Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Noble with words

While cleaning recently, I found a typed note from an anonymous writer who graciously mailed me after I spoke at an event. Well, so I wasn't really cleaning. I was thinking about cleaning and tripped over a box and the note was on the floor. I picked it up. That is considered cleaning.

In any regard, the note corrected my grammar. The message was simple. It included a noun, verb, and an odd statement about a word I used that didn't exist. There was no return address. There were no fingerprints on the paper or envelope.

To be honest, I was actually impressed with her typing skills and devotion to correct grammar use. Although it's been several years, I still think the note is adorable. I would never take the time to type a message, including the address on the envelope, and then purchase a stamp and actually mail it.

I kept the note as a reminder that perfection would never be an option for me. I also wanted to remind myself that making up words while speaking to crowds of people can cause grammatical pandemonium, but it might sell stamps.

To be honest, I understood the writer's need to inform me that my use of a word was incorrect. It probably kept her awake for many nights. Writing me gave her some satisfaction that one less person in the world would misuse a word. When she mailed the note, she could finally get some rest. She was at peace with me, myself, and I.

There was also a time a woman told me all that was wrong with Longleaf Style magazine and how her writing was better than mine. She didn't come right out and tell me that, but she made it pretty clear she was a real editor and the magazine was looking to save money by hiring me as managing editor because I missed a spelling error. It was such an amazingly awkward conversation.

A few weeks after our conversation, she sent me something she wrote and asked if I would consider publishing it. I thought about sending her an anonymous letter. But, I didn't have a stamp.

My two grammatical benefactors are not alone in feeling the urge to share mistakes.

I admit that I irritate my students all the time by correcting their grammar. I plead with them to overcome the sickness associated with using only lowercase letters and no punctuation. But, it's my duty to rid them of the linguistic plague that attacks with a vengeance.

If we do not stand together and become the glue that bonds words, inflections, punctuation, and functions of the alphabet, then we are nothing.

So, today, during Noble Prize Week, I wish to salute my anonymous writer and the real editor, who both helped me to appreciate the power of words.

Because, I've learned that we must all not only use words correctly, but we must be noble with them.

Apology to Three

Have you ever noticed that the number three is somewhat of an odd-number out? One is a lonely number and pairs are exceptional and balanced. But, when you add one more to two, which every math genius knows makes three, something changes.

Three is a crowd.

Three is the bear who suggests leaving porridge on the table to take a stroll in the woods with two other bears, only to have a sleepy intruder sample his porridge and break his chair.

Three is like a wheel that doesn't have much use unless you add another wheel, which is only good if you are riding a tricycle. Then again, a bike on two wheels is much more fun than a tricycle, which can be easily throw you off balance if you shift your weight too far to the left or right.

Three is that person who can't seem to get the message that he is irritating when he constantly tells computer algorithm jokes and no one gets them.

Truth be told, three is the guy who bought a sword at a novelty shop and bragged to his two buddies that he was an expert swordsmen and ended up a musketeer.

I admit that I haven't always been fond of three. To me, it seems like bad things always seem to happen in threes. But, lately I've had to face my own harsh judgement towards three.

Three is a precious baby who was produced from the union of two.

Three is that person who rescues you from a lagging conversation between you and a guy telling jokes about computer algorithms.

Three is a number multiplied by it's square. There is a joke about this a guy was telling recently, but I sort of checked out...

Since I'm now a teacher, three is tenure.

But, what I realize most of all is that three is the Holy Trinity - the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost.

So, with that, I officially apologize to three for all the years of  believing you were odd. Even if you are odd cause you are not even...




Sunday, June 29, 2014

God loves ugly

I'm not sure why so many women hate themselves. We are our own worst enemies. We hide behind masks of Almay, Bare Essentials, and CoverGirl. We embellish ourselves with vanity and pride. We completely ignore our heart.

I'm most bewildered at Christian women who look in the mirror and can't see their beauty. 

I love the song God Loves Ugly by Christa Black. It's not a new song. It was released in 2010. This song is a real journey. In her book, God Loves Ugly and Love Makes Beautiful, she reveals her own struggles with childhood sexual abuse, an eating disorder, and depression. 

I can't relate to the sexual abuse, but I can relate to her struggle to love herself and see herself as beautiful. Sometimes, I turn on this song and just listen to it over and over. I soak in all the words and allow them to permeate inside my head and heart. 

Her song has power because it's her personal realization that what the world sees as ugly, God sees as beautiful. It's a song that I encourage you to turn on, then close your eyes and focus on what she's saying. It's a great song for those days when even Almay, Bare Essentials, and CoverGirl can't help you.

Listen here>> God Loves Ugly by Christa Black

"You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you." Song of Solomon 4:7



3RD ANNUAL CANTINAS CHRISTIAN SONG SEARCH

CANTINAS FOUNDATION, IN ASSOCIATION WITH DREAM LABEL GROUP, ANNOUNCES 3RD ANNUAL CANTINAS CHRISTIAN SONG SEARCH

Non-Profit Organization Launches National Contest for Music that Moves

cid:_com_android_email_attachmentprovider_5_4097_RAW@sec.galaxytabLos Angeles, Calif. (June 26, 2014) – In support of the many talented, undiscovered, and independent Christian artists everywhere, the Cantinas Foundation in association with Dream Label Group, has begun its nationwide search for that special song that deserves to be heard by the masses.  To enter, eligible contestants must be 18 years of age or older and are required to submit a video recording of an original song to cantinasmusic.com before July 1.  The panel of judges includes Grammy winning recording artist, Michael W. Smith, the Dream Label Group, and the Cantinas Foundation along with additional celebrity judges to be announced.  The contest winner will be awarded a $2000 cash prize, an opening performance slot for Grammy nominated and Dove-award winning group, MercyMe at the California Mid-State Fair, and the opportunity to record their song with a leading Christian music producer through Cantinas Music and then marketed with the Dream Label Group.

“Our hope is to broaden the platform for a songwriter to use their God given ability to glorify Him through song for an ‘audience of one,’” says Wendy Hughes, co-founder and executive director of the Cantinas Foundation. “To help them find their voice and share their message beyond their local church, coffeehouse, or city and broaden the scope of their reach.  We’re excited about our new relationship with the Dream Label Group in this pursuit.”

“The Dream Label Group is proud to partner with the Cantinas Foundation in search of the next great Christian song by the next Music Missionary!,” added Gina Hanley, Dream Label Group VP.  “DREAM is very certain of their purpose and calling… and that is to develop, train, mentor, release, promote and market world-class Music Missionaries.”
The winner of the 2013 Cantinas Song Search, James Powell, hails from Apopka, Fla. and entered last year's contest with his original song, titled, "I Do."  James recently flew to Nashville to record the song with award winning country music recording artist and Producer, Mark Collie and Grammy award winning songwriter and Producer, Gordon Kennedy at the famous Columbia Studio A on historic Music Row.   The 2013 contest label partner, Raylynn Records, is currently drafting promotional plans to release the song nationwide.

As contest judge and Cantinas Board of Governors member Michael W. Smith expresses, “The Arts influence generations.  We, as believers, need to lead the way in creating things that are beautiful, original, and superior in quality and that glorify the Creator.  I applaud the Cantinas Foundation’s commitment to excellence in teaching, advancing and promoting the arts.  I believe the outcome of their efforts will have global and eternal impact that will help and encourage generations to come.”

Cantinas Foundation is a 501 ( c)(3) organization that strives to provide opportunities for Christian leaders to be change agents that can touch lives through concerts, music festivals, community service outreaches, cutting edge technology, and the non-profit funding of music, theatre, art, dance, and media that the entire family can enjoy.  Founded in 2004, by California natives and philanthropists, Wayne B. Hughes, Jr. and his wife Wendy Hughes, the Cantinas Foundation entails many facets including the Celebration of the Arts workshops, the In the Word Bible Study program, and the newly formed Cantinas Dance Project.

DREAM RECORDS approach and model is to not only sign and develop artist in the traditional manner of promoting an artist to the top of the traditional music industry and market – but also not forgetting about the church-based artist and developing a solid foundation of artist that are called, committed and targeted to reach their local, regional and world markets.  Regardless of the genre, DREAM is very certain of their purpose and calling… and that is to develop, train, mentor, release, promote and market world-class “Music Missionaries”. For more information, please visit  www.dreamrecords.org.

For more information regarding the Cantinas Christian Song Search, please visit www.cantinasmusic.com.


Friday, January 31, 2014

The Empty Chair

In one brief moment, I realized that all of the questions I had about my new journey had been answered. God’s reply wasn’t in words, but in a gut-wrenching feeling that I was right where I needed to be in that moment.

“Please don’t cry, Mrs. Shadrix.”

I could barely breathe, much less talk. The more I tried to contain the lump in my throat, the harder it was to hold back tears.

There had been many times when I doubted myself. I wondered if I had made a mistake of leaving a job as a magazine editor, which I loved, to venture into a career that I knew nothing about. 

At 40 years old, I became a high school teacher.  And, in my 40 years, I had never encountered a 16-year-old pleading for me to not cry.  

I looked around the room at the other students who were holding back their own tears. Each of us desperately tried to avoid looking at the empty chair in the classroom. But, it was there and it showed us no mercy.

Just a few days earlier, the orange chair embraced life as she casually took pictures of herself on her computer. Wearing a pink shirt, she took a few pictures of herself on her classroom Mac computer before the bell rang. One was silly and one was sweet. So fitting.

Her big eyes had a way of taking hold of your soul. Even when she was being mischievous, looking in them left you powerless.

She was sitting in that orange chair during the first weeks of school when I called her name and asked her to meet me in the hallway.

She had lied to me about something the day before and, as I told her, lying was something I couldn't tolerate.

Her mouth said, “I didn't lie,” but her eyes said, “Please just love me and let me get away with it.”

“Yesterday, you looked me right in the face with those angelic eyes and you lied to me,” I told her. “I care about you and I can’t let you get away with lying.” 

Caring about her meant I had to write her up.  It was my first lesson in teaching. It's not about being mean, but it is passing on life lessons to young people. 

She will never know that I didn’t feel prepared to teach and that she was the first student I had to formally discipline. She will never know that I didn’t even know how to complete the discipline form.

She will never know that if I could go back in time, I would spend every moment in class letting her know that I did, in fact, care about and love her. I would beg her to not go out on a late night ride with her friend.

I would plead with her to have mercy on me so I didn’t have to hold back tears when talking about her death to her classmates.

I would beg with her to not leave that chair empty every day.

No one really prepares you for dealing with the death of a student. But, God did prepare me.

When I was able to talk, I asked the class if they had ever heard about the stages of death. I asked if anyone had ever even talked to them about death.

The room was silent. 

"No one talks about death, Mrs. Shadrix," one student whispered.

In that moment, I realized that when I was a young woman and changed my major from journalism to social work, it was God.

In that moment, I found myself pulling out of my memory, Elizabeth Kubler Ross and the five stages of death from her groundbreaking book, 'On Death and Dying." It was God.

I realized that the brief time I spent working for Alacare Home Health & Hospice prepared me in some way for that moment. It was God.

In that moment, I realized when I left the world of social work behind me to take a dream job at The Anniston Star and Longleaf Style magazine, it was all God.

In that moment, I realized becoming a high school teacher was all God.

In that moment, I stared at the empty chair in my classroom and knew I would never forget the life that it once supported. I knew the pain of mourning is real. The denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and anger are all real.

Day in and day out, other students fill that empty chair now. Stories about that mischievous girl, who made everyone call her "Tha Boss" are told. Sometimes there are laughs and sometimes the words trail off. Questions of why are still asked.

I try not to ask why. I only imagine that now, instead of sitting in that old orange chair in my classroom, she is sitting next to a throne and her angelic eyes are now seeing Him. It is God.


In memory of Brittney "Tha Boss" Bonner.
4/24/1996 - 12/8/2012


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Come on in

When I was a young girl, my grandmother had a living room in which no one was actually allowed to live.

My brother's and I felt if we breathed near the room, the plastic on the chair might disintegrate.

Our very lives might also disintegrate if we stepped into it.

So, we risked our lives and held our breath when we walked by the room.

The only time I recall spending any amount of time in that room was a rare visit with my dad in which he played a Mad magazine record of Alfred E. Neuman's "It's a Gas".

It was a dream come true for my older brother and our dad, who shared a moment of pure 12-year-old laughter while listening to the record.

I didn't pay much attention to the symphony of flatulence. For, on that day, I was stunned that we survived. It's a precious memory of my dad and brother that I dearly hold.

I'm not sure if anyone outside of our family ever sat in that living room. Maybe they didn't live to tell about it. My grandmother was a Mississippi Southern Belle, but her stare could stop Medusa in her tracks.

When family visited, they usually sat in the informal living room. As a young girl, I knew style. The informal living room, with it's brown panel walls, plush carpet and orange and brown striped cushions, was my Panel Pad. It was the room with the color TV, where my grandmother rolled my hair, where we napped on recliners, and where we lived in pure bliss.

Time and families have changed. Children are no longer scared of anything. There are no formal living rooms, no paneled walls, no plush carpet, no orange and brown stripes.  No Mad magazine paper records.

Our homes are cozy and cluttered. We are too busy for company. Too advanced for our own good.

The last time I let a friend in my house, she told me that I needed to clean my sink in the "powder room" because there was dried toothpaste in it.

I think she even cleaned it.

I'm only assuming this because when I remembered the toothpaste a few days later. It was gone.

Truth be told, I should probably invite her over more. She could do wonders on my stove.

Until then, I may get nostalgic and wrap some plastic around a chair.




Friday, June 07, 2013

A non blog about not blogging

It's been so long since I've posted anything on this blog and I'm really not sure where to begin. I don't even consider it a blog. Everything I have on here is just re-posts of articles I've written because I can't make up my mind if I should even have a blog. My reasons to not blog include:

  1. I'm too boring to blog. 
  2. My family doesn't want me to write about them. Which makes a boring blog.
  3. I spend too much time reading other blogs and wishing I could blog like them. 
  4. I spend too much time on things that are not blog worthy. Like, staring at my pantry and wishing I had the energy to alphabetize my canned food items like I used to do. I wonder what kind of fool puts her canned food items in ABC order? Then, I wonder if I should write a blog about people who put their canned food items in ABC order  
  5. I get distracted easy. In thinking of blogs, I remember I was supposed to do something but I can't remember what. I know I will remember when I don't need to remember it any longer. There's nothing worse than asking yourself, "Did I pay the power bill" when the power goes out. Then, I think that might make a good blog post. "Things you remember when it's dark and cold and it doesn't matter anymore."
  6. I look at colorful and witty blogs, written by beautiful women with long hair and no wrinkles or pimples, and I have blog envy, which causes me to have a low blog-esteem. I thought about changing the theme of whatever this is and so I browsed through a few templates. I couldn't make up my mind if I were "Elegant" or "Minimal" or if I wanted two, three, four or a gazillion columns. In the end, I just opened another tab and looked at a photo album of a friend on Facebook and tried to find at least one wrinkle or pimple on her face. I wished that my hair was long. I knew I needed to get off Facebook before I opened another tab to order a wig and Googled a blog about wrinkles. Who needs a themey theme on a blog that isn't really a blog anyway? I'll just stick with the books in the background to make me appear intellectual.
  7. I tell myself that blogs are only read by people who want to start blogs. The world will one day be filled with all of humanity each having their own blogs and no one is really reading the blogs except to make sure no one else has a better blog. 
  8. I don't watch reality TV so this only adds to my credibility as a complete bore. 
  9. I've already forgotten what I was writing. That's another reason why I probably shouldn't blog.