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Showing posts from March, 2016

1:53 AM on the A

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I fell asleep and she was the only one left on the train when I opened my eyes. Reading some sort of photocopied article. Probably for a class. She looked up for a while and I wondered what she was in such deep thought about. Was it the reading or was she distracted? It's funny how people can be so far away from one another but live closely within each other's conscious. 
We made love to the song that just came on my playlist. I don't have to close my eyes to see you coming up from the covers. The lights from the bridge reflecting in your eyes. Purple flecks behind your lashes. My chest rose and fell with the direction of the whispers. She told me to breathe... and focus on you and... feel every nuanced cadence of your moves. She, being my soul, must have known it would be our last time. 
You kissed me, softly pressing against the little creases in my bottom lip and I remember how closely aligned the rhythm of our hearts was. I missed you. 
Train just stopped at 175th. The son…

via Instagram 3.28.16

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np: the miseducation of lauryn hill
the last videos don't show, first thing they said when i walked in, "yo' mama came 'round here last week and she was high off that stuff! smelled pissy and her skin was grey and muddy-like. couldn't wait for her to leave." they talked about her with an acquired numbness, one that only people who love addicts have learned to develop. 
i walked from Riverside to Broadway, embracing the brash winds, knowing there's a higher power doing a great work without the need of my help but when i got home, i felt the pain that i constantly mask around them when they bring her up. im not sure if i can begin to word this type of pain but in an effort not to let it trigger a low (like it has so many times in the past) i came home and put on one of my spiritual mothers, Lauryn Hill, and played my favorite song on repeat. im alright, now. im alright. 
crying over my mother is pointless. she likes who she is. 
please don't write no p…

My Tweets Help Me Track My Ability to Stay Mentally Balanced

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Today makes 1 whole week since overcoming my last bout with the dark whispers.  That's 7 days of freedom and internal joy. If you just learned what's it like to be at peace,  how to accept and let things be, and not crave and feign for the comforting pain to come back and burn you because feeling good is so foreign that it don't feel right,  you would celebrate 7 days of pure good vibes too. My last high lasted for almost 2 weeks but last Saturday I read a poem that messed me up. But next morning, I woke up and felt good and been good everyday, ever since. Yes, I keep count of my good days And my bad. It helps me to find my own balance. 1 low day out of 21 ain't bad at all.
Being totally vulnerable on Twitter lets me see my battle with depression in a different way than journaling, because I rarely go back and read my journal entries. When I go over my timeline after a night of depressing tweets and I see how I sound and feel, I immediately delete the tweets and then, I push mysel…

Memories of My Sister

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it's distorted but I remember it vividly. we were in Salvation and Deliverance on 116th and there was an ant on you and I pointed it out to you and you screamed and aunt Lorraine was about to step down from the pulpit and get you, so you started acting like you caught the Holy Ghost!!! 
missing my Kandy, the funniest girl in the world. 


How My Principal Got Me to Say Yes to Returning Next Year

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It's interesting, when I told my principal I wasn't come back next year (2 months ago) he never said anything. Not one word. What did he do? 
First he took me to get a cup of coffee, off campus. I felt safe outside of the building. Like I could really say everything that was bothering me (I had a 2-page list). A few weeks after listening and writing down everything I said, he began showing me a different side of himself as a leader, which inevitably gave me a different perspective on being a teacher at my school. 
Specific things he did/does:
1. He gave me more leadership roles which allow me to have an impact on the things I want to see changed. Not just random errands but asked me to lead things that I am passionate about. 
2. Now, he checks in with me at least twice a week, not just about my work but about how I am feeling about how things are going at the school as a whole. 
3. He showed me that he is listening and wants to learn from me, just like I want to learn from this exp…

I Taught Myself How to Meditate

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I taught myself how to meditate. Started a few months back. I didn't have money to spare on joining an expensive holistic club. I don't have the type of schedule that allows me to commit to becoming a yogi (plus I suck at yoga). 
This app changed my life. 
Just finished my 21st morning of meditating! Doing it intentionally, every single day, is when I began to feel a shift within. 


Taking the extra 10 minutes to start my day has proved to be the most effective decision for my mental health. It's helped me to find a balance and stay grounded. 
I also use it in my classroom with the kids to help them stay focused (try doing it before starting an assignment that requires independence), when Im on my way to work - there's a commuter session, and I do it before I go to bed if I'm feeling too anxious.
If you take nothing else from me, please take this app (it's called Calm) and learn how to center yourself. Form new habits. Be well. 



Stoop Stories

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Stoop Stories: In Baltimore, I had a park with lots of grass to take my kids to when the weather was popping. When I started teaching in Harlem, I was sad because I thought there was no place for us to lay out and read/write under the sun, but the stairs in the back of our building worked out just fine. 

Today was day 3 of us doing this (day 1 was rough, they had to get used to it and day 2 I had to reset the expectation to work! while we are outside). 

First, we read, independently for 30 minutes. No one wanted to stop reading. Then, we wrote for 30 minutes, no one wanted to stop writing either. But then, everyone was eager to share their pieces! 

The light wind was lovely and the sun was beaming. Who says New Yorkers don't know how to relax and take time to enjoy the little things? 

I renamed this period "stoop stories" ❤️ if you're ever in NYC and want to join us, just let me know. We love having guests!!

A Minute to Myself

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NP: Check the Rhime - Tribe Called Quest
I feel good. 

So many colors and sounds and shapes and little things to appreciate. The little boy reading to his dad, and the dad really listening, as if they are the only two on the train. And the bachata that plays loudly outside of my headphones. My head nods to Phife and Tip but my hips move to the Congo drum, swaying with the grace of my Dominican grandmother that I've never met but have know protects me from bad nightmares, and walks with me as I live my dreams. 
I am grateful for writing all night last night. I am grateful for finally making it to the post office to pick up my package from Australia this morning. I am grateful for this ll bean fleece jacket dress I'm wearing today. The goodwill never fails me. I am grateful for having my own style. I am grateful for the silence that just over came me when the music stopped playing. Gotta remember to make my tidal playlists available offline for when I'm underground. 
I am gratef…

Lesson Reflection: Using Hip-Hop Lyrics to Prepare for Standardized Tests

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I was super eager to share the XXL article. It was short and straight to the point: hip-hop culture plays a significant role in politics today. My students easily made connections to the poster a protester held that read, “Metro-Boomin Doesn’t Trust Trump” because they know the about Future’s famous line that plays at the beginning of “Jumpman”. But when I asked them, “How did the mood of the crowd change after Trump’s rally was canceled?” They were stuck. I was expecting them to use a sentence about the singing of Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” as evidence to support their response but they could not do that because none of them really knew the underlying meaning of the song.
I couldn’t believe it. Here is one the most inspirational songs of their time and they don’t really know it? I headed straight to Youtube and pulled up the video. As they watched it, I advised them to pay close attention to the lyrics in the chorus, “We been hurt, been down before… but we gon’ be alright!” Then, …

4:17AM

I'm up.Thinking.  About people I  want  to  forget.  But  even  though  people  don't seem to find  value in me and want to  stay, like  a  rental, i still let them  drive me. and park in my space.



11:11

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I was going to take a nap but no. Not running. The feelings came. And now theyre gone. 
Accepting the fact that I will always love you. And there's nothing wrong with that. 
I will always carry a piece of you within my spirit and it is that piece that you left that will always remind me of the greatest love, even greater than my own parents, even greater than my own love for myself, at the time that you loved me. So unconditionally. You were mine. My everything. And you couldn't stay. But that little piece, it will never leave. 
How dare I not be grateful? It's a slap in the face the Creator who planned this all to be this way, who knows the greater good for us both. How dare I not be appreciative of what happened, how it went down, and where it all brought me to?
So no, I didn't take a nap. I felt this sh't. And now I feel better.


10:33

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How the hell did I find myself here? My face is drenched in tears. They burn my pores. My cheeks are disappointed in me for throwing this salt back on them. They had finally begun to heal. I avoided opening that message for days. But tonight, I responded. When I first saw it, I swear my heart stopped. All it takes is your first initial. It brings me to emotional levels that I can't hide from and so I let the message sit and sit and sit and I knew I should've stopped reading this book of break up poems. Something told me I'd had enough for one day. But it was so good so relatable that I couldn't put it down and then that one that bipolar ass one about being strong so strong and knowing and accepting and being grateful for the process for many days but then that moment of imagining what it would be like if sh't never ended if we grew together instead of apart, that one. those words. exploded and now look at me. scream-crying. 
i still love you. it's so messed up.  

Beyond Accountable Talk

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I don’t have an issue with students not wanting to participate. For the most part, they all always want to add their perspective into our class discussions. The issue is their inability to articulate their thoughts eloquently, intelligently, and respectfully. At the start of the school year, I provided my students with a list of accountable-talk sentence starters.
Accountable-Talk Sentence Starters

I agree… I disagree… I want to add… Can you explain…? I have a question about… What I heard you say is…? Can you show me where…? I do not understand ________, can you repeat it in a different way? Thank you… Can you give me a few moments to process this? My evidence is… In the text, I read… My research shows… I can make a connection to how you said… This reminds me of… I predict… It’s explicit enough to see… I understand your perspective but in my own opinion… I don’t know but I will find out…


Most of them have seamlessly implemented the phrases into their vocabulary but right after they use the sentence start…

A Couple of Black Teachers' Thoughts on the Teaching and Learning Conference

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I hadn't seen Strick since the day I got back from hiding from the world in Cuba. I wasn't on the run, I just needed to silence the voices. Anyways, it was my last day in Baltimore. He helped me move everything from my small storage on 25th and Howard into my Uhaul truck. He'd been the last person I said goodbye to before my drive to NYC and ironically, the first person I saw at this weekend's professional development in DC. 
I was making my way to the front of the main hall, in search of my friend Jose, when surprisingly, Strick approached me. Not that he didn't belong there; after all, he is a math teacher and special educator. But he works in a public school in Baltimore. I don't know them for sending their teachers to professional development sessions outside of the ones provided by the district. He and about 40 other brothers were  suited down, resplendently disrupting the status quo. At first glance, I thought they were they were the Fruit of Islam, which …

3 Steps to Being Intentional about Your Relationships

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Being an introvert, with a free spirit, and mood swings that depict most of my desired actions (e.g.: not wanting to go anywhere with anyone) has made my ability to be a good sister, friend, and daughter more challenging than ever. Honestly, I really suck at checking in on people and spending time with them. But I'm going to get better. Gotta love them while I still have the chance to. 
Today, I took 3 steps to ensure I do such:
1. List and Sort
I spent a little time sorting the people (the names are under the stickies) I extend myself to.
-Family I that I can Always Depend on for Love 
- Friends that I Consider Family 
- Friends that I Hang with and/or Just Love ...and can depend on...
These 3 lists made the most sense to me. Sure, I know a lot of people but do I depend on all of those people? Have those people been there for me when I needed them? Who deserves more of my love and attention? Who doesn't really need more than an Instagram comment here and there? These were really the…

Knowing What You Want in a Man Means Nothing If You're Not Going to be Ready When He Comes

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NYC March 9th, 2016 6:19 PM
Best part of my day was sister time with Morgan. So much wisdom shared between us two. We talked about the usual, education, but then we found our way on the topics of love and marriage. She showed me the video of Jus proposing and I found myself in tears. Romantic is an understatement. I could feel the pureness of his heart through the screen. 
She shared a story that revealed the reality of their journey and I was in awe. Completely inspired. 
It compelled me to bring up my recent guy. I cried as I spoke, feeling defeated and yet, a dim sense of hope because of the outcome of her experience. Morg listened to me with the patience of the doctor that she is. She let me finish, and then left me with just one simple sentence of advice, "But Val, you're so focused on what you want in him," she looked over her glasses so that I could see my face in her sepia eyes. "You have to look at yourself." 
Last night, I wrote a post, inspired by the lack…

11:22

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When guys walk away from me, when things just don't work out, as hard as it is sometimes, I have to just let it go. if not for me, for my future children. I think about my children (that I don't have) in all that I do. I watch every man I interact with and I think, "Could you be a good father to my children?" Sometimes my discernment is blinded by my desire to end the loneliness but the Universe is stronger than my little weaknesses. 

I used to feel so defeated and unworthy of love when things would just fall apart, but the wiser me is truly grateful for it. The relationships didn't fall apart because something is wrong with me, they fell apart because those guys weren't the ones that were supposed to walk the long road with me. 

Now, I'm content with living and learning from each encounter with the men I have dealt with. And I won't settle just to quill my hormones and such. I'm interested in building a strong family. I want a husband that will be …

International Women's Day - 20 Authors You Should Know

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Maya Angelou  Octavia Butler Gloria Whelan Sandra Cisneros  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Jane Austen Lorraine Hansberry Yoani Sanchez Toni Morrison Sara Gruen Aliza Licht Elizabeth Gilbert Julia Alvarez Ntozake Shange bell hooks Audre Lorde Zora Neale Hurston Malala Yousafzai Jane Howard Alice Walker

Untitled o6

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... and gemini duality personalities always conflicted me but don't be scared of me...  let me explain.....  im bizarre, avant-garde,  both sides of me are evenly odd...  it's attractive, you're intrigued...  ... lunatic ways,  .. you teach the kids how to be themselves and plenty more...  ... acknowledging you as my hero,  cause you believe in me no, you not easily impressed but ...  you and me are the same...  hopefully I'm invited.  hopefully you don't change. - untitled o6

Royal-Tea - Honoring Women Worldwide

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Get your dresses ready!  Think Alice in Wonderland meets Michelle Obama meets BeyoncĂ©!  A rooftop in Harlem.  Beautiful women, celebrating beautiful women!
Click the names below to find out more about this year's honorees: 
Taren Peterson, Educator
Jessica Franklin, Entrepreneur
Nicholle Kobi, Visual Artist
Anna Holmes, Author
Debra Cartwright, Visual Artist
Daniella Davis, Chef
Ada Rojas, Entrepreneur

Click on the link below to order your ticket!
Purchase your ticket to the Royal-Tea Now!