Friday, April 26, 2013

At the Same D*mn Time: Excited and Petrified

A little mood music, Strength, Courage, and Wisdom by India Arie. Take the lyrics in and meditate on them:
"Gotta step out on faith. Its time to show my face. It's been elusive for so long. Freedom is mine today. . . . I found strength, courage, and wisdom - it's been inside of me all along." 
~ India betta TEACH!!!  

Happy Friday, good people!

If you recall last week, I was feeling on top of the world. I received some awesome news. News even greater than I had anticipated. As I typed about my good news with elation, I failed to admit the fear that was lingering not too far in the distant.

In a nutshell: Reaching my goals feels exhilarating and extremely scary at the same time. Below is an excerpt of my internal dialogue over the last week:

Exhilaration: I did it!!
Fear: How did I do it?
Exhilaration: I'm on my way!
Fear: Do I really deserve it?
Exhilaration: It's time to take this thing by the horns and close the deal!
Fear: Do they think I'm being overbearing because I'm negotiating?

I was sharing with a friend that it's thrilling and overwhelming to be face-to-face with my dreams. To say you want to do something, and then have that something staring you in the face . . . whew! I'm humbled, overwhelmed, ready to take the world by storm, and scared sh!tless.

Thank God for friends like Dr. K  and Dr. Jill who reminded me that excitement and nervousness often feel similar and to advocate for myself with humbleness and boldness. Thank God for mentors who've coached me through all of the academic lingo and leveled with me about asking for more than what was offered. Thank God for a husband that believes I can move mountains. Knowing he's supportive of whatever I want to do makes life so much easier. Thank God for me, because even in the midst of  all of this self doubt, I continue to coach and encourage myself.

Until next time . . . I'll be over here working on some positive self talk.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Poem for Clair

I almost lost it when someone tweeted this piece of brilliance into the Twitterverse. Y'all know how I feel about Clair Huxtable. Enjoy!

"Flatscreens are not big boned enough for your thick wit." ~ My favorite line of the poem

Until next time . . . I'll by tapping into my inner Clair. Y'all do the same.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

What's beef?: On Ignoring Twitter Trolls

Happy Saturday. Let's set the mood with some music. Today I present What's Beef? (Instrumental) by Notorious B.I.G.: 

PS: For those who are unfamiliar with this terminology, beef is when 
one takes grievance with or has a disagreement with another party. 

I don't hate many things, but I sure as hell hate a couple of things, two of which are racism and religious persecution. And when the two meet - Lord help us. The recent Boston incident is bringing out some ugly racist and religiously ignorant trolls on Twitter, and my fingers are twitching to fire back. I want to jump into the Twitter beef, but I've decided that doing so is futile. 

Now I love Jesus like the next Christian, but as I've explained before, I live at the super progressive end of Christianity. I live at the end that's not going to sentence you to fire and brimstone if you don't believe like me. And honestly, my beliefs have evolved so much, I'm sure there are Christians who'd gladly cast me into the fiery flame. Oh well, can't make everybody happy. 

I don't even think I really have to explain how I feel about racism. If you read regularly, you'll know that I tackle issues of race in my research. I've had some interesting personal experiences with racism as well, and I've gotten to the point that I just don't feel like teaching tolerance in my personal affairs. First of all, I think teaching "tolerance" is ridiculous. Most people deserve more than to be tolerated. Can we have an intelligent dialogue about race? Sure. Am I going to go out of my way to dispel stereotypes and to show people of other races that Black people are good, earnest folks. Nope. Go watch an after-school special for that.

With all of this said, I am struggling not to fire Twitter buckshots at people making awful comments about Islam, and I am always sitting on my hands when I see ignorant tweets about race. Twitter beef just isn't worth the trouble. First of all, I only read Twitter like once a day, if that, so I'm not going to be able to go back and forth with one of these overzealous doofuses. Second, I don't think I want to try to get the job done in 140 characters or less. Third, I spend so much time being serious and thinking hard, that I'm going to let Twitter remain a space for fun social interaction and plugging this blog . . . for now anyway.

The twisted race and religion folks aren't the only folks who make me have to sit on my hands. I also find myself reeling after reading tweets from education reformers like Steve Perry and Michelle Rhee.  I REALLY want to take some of their tweets to task! Maybe I'll just blog about it. However, if I can leave them alone about the issue that I'm most passionate about,  I think I'll let the ignorant and misinformed about race and religion continue to swim in their Twitter cesspool - not because I don't care, just because I think I'll spend my time working toward social justice in my real world, not my cyber one.

Ever had a back-and-forth beef on Twitter? I'm nosy; tell me about it.

Until next time . . . try to keep Twitter fun and enjoy the weekend!

Friday, April 19, 2013

News so good . . .

I can barely contain it.

But I will for a little while.

Just know that I leaned in. We have to trust ourselves and trust our inner voice and know that even when we don't get what we think we deserve, there's always something greater on the horizon.

And now a little celebratory mood music.

"Started from the bottom, now we here." ~ Drake 

Y'all have an awesome Friday and an even better weekend.

Until next time . . . I'll be over here counting my blessings!

TJ - Dream chaser, Dreamcatcher & Dragon Slayer

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Movin' on Up: On Climbing Mountains

A little theme music. Y'all know how I feel about my old-school gospel ;), so today's gospel throwback is Rough Side of the Mountain by Rev. F.C. Barnes.
This song reminds me of being a little girl and getting dressed for church every Sunday morning. <3

Did I tell y'all about the time that I climbed a mountain? I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that my husband and I took a mini vacation to the west coast. We had a wedding to attend in LA, so we decided to start our trip a few days early and go to Las Vegas. Then, to really make the most of our time out west, we decided to take a tour of the Grand Canyon.

Maybe I'll talk about Vegas and LA another day, but I want to talk about visiting the Grand Canyon today. It was absolutely breathtaking.  If there is a word beyond breathtaking, it was that, too! The weather was just right. It was bright and sunny, but not too hot. We decided to take an aerial tour of the Grand Canyon. The tour company picked us up from our hotel in Vegas and took us to a small airport where we weighed in and boarded a small (I mean REALLY small!!!) plane. The flight was about 35 minutes. Let's just say that my breakfast and the flight didn't agree with each other, but despite being mortified from tossing my cookies on the flight, we still had a great time once we landed.

View from my window before we landed
Once the plane landed in the Grand Canyon, we were given some logistics, and we were on our own. My husband and I walked around and marveled at the greatness of it all. Here are a few of my favorite shots:
Beautiful, right?
My favorite picture of the day
I was so shocked that there were no barriers!
Folks were on their own to explore and fall off a cliff
Absolutely amazing
These are pictures from my phone. I'll have to post some more from my husband's fancy camera.

Anyway, back to my climb. One of the highest points in the Grand Canyon West Rim is Guano Point. Guess what I did? Yup, I climbed it.
My post-climb victory pose
Hubs even did a little post-climb interview:

And PS . . . I didn't barf on the flight back.

Like I mentioned in the video climbing the mountain was a spiritual moment. I was overtaken by the vastness of the Canyon and its beauty. I hadn't planned to do any climbing that day, but when I saw Guano Point, I couldn't resist.

I also realized that climbing the mountain was a lesson in persistence and tenacity. About midway, I was a little tired, and I thought about turning around, but I pushed through and made it to the top. What a great metaphor for life's challenges, right?

Anyway, I hope you're making it over Wednesday's hump.

Until next time . . . I'll be climbing more metaphorical mountains.

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Little Wife-Life Humor

Part of a conversation Hubs and I were having as we ran errands the other day:

Me: Sooo . . . you really didn't notice that I picked up quite a few pounds after the wedding?

Hubs: Nope. 

Me: Seriously?!?! I gained about X pounds. 

Hubs: Nah, didn't notice. You always look good to me. 

Me: Well, you know I've lost a good amount of it. Can you tell?

Hubs: Oh yeah! I can definitely tell! 

Me: You've been reading your husband manual. Way to go, babe! I love you. 

I think we're figuring this marriage thing out ;).  Happy Friday, everybody.

Until next time . . . y'all have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

STEM Fierceness Returns!

Happy Thursday!

Note: DONT see the words "STEM" and or "Math" and move on. This video is for EVERYBODY!

It's been a while since I've discussed STEM Fierceness. I've shared my experiences about doing math while Black. I've shared some of my friend's stories of success in STEM fields. I made a commitment to share more about the subject of equity and STEM education, and I want to keep my promise.

The gentleman in the video below is Freeman Hrabowski, President of University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Ph.D. in Mathematics, co-creator of the Meyerhoff scholarship, fellow southerner, HBCU graduate, a personal hero of mine, and overall BEAST. Dr. Hrabowski has become well known for producing successful African-American and Hispanic students in STEM fields at his university. I've talked about equity issues in STEM with regard to race, class, and gender, but he does it much more eloquently. Get into it:

Here are my big takeaways:

  • When we talk about African American and Hispanic students not excelling STEM fields, we talking about Americans!!!!
  • Most students, regardless of race, do not succeed in science and mathematics. 
  • The culture of STEM departments on college campuses have to change. Departments that encourage success tend to have students who are successful
  • Students are bored. College courses have to be redesigned to be problem-based and collaborative. Students need to struggle with interesting and relevant problems to be engaged. He calls this "academic innovation." 

In this TED talk, Dr. Hrabowski's gave his 4 pillars of college success in STEM fields for African-American and Latino students (and, actually, all students). They are as follows:
(1) Faculty have to have high expectations and students have to develop the understanding that it takes hard work to be successful.
(2) Campuses must build collaborative community.
(3) Researchers produce researchers. In other words, students have to be immersed in their fields of interest and apprenticed by experts in the field.
(4) Faculty have to be willing to be involved. They have to pay attention to their students and get involved when they see students going astray.

If you've been reading for a while, you know that this issue is extremely important to my purpose and career plans. This TED Talk had been sitting in my inbox for about a month. Shame on me! Dr. Hrabowski has inspired me today, and I hope he does the same for you. Even if your passion isn't STEM, may his enthusiasm and love for what he does ignite your personal passions.

Until next time . . . follow your passions!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

On Celebrating Change

Happy Tuesday! As I've shared in another post, old-school gospel music runs through my veins, so today I present Changed by Walter Hawkins for your listening pleasure:
I wasn't even born when this masterpiece was created. 

What's that saying? The only thing certain in life is change. Amen and amen again. I've been thinking about how much change, both good and bad, I've weathered in the last few years - new career path, new home, new marriage, aging parents, illness, death, etc. A few years ago, I used to sit around and wonder when my "real life" was gonna happen. Bay-bay! It came full on and all at once. No complaints about the monotony of life over here, but I refuse to complain about all of the change either.

So today I'm here to celebrate change, no matter how big or small. Here's to:
. . . the new bootcamp class I'm attending this morning because my trainer Cindy is moving away.
. . . the weight I will lose and the muscle I will gain
. . . the spring weather we're FINALLY experiencing!!!
. . . the little lives Hubs and I have yet to welcome to the world
. . . the new friends we'll make
. . . the houses we have yet to live in and make homes
. . . the pets we have yet to parent (Yup, we've decided we'll get another pet in the near future!)
. . . the new hairstyles I intend to try out (including a big chop!)
. . . the successful dissertation defense
. . . the new job on the horizon
. . . the countries we will travel
. . . the anniversaries we will celebrate
. . . the change I haven't even anticipated!

So not only am I anticipating change, but I'm grateful my head and heart have been changed to accept change and keep on moving.

Until next time . . . embrace change, make change, and be a change agent!

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Gosh I really miss this little face. 
Sad is an understatement. Maybe devastated captures how we feel. We made a tough decision today. We laid our sweet little Jiggy to rest. He'd been a good and loyal friend, and we didn't like seeing him suffer. As a matter of fact, he was more than a friend - he was a little family member. He and Shawn were living a bachelor's life when I came along, so I'm just glad that he accepted me. We knew this day was coming, but there's still nothing you can do to prepare.

Our friends and fellow pet lovers have surrounded us with lots of love and support. Those of you who haven't known the love of a pet may not get it, but it's the sweetest most unconditional love I've encountered. It's like God created dogs with the sole intention for them to protect, love, and be loyal. The only thing that will make us feel better is time. We're hurting, but we made the right decision. You just look into your pet's eyes, and you know it's time.

Until next time . . . I'll be missing Jiggy, my little 9-lb boss, terribly.

Lift us up in your thoughts and prayers. ~ TJ

Friday, April 5, 2013

On Leaning In

Hi all! Happy Friday!

It's been a minute since I've posted, and I've missed blogging. Traveling and getting back into the swing of things took me away for a while, but I'm back!

My husband and I traveled to the west coast for a wedding and mini-vacation, and on our flight over to Vegas, I had the opportunity to read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. My girl Jackie, book lover extraordinaire, over at The Big Sea (Check out her blog!) recommended it to me and posted about it.  This book is so timely for me, given my plans to re-enter the world of work after almost 5 years of being a full-time graduate student.

If you haven't heard of Lean In or haven't been watching TV for the past few weeks, this book is Sandberg's, who is the COO of Facebook, tome about how women can get ahead in the world of work and how the world of work can help to facilitate women getting ahead in the work force and claiming more leadership positions. She cites some great research and provides interesting statistics that are hard to refute. I'm telling you - almost every page has a quotable excerpt.  Jackie and I were talking about how this book should be required reading for every girl who is an upperclassman in high school or who's attending college.

While you may not agree with everything that she says, you have to love a women who brings a new, brazen perspective to a topic that has been discussed for decades. I've decided that those who are in staunch opposition to her book most likely fall into two categories:

  • Category 1: Audiences for whom the book is not applicable - If you are a woman who isn't interested in building a career outside the home or thriving in your current career, this ain't for you. Further, if you are not interested in supporting your female partner in getting what she wants and succeeding in the workplace, again, this ain't for you.  
  • Category 2: People who haven't read it - You can't fully critique something you haven't read. Watching a few snippets on TV doesn't count! 

While there are so many quotables and wonderful ideas, I'll just leave you with a few that are resonating with me most at the moment.

(1) Our career paths should be more like navigating jungle gyms than climbing a ladder. Success doesn't always happen in a linear fashion. Sometimes you have to move laterally and possibly move down a rung or two to eventually get where you want to go.

(2) Women's careers are just as important as their spouses, and women should treat them as such! I take this to mean that if women are bringing home some bacon, and they're in careers that are meaningful and fulfilling, they have every right to negotiate their about how their relationship/family dynamic can accommodate their career aspirations as well as their partners. I think so many women give up our career dreams and defer to our mates, and that's OUR faults - not our partners.  I believe our partners want to see us happy, so we have to be more vocal about what we need in our home life and our careers.

(3) Stop being so damn scared, girl!!! Ok, this is a big-time paraphrase, but that's what my inner voice kept telling me as I read. Sandberg discussed how women often talk themselves out of being ambitious and applying for jobs because they think they aren't qualified. Conversely, men (generally speaking) do the opposite - they jump out there even when they aren't necessarily good fits for positions. Sandberg encourages women to take the plunge and to jump out there and learn on the job.

I mentioned earlier that reading this was timely. I had a really important interview yesterday. As a matter of fact, I was shocked when I got an email about interviewing. This morning, as I prepared to Skype into the interview, I thought, "Self, what would Sheryl do?" I commenced to getting myself together.  I put my shoulders back, held my head high, and leaned in to that interview. I gave it my best. I tried to be confident and poised, and most of all, I interviewed like I was deserving of the position. No matter what the outcome, I'm proud of myself. 

I still have a few chapters to go, but I had to tell y'all about it. This book got all up in my spirit! Sheryl gets a "Werk!" from me. Has any one out there read it? Are you hesitant to read it? I'm open to hearing about other folks' perspectives on the book, so feel free to leave a comment. 

Until next time . . . get like Sheryl! Lean in! 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Check us out!

Hey folks! Still drafting blog posts to publish later this week, but in the meantime, check Hubs and I out over here.

Hubs and I wrote a 3-part series for the blog, a blog "dedicated to building healthy and successful relationships for African-American professionals" according to their site.  We're sharing a little bit about how we went from online dating to taking a trip down the altar.

Until next time . . . be creative about dating if you're looking for someone special.  Give online dating a try!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Back to Blogging!


I took a little self-imposed break from blogging over the last week or so while we vacationed. I'll be back this week with pictures and stories from our West Coast trip and a few posts about some things that have been on my mind over the past week or so.

Talk soon!