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Three Lessons for the New Year

The End of 2020

The days and hours of 2020 are coming to an end. But, before you get on your knees to welcome 2021, remember it isn’t over. The horrors of this year aren’t going to evaporate at the stroke of midnight. The virus will still be with us even while the vaccine gives us hope. Fake news profiteers and science deniers will still be among us. Racism and its kin will still be lurking in the shadows seizing on the opportunities to raise their heads and tiki-torches.

But we know better and it is time that we start doing better.

Seriously, if you learned something in 2020 carry that knowledge into the New Year and act on it. Here are a few things, I learned.

Be a Better Friend

Earlier this month, I learned that one of my best friends was in the hospital on a ventilator. Not from COVID, but pneumonia which isn’t much better. Since moving to Virginia, we haven’t been in contact and truthfully, that started before the move.

One of my worst habits is failing to keep in touch with people that I love; friends and family included. This habit has meant finding out about the loss of someone months after they passed away and not spending precious time with them. It has meant people not knowing how much I love them and disappearing from my life.

In October, a week before my birthday I fell ill with COVID-19. My friends and family made sure that my needs were taken care of and that I didn’t feel alone. Cards and care packages, phones calls and instant messages, there was a lot of love directed my way.

So finding out that S. was in the hospital and I couldn’t get in my car and go see her; broke something deep inside. I couldn’t be there to hold her hand or support her family. All I could do was wait, pray and hope that she would recover. As of today, she is off the ventilator.

I started my efforts to be a better friend through the sending of Yule cards this because I knew before hearing about S that I wanted to be a better friend. I made a few ornaments for people and have tried to be better, which in the end is all you can do. How can you be a better friend?

Health before Work

I come from a long line of workaholics who have passed along a host of bad habits. You might recognize some of your own habits here as well. Over the summer, I planned for the upcoming school year, attended professional development and attended meetings. Most of this time was unpaid or as one of my former admins called it “volunteering”. Many teachers will tell you that it is often easier to come to work sick that write sub plans and I can tell you this is true. I have been my own sub many times.

The only day I was planning to take off was my birthday and that I was told the week of that I couldn’t take off because the sub had cancelled. Strangely, since I had COVID at the time, they graciously let me have that day. They did however call me every couple of days to see when I would be returning. Not to check on my health, but to when I could come back to work.

Did I meant that I worked with pneumonia in Florida because it was the end of the school year and I was out of sick leave? To be fair, I didn’t know it was pneumonia until after the school year was over. The first two weeks of that summer were spending confined to the sofa where I tried not to die and lived in a semi-lucid state thanks to codeine.

What did all of that pulling off my own needs for the needs of my employer? Pretty much nothing except higher medical bills.

One way, I’m fixing this is by making doctors appointments sooner than later, not waiting until the summer when it is convenient for the school and leaving work on time twice a week to go to the gym. (If you have ever known a teacher, leaving work on time is a big deal.) What do you need to do take better care of yourself? People are like cars, we don’t work so good when we avoid regular maintenance.

Don’t Wait for the Perfect Time

Because there is no such time. Waiting for the perfect time is a waste of time. If you want to go to Italy, which I do, then go to Italy. If you want to write a book, get typing. Want to start a You-tube channel, do it. Do it sooner than later or better yet now.

I keep waiting to do things like visit friends and work on photography. Then came 2020 and I couldn’t see friends and family. I could work on photography but I was stopped from going places much of the time. I told myself that I need to get a better camera or take a class. All of which produced no art on my end and only increase my anxiety.

Even before 2020’s series of foreseen catastrophes (every since one was predictable including the pandemic), I had been working on ridding myself of the perfect time excuse. 2020 just added some more fuel to its pyre. And while you’re at it, add the need to be perfect to the fire as well. Perfection is an ideal and when it does occur it doesn’t happen without a whole lot of practice.

What lesson did you learn this year? How are you going to do better in the coming year?

Happy Birthday, Momma!!!

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Momma and me.

Today, my Momma turns 69 years old.  Last night, she went to the emergency room with her baby-girl.  It was her anniversary to Papa and she  spent it with me whimpering in pain. A stomach virus took me out and my Momma took care of me once again. It is what Momma’s do. They take care of their kids. It doesn’t stop when they are eighteen or even twenty-one. It is a lifetime commitment.

It hasn’t been a easy one for Momma. No mother’s journey is really easy.  But she was always done her best. She continues to teach me lessons.  So here are a few of the lesson you have taught me over the years.

1) I am worthy of love, we all are worthy of love.

2) Don’t sit down if you want to get things done.

3) Always say thank you.

4) Take a genuine interest in others and listen.

5) Naps are awesome.

6) Just because some is blood doesn’t mean you have to let them hurt you.

7) It is ok to say, No.

8) Know when to step back and let people make their own mistakes.

9) Forgiveness isn’t forgetting

10) Send someone flowers can brighten their day.

11) Kindness does matter.

12) It is okay to cry.

13) Taking time for yourself is necessary

14) Stubbornness is a superpower, use it wisely.

15) Sometimes you just need to play.

16) Making things with your hands is an awesome way to be creative.

17) You don’t have to keep everything someone gives you.

18) Daydreaming is a survival skill.

19)  Books are a necessity in life.

20) Sometimes with family, you love them but you don’t like them.

21) Everyone has issues. Everyone.

22) You never have to grow up, but you do grow older.

23) Dessert for breakfast is acceptable as is having your dessert first.

There are a lot more lessons, but I am still under the weather and need a nap. Thank you, Momma. I love you.

The End is Always in the Beginning…

Friday Morning, I watched fourteen young women graduate from high school.  A normal spring event across America, but this graduation was really something extraordinary.  Because in one moment, they went from being a statistic to being truly phenomenal women. (They were already phenomenal, in truth, they just didn’t know it.) Fourteen young mothers walked out into the world knowing that education will be the key to their success.

Friday was their day. In the end, they are the ones who did the work,  kept going and did what they had to succeed.  Being a part of this success for these young women makes my heart swell with pride and my eyes well up with tears.

Now, the real learning begins.  The reins that set held them in place and guided them to this point in their life are gone. The answers to the questions they have will be harder to find. Nothing will ever be the same for them.  Nothing.

High school isn’t the best time of life. The best is yet to come. It really is.  There will be times when they wish they were back in school or had done things differently.  It is natural. But what is done, is done and I pray that they know that what others may see as a mistake is an opportunity to grow.

The world is wide open for them. The possibilities are endless.

Congratulations class of 2014!!!

And thank you for all the lessons you have taught me.