Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Feeling Me Feeling You

This is an ode to falling in like...
to the sweetness of first kisses
frolics in the park
two hour phone conversations
childhood reminiscing
lingering stares over dinner
steamy Saturday nights
that turn into lazy Sunday mornings.
This is an ode to all the possibilities of 


Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Dopest Sh*t I've Heard All Year (Eargasm)...

Most people who know me know that I'm a live music fanatic. I went to my first concert when I was 8 (Patti LaBelle and Norman Brown) and I've been absolutely hooked ever since...I've probably been to at least 100 in my lifetime. Anyway, last night I had the pleasure of seeing Nas and Lauryn Hill at The Tabernacle here in Atlanta. I already knew that Nas was going to put on a great show, but I was more than skeptical about Ms. Lauryn. In the last couple of years, her live shows have gotten terrible reviews... from showing up hours late, to forgetting lyrics and delivering terrible vocal quality. Despite all that, I decided to give her a shot anyway. And I must say, I was absolutely blown away! Her performance was more than on point (as was Nas), and definitely worth every bit of the $74.00 I paid for tickets. In addition to performing her gems from the "Miseducation..." album and classics from "The Score" (my voice is now hoarse from rapping all the words to "Fugee-La" and "How Many Mics" at the top of my lungs...LOL), she performed a brand new song called "Black Rage," which I immediately fell in love with. Set to the tune of one of my favorite songs ("My Favorite Things" from the "Sound of Music," though I'm partial to the Charlie Parker version), the song strikes a nerve considering the tense political climate we face. I normally don't record songs at concerts, but I had to capture this one and share it. Check it out...and sense some of the words are a little hard to understand, the lyrics are included below. Enjoy!

I simply remember all these kinds of things
And then I don’t fear so bad…

Black rage is founded who fed us self hatred
Lies and abuse while we waited and waited
Spiritual treason
This grid and it's cages
Black rage was founded on these kinds of things

Black rage is founded on dreaming and draining
Threatening your freedom
To stop your complaining
Poisoning your water
While they say it's raining
Then call you mad
For complaining, complaining
Old time bureaucracy
Drugging the youth
Black rage is founded on blocking the truth
Murder and crime
Compromise and distortion
Sacrifice, sacrifice
Who makes this fortune?
Greed, falsely called progress
Such human contortion
Black rage is founded on these kinds of things

So when the dog bites
And the ceilings
And I’m feeling mad
I simply remember all these kinds of things
And then I don’t fear so bad

Free enterprise
Is it myth or illusion
Forcing you back into purposed confusion
Black human trafficking
Or blood transfusion
Black rage is founded on these kinds of things
Victims of violence
Both psyche and body
Life out of context IS living ungodly
Politics, politics
Greed falsely called wealth
Black rage is founded on denying of self
Black human packages
Tied and subsistence
Having to justify your very existence
Try if you must
But you can’t have my soul
Black rage is founded on ungodly control
So when the dog bites
And the beatings
And I’m feeling so sad
I simply remember all these kinds of things
And then I don’t feel so bad


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Are You Sure This Is What You Want Me To Do?

Speaking of the title of this post, I've found myself asking God that question a lot lately when it comes to my career and my overall chosen path in life. I know that my ability to connect with kids and teens almost immediately is a gift-its the thing I do the easiest with absolutely the least amount of effort. But sometimes this whole thing just feels like too much. Sometimes I feel like I stay awake too many nights worrying about that one child in the back of my classroom that I can't seem to reach. I feel like I shed too many tears when I've done all I can do and I still have to sit and watch some of my kids heading in the wrong direction, and having to pay the consequences for their bad choices. As much as I love what I do, at times it just hurts too much. What's the point of it all?

I know that God doesn't make mistakes, and if I'm honest with myself, I already know the answer to that question...He's shown me over and over that this is what I'm supposed to be doing. Sometimes it just feels like too much to handle, and I feel so tempted to just quit and go do something easier, that will make me a lot more money with a fraction of the stress. (Sigh) praying for strength and clarity....


Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Single Disease

The first sentence in this picture provides such an emphatic answer to so many questions that have been swimming through my mind lately that I had to repost it. This week, my school was on fall break and I traveled to Charleston for some much needed time with my family and friends. Prior to coming home, I was beginning to slide into a bit of a was becoming increasingly more stressful, my Ed.S degree program was becoming more difficult to balance, and one of the gentlemen I had been seeing for the last couple of months had decided to take a ride on the bullshit train. With all that going on, I couldn't wait to get home and take a mental break. While I had an amazing time  visiting my family, friends, and former students/colleagues, a recurring question kept popping up that made the funky mood I was trying to escape creep back into my periphery.

"So when are you getting married?" "Are we gonna be planning a wedding for you soon?" "Hopefully, we'll be getting an invite to Atlanta for an engagement party in the near future." "When are you gonna have some kids? You are 29, you know, you won't be able to for much longer."

Unfortunately, in these situations it's not polite to tell people to fuck off and mind their own business...LOL.

But seriously, in the midst of smiling cordially and side stepping the question, I began to wonder when being single and almost 30 became akin to having some kind of disease. Because other than the temporary bad mood that I had been in due to a little too much stress, I was actually satisfied with my life. I find few things more exhilarating than having the freedom to do what I want, when I want, and with whom I want on my own terms. But when did my happiness with my own life become not enough? When had I crossed the threshold from fabulously and individually capable to desperately in need of companionship? When had I lost the right to rep "team me" in lieu of becoming part of an "us?" When had being on my own become no longer acceptable?

Don't get me wrong, marriage and family are definitely on my radar, and if I wanted a husband just for the sake of having one I could have been married three times over by now. But in my opinion, settling for the sake of meeting other people's expectations is for losers. So until I meet the person that I feel is the right fit for me, I choose to continue enjoying my life to the fullest and giving myself all the love and attention I can stand. And if it doesn't meet other people's timeline? *Kanye shrug* As the picture above so eloquently states, this is my life, and rather than giving too much thought to how other people think I should live it, I choose to live my own dreams and wear my own passion.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sweet 29

So today's the big 2-9...happy birthday to me! With the advent of Facebook and the convenient "HBD" text, birthday cards are becoming a thing of the past. Nonetheless, I knew I could count on one from my grandma in the mail, so I rushed to get to my mailbox after work today. Sure enough, she did not disappoint. I was expecting one of those sweet but annoying singing birthday cards, but instead she had selected something much more profound that hit the nail exactly on the head. The front of the card read:

"There is a beauty in becoming
 a little more ourselves
with every passing year..."

Truer words have never been spoken! Looking back over my 20s, I realize how much of it I wasted making bad choices, going in the wrong direction, and desperately trying to keep people in my life who didn't belong there, all because I had no idea who I really was. And we all know that it is virtually impossible to truly love a person you barely know. But as the saying goes, with age comes wisdom. I've grown to a point where I can truly call myself a woman...a woman who knows exactly who she is, where she's going, what she wants, and who refuses to settle for less. I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life...physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, professionally, and financially. If 29 feels this good, I absolutely cannot wait for 30!

"Gonna live my life, feels so good to get it right!
So I like what I see when I'm looking at me
when I'm walking past the mirror.
No stress through the night, have the time of my life
ain't worried 'bout if you feel it.
Got my head on straight, I got my vibe right
I ain't gonna let you kill it.
See I wouldn't change my life, my life's just..."


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Haiku Me

So here's a random, weird factoid about me: I walk around writing haiku poems in my head all the time. No, seriously, it's true. For those who don't know (or don't remember) a haiku is a three line poem with a 5-7-5 syllable pattern (the first line has five syllables, the second line has seven syllables, and the last line has five syllables). I've gotten to the point where I could probably write a haiku about any topic, person, or item in less than two minutes flat. Sometimes I write them down, other times I use them as a form of silent entertainment to amuse myself throughout the day. Anyway, I decided to post some of my favorites (written in the past and more recently). These are by no means profound insights on life, just the random ish that runs through my head from time to time. Since I don't ever take the time to title them, I keep track of the ones I do write down by number. Enjoy!

Haiku #1
Time to start over
a new opportunity
like fresh morning dew.

Haiku #2
I ignore Your voice
when I'm doing what I want
glad Lord You forgive.

Haiku #3
Summer vacation
A time to laugh and relax
I will miss my kids.

Haiku #4
I call you by name
I want to call you Daddy
the word doesn't fit.

Haiku #5
I love my Grandma
I should call and tell her but
I'm busy again.

Haiku #6
I saw your new girl
I pretend not to notice
fuck you and fuck her.

Haiku #8
I love my laughter
Head back, mouth open, smile wide
I can taste my joy.

Haiku #9
I used to get high
a sad, foolish, little girl
caught up in the smoke.

Haiku #12
We sit side by side
texting, tweeting, facebooking.
Now we're worlds apart.

Haiku #14
I've lost lots of friends
for a while couldn't see that
the problem is me.

Haiku #15
People who are fat
make me scared to death of food
I'm vain to the core.

Haiku #16
Sometimes when you talk
my mind looks at your lips and
thinks "Shut the hell up!"

Haiku #17
When I am teaching
sharing, leading, loving kids
I am God's vessel.

Haiku #18
My fear is a car
Scared to move forward, but still
get in, press the gas.

That's it for now. So the next time you're stuck in traffic, or sitting in a boring meeting, or having a pointless argument, give this a try! You never know what kind of fun stuff you might come up with...LOL. Till next time...


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

When God Throws You A Curveball, Make Sure You're Wearing a Good Mitt

As I've been packing boxes the last few days, it occurred to me that this time last year, I was doing this exact same thing. I was preparing to move from Columbia to Aiken to be closer to work. I had my plan all laid out: I was going to teach at my current school for the next 3-4 years, while I went back to school to get my principal's certification. After that, I was going to start off as an assistant principal in Aiken county, then eventually work my way up to a principalship. In the back of my mind, I've always dreamed about starting my own charter school. Even though I believed it was possible, it was one of those things that was so far-fetched I had no idea how it could really happen. So I tucked it away, and prepared to settle here for awhile and work my plan. I had become quite comfortable too...I had established myself as leader in my school and district, I was comfortable with my kids, and I felt like I was really hitting my stride as an educator.

And then the curveball came.

A freak accident on the job that resulted in a nasty head injury, almost two weeks out of work, and the sad realization in the aftermath that this was no longer the best place for me to be. I didn't know what to do next, but I do remember asking God what the point of all this was. I was comfortable and things for the most part were going well. Why was this happening to me? And if there was a lesson in all this, couldn't He have found a more subtle, less painful way to reveal it than knocking me out (literally)?

In the midst of it all, I had a conversation with a friend about dream jobs. I had seen a video about KIPP Academy in grad school, and I knew that it was one of the best charter schools in the country. I was in awe of the school's values, belief system, and the work ethic and team approach of the administrators, teachers, students, and parents, as well as their promise to see every student through to college. I knew that if I ever did get the opportunity to open my own school, I'd want it to be just like that. There were locations in cities all over the U.S., and after teaching there for a certain amount of time teachers could enter a leadership program to eventually open their own KIPP school.

"Why don't you apply?" my friend asked me as we chatted on Skype. I laughed to myself, thinking that I would never have a shot in a school like that. Don't get me wrong, I thought I was a good teacher, but not that good. As I chatted with my friend I checked out the website. I began to feel intimidated just reading about the interview process, and I hadn't even filled out the application yet. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn't have anything to lose. All they could say was no, right?

To make a long story short, here I am tonight, packing my things again and preparing to move to Atlanta next week to start teaching at KIPP. It's crazy how God sees things for us that we can never see for ourselves, and orchestrates a divine plan (no matter how outlandish that plan may seem) to bring it into fruitition. Even though I'm sad to leave the kids and friends that I've grown so attached to here, I know this move is a part of a bigger plan. Whereas I couldn't see a path for my dream before, it's now crystal clear.

So glad I didn't drop the ball on this one ;-)


Sunday, May 6, 2012


Its been so long since I've blogged, I had to blow the dust off my page! But my life has been a whirlwind lately, as I'm preparing to pack my bags and move to Atlanta. This weekend I went home to Charleston to spend some much needed family time before the big move. Whenever I'm home, I usually stay with Saisha, my cousin/sister/bestest friend. Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about Saisha...there are very few people in life who could ask me for absolutely anything (including a bodily organ or a limb) with no questions asked, and she's near the top of that list. Anyway, being together this weekend reminded me of a poem that I wrote years ago for a creative writing class in undergrad. The assignment was to write  a poem about a childhood experience, and this one by far sticks out as one of my favorites.

For Saisha

We sit side by side on the couch
as Mama and Auntie
make their way to the front door.
“Y’all be good for ya Granddaddy,” they say,
sashaying out to the club in
brand new high heels, tight miniskirts, and fresh new hairdos.
We listen for the sound of the ignition,
and peek through the curtains for
any sign of headlights.

It’s time for the real party to begin.

We run to the bedrooms that
we share with our Mamas and
rifle through their drawers,
looking for something sexy to wear.

I select a red satin nightgown,
the straps falling off my thin shoulders.
You put on a green gown with black lace.
We find the perfect shoes to match our dresses,
completing our look with two t-shirt wigs,
a red one for you and a black one for me.

We strut into our nightclub,
swaying our narrow hips as hard as we can.
BET becomes the DJ, and our red Kool-Aid
is the most delicious wine we’ve ever tasted.
We dance all night long with every cute boy
in the club, careful not to wake Granddaddy
with our wild party.

By midnight we’ve both had too much to drink
and we stagger to our bedrooms,
putting away our grown-up selves
till next Saturday night.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Farewell Whitney :-(

Last night, I sat in the braid shop getting my hair finished up when everybody's phone began to go off at the same time, with the same ominous text message: Whitney Houston had died. At first, we murmured to ourselves that it must be some kind of sick Twitter trending topic (as we all know how cyberspace loves to perpetuate rumors of celebrity death). "Oh no, its gotta be true," the woman in the chair next to me began to tear up. "Its on CNN!"

We realized that it was true. The world had lost one of the most iconic musical figures of our time. I was absolutely speechless and stunned.

I can remember as a little girl how much I looked up to Whitney Houston, and loved absolutely everything about her: her voice, her charisma, her beauty, and most of all her vibrant energy. Each morning during elementary school, her voice singing the national anthem filled our classroom, and prompted every little black girl in the room to hold her head a little higher and strain her voice to try and sing along. I can remember recording the song "I'm Your Baby Tonight" off the radio onto a cassette tape, and being so proud to tell my friends at recess that I had learned all the words to "the fast part." I can remember learning the words to "The Greatest Love of All" and singing it in the children's choir and school assemblies.

As I became a woman, Whitney's songs and films began to take on an entirely new meaning for me, as I began to live out some of the experiences of love and loss that she often sang about in her songs (i.e. my March 2011 post, "Damn, That's Me"). I could relate to many of the struggles and demons that she seemed to fight with in her personal life as she publicly unravelled right before our eyes. Having spent more than a year in rehab for my own struggles with substance abuse, I know how hard it is to shake a habit when it has completely taken over every aspect of your life.

Regardless of her challenges, I will always remember Whitney as not only a voice that changed the music world, but a voice that inspired me and countless others. She may be physically gone, but she will never, ever be forgotten.

"And if by chance that special place,
that you've been dreaming of
leads you a lonely place
find your strength in love..."


Sunday, January 29, 2012

I've Come A Long Way, Baby...

Tact is one of those social skills that I've had to work hard to cultivate. I have a reputation for being the kind of person who says exactly what is on my mind: good, bad, or indifferent. As I've matured, I've learned that every thought doesn't necessarily have to be voiced, every opinion isn't meant to be shared, and every comment by someone else doesn't warrant a reaction.

This weekend, my maturity and ability to bite my tongue were put to the ultimate test. I spent the last few days at a professional conference with a group of people that I'm not particularly fond of. At this conference, there was a young woman with a big afro. As a naturalista myself, I always notice other women rocking their natural curls, and she was no exception. Anyway, as I sat with this group of colleagues having lunch (all of whom were middle aged whites, except for my one friend), the young woman with the big afro sat at the table behind us. One of my colleagues looks the woman up and down, then turns to me and says "Danielle, if you ever let your hair get that big I'm coming after you with a weed wacker!" "Yeah," chimes in another. "Don't go walking around looking like you've just stuck in your finger in a socket."

Immediately, the words "Bitch, what the fuck did you just say to me?!?" flashed in bold letters across my mind, and it took everything I had in me not to let them tumble from my lips. The old Danielle may not have said those exact words, but she would not have hesitated to unleash a few words equally as venomous to address this blatant display of ignorance. She would've gone on a rant about how this young woman had every right to rock the texture and size of hair that God intended for her to have, and not subject herself to a ridiculous chemical process to uphold an outdated European standard of beauty. She would've chastised and criticized her colleagues for ridiculing a sense of freedom and empowerment that they clearly didn't understand, and probably secretly feared. As I began to open my mouth, another voice spoke up in my head. "Don't get mad're with these people everyday, you already know how incredibly stupid they are. Is telling them off really worth your breath or energy? Will sharing the fact that this statement offends you make them any less asinine? You know better than that..."

I smiled to myself at the second voice, and gave both my colleagues a dismissive look as I continued to eat my lunch. There was an awkward silence at the table for a moment before someone else decided to change the subject. I gave myself a metaphoric pat on the back for all the self-discipline that I didn't even know I had, and for finally learning the importance of the phrase "silence is golden."

(Sigh) Five more months....


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I make a goddamn difference! What about you?

So today has been a particularly long day...trying to contain my 80 kids and their rowdiness after a long weekend, teaching after school program, and dealing with issues that come along with coaching a group of hormonal cheerleaders has me feeling beyond drained. These are the kind of days when I just want to crawl under the covers and pull them up over my head. These are the days that make me wonder what the hell I was thinking when I left my cushy marketing/PR job to get in the trenches and teach. On these days when I need a little inspiration, I turn to one of my favorite poems to make me smile. I couldn't have said it any better myself.

What Teachers Make, or
Objection Overruled, or
If things don't work out, you can always go to law school

By Taylor Mali

He says the problem with teachers is, "What's a kid going to learn
from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?"
He reminds the other dinner guests that it's true what they say about
Those who can, do; those who can't, teach.

I decide to bite my tongue instead of his
and resist the temptation to remind the other dinner guests
that it's also true what they say about lawyers.

Because we're eating, after all, and this is polite company.

"I mean, you¹re a teacher, Taylor," he says.
"Be honest. What do you make?"

And I wish he hadn't done that
(asked me to be honest)
because, you see, I have a policy
about honesty and ass-kicking:
if you ask for it, I have to let you have it.

You want to know what I make?

I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional medal of honor
and an A- feel like a slap in the face.
How dare you waste my time with anything less than your very best.

I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall
in absolute silence. No, you may not work in groups.
No, you may not ask a question.
Why won't I let you get a drink of water?
Because you're not thirsty, you're bored, that's why.

I make parents tremble in fear when I call home:
I hope I haven't called at a bad time,
I just wanted to talk to you about something Billy said today.
Billy said, "Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don't you?"
And it was the noblest act of courage I have ever seen.

I make parents see their children for who they are
and what they can be.

You want to know what I make?

I make kids wonder,
I make them question.
I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them write, write, write.
And then I make them read.
I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely
over and over and over again until they will never misspell
either one of those words again.
I make them show all their work in math.
And hide it on their final drafts in English.
I make them understand that if you got this (brains)
then you follow this (heart) and if someone ever tries to judge you
by what you make, you give them this (the finger).

Let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true:
I make a goddamn difference! What about you?


Thursday, January 12, 2012

What Real Women Do

I love when I have teachable moments with my students. You know, those moments where a slice of real-life is presented as an opportunity to share a piece of knowledge or wisdom that can be applied to everyday life. Anyway, as I was having lunch today with a group of my female students, the topic turned to shows we like to watch on TV.

"My all-time favorite shows are Bad Girls Club and Love and Hip-Hop," one of them said. This was followed by a chorus of "Girl yeah, did you see the one where Chrissy beat up Kimbella?" and "Ooh, how about the one where Kimbella threw that glass at that girl?"

"Wait a minute," I said. "Out of all the shows that could be your favorite, why do you love those two so much?"

"Because they keep it real and they don't take no mess, and if they don't like somebody they do something about it."

Now, I'm not one to judge, because I definitely tune into these shows to watch all the ratchetness and drama unfold. The difference between myself and these girls is that as an adult, I'm able to grasp the fact that these "reality" shows aren't reality at all, and that what I see on my television screen isn't a reflection of how I should behave in real-life.

"So you think keeping it real means being loud, rude, and disrespectful, or going up to somebody and just starting a fight with them because you don't like them?"

"Sometimes," one of them said. "But mostly it means standing up for yourself and not letting people push you around and talk about you no matter what."

While I hate giving my sixth graders lectures, I just couldn't let this one go. And so began my tirade on what real women do.

Real women carry themselves with dignity and respect. Real women know how to express their ideas and communicate their needs and expectations to others without having to curse them out in the process. Real women know that conflict resolution means looking for constructive ways to resolve an issue, not throwing things or putting your hands on people. Real women work hard for what they have, and don't rely on others to give them the things they need or want. Real women realize that their actions have consequences, and they accept responsibility for the choices they make. Real women promote love by lifting others up and not tearing them down. Real women...

I stopped when I realized the futility in what I was doing. Trying to explain something so important to a group of 12 year olds was like pouring water into a bucket with several small holes. The words would stay there for a little while, but eventually they would end up leaking out onto the ground.

No, I couldn't explain this one with words. The best way to teach them about real women was to continue being one. Hopefully, something will rub off in the process. In the meantime, maybe I can persuade them to watch more Disney Channel and less VH1...LOL