My Prayer for Today

When I woke up this morning, my eyes, ears, mind, and heart were filled with stories of the tragedy in Las Vegas. The emotional flooding began . . .

-Sadness about the loss of 50 lives.
-Grief for the families and friends of each of those people.
-Fear about the unleashed hatred that confronts us daily.
-Gratitude for the quick response of  law enforcement, emergency personnel, and civilians who worked quickly at the scene.
-Appreciation for those who have already stepped up to give blood and help save lives.
-Disgust with the human condition and that the shooter’s anger/rage/fear/unknown was     big enough to visibly harm over 200 people, and non-visibly harm a band, and city, a         plethora a families, a state, a nation, and then some.
-Amazement at how quickly this news spread across the nation and to other nations.
-Exhaustion from listening to the internal voices asking “What can we do? What can we do? What can we do?”

Needless to say, I started thinking about how our world needs more empathy, more grace, more love.  What does that look like? How do I do that?

The news told of a young concert-goer who had witnessed M______ D_______ shouting, “You’re all going to die tonight” 45 minutes prior to the shooting. She was led out of the concert because she was disruptive.  This gave me pause.  Was this her last act of desperation? Could things have gone differently if someone had heard her? Obviously, someone heard her, as her quote can be found all over the news. What I mean is could things have gone differently if someone had actually listened to her? What if as she was being escorted out somebody asked “What do you mean? Is this something you’re concerned about? I hear you. Tell me more. What do you think will happen next?”

Could the shooter have been stopped? Minutes beforehand? Days beforehand? Weeks ago?  What if someone had really listened to him months ago and responded with “What do you mean? Is this something you’re concerned about? I hear you. Tell me more. What do you think will happen next?” Could we have gotten help for him?

I understand that this cannot undo the damage that has been done. There’s been a lot of damage. Lives have been lost. We must grieve.  I’m just thinking that as I move forward, as I grow, as I try to love fearlessly, that maybe I need to listen more courageously.  Not ignoring. Not hoping someone else will deal with it.  Not writing it off because it’s not my problem, but fearlessly asking the questions. Listening.  People who are hurting do not usually do the most drastic thing first.  Acts of desperation come from smaller pain that escalates. Sometimes the signs are there beforehand.  Sometimes it’s just a whisper.  Ignored whispers become screams.  Ignored screams become acts of desperation. What would happen if I listen when people are indicating pain?

When someone is talking about depression, or suicide, can I make a difference if I were to respond with “What do you mean? Is this something you’re concerned about? I hear you. Tell me more. What do you think will happen next?”

When someone is talking about anger, and wanting to inflict violence can I make a difference by responding with “What do you mean? Is this something you’re concerned about? I hear you. Tell me more. What do you think will happen next?”

When a nation of people are demonstrating their pain, can I make a difference by responding with “What do you mean? Is this something you’re concerned about? I hear you. Tell me more. What do you think will happen next?”

When someone is hinting about abuse/violence/neglect in their own home, can I make a difference by responding with “What do you mean? Is this something you’re concerned about? I hear you. Tell me more. What do you think will happen next?”

Could I make a difference if I just listened?

Lord, help me to listen to others.  Help me to respond to other people’s hearts when it is early enough to hear, to understand, to help.  Help me to be brave enough to ask difficult questions, to be there for others, to respond and help before their pain becomes “too big.” Help me to listen to people when they are whispering for help so that they don’t have to scream for help.  Lord, help me to intercede and intervene (or at least just listen) before another person’s pain escalates into an act of desperation.

Lord, surround me with others who will also listen.  When I am struggling, let me be near another who will hear me.  When my pain becomes “too big” and I am on the path toward  a bad decision, self-harm, or any other act of desperation, place people in my life who love fearlessly. People who will ask tough questions. People who will listen.

Lord, help me to be brave. Hope and healing happen in the light.   Topics like shootings, domestic violence, suicide, substance abuse, racism, hatred, sexual assault, and fear must be talked about—in the Light. We can not heal if we turn our faces away from these things. Help me to courageously speak up for humanity.  More importantly, help me to LISTEN to humanity. Help me to listen and respond when it is just a whisper. Help me to listen and respond when I hear a scream. Help me to listen and respond before it becomes an act of desperation.

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Speak Up for Puerto Rico – Part 2

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I woke up this morning and enjoyed a cup of coffee as I sat on my dry couch. When I looked up at the ceiling, I spotted a cobweb, and thought “I’ll clean that up right after I post this on social media.” I intend to call my sister today, because I haven’t talked to her for a few days. I have enough fuel to drive to see her in person if I want to. Before I go anywhere, I will shower in clean water, put on dry clothes, and drink some pure refreshing water. I might even eat some breakfast.

Today, the woman in the photo could only do one of the things that I listed. She woke up. 7 days ago Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, destroying the island. This is what she has woken up to each day since.  Each day gets worse. There is no electrical power.  Hospitals are shutting down.  Food is spoiling.  Farms were obliterated by the storms, so there will be no fresh food. There is no clean drinking water. Despair is growing.  Yes, the woman woke up today, but will she wake up tomorrow? What about the other 3 million American citizens who are trapped on the island?

#SpeakUpForPuertoRico – This is a “Major Disaster” and it must be declared a Major Disaster by the US president before they will receive all the help that is available. So far, it has been approved as an “Emergency Declaration” which does provide assistance, but not enough. #BeAVoice #PuertoRico

Image from
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/22/puerto-rico-still-without-power-receives-aid-from-ny-delegation.html

September Iris (A Golden Shovel Poem)

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Autumn approaches, kind and Just
Throwing hints of its arrival— aloof, cat-like

Prowling and batting frost through the passing moons,
But by day, hiding, napping, and

Basking in brightness, allowing heat like
a season of summer suns.

Leaves shed their green With
Emerald subsiding to olive before the
Tawny, coppery shades show with certainty.
Dried and crumbled memories fall off of  
Branches, covering the earth with umber tides.

Though the equinox expresses endings, you, Iris, are Just
Standing there, a September bloom, proud-like.
You remind me to harbor my hopes
Inward singing for eventual springing
Iris, surrounded by delicate falls, your standards held high.

The world tries to remind you that summer is settled, but Still
Here you are, Iris, regal and resplendent. I’ll
Remember watching you, Iris—brave, beautiful rebel—rise.

This a Golden Shovel Poem, which I learned about in Nikki Grime’s amazing book called
One Last Word.   

My Golden Shovel poem is written based on the 3rd stanza of “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou.

Speak Up for Puerto Rico

You may have noticed that you are not seeing much footage of the mess that is currently Puerto Rico. You may have noticed that you are not reading many Tweets and Facebook messages about the devastation that has happened in Puerto Rico. This does not mean that there is no problem.  In fact, it means we have a HUGE problem.  It means that we’re receiving no communication because they have no power. That’s right. No internet. No phones.  Nothing with which to charge a device.  Nothing to maintain food, sanitation, or even hospitals.  That means that more than 3.5 million people (American citizens, mind you) are trapped on an island that is completely flooded and has no power.

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Now, when Florida was ravaged by Hurricane Irma, and Texas was trampled by Hurricane Harvey (both filled with American citizens, just like Puerto Rico), there was a lot of coverage.  Not only did we have news reporters on site, but residents posted their own updates.  People shared photos of their neighbors rescuing others. People posted videos of First Response groups getting children out of cars.  People posted images of nature at its worst and humanity at its best.  Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube were filled with updates and we retweeted, liked, shared, and posted the updates.  The people in Puerto Rico can’t post updates.  

They. Have. No. Power.  

 

So, I did some math . . . 

3,679,086 people in Puerto Rico
-600,000 under age 14 (who might not have phones—overestimated, of course)
-750,000 over age 65 (who might not have phones—overestimated, of course)
  -329,086 (added margin of error so that my calculations are underestimated and cannot                    be dismissed as exaggeration)
____________________________________________
2,000,000 people left in Puerto Rico who would likely post updates on social media if they                     had electric power and internet.

They have been without power for 2 days.  If we underestimate that each person had been able to post twice per day (Bet you can’t Tweet just one!) on their chosen social media, we would be at 4 posts per person, which is 8,000,000 posts.  We are at least 8 million posts behind on Puerto Rico.  This might be why the news channels are not covering as much. This might be why #PuertoRico is not trending on social media. This might be why the president of the United States has not made his plans to go to Puerto Rico yet. We must speak up for Puerto Rico.  We are 8 million posts behind.  They can not communicate out to us, so we must be a voice for them.  8 million posts is a lot to do, so I would love help.
I will not stop until #PuertoRico is trending on Twitter and the US president makes known his plans to visit and directly address this territory of our nation.

I will be using the following hashtags if you’d like to help get to 8 million posts:

#PuertoRico   #SpeakUpForPuertoRico #8MillionPosts   #HurricaneMaria

Statistics taken from https://suburbanstats.org/population/how-many-people-live-in-puerto-rico

Stay Gold (texts to accompany The Outsiders)

Thank you, Mary Stassen, for inspiring this text list!  As requested, you will find books, videos, and a Newsela text set to serve as additional resources when you read The Outsiders with your class.  When you can, buy your books at an independent bookstore.  Anderson’s Bookshop is one of my favorites!

 

Newsela.Com text Set “Stay Gold!

BOOKS WITH SIMILAR THEMES AND/OR DISCUSSION POINTS

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander      

Josh Bell is a baller and a twin brother.  He needs to sort out what he has in common with his brother and how he is different.  He also needs to face the medical issue going on with his dad.

 

Solo by Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess  

This novel-in-verse tells the story of Blade and his broken rock-n-roll family.  Blade grieves the loss of his mom and the shame of  his drug-addicted father by writing his own songs.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson 

Melinda is miserable at school.  Kids laugh at her and make it obvious that they are doing so.  They are still mad at her about something that happened over the summer.  As she struggles through each day, she is trying to heal.  She was the one who was hurt, but nobody will know until she finds her voice.

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous 

This book is the diary of a high-school girl who Runs away from home, and gets mixed up with drugs.  At some points she seems like she has the world ahead of her.  Other times, she seems so lost . . .

 

Tyrell by Coe Booth  

Tyrell can’t get a break.  His mom is useless.  His dad is in jail.  He’s got a kid brother that needs too much from him, and a girlfriend that wants too much from him. All he wants is a place to live, and a new start.

Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes   

Wesley doesn’t write the required essay for Mr. Ward’s class, but he writes a poem. This leads to an open mic poetry event every week in Mr. Ward’s class.  Girls and boys from different races, cultures, and circumstances open up to each other through their shared words.


Between the Lines by Nikki Grimes (Available February 2018)
In this companion/sequel to Bronx Masquerade, Darrin is a  budding news reporter.  He and Mr. Ward bring back open mic poetry and a new group of students learn about each other through shared vulnerability.

 

Joseph: A Novel by Sheila P. Moses  

Joseph is about to start at a new school.  The problem is, it’s hard to get to know anyone when you can’t talk about your life.  Joseph and his mom live in a homeless shelter, because she can’t keep a steady job with her drug and alcohol addictions.  Joseph is trying to figure out how to help her while he also tries to deal with his own life.

Bottled Up by Jaye Murray  

Pip is desperate to escape his life – he skips school, drinks, and gets high trying to escape.  When Pip gets in trouble at school,  the principal gives him an ultimatum:  See a counselor, or his dad will be called.  Pip will do ANYTHING to avoid his father, so he sees the counselor, who wants him to see what he’s doing to himself and to his little brother.

Handbook for Boys by Walter Dean Myers   

Jimmy and Kevin could really use a guide to life.

Their activities almost land them in juvenile detention until Duke employs them in his Harlem barbershop. Duke has rules for everything. But is he offering good advice or just more aggravation?

Scorpions by Walter Dean Myers    

Lately everybody’s messing with Jamal. His teachers, the kids at school, even his dad. And now that Jamal’s brother Randy’s in the slam, Crazy Mack has a crazy idea. He wants Jamal to take control of the Scorpions and run crack.

All the gang jive–Jamal has no use for it. Unless, like some say, it’s the only way to “get money” for Randy’s appeal…

The story of twelve-year-old Jamal, whose life changes drastically when he acquires a gun.

 

I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets:
Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous & Obscure
by Larry Smith

Based on Earnest Hemingway’s six-word-story, teens wrote their own six-word-memoirs—powerful, vulnerable, truth-telling memoirs.

 

Boot Camp by Todd Strasser   

After getting caught with drugs, fifteen year-old Garrett is sent to Lake Harmony, a disciplinary boot camp for troubled teens.  At the boot camp, Garrett is abused and controlled until he “obeys all orders immediately and without hesitation.”  Part of him wants to escape, and part of him is terrified to break any more rules.  Can he escape while he still has his own personality?

Teen Angst? Naaah… by Ted Vizzini  

Ned’s angsty teen memoirs can be read in order, or not.  Each chapter is complete and can  stand alone.

YOUTUBE VIDEOS 

Thug Notes: The Outsiders (Warning: Explicit Language)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJl3cEOpFH4

Gone With the Wind in 60 Seconds
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIpNvvVN13Y

Bunnies: Gone With the Wind
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsOIn0IBAdA

Interview with S.E. Hinton
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJnfleLeOZg

Robert Frost recites “Nothing Gold Can Stay”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDPUdK2tcdA

Stop-Action Animation “Nothing Gold Can Stay” (Good For CCSS RL7)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLYj1A5Z_t8

 

Elfchen (Das Trio)

 

The prompt was to write a double elevenie, or Elfchen.  I chose to write 3 single Elfchens that are not related in any way.

 

Sommer-
Frische Luft
Eliminiert die Belastung
Jetzt kann ich atmen
Erneuerung

 

 

Grazia
Amore sacrificale
Elimina la vergogna
Asimmetrico, benevolo, e intenzionale
Libertà

 

 

Oprimido
Marginalizado agora
Além das fronteiras
Último será o primeiro
Afinal

 

 

 

NaPoWriMo.net  DAY 23  “Our prompt for Day Twenty-Three comes to us from Gloria Gonsalves, who challenges us to write a double elevenie. What’s that? Well, an elevenie is an eleven-word poem of five lines, with each line performing a specific task in the poem. The first line is one word, a noun. The second line is two words that explain what the noun in the first line does, the third line explains where the noun is in three words, the fourth line provides further explanation in four words, and the fifth line concludes with one word that sums up the feeling or result of the first line’s noun being what it is and where it is. There are some good examples in the link above.”