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Critical Literacy in Working-Class Schools

“School success is tied to systematic inequalities that persist from generation to generation.”

Working-Class Perspectives

In her recent post Kathy Newman discusses the lengths to which schools go to improve students’ high-stakes test scores and reminds us that parents’ income is the best predictor of students’ performance on standardized tests.  Nevertheless, when working-class public school students perform poorly on high-stakes tests we say to the teachers, “It’s your fault.  Teach better!”  What we get is teachers who teach worse:  lessons become scripted and rote.  And we say to students, “It’s your fault.  Try harder!”  What we get are students who become even more alienated and less motivated.

Of course, lurking behind the whole issue of high-stakes testing is our faith in the concept of the concept of meritocracy.  Only when meritocracy is rigorously defined and the assumptions underlying it are stated explicitly, does it become problematic.

Meritocracy starts with the assumption that, by and large, all American children start kindergarten or first grade on a…

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Why are you making it so hard to go on vacation?

I came across this blog, reposted on Twitter http://thesabloggers.org/why-is-it-so-hard-to-just-go-on-vacation/?utm_source=feedly. It struck a chord with me, as I’ve found myself having a lot of conversation around this idea of vacation and guild with colleagues and friends (as it pertains specifically to the field of Student Affairs). So I felt compelled to write my own thoughts.

There seems to be an unwritten rule and culture within Student Affairs that working until you drop makes you a good SA professional. People often take pride in having no life outside of thier job. “I worked 55 hours today” they may say with a smile. “Oh yah, well I had two student meetings back to back that lasted until midnight and then I had to come back in office at 8am to finish the logistics for this weekend’s events” is the response from another. Sound familiar? I’ve heard it time and time again, and used to find myself doing the same thing until one day I took a step back and said “Waaaait a minute. Something is wrong with this picture.”

So now there’s the new me, happy to not check emails once I leave the office (even when my email alerts seem to be going bizerk on my phone), ecstatic to get off around 5’ish on a good day, and happy not to think about the office once I’m gone for the day. But yet this type of behavior is often looked down upon. Why is that? How has this “work until you drop” culture been instilled in the field as the thing that defines you as a “good SA professional?” Now, I’m in no way saying all work places, employees, or supervisors support abide by this or work in this fashion. But, in my experience so far, I have found this culture more often than not.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE this field, and I will stay until I get the job done. But at the end of the day, when I go on vacation, I GO ON VACATION!…and I’d like to not be made to feel guilty for doing so. 🙂

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The Road to Curing Dark Eye Circles Starts With Sweet Almond Oil

So if you’re like me, you’ve been battling dark under-eye circles since…well forever. For me they’re heriditary. On nights where I don’t get enough sleep I often resemble a racoon that wore too much mascara. That’s what I like to think anyways.

I’ve tried everything: expensive eye creams, concealer, getting more sleep…but I never noticed anything dramatically different. Upon a Facebook posting asking the question , “What eye cream do you use for dark eye circles?”, my cousin told me about Sweet Almond Oil as a natural way to combat them. Hmmmm, I had never heard of this before, so I started looking it up. I found quite a bit of [online] literature and information referencing it’s use.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/300227-sweet-almond-oil-for-dark-circles/

Well, I figured as much as I’ve spent on a tube of L’ancome I could “invest” in a $20 bottle of Sweet Almond Oil at Whole Foods. Couldn’t hurt to try.

(Note: there is a difference between sweet almond oil and regular almond oil. Make sure you’re using the correct one.)

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Routine: I use it every night before bed after I wash my face. To use, take a drop of the oil (it doesn’t take much) and gently rub it under your eye in a back and forth motion using your ring finger. It doesn’t totally absorb right away, so if it’s slightly oily, that’s okay. But, it also shouldn’t be dripping down your face.

Note: For the first two days I used the oil both under my eye and under the brow bone. I started developing milia immediately under my brow bone, so I stopped putting oil there.

I failed to take a before picture at the start of the process. I didn’t think about it until four days later. But I do have pics showing the gradual progression over the course of two months. The results are pretty amazing!!

After only four days of use I began to notice a slight difference….or maybe that was wishful thinking. There appeared to be a softening of the skin under my eyes. They didn’t appear as deep set as they normally do, and I looked a tad less tired.

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Four Days

After 2 weeks, I noticed a slight lightening of the hyper pigmentation. I also started to notice a decrease in fine lines. My eyes no longer looked so sunken in.

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After 2 weeks

This photo was taken about one month into my use of sweet almond oil. I think I was tired, making my dark circles more prominent than normal. However, notice the reduction of fine lines, and the skin under my eye is a lot smoother.

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After one month

AND FINALLY……

Two months later! And no, there is no filter!! 🙂

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Two months

No eye cream or oil is ever going to make dark eye circles completely disappear. But, the sweet almond oil DEFINITELY made a significant difference. Not only has it subsided the hyper pigmentation, but it has decreased the appearance of fine lines. I still choose to use a concealer at times, but it’s nowhere near the same challenge of cover-up as it was before.

For $20, it was worth it! Now, go out and buy some! 🙂

When You Don’t Like Your Reflection, Change It!

Have you ever had a moment where you’ve looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize the person staring back at you? It’s in those moments that an internal shift begins. You can continue as this unrecognizable person, or you can make a choice to find yourself again. It’s not an easy decision to make, let me tell you. A few months ago that was me.

It seemed my life was spinning, and I was struggling to regain control. I was discouraged and disappointed in myself for various reasons. I noticed that I was attracting energy and people that reflected what I was putting out into the world. I blamed others for their actions, when, in reality I was allowing people to treat me according to how I felt about myself. I put more time into thinking about what other people thought about me rather than focusing on how I felt about myself. Now, at the time, I would have never believed any of this. But you know what they say: Hindsight is 20/20.

That moment I looked in the mirror and didn’t like what I was seeing was the moment I decided to take a stance. Enough was enough. But sometimes you have to hit the bottom before you can start climbing towards the top. I begin to take responsibility for my life and my actions. No more blaming others for their actions towards me, no more misplaced frustrations, no more blaming the world. This negativity was attracting negative people (whose lives were in as much upheaval as my own), causing me to engage in negative actions, placing doubt on my self-esteem and self-worth, trying to hold on to unreciprical relationships (all encompassing)…all so I did not have to think about or focus on what was really going on. I mean, who wants to really do that? I had to realize my place and responsibility in the spinning tornado that was my life. It was time to take control.

I am finding myself in a new place of happiness. It wasn’t an easy place to get to. Within this, I have noticed that my postitive energy is attracting positive things. I am meeting great people, establishing new, healthy relationships (all encompassing), and not allowing the negativity of the world to have a place in my life. I’m taking more control of my thoughts. I’m not giving time to the over analyzation of ill actions or things that I have no control over. I’m appreciating my time and using it towards positive thinking. I’m reading books to help shape my thought. I’m not putting time into relationships that are not recipricol, but I’m also not holding a grudge. I am learning I cannot control other people’s actions, but I can control my reactions. I am confident in myself and my abilities. I’m finding new hobbies and ways to use my time. I appreciate the moments I have alone to myself. I smile at the small things and stay in a space of gratitude.

No, my life is in no way perfect. It’s a daily effort to be positive, but it feels SO much better.

Life is beautiful, and I love what I’m seeing in the mirror. 🙂

The First Step to Self-Improvement is Changing Your Self-Talk

I am an intensely spiritual person deeply embedded in my faith. I believe everything happens for a reason, life is a journey to a larger purpose, fate is outside of my hands and is up to a higher power, and people come in and out of our lives – some being seasonal, others here to stay. Well, I also believe in a lot of other things too, but for the sake of this post I’ll keep the list short.

Have you ever had those moments where it seems like you’re receiving the same message over and over from various sources? It could be different people that have no connection to each other, a message you come across on a Yogi Tea bag, or even a book recommendation that aligns with a larger thought that you’ve been processing in your mind. Well, that was just the experience I had over the weekend.

The start to my day began with a lengthy conversation with someone I’ve known for a while and hold dear to my heart, I was pointedly told about my tendency to lead my life by assumptions: about what people think, how they may feel, and the actions I then take according to the new reality I have set for myself. I found it quite interesting. Instead of completely shutting down the idea and being on the defense, I decided to reflect on it.

The day concluded with a long overdue conversation with my twin. (No, I don’t actually have one, but we might as well be.) We talked about life, self-realization, growth and change, recognizing one’s behavioral challenges, and finding the tools to overcome them, improve, and change. Within this came two recommended books by Don Miguel Ruiz: The Four Agreements & The Mastery of Love. I looked them up and loved what they were about, so I ordered them from Amazon:

The Four Agreements reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. When we are ready to change these agreements, there are four deceptively simple, yet powerful agreements that we can adopt as guiding principles:

  1. Be impeccable with your word
  2. Don’t take anything personally
  3. Don’t make assumptions
  4. Always do your best

“The Mastery of Love illuminates the fear-based beliefs and assumptions that undermine love and lead to suffering and drama in our relationships. Using insightful stories to bring his message to life, Ruiz shows us how to heal our emotional wounds, recover the freedom and joy that are our birthright, and restore the spirit of playfulness that is vital to loving relationships.”

http://www.miguelruiz.com/index.php?p=books 

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The next day I got to work and found a devotional book a co-worker had left on my desk. I was going to put it away and read it at a later time, but something told me to open it up to the message of the day. Imagine my surprise:

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Coincidence? I think not!

Sometimes, things line up for us to recieve a larger message, and it’s up to us to pay attention and be receptive to what the universe is trying to tell us.

As for me, I’m looking forward to spending this upcoming weekend reading and reflecting, heading down the path of continuously becoming a better me, trying to plant better seeds of positivity, releasing myself of fear, and creating healthy self-talk & better self-fulfilling prophecies. 🙂

 

Don’t Be Afraid to Be You!

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This rang deep and true tonight. I cannot count the numbers of time…a week…I get the age old questions:

“When are you going to stop moving?”
“When are you going to settle down?”
“We have bets on when you’re going to buy a house.”
“Don’t you want to get married?
“When are you going to have kids?”
“How are you going to do [any of the above] if you keep living your life the way that you do?”

Most of the times these questions are pretty offensive. Okay, all of the time. And they usually come from people I know. These aren’t strangers. They are friends, acquaintances, sometimes family members. It gets old trying to explain myself, or even feeling like I have to explain or justify my life to someone else. Because, the fact of the matter is, my life is my own. We’re ALL on different journeys and paths. We all reach specific destinations along that path when it’s our time. 

I’m very deeply rooted in my faith and the belief that God has a plan for me. This was confirmed for me this evening when I happened to open up to tonight’s devotional with these thoughts on my mind:

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“Love Out Loud: 365 Devotions for Loving God, Loving Yourself, and Loving Others” – Joyce Meyer

My plan definitely looks nothing like yours, or yours, or yours over there in the corner. And that’s okay. Because my life is not supposed to look like anything else’s but my own. So, reading this today rang true and clear.

I don’t follow the typical “rules” of society. If that were the case I’d be in the white picket-fenced house with a two-car garage and a family of four, not because it’s what I want, but because it’s what I’m “supposed” to do as a young woman of forever 25. I’m not sure where the seed was planted by society to set up boxes of artificial rules that are only applicable to…hmmmm…NO ONE! And everyone buys into it at some point until you become confident enough in yourself to be okay with “breaking the rules.”

I live my life according to the journey and path God has set out for me. This path is not always smooth sailing; it’s not supposed to be. It’s full of obstacles and detours. But, this life of mine has taken me overseas, allowed me to see places I never thought would be possible, placed me living in multiple states, provided me with multiple job opportunities and a professional career, has removed seasonal people from my life when its their time to go and left me with amazing people who are here to stay. Is everyday sunshine and rainbows for me? No. Are there things that I sometimes wish were already in place? Sure. I’m human. But overall I am filled with a feeling of content and happiness, because I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. 

So, when people ask me “how do you do what you do with the strength in which you do it?”, all I can say is all of THIS is beyond me. In fact, it has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with Him. But, that’s just my journey…

…And I’m sticking to it!

Eating Orange Chicken While Learning To Be Human

It was one of those days today. You know the kind, where you cannot wait to leave work because your eyes are so heavy you’re about to drop. I barely made the one minute walk it takes me to get from my office to my apartment (I guess I’m kind of lucky that way). As soon as I got home I threw on pajamas, poured a glass of wine, and stared at my bed, tempted to just turn out the lights and go to sleep. Did I mention it was 5:30pm?

But I was hungry, out of fresh produce, and the only meal-type substance was the Trader Joes’s package of frozen orange chicken that I intended to combine with left over brown rice. A dinner that I would normally crave every once in awhile, but then close the freezer instead and turn to grilled chicken and fresh veggies. But today the package came out. Because it was a long day, and I was hungry.

As I took the finished chicken out of the oven and poured that oh so yummy orange glaze over it, my stomach turned just a little. What was that? Had to be nothing. One night of breaded, high fructose-glazed chicken wasn’t going to kill me, right?

I got down a bowl, filled it with rice, added the chicken, and made sure to get some of the extra glaze with a spoon. But as I saw down and ate it, I found myself overcome with a feeling of dissatisfaction. All I could think about was “I wish I hadn’t been so lazy to drive the 5 minutes it takes to get to the grocery store and make a fresh meal. How much yummier a fresh green salad would taste right about now.” You know the feeling – when your body is so used to eating “healthy” (a relative term – but for me meaning no fried or breaded foods, low in calories and fat, etc.) and you go off the course KNOWING it’s not going to be good for you, but you give in to tempation anyway? Yet all it results in is a yucky stomach and pounds of regret? Yah, that one.

So as I sat, eating my orange chicken, wishing I had stuck with my gut knowing what the outcome would be but doing it anyways, wishing I had made better choices, I reflected on life choices. I thought about the difficult and challenging decisions I have had to make along my journey to get to where I am today. I thought about being stuck in that moment of feeling that causes us to forget about all of the hard work and hard decisions we’ve had to make for ourselves and our well-being in order to get to the point in which we’re at right now…and for all of it to go downhill or backwards in that moment of weakness. It’s the same story each time, and it only leaves feelings of dissatisfaction, guilt, regret, and sometimes disappointment (in ourselves).

So as I sat, eating my orange chicken, thinking about it’s metaphor for all of the other things in my life, I stopped. I listened to my [now disgruntled] gut and realized I know what’s best for me!

Life’s choices aren’t easy. There’s plenty of times I want to contact someone from the past knowing the end result is always going to be the same and it never turns out any good. There’s that sweet tooth of mine that would rather be eating fruit tarts and Subway cookies instead of fresh made juices and smoothies. Oh, and don’t forget about the infamous Snooze button that I’d rather press in the morning instead of getting out of bed and getting in some exercise.

Life is a constant battle of choice. As I continue living and learning, I’m learning to allow myself to focus on my accomplishments and achievements. I am learning to leave room for forgiveness of myself for the mistakes I am sure to make along the way. I will not get so deep rooted in moments of mishap that I allow myself to get completely off course, because I will recognize that I am human.

We live and we learn! BUT, the next time I see some orange chicken, I will most DEFINITELY be running the other way!