To Sleep or Not to Sleep

After my son was born, I began experiencing pain in my lower back.  I had no idea what was causing it or what to do to make it stop.  When the pain got really severe, I had to be taken to the hospital where they would inject medication into my back.  Over the years, I guess I kind of got used to having this pain.  At my worst, I had difficulty getting out bed, driving and getting in and out of the car.  My doctors would tell me there was not much they could do outside of shots, prescribing pain pills and muscle relaxers.  I am not one to take a lot of medication just to be taking it so, I began simply living with this dull pain in my lower back.  I’d take an aspirin or two if the pain got too bad but for the most part, I just dealt with it.  By the time I started teaching full time, I had no idea how I’d live my life with this constant pain in my back.  I found new doctors who basically recommended the same treatment as my previous doctors, cortisone shots in the area, which I extremely opposed or surgery which was completely out of the question.  I was not able to wrap my head around having back surgery when none of my doctors could pinpoint where the pain was coming from or how the surgery would help.

During my second year of teaching, during Teacher Appreciation Week, my principal at the time had hired a massage company to come in and give teachers fifteen minute massages on their breaks.  Prior to this I had never had a massage by a professional.  During the brief session, a nurse was also there to talk to about spinal health and to ask questions about whether or not you were experiencing any back pain or joint discomfort.  I jumped at the chance to tell her about the lower back pain I’d been experiencing since the birth of my son some ten years prior.  She invited me to come to the chiropractic office where she worked and meet with the doctor.  Chiropractic services were never on my radar as I worked with other doctors to find a solution to my lower back pain.  None of my doctors recommended chiropractic services or any other physical therapy services for that matter.

A few weeks later I met with this doctor, who turned out to be a very nice, kind and knowledgeable guy.  I had x-rays done on my back, met with the rest of his staff and was given a tour of his office where he explained his work and what all of the machines were used for.  A few days later I went back to review my x-rays and talk about treatment options.  Turns out, the pain I had been experiencing was due pressure on my nerves from my spinal cord being a little inflamed and pinched.  I’m sure there is a scientific term for it but I can not recall what he called it.  I began having treatments at his office and after a few weeks, I began to feel better.

I started seeing Dr. Brown about ten years ago and I still see him for treatment maybe about once every other month or so.  I, honestly feel a lot better.  After my car accident five years ago, he was the first person I called.  With no medication or surgery, he was able to help my body heal the three bulging discs, two tears and whiplash I sustained from the accident.  Whenever I have issues with my health, Dr. Brown is usually the first person I call or go see.  So when I recently began experiencing pain in my neck, shoulders and back, I went to his office to talk with him.  His first question, “how old is your mattress?”  My response, “12 years.”

This conversation set me on a journey that taught me even more about my health and listening to my body.

 

More to come…:)

Summer 2018

I had a plan this summer!  I was going to rest…a lot, summer clean the house, clean the garage and spend my evenings with a glass of wine in one hand and a book in the other.  I am one month in and I have been just as busy thus far as I normally am during the school year.  Not sure how it happened but I think it’s my mother’s fault.  That lady never knew how to sit still for more than a few minutes and I believe I inherited that gene!

Being that we purchased our first home last summer, I thought it would be a great idea to work “part time” this summer and use that extra cash to paint and decorate.  Yes, I know, now…that was a bad idea!  Although I only work about twenty hours a week, it is a bit more than I bargained for.  The work is easy and my co-workers are pleasant enough but couple that with trying to fit in appointments for me and the kids, squeezing in all the things I intended to do this summer and it makes for some very long days.

The week school ended, my fifteen year old daughter announced that she signed up for a summer course to prepare her for dual enrollment in the fall.  The course is eighteen days, three hours a day, four days a week!  To make matters worse, she goes to a magnet school for business, the school is forty-five minutes from our house and there are no busses running in the summer.  Needless to say, my plans to sleep in are a bust.  I can’t be mad at her though, she is at least looking toward her future.  Now, if she does not pass this course, she will be grounded the rest of the summer for making me get up early for nothing!

I am optimistic!  I am certain I will have time to do most if not all of the things I had planned this summer.  There is still plenty of time to sleep in, read, write and clean.

Here’s to a restful July…:)

Talk the Talk

Consider this…we can’t create an actual universe with our words, but we can use them to build up or destroy someone else’s world.

I came across this little nugget during my quiet time reading recently and almost immediately shared it on my Facebook page because I thought it was so simple but yet so true.  We have so much power in our words that life and the world would be a much better place if we knew how to use them in a positive way.

When I was younger, I like any other kid, loved watching television.  My favorite part was the commercials.  Back in the day almost every product/ad was promoted through a jingle.  The jingle would get stuck in your head and you’d be singing that thing for the rest of the week!  As I was growing, I had a plan to go off to college and get a degree that would help me to be able to make commercials.  Well, I did go to college and I got a degree but life led me down a different path.

Today, television is the last thing I want to sit down and watch.  I still enjoy a good commercial however, with news programs, tv series and made for tv movies taking such a dark and negative turn, I rarely turn on the television anymore.  If it were solely up to me, I’d toss out every television in the house.

I find it increasingly difficult to expend positive energy to my family and friends or even those I simply run into each day when we, this world, is surrounded in so much negativity.  I feel for my kids the most.  In this age of instant “Likes” and instant posts so that the world knows your every move, my kids are bombarded with instant comments about everything.  And I feel that this is desensitizing them to simple compassion.  It amazes me that everyone has an opinion about everything but what saddens me most is that even in the most positive postings, articles or news reports someone will find a way to turn it into a negative.  You can’t read a post or article about anything where someone hasn’t found a way to make a negative or hurtful comment.  My love gets so frustrated with me because I try to find a positive in all that I do and say.  I am by no means perfect and even though it is hard and often times challenging, I’d much rather find a way to show love and compassion to someone than to be mean and say something negative or hurtful.

What I feel we, as a society, are losing most is our ability to be compassionate.  1 Peter 4: 9-10 says “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”  To me that simply means to love one another, to have compassion and respect for my fellow man (woman) and to be compassionate.

Every day, in every situation, find a way to share grace…:)

 

 

Summer Learning Success

As part of my extended job as Title 1/Parent Involvement Coordinator at my school, I was asked to present our end of the year Parent Night.  Preventing summer learning loss was the topic given to me and the following is what I shared.  Thought it would make a great post.

7 Ways to Prevent Summer Learning Loss

And just like that, summer is upon us once again. As you begin to plan for days without your child’s school schedule with free time, family vacations and outings remember that summer is also a great time to strengthen academic skills and close learning gaps. Research shows that, a nonacademic summer can cause students at every grade level to digress two to three months in their academic skills. A little time each day during the summer will go a long way in helping students be successful when they return to school in the fall. Here are a few tips to help set your student up for summer success.

1. Make Time for Learning

Set aside time for your child to read and practice math skills each day during the summer break — 15 to 30 minutes per day is all it takes! Summer is the time to encourage reading for enjoyment. It is also a great opportunity to preserve and strengthen their reading and math skills. Keep track of summer academics by using a calendar. Give your child a stamp or a sticker each day for working on summer academics as they work their way toward earning a reward at the end of the summer.

2. Learn and Practice Affixes

To help kids of all grade levels improve their reading and spelling skills include some learning activities that include affixes. Most multi-syllable words have prefixes and suffixes added to a base word. You can find a list of affixes and their meanings in a dictionary or in many online sources. To make this practice appealing, turn it into a game! Students can create flashcards of prefixes and suffixes using index cards or sturdy construction paper cut into squares. For each affix, they can write the meaning on the back. As they practice the affix they can try to guess what they think the affix means. Create the same activity to help students learn new vocabulary words.

3. Develop Math Skills

Getting your child to read during the summer may be an easy task to accomplish. However, most children will want to steer clear of math practice over the summer so keeping it simple and making it fun will be the key! Working on just three to four math problems per day during the summer can prevent students’ math skills from getting rusty. For help with addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts, students can create their own flashcards to use for a quick review while riding around in the car.

4. Improve Reading Comprehension

Consider reading with your child and asking questions about the story along the way. This is a great way for students to hear and see new or unfamiliar words. Reading together is also an opportunity for you to help your child understand the meaning of words they may not be familiar with. Be sure to keep a dictionary handy while you read to help students build problem solving skills by looking up words they don’t know.

5. Encourage Creative Writing

Give your child a journal. Encourage them to write all about what they see and do over the summer. A short paragraph or two once a week is all it takes! You can join in on the writing fun by helping them choose a topic to write about. Remind them of all the fun and exciting things they are doing.

6. Send Them Outside

Keep children active and healthy by sending them outside. This is a great way for kids to meet up with friends for impromptu games, making up rules and learning to play fair to keep everyone involved.

7. Buy a Bird Feeder

While kids are exploring outside, a bird feeder will activate their scientific discovery. This will give students something else to write about as they observe nature around them!

School’s out for summer! 🙂

The Importance of Sisterhood

I was very lucky to find a great friend early in life.  She is usually the first person I call when anything happens in my life.  Currently, we live on opposite sides of the country, she’s in California and I’m in Florida.  We met at church when we were about nine or ten years old.  We are the same age, our birthday’s are on the same day, different months (she’s in December, I’m in September), and we were born at the same hospital.  To say that we were meant to be is an understatement for us.  I only get to see her once a year but for us nothing has changed except a plane ride.

Over the years I’ve tried to form bonds with other girls/women but the friendships never seemed to connect well.  I think it’s mostly because of me though.  I’ve had some really bad friendships with some who claimed to be a friend but ended up doing or saying something that caused me to not trust them and to pull away.  I learned to keep my circle of friends very small.  Basically, it was just my friend Swayla and my sister.

Recently, I’ve come to understand that creating a sisterhood can be very important in a women’s life.  A sisterhood, community of women, can help to strengthen one other when a safe place can be created that allows women to openly and honestly share with one another.  Two weeks ago I was invited to a gathering at coworker’s house.  While she and I do talk periodically by phone, we don’t hang out or meet up regularly.  I am not one to attend too many get-togethers because I don’t want to open myself up to false friendships.  However, I wanted to support my coworker who was hosting because I find her to be very kind and genuine.

Surprisingly, I had a very nice time.  What stood out to me most that afternoon was the story my coworker told about a group of women she recently began working out with.  At a stressful point in her life, my coworker decided that she wanted to start working out to clear her mind and relieve stress.  After some research, she came across this group of women who met to work out together.  In this group, they not only support one another during work outs but have created a sisterhood to support one another inside and outside of the gym.  They support each others goals, hold one another accountable and regularly meet up to personally check in.

Through her story I learned three important aspect of building trusting, lasting friendships.

First, to find a friend, one must show themselves as a friend.

Second, connect with like-minded people.

Third, don’t be afraid to share your story because God didn’t intent for us to walk this journey alone.

As I have continued to read Craving Connection, I have learned what it means to be a friend and also how silence about my pain and struggles can sometimes push me into isolation and make me fearful of letting others in.  While I am not suggesting that you go out and blab your business to everyone in order to find friends but start small.  Look around the outer ring of your current circle of friends.  See if there is one or two women you could possible have a deeper connection with.  Invite them to lunch or coffee and hang out.  The more you are around them the more you may feel comfortable and this may help you to open up more.  Some friendships may simply be general and pleasant from a distance and that’s ok.  The overall goal is to not isolate yourself to the point where you are not reaching out or growing to your full potential.  Work on developing relationships that will stretch, support and encourage you.

 

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. – Maya Angelou

 

 

Angels Among Us

I am not unaware that I am getting older.  Some days I forget my age when my mind tells me, “oh, yeah, we can still do that!”  But then, later on when I’m trying to sit or lay down my body says, “girl, we can’t do that no more!”  However, the older I get I make sure that I listen to my body and do what’s best for it.  I made my brother a promise, when he was battling cancer, that I would take care of myself and not ignore when my body is talking to me.  So, when I ain’t feeling quite right, I go see my doctor.

I happened to be doing a follow up appointment this morning when my day was impacted in a very unexpected but pleasant way.  My appointment was at 8 a.m.  I got up on time, made breakfast for the kids, sent them off to school and went about my normal morning routine.  I had an extra hour since I wasn’t going straight to work so I had breakfast myself and extended my quite time.  Left the house on time, made the forty minute drive to my appointment and the moment I put the car in park I realized that I’d walked out of the house and forgot my doctor’s acquisition order for the test he wanted done.  Not to panic, I thought, maybe the doctor forwarded a copy to the office.  Get in, check in and tell the receptionist about my mishap.  She checks the system and finds no acquisition order.  Our next option, before panic sets in, is to call the doctor’s office and simply have them fax over a copy.  The message on the doctor’s line says that the office is not open until 11 a.m. today.  Now, its time to panic!

Of course, there was no way I’d be able to make the forty minute drive back home to get the papers, make the forty minute drive back to the office (if there was even time to no squeeze me in) and then get to work by 11:20 a.m.  Looking at my face, I think the receptionist could tell that I was starting to get a little anxious.  Thinking quickly, after I told her how far I had to drive to go back home and then return pending traffic, she asked where I lived and then found an office that was closer to my house.  Thankfully, that office agreed to squeeze me in but I had to get there within the hour.  I got home, grabbed the papers, made it to the office within the hour, checked in and sat down to wait my turn.

As to not let my anxiety to continue to rise, I decided to Bluetooth a message from Transformation Church on my ride back to the house from my first appointment location.  During this message the pastor referenced a passage of scripture I wanted to read.  Upon sitting at my second appointment I thought I’d take out my bible and read over the scripture while I waited.  As I began to read, I noticed a man of a different nationality watching me.  I thought nothing of it and continued reading.  A few moments later this same man walked over to me and said, “hey, what’cha reading?”  I replied, “the bible” and then told him the scripture I was reading.  He told me that was one of his favorite scriptures and sat down next to me.  He introduced himself and began talking to me about his church and ministry background.  He said that he approached me because he’d never seen anyone reading the bible in public and was glad I was unashamed to do it.

For a split second I thought, “I hope this man is not trying to hit on me because I don’t want to have to be rude.”  As it turns out, he wasn’t he just wanted to have a conversation about God.  We had a very pleasant conversation about God, my kids, his kids, his family, my work and then my name was called to see the receptionist.

The strangest thing happened.  The receptionist told me that the test my doctor ordered couldn’t be performed at that location and that I would have to go to yet a different location.  We rescheduled the appointment for a later date because it was apparent I was not supposed to have that test done today.  On my way out I stopped to thank the man who took the time to come over and talk to me.  When I told him I was at yet the wrong location again he told me that he wasn’t supposed to be there either.  He had been finished with his appointment for about an hour and the friend that was supposed to pick him up was running late.  He then shared a scripture with me, quietly prayed over me and sent me on my way with a hug.  Of course we got funny looks from the people in the waiting room because here was this short black lady with crazy natural hair and this tall white man with a bald head and sleeve tattoos on both arms sharing about God, praying and hugging in the waiting room of a medical office.  Talk about angels on earth.

I’ve heard of people having encounters like this but I’d never experienced one myself until today.  It truly made my day.  Just when I thought I was going to have a bad day and stress out over this appointment, God sent this angel to cross my path.  My whole day changed in just a few short minutes.

Trying to let God lead the way…:)

 

Granting Grace

After nearly thirteen years together sometimes he just works my last nerve!  Last night I was frustrated to no end with my Love so I decided to leave the house to get some air.  I needed to go to Wal-Mart anyway but then I figured since Chick-fil-a was right next to Wal-Mart I deserved a cookies & cream milkshake…heaven on earth!

At the light while waiting to pull out of my subdivision, still fuming, I was going over the events of the past few minutes.  Even though I was in the car by myself and no one would have known, I was silently praying to God to help control my anger as to not start cursing that man out verbally or in the quiet corners of my mind.  

Sitting my anger at that light I clearly heard God say, “grant him grace.”  Ugh!!! God has been doing that a lot lately.  Just jumping into my thoughts, reminding me that in order to complete my circle not only do I have speak my faith, I also have to act my faith.

Grace is one of those words we hear so often that we tend to brush it aside when we are frustrated or angry.  In general, we all know what grace means but in all things Christ-like we have a choice in whether or not we use it.

Like I said, I know generally what grace means but I decided to look it up anyway so that I could make sure it was really grace God wanted me to extend in this current situation with my Love. (Won’t we try to find a way not to do what God tells us to do?  The flesh is weak!)

By definition, grace is the unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification.

In reading the definition, it was the word unmerited that stood out the most so, I looked it up too.

Unmerited – not adequately earned or deserved.

I meditated over that word for quite sometime before I started this post.  No one and I mean no one, not even I, deserve grace.  If I were totally honest I know without a doubt that I sometimes say, do, think and act in ways that anger or frustrate God yet, even though I did absolutely nothing to earn or deserve it, I EXPECT God to grant me grace.  To forgive me, bless me and love me no matter what.  So who am I to not give to others what God so lovingly and freely gives to me each and every moment of my life?

I had the most enlightening drive to Wal-Mart! I also enjoyed my milkshake but then went home with a better attitude, helped my son with an online exam, hugged my Love and peacefully went to sleep.

Learning how to listen so that I can listen to learn.