And And And: And Somehow We Get It Done

And And And: And Somehow We Get It Done

Have you ever run a marathon? Even a 5K? Have you ever moved your entire household? Built a business from the ground up? Had a baby? Made it through infancy with your child, breastfeeding the whole time? When the adrenaline runs out after mountains of hard work, it is as if a wave of exhaustion hits that will not let you back up until you rest. You can keep battling, keep trying, but the waves keep coming and you finally end up on flat on your back, down for the count. For me, fortunately, right before that last wave hits, and I crash, I gather my team, and we get it done. Whatever it is, whatever the task, we get it done.

That’s Where I’m at Right Now.

I have finished tutoring finals after more than a week straight, including two thirteen hour days, but now Christmas is in a few short days, my house is a mess, laundry has piled up, I have fifteen articles to write on contract, and I have challenged myself to write for my own website every single day until Christmas as part of something called “blogmas.” Continue reading…    

The Kids Are The Heroes: How I Stay Hopeful

The Kids Are The Heroes: How I Stay Hopeful

Remembering that the kids are the heroes is, today, the only thing that has returned hope to my weary soul.

I am tired. The tiredness I feel goes deep down into my bones. At my core I am tired.

A week of finals tutoring always does this to me. It is especially difficult in December when I am also shopping, baking, and crafting with little ones.

I have four hour sessions, broken into two two hour sessions, with my students, to cover the first half of a history or government class. Tutoring history and government is emotionally draining. I teach what I teach because I want to change the world. I tell my students the history of their country and the structure of their government so that they know their rights, so that they understand where we came from.

So we can make it better.

I am invested in this process, deeply.

“Why Don’t You Move Out?”

All the time. I get this all the time.Continue reading…    

Homeschooling for the Emotionally Unleashed

Homeschooling for the Emotionally Unleashed

Every single finals week for the past five years, Celaya, an already emotional child, becomes high strung and irrational. Her eyes well up with tears, her voice begins to crack, and her head will hang down at the unlikeliest of slights. I know quite well that I am raising an empath. I have seen her sensitive, serious observational personality from the very beginning. And it is one major reason I am homeschooling.

Emotionally Unleashed

“That’s it Celaya! You got it!” Says my mom friend Dennie, in the park today. She had been showing Celaya how to swing on her own, the same way she taught her twin boys, two of Celaya’s best friends.

She pushed Celaya forward, then back, showing her how to angle her body.

I was pushing Matilda in the baby swing, a couple of swings away.

I was watching this all unfold, knowing what was coming, watching as the change came over Celaya, but I also knew there was nothing I could do to prevent it, and that, really, it wasn’t my job to prevent it.

Celaya learned quite successfully how to swing on her own, how to angle her body, how to build momentum. And as she learned this from a trusted adult, she became quieter, her head bent forward, thick mop of hair covering her face. By the time Dennie celebrated what she had just watched Celaya learn, Celaya had gone completely quiet.

And then she started bawling. Continue reading…    

My Friends Are My Mirrors: A Village Revealed

My Friends Are My Mirrors: A Village Revealed

I slammed the sharp side of a knife into the side of my thumb today, alone with my daughters, right before nap time. And I faint at the sight of my own blood running from my own wound. Fortunately, I have a rock solid village. I have found that when I am in trouble, regardless of its type, my friends are my mirrors. I see myself in them, which makes me work to see them in me.

What a Week

So I’ve had a week. Already. And it’s only Monday. I came out of two thirteen hours days, back to back, tutoring history and government to high school students. They are headed into finals this week, and my tutoring center blows our doors wide open to accommodate their anxiety ridden frenzy. We work until Wednesday, the day before the kids’ last day of finals, and then we are off for eighteen days. But in the meantime, life is a bit crazy.

So I was happy indeed to not have to race off first thing this morning. At least these last three days of finals tutoring will be normal schedule; I don’t have to go in until my husband gets home from work.

I took the girls to the park; we came home for nap time. Matilda sat on the counter and ate pears, Celaya danced around the kitchen chatting with me while I chopped vegetable for a salad for me and a lunch plate for her. We were going to do crafts after Matilda went down. Continue reading…    

Energy Never Dies: Passion Provides

Energy Never Dies: Passion Provides

I can come home, as I did last night, after an eleven hour shift of standing on my feet and talking to kids about history and government, and write a thousand word essay. I can finish an eleven hour shift for the second day in a row, as I did tonight, still full of energy, pumped up and ready for more. Energy never dies when you are passionate about what you do.

And it isn’t as though I am tutoring lighthearted subjects. And sometimes even my writing is dark. But I believe in what I do. I believe deeply that what I do makes a difference.

“Thank you. Thank you on so many levels.” One of my students said to me today.

I tutor middle class and wealthy white kids. I tell them things about black history that their textbooks and their teachers don’t tell them. I drill their civil rights into their heads. I tell them about heroic white people, Newton Knight, John Brown, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, that we can be proud of amid all the horrible atrocities white people have committed.

I am fueled by what I do. I planned to come home tonight to write a lengthy essay about the feedback I get, the language I use, the hope I feel at the end of every single two hour session that I may have changed a mind, opened a heart, created a pathway for understanding and communication in these kids’ futures.

Off to Bed

But I walked in my front door, full of fire, ready to sit down here and write, and I found my baby on my husband’s chest on the couch, she apparently won’t go back to sleep in her crib. My five year old is in my bed. She apparently wouldn’t sleep anywhere else; she wanted to be where I would be tonight. And my husband has to be up in fewer than six hours.

So I must now gently remove the baby from the husband, take her into my bedroom, crawl into bed, and turn myself into a mama sandwich like I did last night, with my girls, desperate for their mother, on either side of me.

“Five minutes.” I told my husband, about fifteen minutes ago. “Give me five minutes and I’ll come get her and take her to bed.”

“Why? What do you need to do?” He wants to know.

“I need to write.”

Truth Teller: Wake Up and Shake Up

Truth Teller: Wake Up and Shake Up

A solid educational system should include teaching kids critical thinking skills. Educated kids should be challenging authority. Well educated kids would question everything. Everything. Well educated kids would be pissed, furious at what the grown ups in the room are doing to the country they will inherit. Part of my mission in life, in my work, in my writing, is to educate people. Why? Well educated people would not have voted for Donald Trump.

“Why can’t you be my History teacher?”

I have had countless students ask me this.

I get it. Their teachers are burned out, disenchanted with the system, apathetic, and some are just plain bored. Most teachers start with the best intentions, and then they get into these thankless, exhausting jobs that we have created for them – teach 35 kids every hour for 6 hours with a half an hour break during which you will meet with students who need you; then after school prepare lessons and grade tests all afternoon into the evening.

And for all that? We’ll pay you barely a living wage, you’ll be lucky to get health benefits, and really lucky to get tenure. Security in this overworked and undervalued job.Continue reading…    

Family Friendly?: Christmas, Kids, and Cusswords

Family Friendly?: Christmas, Kids, and Cusswords

Warning: “bad” language ahead.

“Fuck!” I said, starting to get irritated.

“Goddamn it.” My five year old said, sitting on the counter and watching me. Yea, we definitely could not be featured on the family friendly television channels.

I burst out laughing, all irritation vanished, and I remembered this was supposed to be fun.

We were building a gingerbread house today. You know, because I don’t already have enough to do, and I couldn’t just buy the damn graham crackers and icing in the package like a normal mother of two with a heaping plate of December to manage.

No, I had to make the gingerbread from scratch. Chill for a day. Roll it out, bake it, construct a house, make royal icing, and decorate the house all on the day my students begin studying for finals.

What the hell was I thinking?

Here’s what I was thinking. For me, personally, if I had bought the graham crackers and packaged icing, I would have ended up pawning the job off on my husband and brother to do with the kids while I was at work. I would have justified it as necessary because of how much I’m already doing. Continue reading…    

Fixing Broken Things: Together We Can

Fixing Broken Things: Together We Can

Everything is easier together. The only reason I got through my childhood is that I had my brother and sisters, younger siblings to be strong for. The reason my marriage has worked for ten years with no major bumps or bruises is that my husband and I both want it to work. My tutoring center thrives with our busy buzz of students and finals and tests because we work together as a team. This is the only way of fixing broken things. Together we can.

Broken

We are in troubled times as a nation.

We are experiencing major labor pains and I believe that women will lead us into the future. But we have to work together. We have to work to change hearts and minds, and it begins with compassion. White women have a lot to answer for.

We have failed our sisters many, many times, and in order to march into the future and make the gains we need, we must lock arms, pick each other up.

I have an essay in the works detailing my own experiences as a white woman and the friendships I have made with women of color, and the history of white women and women of color in this country. The way forward is honestly not a difficult one; it merely requires us to listen.

Listen

Many of you know that I write to empower women, to unite women, and to grow communities of strong women. I could not write what I write without having heard the plethora of female voices from around the world sharing their experiences. I do not, nor does anyone else, live in a vacuum. We are influenced by each other, and we learn from each other.

Women are the most powerful force on earth. The future is female, and the revolution has already begun. I work to help that revolution along from my own corner of the world.

To that end, I am offering my subscribers an opportunity to listen to a sister’s voice that they may be unfamiliar with.

Giveaway

On December 20, I will randomly choose three subscribers to receive a copy of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book Americanah. It has become a favorite of mine. This book provides a unique look at Americans through the eyes of a woman from Nigeria. It deals with issues of race, of femininity, of love, and of strength.

The books will go out on December 21, and the names of the winners will be thanked for being part of the community on the essay I write on that day, about the book Americanah.

Book Club

I would like to start a book club beginning in January, and this is my foray into that venture.

Americanah gives us an opportunity to listen, to learn, and to grow as women. I will announce a date and a platform to discuss this book and to plan for a femme unfiltered book club once the winners’ books go out.

So, if you haven’t subscribed to the site yet, do it now. Join us, learn with us, grow with us.

The future is female. Together we can.

Halfway Through Crazy: Stop to Rest

Halfway Through Crazy: Stop to Rest

I have taken on this 25 days of writing challenge called “blogmas.” I am now halfway through crazy (Trust me. Crazy.) So I took a day to stop and rest.

Blogmas

One of the Facebook blogging groups I am in introduced me to this idea of blogging every day in December, ideally with a Christmas theme. The organizer of the group was all pumped up in the end of November: “Let’s do this!”

And hundreds of us in the group responded: “Yea! Let’s do it!” (Picture our fists in the air.)

I had already utterly failed at my November challenge with National Novel Writing Month. I wrote not one single word. Not one. I didn’t even outline an idea.

So when blogmas came up, I was determined to do it. I could write one essay a day. I didn’t have to organize a whole book. I could seek inspiration through my various channels and experiences, and I have.Continue reading…    

Follow Unfollow: Everything That’s Wrong With Business Today

Follow Unfollow: Everything That’s Wrong With Business Today

A trend on Instagram as a way to maximize followers is to find accounts similar to yours, with hashtags similar to yours, and follow them.  Typically, the person sees you have followed him or her, looks at your account, likes it, and follows you back. Now you have gained a new follower. Sometimes you wait a day, sometimes weeks, but you don’t really care about those people you followed and you don’t want them filling up your newsfeed, so you go into your account and you unfollow them. Follow unfollow.

What’s the Point?

I had heard about this practice in passing, but I didn’t really pay attention, and I didn’t really care. It was not a method I had any intention of utilizing, and I wasn’t public at the time, so it didn’t affect me.

Then it did.

I went public on Instagram to grow my readership on my site. The workshop I took on how to make money blogging advised finding likeminded accounts and following them, engaging with them, basically making friends. After a while, if the person doesn’t follow you back, you can unfollow them.

The issue with Instagram is that you can only follow 7,500 people. Instagram is a newsfeed, and as a community it would be impossible to follow the pictures of more than that. In my opinion it is impossible to follow anywhere close to that, but maybe that’s just me.

Still, many people aim to make money specifically from Instagram, and companies will do business with you after you gain a certain number of followers. So these follow unfollow people are looking to make huge gains in followers, fast. This is a business to them; they sit and follow accounts, get followed back, unfollow, then repeat the cycle.

Heartbroken

The first time it happened to me, I was heartbroken. I was followed by someone I thought was really cool. She was all about self love, self care, promoting positive body images, etc. She followed me. I followed her back. I commented on a few of her posts; I was happy. Yay! I was really growing a community on Instagram! I had a whole 56 followers! (39 of those were my own personal friends who had always been following me.)

So when I saw my number of followers drop, I was surprised. Who would unfollow me? I just went public? Did I offend someone??Continue reading…