Parenting 101: Do Your Research

Here’s the deal…

My Munch received a zero on a classwork assignment on 3/4/16. He’s in the second grade at a French Immersion school and he is now taking Reading and English to be prepared for the state’s standardized testing next year. His dad and I both have undergraduate degrees in English and value education immensely.  I am active in his PTSA, assist in classroom parties/events and fund-raise for the school. To say that I love his school would be an understatement. I’ve always found that the school and administration was very supportive and encouraging. From the parents to the staff everyone has always provided sound advice.

I check his grades weekly on our school’s website portal because I don’t ever want to be surprised when I see his progress reports. Plus if there are things he needs help in I need to be able to attack it immediately and help in any way possible. Well on 3/10 I was checking the website and discovered that my son had received a zero on classwork dated 3/4.  I emailed his teacher on 3/10 asking about the assignment and can she please send it home. She immediately responded yes that she would send it home.

Here’s some background:  She said that the assignment he turned was illegible and that what she could read made no sense.  Now, I know that my son doesn’t have the best handwriting in the world, but it is on par with most 7 year old children, but I was a little stunned that he would receive a zero. His first ever zero in the second grade.

Classwork accounts for 35% of his grade in the quarter. A zero was definitely going to bring his grade down in the class. Furthermore, I had inquired about some missing homework assignments that weren’t graded and showing on the website and received the response from the teacher that she had chosen not to grade them. Umm, say what now?

I was upset and immediately responded that if she could give him a zero she could count the homework that he did to not set him at a disadvantage. He did the work. Why would you choose to not give him credit for said work?

No response. Crickets.

I emailed the Principal and copied the teacher regarding my concerns on 3/23 because I still hadn’t received the paperwork that I requested on 3/10. I was upset at this point because I had a meeting with his main teacher on 3/15 (3rd this year) and asked her could she be present and she said she had a conflict. I asked for the paper again and I still hadn’t received it.

You get my frustrations right?  The quarter was ending and I was getting no help from his main teacher so I assumed that the Principal needed to intervene and advise at this point.  Well, here’s the email that I sent to the Principal.

 

Hi Principal,

Please see the below email communication with Ms. V who is my son’s (2nd grade) reading teacher. We’ve been going back and forth regarding grades for quite some time. The last communication I sent on Wednesday of last week has not received a response. I discovered that Munch received a zero for a reading assignment that was done in class (that still has not been received by me). In reviewing the county’s website, Administrative Procedures 5121.1 I understand Reporting and Recording Grades it states that a zero can be given if “a teacher determines that the student did not attempt to meet the basic requirements of the task/assessment, the teacher may assign a zero.”

Which apparently Mrs. O determined that my son didn’t attempt to meet the basic requirements. This is inaccurate since according to Ms. V he did the assignment it just wasn’t legible.  On top of that zero Ms. V indicated that she decided not to count some of the homework that he’s done this quarter. I know homework is only 15% but he did the work and it should be counted.  Since the zero he received in classwork is 35% of his grade and being counted.

I’m trying to determine why that would be the case considering that the Grading Policy states: 

Recording

a. Teachers will maintain a record of each student’s work, progress, and attendance on a daily basis.

b. Teachers will grade and give a score for all student assignments in grades 2-5, when appropriate, including class work, homework, written assignments, projects, and labs. A score of 0 (zero) will be given to students who do not attempt to complete or fail to submit an assignment. On tests and quizzes, the student will receive the grade earned. This does not preclude teachers from giving daily markdowns to give students every opportunity to complete an assignment before giving a zero for the assignment.

What is interesting to note is that in that same Admin Reg it states that “In classes that meet 4-5 times per week, the classroom teacher must record in SchoolMAX a minimum of two grades per week in each subject for each student. If a class meets once a week then only one grade will be recorded.”  This is not happening in all my son’s classes consistently. We can review his School Max account and you can see this.  Furthermore, we don’t receive the paperwork back in a timely fashion which is also a requirement. “Teachers will return graded papers and assignments in order to provide on-going, timely feedback to student and parents.”

Am I only required to check SchoolMax to see if my son is having trouble or are we supposed to receive the graded assignments timely so that we as his parents and our son are on the same page with his struggles?

So, here’s a summation of what the issues are that we would like resolution on:

  • He received a zero and according to the Admin Procedures 5121.1 that should not have happened.
  • No opportunity was given to my son to earn partial credit from redoing the class work or reading it orally since he was present and did the class work.
  • We haven’t seen the class work assignment that he received a zero on.  We want to see the assignment that he go the zero on.
  • We are not receiving graded assignments in a timely fashion to be provided timely feedback on our son’s progress.
  • The homework that he did that is missing from School Max wasn’t counted and according to the policy it should have been. It not being counted will negatively impact my son’s grade since the teacher is trying to count the zero.

We would like this situation rectified before 3rd quarter ends this week. The county has guidelines that I assume all teachers are supposed to follow and we would like to make sure that this policy is being followed when it comes to my son’s teachers to ensure that my son has every opportunity to be successful in the second grade.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I look forward to hearing a response to you on the above issues that I’ve outlined. 

Boom!

I had read and researched the County’s policy regarding grading and found the above information to outline to the Principal. I had to let the Principal know that I had researched the policy and I needed some guidance because I didn’t believe that this was fair. I was concerned for my son’s grades, how assignments are not being sent home and no response to my email regarding her not counting his homework.

See my concerns here?

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Munch & Black History

My munch is in the first grade and decided that he would like to participate in the PTSA’s Annual Black History Month program. The conversation about participation went like this…

Me:  Munch, would you like to participate in the black history month program at school?

Munch: What does participate mean?

Me: You get to stand on the stage and recite facts about someone who is black.

Munch: Yes.

Me: Are you sure munch?

Munch: Yes.

Me: How about we talk about Nelson Mandela? You seem to be fascinated about his life and the fact that he’s dead.

Munch: Okay, mommy. You know Nelson Mandela died because he was old and sick right?

Me: Let’s work on this program.

As I sat there helping him work on reciting “Seven Facts About Nelson Mandela”  I started to get nervous. I prayed and relaxed. I told myself that it’s okay and to go with the flow.

But, in his performance last night I realized the following:

  1. He’s 6. He can remember a paragraph in 3 days. Wow!
  2. This is his first solo performance. No back-up of other children on stage. All him and he owned the stage. Go munch!
  3. He can’t fill 3 minutes. Next, we will work on public speaking and presence on stage. I will pull out my Toastmasters manual to help my munch.
  4. He will make mistakes and it’s okay. Even our President makes mistakes. It’s life. He talked really fast. He gets it from me though. LOL!
  5. He will forget something. He forgot a line,  but he is the only one who didn’t use a paper to read about his character. Again, 3 days folks!
  6. We may need to go back to speech therapy. I truly couldn’t understand some of what he was saying. Is that a lisp?
  7. I was truly proud of him because he’s smart as a whip and he showed real courage by standing on a stage reciting seven facts that he learned in three days with a crazy mom pushing him. For that, I’m truly honored to just be his mommy.

Even though I was like a maniac helping him to rehearse (I cut story time each night to focus on reciting and memorizing) he loved me in spite of my persistence. However, his dad did ask me to ease up on him because I was acting like one of the women on Dance Moms. I’m sure that wasn’t meant as a compliment, so I relaxed and was excited to see that he was #3 in the program. No time for nerves, munch. Let’s do it!

Check out these photos!

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Check out the video of his presentation on my Facebook Page: Post by A Thomas Point of View.

 

The Inventor: Mark Dean

It’s Black History Month folks!

As a black woman, I wanted to highlight some of the accomplishments of black people who are living. Each week, I will be researching and sharing tidbits about black people who are and/or have done great things. Bear with me because I promise you will learn something and I will keep it interesting.

First up is…

Dr. Mark Dean (March 2, 1957-present)

Dr. Dean was born in Jefferson City, Tennessee (my home state). He is a computer scientist, engineer and inventor. He landed a job at IBM after graduating from the University of Tennessee with a degree in engineering. While working at IBM he developed many new technologies. He currently holds three of their original nine patents. Impressive huh?

Dean developed the new Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) systems bus that allow devices like disk drives, printers and monitors to be plugged directly into computers. Where would we be if we didn’t have this early technology?

Dean’s research led to the development of the color PC monitor and, in 1999, he led a team of engineers to create the first gigahertz chip. Both are invaluable in terms of what we use today. Heck, I have a 24 inch computer monitor for my personal computer. Brilliant picture and color. Thanks Dr. Dean!

Dean has more 20 patents associated with his name. He is a brilliant man who was named an IBM fellow (first black ever to receive this award).He was honored with the Black Engineer of the Year President’s Award and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Cool huh?

When asked by PC World, December of 2014, of all the technology you’ve had a hand in creating, what are you most proud of? He replied:

“I am most proud of the PC and the team it took to make it happen. We developed a device that changed the way society works, learns and plays. It enabled the world to be more productive and entertained. How many times does someone get to work on something that had the impact the PC had on the world?”

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Happy Birthday MLK!

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Today is Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. He would have been 87. He was an activist, humanitarian and a leader in the Civil Rights movement. He was a part of history. A brilliant but flawed man that believed in equal rights in a non-violent way.

I saw Selma last month and I am encouraging each of you to see and support this wonderful film. From the opening to the closing of this film, you will be moved. It is a film that speaks relevance to things that are occurring today in this world.

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Women Rock!

Last week, I took my car into my local Tires Plus for my oil change and winter maintenance. What surprised me most about this visit was that they had women who worked in their maintenance shop. I’ve rarely seen women who work in the automotive field, but the few times that I have seen women, I’m always surprised by the look of the women who work with men all day. Pretty much they seem masculine.

Now, before you get all in a huff, I am a feminist and any woman working in a male dominated field is a great thing! I am all for women being treated equally. But, my automotive technician didn’t appear masculine in her dress or attitude. She wasn’t trying to hide her curves or fit in with the guys. She was just doing her job.

And you know what? She did a great job. She was very thorough with her recommended repairs and the maintenance. I was extremely impressed and told the manager that I would be back because they had women automotive technicians which shows that they are trying to diversify their staff. He smiled. So, I got back to the house and researched how many women actually work in the automotive field and you know what I discovered? That accordingly only 1.8% women were employed as automotive service technicians or mechanics in 2013.

Are you serious? I knew it was low, but this low? We have got to change that ladies! Let’s push our girls to explore more male dominated fields like automotive technicians and/or mechanics. There is always a demand for a great mechanic and it allows women to be taken more seriously as they climb in the management roles (should they choose to) because they have the hands on experience that makes men take a step back and take them seriously. There are many schools that offer an automotive technician program and if you are interested in going further, consider enrolling in mechanical engineering programs. I want to see more women mechanics when I take my car to get serviced. Even in the Goma (which is known as the rape capital of the world) in the Democratic Republic of Congo you have women that have carved out their own by becoming mechanics in a male dominated industry. Let’s do it locally too.

Girl power is awesome!
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I Get it Okay

I’m anemic. I’ve been dealing with anemia most of my life, but never to the point that it has gotten as bad as it has now. I’m exhausted (severely fatigued) and barely able to perform my day-to-day tasks. So on Monday, I called my doctor and left a voice mail about the new medication he’s put me on and how it’s affecting my anemia (which has been mild up until this point). The nurse called me back and said the side effects of the medication are normal, but that I need to get on Iron supplements immediately. She said that she would leave a note for the doctor who was making rounds that day and would call me tomorrow. No problem.

On Tuesday, I went to the local CVS to get some supplements ASAP like the nurse said to try to get this constant fatigue under control. I am so tired that it feels like there is not enough hours in the day and I can barely drive the 14 miles to work. I took two pills yesterday and then received an email from my doctor recommending that I get a biopsy and that he’s contacted the scheduling coordinators in the office so that I can get on the schedule. Hold up! What? For real? Why?

No reason mentioned as to why I should go for this invasive procedure when I was told by the nurse that my side effects that are worsening my anemic self are normal. Whose running whom? I was hot. I decided to not respond to his email at this point because I needed to craft a perfect snarky response to send to him.

Here were some of my response choices:

Response #1

Dr. *Blank*:

Have you lost your dang mind? Why in the heck would you send me an email and mention the word biopsy and me getting one? Do you think that is appropriate? Were you sniffing the gas when you did your rounds today? I think you need to call me ASAP because I’m ready to drive over to your office now with my anemic self and demand a face-to-face consultation.

Call me now!

Response #2

Dr. *Blank*:

Umm, I’m gonna take negative on the biopsy for $200. Why? Because you didn’t explain why I would need a biopsy, the risk of said biopsy or even talk to me like I’m an actual breathing patient. I’m getting weak writing this because if you haven’t heard, my anemia is making me pass out.

Call me now man!

Response #3

Dr. *Blank*:

Wow! You were so thoughtful when I was breeding and carrying and actual human being in my womb, but now since I’m not you’re acting like I’m a menopausal “Stepford Wife” with no real opinion. Why would you suggest a biopsy in email and think that I would agree to such an invasive procedure without a phone call or a face-to-face consultation? Don’t you understand that I’m a feminist and even though you were there when I gave birth to my king, women run this world! You would know that if you were paying attention. I can’t talk to you anymore and I would like one of the other women doctors in the practice to call me ASAP because they apparently have graduated medical school and understand my rights as a woman and a human being. I bid you farewell and would like the higher species in the practice to contact me from now on.

 

As you can see, I was going through it right? But, the gist of the matter was that I was not going to get a biopsy or any other invasive procedure without talking to the person who wants to do it. I went home that night and in my severely anemic and weakened state began to research my condition and learned that according to The Mayo Clinic (a really important clinic) that I have 7 out of the 10 symptoms. Here is the list of symptoms:

Anemia symptoms vary depending on the cause of your anemia but may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Pale skin
  • A fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Cognitive problems
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Headache

Yep, I was depressed. I swore I started seeing stars at that moment. I just
climbed my frail and anemic body under the covers and started to try to motivate myself to keep up the good fight. I searched the internet to try and find songs to encourage and inspire me because hey I’m dramatic. I found this list of 31 inspiring songs and realized one of my favorite artists was among them…Kelly Clarkson. I decided “Ode to my Anemia” and chose to listen to this song on repeat:

Yep, what doesn’t kill me will make me stronger! No Anemia, I will not die. I will fight! I will get healthy and I will survive. (I was going through it the other night).

The next morning, I called a good friend of mine to update him on my condition. He is in the ministry and he listened to my dramatic monologue on how the anemia was trying to take me out, but I wasn’t letting it. He never interrupted. That’s what friends do right? Listen. Well, when I finished he said, “I’m really sorry you’re going through this and you’ve consulted the internet, but have you gone to God with this?” I was hot.

Why was I hot? Because here he was trying to tell me what I should do about my medical condition and he doesn’t have a medical degree. Men, I tell you! I went off. I said, “Look, God is too busy to worry about me and my anemic self. He’s focused on bigger issues and bigger prayers. Like my prayer for Ebola, but thank you for your concern.” He was offended. He said, “Wow! It amazes me how people who are faithful to God don’t realize that God wants you to come to him in all things.” He said, “I never expected to hear that from you.”

Well, I was fit to be tied. Much arguing, overtalking and I gotta get ready for work statements and we ended the call. I went about my day talking with the office nurse who was making notes to send back to the doctor (still no call from the man himself) and then I said I need to write about this. I looked up what my friend said about God wanting me to come to him for everything and realized…he was right. I was wrong. It says so in Luke 16:10 (KJV) “ He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.”

I felt horrible. I was not going to God with my severe anemia because I wanted him to focus on Ebola and I thought this was too small for him. But, I should have known better. All things should be brought to him and he will decide what he’s too busy for. I owe my friend an apology, which I probably won’t give him due to my anemia being so severe that I am entitled a pass (hey cognitive problems okay). More important than my not giving an apology is the fact that I learned that I must go to God with everything.

No Fat Chicks!

Sometimes the hardest thing we can do is put ourselves out there. You know go “all in” to show someone we are ready and willing to be available to let happiness and love come into our lives. Dating has changed dramatically since I was last single. I’ve expressed how I’ve tried the on-line dating thing and my experiences from some of the men. That being said, I wonder what would have happened if no one tried to contact me after I posted my profile? That was the case of one woman who wrote an article about her experience on XO Jane last month.

The article titled “IT HAPPENED TO ME: I Tried Online Dating And No One Even Messaged Me Back” was depressing to me. I mean her profile and picture looked nice, what was wrong with men? Why didn’t they find her attractive? The author, Patrice Bendig, was crushed that not one person messaged her back. She put herself out there and was emotionally crushed by people who never got to find out how incredible she was.

She said that her self-esteem took a hit and as a curvy girl, my heart ached for her. I think one of the hardest things women (especially curvy women) deal with is finding someone who will admit to liking a thick um and wanting to be seen in public with them. All things curvy women fear. The fear of rejection is real and I think we need to stop acting like loving and dating a curvy girl is the end of the world.

Why would it be? Just because I have a little more cushion doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in exercise or am one step away from being featured on an episode of “Obsessed: I Weigh 650 Pounds and Can’t Get Out of Bed”. Nope. Not me. I am not ashamed of my size and I don’t want a man who is ashamed to be with me. I love the shape of my hips and the curve of my thighs. The stretch marks from carrying a king. All badges of honor that I wear well while working out on the treadmill.

Curvy girls come with a certain level of confidence, but that confidence is fragile when you find yourself dating and trying to meet new people who think you need to just work out and they will help you because they are a certified personal trainer. I’m always cautious about men who approach me and say they like thick women. They find curvy girls sexy. Really? So, everyone else is below par if they are smaller? Why are you saying you are a closet chubby chaser? (May not be rational, but I’m guarded).

Even one of my favorite plus size bloggers, CeCe Olisa blogged about her experiences in an article on Refinery 29 titled “Is Online Dating Different for Plus Size Women”. CeCe said “It can feel like everyone has an amazing dating life but you, and it can feel like you only attract people who have issues or fetishes. But, someone reminded me that those things happen to girls of any size.” But, do skinny women get humiliated like a faux curvy woman did in this Tinder experiment? (In case you don’t know, Tinder is an app that matches people based on appearances).

Probably not. I mean the guys who conducted the social experiment even said that women’s biggest fears about meeting a man on line is that he is a serial killer whereas a man’s biggest fear…meeting a fat chick. Wow! Let’s sound the alarm and have a revolution against ignorance. What happened to men who appreciated beautiful women inside and out? Where did they go? Can the non-jerks who love God, their family, curvy women and are employed please stand up?

In an “Instagram I got to show you how I can twerk like Nikki Minaj and close the partition like Beyoncé age” it makes me wonder how many times curvy girls will keep getting the short end of the stick in dating? Are we resigned to believe that we have to take what we can get because they’re not a lot of options out there? What happened to getting to know me first before trying to guess my pant size?

A lot of stuff huh? Well I’m going to deal with it like my momma said, “Put your big girl panties on and formulate a plan.” My plan is simple. Keep my expectations low, my self-esteem high and have a lot of confidence to carry me through this foolishness. Rejection is a part of the process. Rejection builds character. It is in our painful experiences that we can grow and realize that we were built to last.

¡Viva la revolución mis hermanas

(Long live the revolution my sisters!)

Here’s the social experiment video:

Yep, I am officially depressed

So, this is what happened. Last year in November I bought a 2012 Nissan Maxima. I was excited. My first grown up purchase. Well, two months later I was living in the hotel (multiple pipe bursts in my kitchen with flooding) and I pulled my beautiful baby out the hotel garage and scraped the driver’s side door on the yellow concrete posts. Ugh. The damage to my car was $2,900. I had to get it fixed. I just got the car. So, I paid the $500 deductible and got “Blue Magic” fixed.

I resounded to pay attention and not get distracted by life because I couldn’t afford another expensive lesson. Well, in June of this year, I went down the wrong way of a roundabout. I realized it and began to back-up when I was hit by another driver who couldn’t see me. Damage to both cars, but no injuries and I thankfully didn’t get a ticket. God was watching after me on that one because I was praying that the officer’s would have mercy and make it affordable. I sat there in shock and realized I can’t afford to keep paying these dang deductibles. I hadn’t had the car a year. What was happening?

My mom didn’t make me feel better. Her response, “Kee, you need to be careful and pay attention.” Like a petulant child, I yelled “I know mom and you ‘re not helping. I’m already depressed. I laid in bed crying.” I said, “I didn’t tell you that when you got into your two accidents within a month of each other.” She said, “No, but I told myself.” She reminded me to count my blessings that I didn’t get a ticket.

As I’ve been sharing I’m exceptionally happy. I said it out loud. I didn’t just write it, but I woke up and thanked God for his continued blessings over my life. But, I always knew that something would happen because I was happy. I didn’t know what form the happiness thief would take, but I knew it was coming. Would I be prepared? Would I crumble? Would it be that bad that it would destroy me? All the questions that I kept pushing out my mind. I wasn’t going to “think it” into existence.

I just went with the flow and enjoyed the moment. Then it happened. I was checking my emails on my Ipad this morning before work and got the renewal information from my car insurance company. My insurance was increasing by 117%. I sat there dumbfounded with tears in my eyes. All these thoughts ran through my mind:

  • I can’t afford this.
  • That is more than my car note.
  • How will I be able to live?
  • OMG, I want to die
  • I would be better off selling my car and paying off the balance and buying a vehicle outright

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I was freaking out. It was way too early to start calling folks and asking them to pray, encourage and remind me that I will be okay. I was already planning on how I would pack up my spot and move back home with my mom with a defeated attitude. I was lost. I was officially one step up from being in a crack den or on the streets or living in Blue Magic. Yes, Blue Magic is roomy and all, but I couldn’t bring my baby to living in our car while trying to get bootleg wi-fi so he can watch Disney Jr. and Netflix on his Ipad. (I told you I was having a mental breakdown).

I called my best friend who said, “Wow! Call around. Stop freaking out! You have 6 weeks to find another insurance company. Do your research.” I sniffled, “Okay, thank you. I will do it.” I hopped in the shower and got dressed and headed into work. I prayed to God that Blue Magic and I will not have to live in a seedy part of town dodging bullets. I went about my normal routine and arrived at work 15 minutes early. I started trying to get insurance quotes to see if I can get a cheaper rate.

I sent a text to my other best friend to let him know and seek his counsel. He replied, “It’ll be okay. You’ll find something. It was your two accidents in one year and the fact that you were at fault for both and your car is considered a sports car because of the horse power. It’s going to be expensive, but you will have to budget and make some adjustments.” I sat there listening to him with tears streaming down my face, “This is one of the worst days of my life. Definitely the worst day in the last 15 months. I can’t breathe.” “Stop overreacting please. I will help you” he replied.

As I sat at work frustrated I decided to go see my good friend to get her advice and perspective. I had already received quotes that were more than $300 over what my current insurance company was going to charge me. I was spiraling downhill fast. She said, “Don’t let this get you down. I am claiming it. You will be saved from this situation. We are not going to give the happiness thief satisfaction in seeing you defeated.” I just put my head down on the table and sighed.

I went into my office after lunch still consumed with this travesty of injustice on my mind and in my spirit. I checked my emails and read my devotional from Bible Gateway called “His Princess Today”. I got too busy to read it yesterday so I opened it up and this is what it said:

Come to Me

I saw you before you were born. Even then you were on My mind, My daughter. I knew you were coming, and I did everything possible to express My love to you and extend My invitation to you. Now that you are Mine, I want you to continue to come to Me. Come to Me when you feel strong and when you feel weary. Come to Me when you are rejoicing and when your spirit is crushed. I ask you to come not only to give you rest, but also because there is so much more I want to teach you. There is more of Me I want to reveal to you. You see, I did not create you for this fallen world. I created you for Paradise, but the curse of sin tore us apart. I’ve conquered sin and death for you through the death of My son, so come to Me… and live.

Love,
Your King who is waiting

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and
carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you,
because I am humble and gentle,
and you will find rest for your souls.”
Matthew 11:28–29

I realized that I went to everyone with my problem (that I could think of without disturbing) but the one who could truly put peace in my heart and remind me that He will carry my burden. My burden is heavy. I told you yesterday I grew up poor and I was determined not to go back to the poor house and God was reminding me that His yoke is easy and I should take that. Wow! I sat there with tears in my eyes apologizing for my selfishness and realizing that HE NEVER FAILS!

Yep, I am officially depressed, but you know what? I will get through this because it is a temporary setback. Sometimes we all need a reminder to stop going to everyone first. Go to Him first. My grandma used to say, “Trouble don’t last always” but I know that my God is a burden bearer and he can carry this burden too.

Be blessed my loves!

Alcoholism and the Social Drinker

My dad was is an alcoholic. Whether he knows it or not is a question for him. I knew it at the age of 8. Countless nights of violence or not coming home or hospitalizations for his abuse left me confused and thinking what was wrong? His love of alcohol was killing him. Slowly. Softly. Right in front of my eyes.

Alcoholism was one of the things that destroyed my childhood. Fragmented pieces of missing activities, tea time and chasing the ghosts away were replaced with loneliness and make believe because daddy was supposed to be there. His drinking was one of the reasons that I say he was broken. Not the only one, but one of the reasons. He was a warning in my household.

My mother would say, “Remember, your daddy was an alcoholic” anytime we would reach for a glass of wine or champagne or talk about our latest parties where we got drunk. Loudly. Resounding words filtered our ears and alcohol hazed brains. Reminding us that we didn’t want to be like daddy. Daddy was a drunk and drunks are mean.

So, I became a social drinker. I drink an occasional glass of wine (maybe twice a month) and once in a while if I go out to dinner. I don’t want to be the angry drunk. The mean drunk. The one who blacked out and forgot school programs or to play with my kid. Alcoholics are different from social drinkers.

Alcoholism runs in my family. I’ve heard it countless times. I’ve seen it. I learned from National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) that “Research shows that genes are responsible for about half of the risk for alcoholism. Therefore, genes alone do not determine whether someone will become an alcoholic. Environmental factors, as well as gene and environment interactions account for the remainder of the risk.*

Multiple genes play a role in a person’s risk for developing alcoholism. There are genes that increase a person’s risk, as well as those that may decrease that risk, directly or indirectly. For instance, some people of Asian descent carry a gene variant that alters their rate of alcohol metabolism, causing them to have symptoms like flushing, nausea, and rapid heartbeat when they drink. Many people who experience these effects avoid alcohol, which helps protect them from developing alcoholism.**”

But, not all of it is genes. Half of it. But, that’s 50% right? Too much of a risk. It’s like playing Russian Roulette with my future. I don’t like to gamble. I don’t like to lose. Genetics. Propensity to become an alcoholic. Phrases that conjure fears of craving a bottle instead of my son’s laughter. These things keep me straight. Scared straight.

“Whether a person decides to use alcohol or drugs is a choice, influenced by their environment–peers, family, and availability.  But, once a person uses alcohol or drugs, the risk of developing alcoholism or drug dependence is largely influenced by genetics.  Alcoholism and drug dependence are not moral issues, are not a matter of choice or a lack of willpower.  Plain and simple, some people’s bodies respond to the effects of alcohol and drugs differently.”

-The National Coalition on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.

My dad is an alcoholic. It was inherited through genetics. His body isn’t strong enough to fight the “monkey”. So no, I’m not an alcoholic. I am a social drinker. I will decline alcohol, not because of my religion, but because of my desire to not have that “monkey” on my back. Genetics. Sometimes they suck.

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It’s Not Funny

As I sat there watching the “Love & Hip Hop Atlanta” reunion show (part 2), I was mortified at the scene that was taking place. Joseline Hernandez, one of the main characters and her “husband” Stevie J were fighting. It started with them fighting Benzino and Althea and then transpired into Joseline fighting everyone. What things stood out to me:

Fame is a powerful drug

Apparently, some don’t know. Fame is addictive. You get a whiff and you can’t stop. You want to drink it, inhale it, eat it and breathe it because you can’t imagine going back to a perfectly normal life. Think about the reality stars who have made it big and the things that they’ve been accused of doing. From criminal activities, to violence to drug abuse and jail time, these people can’t let go of fame. How awesome is it to wake up and realize that you have become famous for just being you? Being recognized everywhere you go. Having TMZ and Us Magazine cover your latest antics seems normal after a while. You like the recognition. You crave the spotlight and you love having an entourage. It’s just like Rod Stewart said…

“There is this power that comes with being famous.”

Drugs are bad

I have never taken drugs, but I know what an addiction can do to people. My father was is an alcoholic. His addiction had him doing things that “normal” people shouldn’t do. Drugs numb a pain that you’re feeling and it’s only temporary. Deal with the issue. Address your brokenness and know that God heals all. You have to get help for your addiction. Drugabuse.gov indicates that the cost of substance abuse is in the billions. See the chart:

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We have to stop putting a band-aid on our problems and seek professional help to heal. Many do, but a lot don’t. Some people don’t see it as a problem. They don’t recognize the problem or how it’s hurting us as a society. We have to support mental health. Dang, don’t you get tired of pretending like everything is okay and you’re dying on the inside? Drugs are not the answer to your pain. It’s okay to hurt it’s also okay to…

Just Say No

People medicate to heal

Fact: Burying your pain and then self-medicating to get through the day is not healthy. I know people medicate to heal the pain, but it’s not working. Depression is real and we shouldn’t make the problems worse by turning to drugs. You don’t have to be superman or superwoman. We can’t keep it together all the time and sometimes life gets chaotic that you need to seek professional help. No judgement. Just truth. You can’t fix a dam with duct tape. It won’t work. Fix you. You are the most important person and you can’t heal while medicating and burying your real issues. I know there is a stigma in the black community for seeking help, but trust me…the worse thing you can do is avoid the issue and abuse your body to make the pain go away. Yes, you may cry. Yes, you may scream, but I promise you…this too shall pass.

When keeping it real goes wrong

I don’t think anyone was prepared to see the ratchedness that transpired on Monday night, but I hurt for Joseline and Stevie. I hurt because both of them are damaged. Instead of laughing at their antics, creating memes and diagnosing them (FYI – Joseline admitted to smoking blunts and Stevie J tested positive to cocaine in June) we have to create a campaign that bullying, drug use and ratchedness are not acceptable programming. The fact that it took more than two dozen security members to try and keep chaos from affecting the audience is proof enough that reality TV is truly at the end of days. Let’s demand quality programming because I can sense the lawsuits that are going to come forth.