Learning to Love the Word: BLACK–Simple as That!

September 24, 2016 was my oldest son’s birthday. While he and his father decided they’d celebrate his day by hanging out with a couple of his friends, my youngest son and I attended a #CharlotteUprising protest rally. This would be our first human rights march and it was a beautiful, perfectly warm day to do so. Our march led to city hall and back to Marshall Park. 

To be honest, my son and I were both nervous and a little apprehensive. For him, he didn’t want to leave the comforts of home in exchange for a large crowd of chanting strangers. While I, on the other hand, was anxious due to a lot of built-up emotion combined with the state emergency Mayor Jennifer Roberts had declared on the city of Charlotte–leaving many with an uneasiness to show uptown due to a heavy police and national guard presence.

It was due to my slight reluctance and my son’s fear of going that ultimately convinced me that our attendance was absolutely necessary. He and I both needed to see–in person–a diverse group of people standing together for a recently created movement and common cause known as: #BlackLivesMatter

I assured him that, while I was uncertain how things would go (because this, too, was my first protest) we’d be safe and IF the slightest bit of danger and/or unlawfulness presented itself, we’d leave: NO QUESTIONS ASKED. 

So, off we went and arrived at Marshall Park around 1pm. As soon as we got out I knew this was a most wonderful decision because we immediately joined another a family at the crosswalk whose children seemed interested in saying hi to my son. It was only a short walk to Marshall Park and parking proved to be easy which instantly help ease some of my apprehension about going in the first place. 

Before we entered the park we were warmly greeted by volunteers, with enormous smiles, who quickly acknowledged me and my son and advised us on where to get plugged in, registered and where to find snacks and water that awaited everyone in attendance. 

As we made our way downhill I could feel both my son and I relax because the crowd’s energy was so calm, happy and LOVING. There were families of almost every demographic, grandparents, babies, children running around and adorable dogs. There were also plenty of professionals from all sorts of business sectors present along with reporters, press and police (who were there respectfully reassuring that our right to peaceful protest was carried out). 

Every so often we were offered water and granola bars by complete strangers–even before the march started. Throughout the march, people made sure we were okay. Though we were both tired once the hour walk ended back at Marshall Park, both my son and I appeared dramatically more confident after the march versus how we both appeared beforehand–NERVOUS. 

I firmly believe it’s because throughout this march people around us continuously shouted and affirmed alongside us something I’ve never felt and heard any mass of people proclaim before is that: #BlackLivesMatter

It was during my own shouting of these words–that almost seemed to leap over the rooftops of Charlotte’s uptown skyscrapers–that I realized, all of my life I’ve been wanting to scream, affirm and fervently beckon that my life, my husband and our sons’ lives matter–AND our BLACKNESS matters too!

During the march, my son immensely watched the crowd (especially me) and marched alongside us every step of the way but remained completely quiet. I’d check on him often to make certain he could carry on and while I could see he was growing tired and sweating–he advised me that he’d be okay and could carry on. Once the march drew near the end, we both quietly got back into our truck and quietly headed home–both of us reflecting on what we just experienced.

Our silence on the way back home spoke volumes and then nothing at all–all at the same time.

It wasn’t until we were back home and nestled back into the comfort of our favorite blankets that I began to hear my son telling his daddy and older brother about his experience at the #CharlotteUprising in honor of #BlackLivesMatter. 

Listening to my son from the next room made me realize one thing: people (in general) often have an issue with calling a person of color–BLACK. Even some black people have an issue with calling themselves and other people of color who identify as black–BLACK

Then I admitted to myself that I have an issue with calling myself and other people of color: BLACK. 

I believe this is due to common archetypes associated with the color black like villians and evil characters combined with other negative stereotypes we have of black such as darkness, the process of rotting/decay and looking into the unknown when we stare into darkness.

Yet during the march my son and I saw people of all colors proclaiming the same message: #BlackLivesMatter–they’d say (with raised fists and deep passion) over and over again. It was though the crowd unapologetically bade us to proclaim our blackness while their repeated chants harbored black people’s proclamation that we matter, they see us, love us and that they (non-blacks) care.

It was through my son’s recall of events and the chants he so easily recalled to his father and brother that I realized a spark had been lit within him on simply learning how to love saying the word BLACK. In that same thought I openly admitted to myself that I had began learning to appreciate with defiant vigor and audacity the word: BLACK. 

I vowed right then and there that my simply saying: #BLACKLIVESMATTER and that overlooking my blackness (and all that being black in America entails) was now a thing of the past; having promised myself that I will live in my blackness and make no equivocations about it.

So, in my journey–learning to love saying the word BLACK, I invite others to attempt to love saying the word BLACK  because black is truly beautiful.

Here are a few pictures from our beautiful day at #CharlotteUprising| #StandUpForCharlotte march protest for the #BlackLivesMatter movement. 

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There’s Beauty in Dogwalks & 5 O’clock Traffic: When Blood Cancer is @ Play

Today, I struggled to get dressed and leave the house; not because I didn’t want to but due to fatigue–cancer fatigue that is. You see, two and half years ago I was diagnosed with something I’ve been unknowingly living with for over 20 years: myelofibrosis (Mf). It is a rare, chronic blood cancer (of the bone marrow). 

Though incurable, Mf is treatable and I’ve already been living with it for over two decades–so saying it’s my ‘new normal’ is somewhat of an understatement. I merely take an aspirin daily and iron supplements 2-3 times/weekly. Needless to say, sometimes it takes me awhile to get out of the house but once I’m out–I make the most of my day, running errands and simply BEing. 

Because we unschool, there’s no official school schedules to keep or mandatory meetings to make. Therefore, our schedule leave lots of flexibility for us to rest and do things according to how each day goes vs trying to plan a week ahead.

With that said, our kids have developed a new crave: the SKATEPARK and they want to go daily. 😅 I love that they’ve found something they’re engulfed in with zero pressure from us, therefore, every time we go we spend no less than two hours there. 

On today, we decided to go later than our ‘usual time’ and that time coincided with 5 o’clock traffic. We also decided to take our dog and go to the carwash before the skatepark.Once at the park we unloaded bookbags, skateboards and of course–the dog. Though I was exhausted from the carwash and even prior to leaving home, I decided while at the park I’d walk the dog. While walking around the perimeter of the park I noticed that a major parallel street alongside the park was congested due to 5 o’clock traffic. 

Right then and there I stopped and took a moment to reflect on my life, my health and while simultaneously watching our boys skate so carefree.

I remembered a time when I would’ve only viewed traffic as a ‘nightmare’ and would’ve been not so enthused about walking the dog in the heat BUT here I was being grateful and emotional watching 5 o’clock traffic.

Immediately I decided I had to take a few pictures. What better time to, right? Right. Hence came the title of this entry because now I am able to appreciate being able to view traffic, take a picture of it–all while walking the dog. What this means to me is I’m still healthy enough to do and observe all of these things on my own–by myself. 

So, if you’d like to take away one thing from my story just know this:

There’s beauty in dogwalks and 5 o’clock traffic: especially when there’s illness (and in my case–rare, chronic blood cancer) @ play.

#September #BloodCancerAwarenessMonth #LivingWithMf

 

I Want to Be Homeschooled! 

Our entire week was beautiful–simply put. We had gorgeous weather, celebrated our youngest’s birthday, spent time with our family on Saturday and enjoyed plenty of good food and laughter.

Then on Sunday, we packed a small cooler, picked up a few friends, bought slushies and headed to a small, immaculate park right outside our city limits. Our decision proved to be more fun than any of us could’ve imagined. Little did we know, the park we’d been playing at for over two hours also had a water fountain. Once the fountain was turned on, it took all of one minute for the kids to decide they were getting WET!

All I had to do was be present, enjoy the moment and take in the beautiful instances of pure, unadulterated happiness that unfolded. For us, this is how unschooling occurs on a daily basis–unplanned, spontaneous yet once we’re engaged we tend to absorb the most fun we can possibly endure out of each and every moment. 

There’s usually only two basic rules no matter where we go: 

1. be safe and 2. have FUN!

This weekend, my family showed a huge capacity to have fun and maximize the most fun out of each day. Some events were planned while others weren’t. Every moment wasn’t a highlight yet in the past when my children have proclaimed, “I want to be homeschooled!”, I would’ve missed authentic instances of learning taking place. Now, it’s weeks like these that help to solidify my family’s decision to homeshcool–more radically so–to unschool. 

Parents need only to facilitate learning (and sometimes outright suggest possible interests) while understanding unschooling isn’t an absence of learning but a pathway to unlimited, authentic learning!

Thank you for your time and here are some moments from our week. We hope you enjoy them.

BEcoming an Official Unschooling Homeschool

I am a mother of two boys, 13 & 9. Our family is typical as any other family & like any other family–we’re also weird in our own individual rights. 

A brief history of how we got here: 

Our unsuspecting homeschool journey unofficially began about six years ago. Our then second grader came home from school one day and empathetically demanded he be homeschooled. 

Needless to say, we didn’t listen to him and insisted HE had no clue what he was talking about nor did he understand what educational goals he should be obtaining; after all, he was only in second grade, RIGHT? 

Ironically, his second grade teacher had homeschooled her two young adult sons and happily watched them go off to college. 

Once I learned of her family’s homeschooling experience, me being the insanely curious person I am, began drilling her on every aspect of what they did and didn’t do.

Those conversations proved to be profound in they began helping me see homeschooling as a serious, realistic option for my family. 

It would take another six years with tons of reading and to listening to every, single TEDTalks I could glue my eyes and ears to–before we finally withdrew our kids from their neighborhood schools this year. 

So, here we are and here I am beginning a blog about our ordinary, extraordinary lives. 

I hope you enjoy our stories and see all of our imperfections in discovering ourselves through this radical, educational revolution called unschooling!

Let the journey begin!