Tag Archive | #40blogsfor40days

Scenes from a fender bender

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A one woman show

 

Why are y’all texting me right now?

Did I not just say that I was in a car accident?

Now I love your thoughts and prayers and well wishes but I’m really not in the mood to answer questions

When these things occur, I want to call my mom. I want to call my boyfriend. I want to see my daughter. I don’t want to give explanations to my co-workers. Granted, that is the first place I called because that was where I was headed when all this happened.

But can we all just calm down with the texts and voicemails?

Y’all are okay. I like you. but you’re not my priority right now. I’m just saying.

 

So how is this going to work  in terms of getting ready for Carnaval? because my costume is super cute. I know I’ve been slacking on my fitness and diet. However I’m ready to eat clean and really hit the gym. I’m going to have to miss samba tonight.  I don’t know what my back is going to feel like tomorrow morning to lift weights. I really wanted to make my cycle class and boot camp this week. This is not working for getting fit for Carnaval. I can’t really do Pilates or much of anything with my back messed up. I’m hoping this is minor. I’ve been in a few car accidents like this in the past where I was just sitting there minding my own business when somebody plowed into me. I know this will be painful and stiff. As if I hadn’t already dealt with stiff joints recently. I won’t be able to turn my head. I had to be on the phone with the insurance and my medical provider before taking any kind of pain medication or icing my neck and back. This is not part of my fitness plan.

It is in these moments that I realize how fragile we are as people. I screamed at the impact. I screamed from shock and fear. It was a primal screen, the scream of a startled animal. I felt  so powerless in that moment. I didn’t know what else was going to happen. Would the impact hurt me? What happened to my car? What if that airbag had deployed? I could have suffered broken ribs or a broken nose. I cried later. I started to think about my daughter. What if it had been more serious? My life didn’t flash before my eyes. I barely  had time to even understand what had happened. I would want my life to flash before my eyes. I would like to remember every moment that’s been meaningful to me. Every moment is meaningful, even those moments when I’m incredibly weak and not my best self, like when I’m reprimanding my daughter over something stupid or snapping at my spouse over something stupid. I take it all for granted. I had a Thornton Wilder Our Town moment of realizing how precious it all is: the spilled orange juice, the dirty dishes in the sink, the dirty dishes in the sink, the funny text messages with friends, work being so tedious, steamed spinach, cold water. I don’t want to leave my daughter. I wouldn’t want her to cry or need me or miss me for the rest of her life.  I’m grateful that I’m all right because I can see M again, hold her, and tell her I love her. I can’t promise her anything because it’s not mine to promise.

On the plus side, I get some time off. God knows I’m done with the tomfoolery at work.  I’m so ready for spring break. I’m going to read and watch Netflix. I aspire to be a woman of leisure. Hand me the ice pack and remote.

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Feathery thing

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“Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul…” Emily Dickinson

I am blessed that I consistently receive reminders of  why I work in schools. Motivating young people is what I love the most about my work. I love school(I always have.) I love literature(I always have.)  The best part of my job is giving young people hope.

During Lent, I realized one of my students is an aspiring author. I thought it was important to let the student  know that the principal is an author too. The student was in need of motivation. To see a face light up? Que bonito! It was wonderful. When I saw the student again later in the day, I encouraged continued self-expression and to consider creating a blog. I talked about my favorite bloggers turned bestsellers, Luvvie Ajayi and Ta-Nehisi Coates. The student didn’t know who they were and was impressed by their successes. It was important for me to stop being the stuffy principal and share something about myself. I also offered to be available to discuss writing.

I’m working closely with a group of students who are disengaged and disconnected from school. Their attendance is poor. They are not in good standing but they all want to work part-time. I know that the rules about good standing. I’m a rule follower and a rule enforcer. I’m a principal. Rules are important. A few of my staff members are much more black and white about this issue;a few have even voiced criticism of my willingness to be flexible.  But I want to get these kids back in school. Internal motivation is the ideal. I will promote extrinsic rewards if it’s going to motivate kids to come back to school. I cannot withhold encouragement and hope. I could have easily said,“ you guys cut too much school“ and sent them away. My non-negotiables are fighting, defiance, and drug abuse. If a student promises to return to school if I help him or her find a job, how can I say no? What kind of teacher and leader shuts the door on students?  

Part of what I do is give hope. That is at the core of the work that I do. I give these young people opportunities following the example of my own stellar teachers and administrators. I wasn’t born a principal or a teacher.  Shoot I wasn’t even born an English speaker. It’s my turn now to be not only an adult or authority figure but a human being who wants young people to be successful . In the words of the inspiring Harvey Milk, “you have to give them hope.”  

On service

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What do you want of me Lord? Where do You want me to serve You?

Where can I sing Your praises? I am Your song. “Servant Song” by Jess Viray

Last Holy Thursday I wrote a reflection on being a servant. I pondered Jesus’ willingness to do challenging tasks such as washing his apostles’ feet, curing lepers, and hanging out with society’s outcasts. He explained how all of these tasks or actions were in line with his vision and mission. My mission and vision are about empowering others to become the very best version of themselves either through academic or personal growth. I am not always willing to do the difficult tasks such as forgiving myself and others, empowering myself, or taking time to truly serve.

I resist mercy. One of the audiobooks I enjoyed during Lent was Anne Lamott’s Hallelujah Anyway:  Rediscovering Mercy. I have enjoyed rediscovering Ms. Lamott. She is hilarious. I enjoy her honesty, wit and self-awareness. She has me cackling at times. I especially like how often she owns her pettiness and schadenfreude. I’m right there with her. These aspects of my personality are hilarious but they continue to stop my path towards holiness. So long as I am willing to catch a case for taking off on one of my enemies or even someone who merely annoyed me, I am not living out who I truly am. This is why I continue to pray for the strength to forgive myself for my flaws and to forgive others more readily.  

For many decades, I resisted doing things for myself. Like most people, I usually sacrifice self-care due to work or family. I have gotten better over the years about self-care and self-development. But it often takes an illness or an injury to get me to slow down and truly listen to myself. Like most leaders, I am my own worst critic. It is very challenging to not see failures as personal. Being good to myself continues to be a process.  

I miss having opportunities to serve. In the past few years, I joined colleagues and students  to serve at Glide Memorial dining room during Advent and Lent. While I consistently volunteer for organizations that are personally important to me like Girls Inc, I also need to serve the homeless.  I need to make service an integral part of what I do again. I need to make the time.

I am working towards being a servant in all aspects. Being a servant is not self-serving. It requires humility, dedication, patience, and strength.  

Morning meditation

20180405_105215“Morning has broken like the first morning…”

During Lent, I had a goal of getting back into praying the Liturgy of the Hours.  I had not done so in about a year until Good Friday. I finally prayed morning prayer. I prayed it every morning for years. Most of the time, it was therapeutic. Sometimes it was sustaining. A few times reciting the prayers kept me afloat. I cherish what it did in my life. Because it is an old friend, I can resume as if I had never stopped. But because time has passed, I see it with new eyes and a deeper understanding.

The morning prayer is set up the same way every day I follow the shorter Christian prayer which consists of morning prayer, evening prayer, and night prayer. It opens with the invitatory psalm, usually Psalm 22 but there are others.You recite an antiphon that changes depending on the day. This is followed by two psalms and a canticle from an Old Testament prophet, again with antiphons that are fitting to the season or the feast. There is a short reading, sometimes from one of the prophets or a letter of Paul. Then you recite the Canticle of Zechariah with an antiphon, prayers of intercession, the Our Father, and a concluding prayer and a blessing . Some of these prayers I knew by heart; I’m sure with more recitation I could I could do it by memory

The Canticle of Zechariah has always been one of my favorites. It comes from the Gospel of Luke which is my favorite gospel. It is a song of joy following the birth of John the Baptist and recalling the history of salvation. The lines that consistently strike are the ones that say, “ he promised that he would save us from our enemies  from the hands of all who hate us.” Sometimes those words make me cry. That is what happened in my life. I have been burdened by people full of self-loathing and hatred of others. I have had to fight back against their toxic poison. I prayed for deliverance. I prayed for their conversion. But mostly I prayed for God to prevail and to keep me safe. He did. He always has. I am forever grateful.

Morning prayer may only take about 15 minutes but it is a wonderful time of serenity and silence. When I recite these prayers, I enjoy peace and stillness. I definitely need more of that in my life instead of the usual piles of folded laundry or checked work emails that I tackle weekday mornings.  So far during the Easter season, I have been praying the Liturgy of the Hours daily. Those moments of quiet reflection are much needed and appreciated.

Mental makeover

I’m talking to the priest
The high priest
And everybody out there in the universe
If what I’m saying is wrong
Then tell me the right way to say it
Cause I wanna be made over  from “Tina’s Wish,” as performed by Tina Turner

Physical transformations don’t always lead to mental makeovers.  I recently discussed this fact with a friend. Both of us have taken part in fitness challenges. Both of us have experienced weight loss and made great gains in muscle tone. Both of us have lost some of those gains in recent months. Both of us have a different perception of our fitness level than others. For many of us who struggle to be fit and healthy, our mind continues to tell us that we are not.

 

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Samba queen selfie, late February 

The most difficult part of being fit is consistency. I am constantly struggling to strike a balance between family, work, chores, church, dance, and sleep. Fitness can get lost in the shuffle. How I eat is especially prone to changes. Sometimes, I skip meals or grab something unhealthy to go when I do not carve out time to cook or meal prep. I can be inconsistent about my choices. I know many fellow principals who don’t eat until 4 p.m.; often times they stop at a drive-thru and eat during afterschool meetings.  I know what I need to do to eat healthy. The challenge is having the discipline to make it happen.

 

When I was at my most fit last year before Carnaval,  I was happy with how strong I felt. I liked how clothes fit me. But my Carnaval experience ended on such a negative note that I lost sight of why I had worked so hard. I worked hard for myself and to be an example of health for my daughter, not for some costume. Fitness is a gift to myself, not as a challenge to accomplish. I can’t get back into shape for thirty days or six weeks or to look fabulous on Carnaval morning.

So how do I transform my mind? I used to do morning affirmations. Maybe it’s time to give the woman in the mirror more pep talks.  Today, I told myself, “I am strong and I will get stronger.”

Holy Saturday celebration

M and I have not yet progressed to celebrating the Easter Vigil Mass. When I served in a different parish, I was always a lector during this holiest of masses. It is a beautiful mass with multiple readings, the lighting of the Paschal candle, and the initiation of new Catholics. I do miss participating. But my daughter is overwhelmed by the reading the Lord’s Passion on Palm Sunday and Good Friday.  I know there will be a time when we can celebrate the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday with the rest of our parish. For now we will continue our tradition of joining my parents for Easter Mass at my old parish. My daughter was baptized there so it is homecoming for both of us. So how did I spend my Holy Saturday? My answer may not surprise you.

I’m feeling a lot better post fender bender. I followed through on my commitment to flash mob a 40th birthday party. While my plans were not directly related to Easter, dancing is a great way to mark the change in seasons. My seasonal social media fasts often separate me from the members of my dance community for some time. I’m not completely out of the loop due to posting blogs and checking messages from those whose main form of communication is via social media but there is definitely a period of distance. It was a great night to reconnect.

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I do not see dance and faith as mutually exclusive. There’s a reason we used to call our Sunday afternoons in the clubs church. Dance, like song, reconnects us to our bodies, hearts, and souls. Dance is a great way to give praise and thanks for all our blessings.

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Procession and process

Last year I took part in my parish’s Holy Thursday celebration for the first time. The Eucharistic ministers were asked to sit together. At the conclusion of the mass, we were asked to take part in a procession during the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. I was moved to tears. I have anticipated that moment all year. There are several moments at Mass when I get teary-eyed and other liturgical feasts that I love and enjoy there are others. I gain something out of every Mass I attend. The procession on Holy Thursday is a special occasion.  29683620_1980737562175453_2343870968512959220_n

I wore all white as Sister suggested and sat with my fellow ministers.  Once Mass came to an end, we walked to the back of the church. Dressed in our various shades of white, we quickly gathered together in the vestibule and formed two lines.  We each got a candle. We filed into the church and knelt. Then, we processed through the entire church as Father displayed the Blessed Sacrament to the congregation. Our entire procession stopped at several points in the church, turned to face the Blessed Sacrament, raised our candles and bowed before continuing. Everyone in the church sang in Latin.  We concluded by kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament. It was a beautiful conclusion to the evening.

29597492_1980737552175454_4484460233475374210_nAs I looked around at the faces of my fellow parishioners, I realize some of them were looking at us in awe or as if moved by what they were seeing. I felt grateful to be there in that moment. I made eye contact with many individuals and gave a quiet smile or nod. I felt grateful to have the privilege to serve as a Eucharistic minister. I felt grateful to take part  in something so special despite the challenges of the week. When I looked at my fellow parishioners, I knew they had no idea what I had experienced that week; they saw me as representing their faith.They saw a woman at peace, filled with serenity, joy, and strength in my faith. They saw me.

I am grateful for those moments when I am truly touched by God. I am grateful that my faith allows me to reveal my true self.  Every moment, every day, and yes, every challenge is a gift.  This Lent has been a blessing and I feel closer to God.  I am ready for Easter.