Gratitude

In the spirit of Thanksgiving (how many times have we heard this phrase ;) I thought I would begin by acknowledging my many blessings. I'm going to have to make this quick as I am supervising my 3 year old as he bathes himself ;)
I am thankful for my family. That is a huge blessing as I know many people do not have a family to be thankful for. I am thankful that my 3 yea old is able to bathe himself and give mommy just a few minutes to be able to update her blog **smile**. I am thankful that on days when I am too tired to supervise the little munchkin, I have an amazing husband that will step in and take over and let me to jump under the covers.
Ok the little man has soaped up and is calling for mommy. More gratitude to come at the next bath hour ;)

Leadership Conference

So as most of you know, I have been preparing for a Leadership Conference hosted by the Western Regional Council on Educating Black Children where I was asked to present a couple of workshops as well as give a "greeting" at a general session. Well it took place this past Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Los Angeles and man, it was a great experience.
First off I originally was only planning to do the greeting on Fri, followed by one workshop, and then another workshop co-facilitated with my mentor and mentee on Saturday. But a few days before, I received a phone call asking if I would be willing to present two back to back workshops on Thursday because they had a last minute cancellation- and of course I agreed. Now let me give you a little back story....

1) I have never presented at this type of larger scale conference before, but I have been to plenty of them and I have even organized a few smaller scale ones so I figured I would be ok.

2) By nature I am a huge procrastinator so although I knew my material to present- I waited and waited to formally organize it- but for some reason that is how I seem to work best.

3) Things always seem to happen all around the same time in my life, which forces me to have a zillion and one things to do like:
      a) on Monday lil Shawn got sent home from school with a fever and the school has a 24 hour incubation period so he had to stay home on Tuesday as well- so you know i got absolutely no work done
      b) I am a volunteer art teacher at the girls school and the Principal asked me to be the coordinator for this upcoming art show for our school site. Its not a big deal, I just had to select art work to be displayed, stick it in a frame, print labels and drop off on FRIDAY- which was also the day of the conference.
      c) Friday was also Dr. Suess's birthday and Parent's were encouraged to come read with their child for the first hour of school. So of course because Shanel is the sentimental type, I had to go read with her- Chloe is like whatever LOL.

4) My creativity is both my gift and my curse because I am always coming up with great ideas in my sleep and am so compelled to wake up and implement them. So in the case of the leadership conference, I was doing a workshop entitled, "The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree: The Amazing Power of Youth Mentorship" and so I wanted to get some apples and wrap them in cello with a bow and a card attached with my contact info on one side and some personal affirmations on the other for the participants to take with them. It was cute- but man I really need some help for this sickness :)

Ok so back to the conference. Day one general session ran over time (black folks can't never get the timing together) so it forced the presenters to shorten their workshop. Now I have prepared for a 70 minute workshop and they announced for us to shave off 15 minutes and I was cool with that- but no sooner than 30 minutes into my presentation- the facilitator pops in and holds up a sign that says 5 minutes left. Now I am not a mathematical genius but I know that 70 minutes - 15 minutes does not equal 35 mins. And to top it off, I was told to prepare for 25 people in my workshop x 2 workshops, but for some reason I had over 40 people in my first, SHORTENED workshop. All in all I did the best that I could and got nothing but positive feedback despite the challenges. The second workshop was the full 70 minutes and had about 10 people in it so it was a perfect balance afterwards. By the time I got home, I jumped under the covers and was fast asleep getting ready for round two tomorrow.

Friday after the Dr. Suess and art work drop off, I made it to the conference just in time for lunch :) and prepared to address the crowd. I was excited because sitting front and center was Margarite Lamotte, LAUSD School Board member whom I have been trying to get to sponsor my foundation for a while. My mother proudly went over to her and informed her that "her baby" would be speaking, and Mrs. Lamotte smiled and nodded. I took the stage started into the greeting and it was so surreal because all the other speakers had to ask people to stop talking, and you could hear the servers in the background picking up dishes- but it was dead silent in the room and I had actively engaged the audience with my story. I felt great about it and afterwards had so many people offering gratitude and appreciation for the message that I had delivered and made a lot of contacts. My workshop this day was full of Spanish speaking participants and so we had a translator in the room- but it was one of the best, interactive and impactful in my opinion. We had a lot of dialogue and I believe those parents left with a new outlook on developing the leaders within themselves and their children.

Saturday was my apple day so I spent the morning working on my project LOL, then made it to the conference again in time for lunch :) Actually it was in time to hear Mr. Blair Taylor, President / CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League talk about all of the great things that his organization has done for Crenshaw High School- including improving graduation rate by 10% and turning the school around after the Accreditation loss :) ANYWAY it ran long as predicted and because this was the last day of the conference- the audience started to dwindle. By the time we got up to do the workshops- we started with one lady in the audience and by the time we ended it was about 10 total participants. The workshop was great- the content was so informational and I look forward to doing it at more conferences.

Overall it was a great experience. I probably will not do so many workshops at one conference- it was very exhausting, but well worth it! Thank you to all of you that sent your prayers and well wishes. They were heard!

Everyday One of My Dreams Come True

One of my greatest joys next to being a wife and mother, is being able to set an example for youth to follow. It’s amazing to me how much if an impact I actually have on the youth that I work with. Often time I don’t find out this until years later when I ask them to speak at one of my seminars or workshops. 
I have to say, I love each and everyone of my former students and I look forward to the great things that are to come from them. I love my current students and look forward to the Personal Transformations that are taking place with them everyday.

Ten Tips to Success

This morning I had the honor of speaking to a classroom of 11th graders after observing them for about 30 minutes. Let me tell you I really miss being in the classroom! I don’t miss all the crap that comes with being a “LAUSD Teacher”, but it felt really good to be in front of the kids. So as I was driving into the city this morning and listening to my weekly audio dose of “The Secret”, I got the idea of these 10 Tips to Success. They seem to work (based upon my experience) in a most situations, and it surely seemed appropriate after observing these youth in their classroom environment, so here they go: 

(BTW I promise next time to video tape my talk so you can get the full emotion and passion :)

  1. Smile
  2. Be enthusiastic
  3. Be engaged (in whatever task you are doing)
  4. Ask questions
  5. Be confident (love yourself enough)
  6. Take control (of life, the situation, whatever)
  7. Follow Up (send thank you emails, kind notes etc. to everyone you meet)
  8. Associations (your are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with)
  9. Mentor (get one and become one)
  10. Be Goal driven and Result Oriented 

The Christmas Tree Nightmare

Ok I just couldn't wait to get home to blog about this one. So this morning I driving little Shawn to school because I had volunteered to do a Black History project with his preschool class- BTW we made African crowns out of poster board and foam stickers :),

Anyway he was riding very nicely in the back seat looking at an old Christmas Toy Catalogue and when he finished, he put it down and asked me for a fruit snack. (His dad has him hooked on this stuff like crack), then he asks me for what I thought was a "Christmas Tree." I told him that Christmas was over and there were no trees left- OMG he began to get so upset,yelling and tears flowing "I want a Christmas Tree!" It got so bad that I had to pull over the car and threaten to put him out to wait for his daddy to drive by (he was like 2 mins behind us.) So after I pulled over and calmed him down a bit, we continued on. He again asked for a Christmas Tree and I just told him "Ok." He waited for a min, then once he realized that I was not handing him a tree, it began again. All of this while I am driving down Victory Blvd headed for the nightmare that we call the 405 freeway. So I opened up his back pack which is always full of snacks- and it hit me- Krispy Treat! My poor baby wanted a Rice Krispy Treat and there it was sitting in his backpack the whole time.

The really sad part was that he knew it was there because he eats one every morning on the way to school with Daddy. He has this whole routine- 1st its the fruit snack, then its the Rice Krispy Treat, then he drinks his bottle of water, then he takes a quick nap.

And now I went and screwed his whole morning up because I couldn't get it together. I am cracking up inside as I am typing this. I am such a horrible mom for threatening to put my 3 year old out on the side of Victory Blvd for requesting a "Krispy Treat." LOL and as I think back on the whole situation, when he first asked for it, he was so sweet and polite when asking. So can I just smack myself for this one.

So the moral of the story moms, is:
1) Learn the routine established by baby and daddy for the morning commute
2) Brush up on the 3 year old linguistic pattern
3) Don't threaten to put your kid out the car for asking for a Christmas Tree- I mean Krispy Treat LOL

Well after I felt like crap for the rest of the commute- I went into his classroom and made him proud of how creative his mommy really his. All of his classmates loved the art project and his teachers were so impressed at how engaged and excited they were about the activity. The funny thing is that as I was entering the classroom I overheard her tell the kids that if they acted up with me- I was going to put them out of the class. Man word travels fast :)-

Turning 33

So I really have decided to make myself a priority this year. Like many wives and mothers, I have always put taking care of everyone else first, then if there was some time left for me (which there never was), then I would do something for myself. Well in honor of my birthday I did something that I have not done in a long time, I went shopping for me and only for me. I bought some really hot bandage heels (at least thats what Chloe calls them), a pair of skinny jeans which are one size too small, a ton of jewelry (I love the $2.95 prices at H&M) and a couple of lace front wigs. Which by the way I am already addicted to- but I will save that for another day's blog.
It felt really good to shop for me, but of course I will spend Monday returning some things that I just got caught up in the moment with :) but I'm thinking I will pick up another pair of skinny jeans. Hey they really make me feel skinny. I feel good about this birthday. In fact it was one of the better ones, and I got a chance to spend it with my mother, my husband and kids, my father and my girlfriends- all over a three day period.
Whew, not I need a vacation from the celebration.

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