatever I need, but she had to care for me from her special spot in Heaven.  I feel better today, but I still feel like I need a Nanny Day!  

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Digital Divisions and Lack of Provisions

I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to attend the CUE Conference for educators in Palm Springs.  This conference focuses on technology in education, including all forms of mobile media, devices, computers, Smart Boards, and much more.  I learned many new things from this experience.  I can’t say that I have a plethora of new ideas and strategies to use in my classroom on Monday, but I do have a new perspective on what I DON’T HAVE!  I also have a new respect for myself as an educator because I am insuring that my students are competitive and successful academically, socially, and morally.  Now, I just have to determine how I will insure they can compete in a technologically driven society that is not going to forgive them for not being prepared to master the digital world!

Digital divisions and lack of provisions will keep otherwise brilliant and highly capable children from accessing equal opportunities for success.  In one session I attended, the instructor shared a program with teachers that required daily use of a Smart Board.  We have a Smart Board in our technology lab, but the students attend the lab for 40 minutes per week which is equivalent to 1600 minutes per year, equaling about 27 hours!  In short, my students will have used a Smart Board for one and 1/8 days in the course of a full school year!  Wow!!!  Is that sufficient time in comparison to those who have access to a Smart Board 5 hours per day, 5 days per week?  That equals 25 hours per week; 2 hours short of what my students will get in a school year! Those students will have Smart Board education 1,000 hours per year compared to mine who will have 27 hours in a year!  And that was just my first workshop…proving the digital division is wider than I thought!

Another session I attended opened my eyes to the real lack of provisions for many students.  This session was interesting and useful to me as an educator.  It showed me how my students can use Voice Threading as a means for sharing their work online.  I instantly thought of how my students could read their poetry, show their artwork, and really be proud of their writing if they could use Voice Threading.  Well, here is my next dilemma.  There is a free program to use, but of course it limits the amount of actual voice threading that can be uploaded.  Why would I want to use the free program and not be able to have all my students’ voices heard?  That’s not going to happen.  Will there be money in our school’s budget to purchase the full program?  Of course not! We don’t have the money in next year’s budget to purchase our nurse, psychologist, or counselor for a sufficient block of time.  Oh well, I guess I will utilize the free program for now and possibly the children can work in groups and read group poetry as opposed to individual poems.  The divide is wide!

Later, I attended a highly interactive and exciting workshop on Higher-Order Thinking.  My first thought was that I would get differentiation strategies for my gifted students.  Well, I was way off base!  The presenter used a Smart Board and “clickers,” a device that the audience members use to respond to the presenter’s prompts or questions.  Oh my, isn’t that what Oprah’s audience members used on a show where Dr. Oz asked health questions and the audience responded with these “clickers?”  At that point, I was really angry sitting in this session with a “clicker” that my students and I have never even seen before!  When the presenter asked a geometry question and everyone clicked in their responses, the data was shown on his Smart Board!  How impressive, amazing, and engaging, all the things that make learning exciting and memorable!  Maybe my students can use old-fashioned, hand-held white boards, write their answers, and hold up the boards!  Then, all I have to do is count and record all 25 responses without losing my students’ attention! Right!!

Lastly, the session that I was most anticipating and cost the most to attend, was called iBootcamp.  This three-hour workshop focused on ways to use an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad in the classroom.  In the beginning I was a little befuddled because who can assume that our students have all these “i’s” to use at school?? I felt a little better after the second hour because I was able to use my iPod Touch (purchased through Donors Choose).  The only problem was that my iPod Touch was not the “newer generation” so the picture-taking capabilities were not there.  My iPod Touch has no camera because they were not made at the time when mine was donated!  Nevertheless, I was engaged because at least I learned some useful applications.  I was told that my students can use the single iPod Touch for Story Robe, an application that gives them the platform for writing a story, adding pictures, and recording it.  Hopefully, somehow I can get a microphone to go with the “old generation” iPod Touch so my students can record their stories.   It was also in this session that the audience was asked, “Who has an iPad; who has a Mac Book Pro; who has an iPod Touch; who has an iPhone?” The presenter needed to determine the needs and the abilities of his audience.  Well, I was not the only one who didn’t have an iPhone or iPad, but I was the only one who had not yet used any “apps” with my students.  I have never been one to act like I know if I don’t or act like I have something that I don’t have so I figured why start now. Go ahead and keep that one and only hand raised so that you can LEARN!!  Aside from being looked at by the lady next to me like I was this poor little under-privileged teacher when I told her that my school did not have the resources to utilize the “apps” the presenter was sharing, I walked away from that session feeling more amazing and awesome than ever!

I am amazing and awesome because just like Mary McLeod Bethune who started a school with $0.25 or Marva Collins who taught the lowest achieving students to master Shakespeare and believe in their God-given gifts, I too am making a lasting impact on my students with or without 21st century technology in my classroom.  The digital divisions and lack of provisions cannot be rectified overnight, but if we all spread the word and demand our voices are heard, maybe we can at least “click” our ways into success, and someday add a few more hours to our Smart Board experiences.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

When a Woman Prays 

When a woman prays
God listens and lives are saved
If my mother, Gloria, had not prayed for me
Teenage pain would have shrouded my certainties
And my hopes would have died in the fists of my enemies

When a woman prays
God sends angels of protection and mercy to work
If generations of Big Mamas had not prayed for change
There would be no integration in education
or an Obama Inauguration

When a woman prays
God opens doors and children are spared
If our sisters had not prayed while clutching church pearls
Birmingham would have lost more than 4 little girls

When a woman prays
God creates divine order and nations are changed
If our daughters had not prayed
In the South, we would have stayed
And a Great Migration would never have been made

When a woman prays
Leaders are created
lost jobs are reinstated
Treasures are found
And queens are crowned
Gaps are closed
prolific writings are composed
Children leave protected
And family traditions are respected
Lost teens come home clean
And going to college becomes routine

When a woman prays
The addict’s veins refuse the past
God is answering what every woman has ever asked...
“Dear God, comfort, lead and guide
Keep your angels at our mother’s side.
Help our husband’s minds to stay on you
Protect our sons in all they do.
Show our nation’s leaders the right choices to make
Our fathers and daughters, don’t ever forsake.”

God touched my heart as my eyes shut
And He answered me with clarity,
“You have to keep praying no matter what!”

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mommie's Big Shoes

I remember when I was a little girl, I would get on a chair to reach the high-heeled shoes in Mommie’s closet.

Wearing those sparkly, fancy, elegant stilletos made me feel big inside and tall and lovely outside.

Then I would put on her cocktail dress that I knew was meant for a queen.  I would toss my pressed and messed hair to the side, and imagine I walked the runway like the Simplicity models on the sewing packages.

I recall the days like yesterday.  
Looking in her full-length mirror, holding a fake cigarette, while blowing smoke so sexily out of the corner of my mouth,

I was being my Mommie.

Then I learned to teach because she brought me teacher books and papers to grade, and I had a class full of naughty kids in my bedroom everyday.

With the whistle around my neck, gradebook in my hand, and chalk dust all over the room,

I was being my Mommie.

I wore the big shoes that only a great teacher wears

I clicked the heels of the big shoes that only a Mommie wears

I tied the laces of the big shoes that were simply my little baby-shoes, but I called them my GoGo boots

Today, as I realize that my GoGo boots don’t fit,

The high-heels she wore will never be worn by me,

And the teacher shoes are out of style,

I guess the only shoes left for me are my own,

The ones she taught me to walk in proudly

Because I will never be able to fill my Mommie’s big shoes.

Spur of the Moment Poetry by JoyEleven 1-17-11

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Gloria’s Halo
The brightest one there could ever be
Guided her to the place where her soul was set free
No suffering and no pain
Glowing as a rainbow after a winter’s rain
Mommie’s Halo
Basking us in God’s amazing light
Always showing us what is good and what is right
Her journey is a story we all can tell
From students long ago, to family and friends who knew her well
Nanny’s Halo
Her children’s shroud of protection and love
Now a spiritual gift from Heaven above
To feel her love and peace within
Until that precious day when we meet again.

In Memory of my Glorious Mother
(June 21, 1934 - December 28, 2010)