Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2012? Yep, I'm ready...

Oprah, oh how I love thee. You have made the task of mapping out my yearly goals so much simpler with this handy dandy Dreamboard tool on your website. There's a reason you're a billionaire, you know...LOL.

Keeping a vision board (in some form or fashion) is something that I've done for the last several years, and corny as it may seem, it really is effective. Having a visual of the things that you hope to accomplish not only serves as a constant reminder of your goals, but I find that it also serves as an accountability tool. Its so easy to make resolutions at the start of the year, only to abandon them by springtime. I've found that looking at my goals in words and pictures several times a day helps me focus my thinking, and evaluate whether the activities I'm engaging in on a daily basis are bringing me closer to my dreams, or hindering my progress.

For some people, the process of setting goals can be overwhelming. Where do you even start? How do you know what to focus on first? For me, dividing my life into five big areas (health, career, finances, spirituality, and relationships), and setting a goal for each one is the best way to make sure I'm focusing on the things in my life that are truly important. And when I do cross a milestone or realize that I'm making progress towards the things on my board, I find some small way to celebrate, just to keep myself motivated.

So now that my electronic board is complete (I use it as the desktop background on my laptop and home desktop), its time to start working on the one that I hang in my bedroom. The more reminders I have to keep me on track, the better. 2012 is almost here, and its time to put my best productive foot forward.

*In my Waka Flacka voice* OH LET'S DO IT! ;-)


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Wait, you've got a baby?!? WTF?!?!?

Facebook can be such a wonderful thing. I use it to keep up with family members, friends, colleagues, and former students of mine, particularly the ones I taught my very first year, who are now juniors in high school. I post words of encouragement on their walls, ask them about their families and schoolwork, and even assist them with homework assignments and papers from time to time. Anyway, as I was sitting at home yesterday afternoon, browsing and checking messages, I ran across the profiles of two of my former female students, both of whom are now juniors in high school. What I found on both profiles shocked me and brought tears to my eyes: both these young ladies are mothers now. My first reaction was to scream out loud "Noooo, not you (jnsert name of former student here)!!! You've got a baby now? What the f#%k happened?" And at that last part, I had to laugh at myself (even as I'd begun to cry), because it was obvious what had happened, and their two small babies were the evidence of it.

At first, I scolded myself for having the reaction that I did. Why did I care so much? Who was I to be upset, or shocked, or hurt that these young women had become teen mothers? I had only taught them for a year, so why was I bothering to still check up on them anyway? I had seen tons of young girls have babies throughout my adulthood, so why did I feel so affected by these two? And then I remembered the time I had spent with them when they were in middle school. I remembered having each one in my English class, and thought about all the potential I had seen in each one of them. I thought about how I had tutored one of them after school twice a week, and how proud I felt when her grades and test scores finally began to improve. I thought about how the other one would come to school way earlier than the other kids, because she knew I got there early, and that was our time to talk about all the rough things she was going through at home. I thought about the life I had wanted so badly for both of them: a college education, a career, options beyond their rural, poverty-stricken community. And its not that they can't ever have these things because they now have children; I've seen several young mothers defy the odds and attain an education and a stable life for themselves and for their kids. I guess what hurts me to my core is the fact that I know the difficulties that lie ahead of them, and I know that the odds are not stacked in their favor. I know how tempting it will be for both of them to just drop out of school, because trying to take care of a young baby and go to school is so hard. And without that education, I know how hard it will be for them to get a decent, well-paying job, thus forcing them into a cycle of poverty and unemployment that they are both all too familiar with because of their own upbringings. I know that society will label them as just another pair of statistics, and dismiss them as yet another addition to the long list of young mothers receiving public assistance.

Even though I felt disappointed, I still sent each one my customary "How's everything going in school, I'm here for you if you need me" message. But for these two young ladies, I added an extra line: "You can do it. No matter what anyone says or how difficult things may seem, you can do it. Giving up is still not an option." I pray to God that that ends up being the case.