So what does India’s ability to send an Orbiter spacecraft to Mars, have to do with equity in American STEM education?

Expanding science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) study opportunities, will bring a nation its own reward.

The fact that Indian scientist and engineers were able to pull off this amazing feat; at an extremely low cost and on the first try, is really something worthy of praise! And I have already heard the criticism in some quarters saying: how could they invest in this type of scientific activity when so many of her citizens are living in poverty. But in fairness to India that same charge could be leveled against nations like: Russia, Japan and yes the United States (for those who don’t know we have people living in extreme poverty in the United States). We engage in a great deal (most in the world) of scientific research that on the surface does not appear to directly connect to an everyday “people problem” that U.S. citizens may face. However, even a brief review of the history of science, inventions and innovations will reveal that a great deal of very practical, necessary and useful, lifesaving, and life-improving discoveries are the products (intentional and unintentional); of what may appear to the science-lay public to be some type of “esoteric” , “not useful” scientific research. And as an educators we are always sensitive to what a big feat like this “space shot”, will produce in the minds, and aspirations of Indian children, and Indian educators. If this national accomplishment inspires higher expectations, higher levels of participation in the pursuit of STEM subject studies, greater gender and class diversity in the pursuit of STEM studies, the expansion and improvement of K-12 stem programs and teachers, armed with a greater sense of pride and efficacy; then the investment will pay off big time for India going forward into the future. I can personally testify to this power and influence as a product and beneficiary of the US response to the October 4, 1957 Russian Sputnik space launch achievement. A few years later, I stepped into an 8th grade science class taught by a serious and certified science teacher, and a classroom stocked full of scientific lab equipment and materials. Which says that one aspect of American history, is that she can accomplish what she chooses to accomplish, once she sets her mind to do it! The operative factor here is, choice, and the will to make that choice happen. And this leads me to my concern with India’s accomplishment; (which has nothing to do with the ethics of appropriate scientific research) and what it symbolizes. For more years that I care to remember. Many of us involved with STEM education have been doing our STEM education version of Paul Revere; trying to warn, plead with U.S. political decision makers, STEM reliant corporations, and educational policy makers that if we don’t open up the opportunity for non-White male Americans to enter the STEM fields, we as a nation would be setting ourselves up for major problems in the future. Well that future is rapidly approaching. The US is now looking at a majority Black and Brown public school systems; and yet we are not preparing and equipping these students to step into STEM careers. As the present group of White males began to retire from their STEM positions; and the White male birthrate continues to drop (and drop in our schools). What is our plan to replace these STEM practitioners? Someone once said: “You can’t beat somebody, with nobody”. That, however would seem to be our plan of action in addressing our STEM needs in the present-future. But the Indian space achievement signals an additional contributor to our problem. This accomplishment could also mean that a group of nations are “STEM developing” to the point where they can began to create and offer opportunities for their STEM students; including those who choose to study in the US. Heretofore the US has depended on the STEM positions “gaps”; being filled by those not born in the U.S. But could these folks begin to think about taking and keeping their acquired knowledge and talents home? Why emigrate away from home, family and friends, when you can be an engineer, chemist or biophysicist in your home country; will you get paid less, perhaps yes; but you could also enjoy a better quality of life; as your pay has greater value at home. This possible future scenario reminds me of one of my travels to a “developing country”, and meeting an engineer who earned his degree in the U.S. He said: “In the past we “imported” “science and technology experts” from Europe and the US; at a great cost to the nation. Their children attended “special schools for foreigners”; they sent a great deal of their money back to their “motherland”. Now people like me can invest and spend all of our money in the nation; my children attend good schools; but they are schools populated by students who like them, are from this nation. Hopefully, these children will be the future “experts”, who will continue to STEM-develop our country.” He continued; “assuming I was able to get a job in the US, and presumably make more money; there is just no way that I could enjoy the level of life style, the “first class citizenship”, I am enjoying here.” We were sitting and talking in his beautiful house, a house that could only be described as a mansion! Another concern arises as we enter what seems to be the beginning of an era of intense concern over national security issues, and international industrial espionage; it is clear that the U.S. government and U.S. companies are going to find that there will be an increased level of STEM activities that have a national/corporate security linkage. There will be an increased need for this work to be done by American citizens, and on U.S. soil. A retailer may be able (for now) to set up a “call center” and “technical support” office in a non-U.S. country; but in the ever-growing international cyber war and internet security era; I am not sure America will be able to “farm out” its national security or corporate/patent protection securing efforts. Perhaps (I hope) this Indian accomplishment will incite and inspire a review our present “sifting” and denying approach to STEM education; to borrow from the world of sports: sometimes you just have to play with the team you have; not the team from the past, or the team you wish you had.

Remove the Fossil Fools from your life….

(Another excerpt from the Steven Ingraham series on: “What I have learned over the years, that is really important)”

Time is not just a distant and disinterested observer of the events that take place in your life; each day, (not yesterday or tomorrow) is that critical day that you must make a defining statement about your life.

Controlling and cleaning up your personal climate. Remove the fossil fools from your life; don’t let them contaminate your hopes and aspirations: As we move toward a greater understanding, appreciation and recognition for our need to protect and honor our mother, the planet earth. Let us also clean and protect our own personal planet: Remove all toxic energies from your inner and outer space; those growth inhibitors, including your own self-doubt; that hinder your growth enhancing, and life affirming view of the sun. Weed out the soil and soul grabbers, who yield no fruit in your life. Recycle only the good works; and replant them in the heart of the next worthy field that God causes you to encounter.

Time, and over time; one grows a sense of “quiet urgency”; not a panic, but a strong desire not to have your time, and efforts wasted. This may have the sound, and feeling of dismissal; but it is not. Rather it is the creation of a serious priority list, that places (without malice or prejudice) people and things in their proper place on the list; you may then find that you naturally don’t ever get to them; but that is not by ill intention, it is by the natural order of things. You will feel awkward and uncomfortable working on someone else’s priority list. Seek and find your own Divine TTD list; and then do it with all of your serious energy.

Devine Mathematics: It is a good and proper thing to set your intentions; each day, on the dial that reads: “Saving 100%” But don’t think of yourself as a failure if you only save 50%; that 50% could very well be God’s intended 100%!

I told _________________ yesterday evening, that the time you spend trying to convince people that you are worthy of the effort you put towards them (them thinking that neither you nor your efforts are worthy); is a mission without any hope of success, for they also believe that neither you nor they, are worth the effort. Further, it is a waste of time; and is time removed from doing good acts for those who could gratefully benefit from your efforts…. Step back and let God issue your assignments…

Every few years it is the “specialized high school exam”, again….Oh please stop it……

I am so sick of this conversation, and I am Black; I can only imagine how sick my White and Asian Brothers and Sisters must be. In the profession of education, we like to do things (the same things); the same failed things, over, and over again. Its our definition of progress!
There is nothing wrong with Black and Latino children’s brains; that a good and effective education can’t inspire. It’s just that We don’t have the political will, or courage to make that happen. And so why not just say that, and not waste everyone’s time with this annual side-show distraction. I know that I am not on the same page as a lot of my former colleagues; but I find it insulting that people believe that the problem is the “test”; and not he fact that we don’t know if the test is a problem, when most children of color are provided with an inferior (both formal and informal) education, that does not cover the standards tested on the exam. It is really that simple. Do Black and Latino New Yorkers (I really hope not) believe that their children are equally prepared to take the exam; and then through some “test-day trickery”, their children don’t score high enough to gain entrance to a specialized high school? I would think that if parents were offered the choice that is not really being offered here: (1) Make the test “easier” (2) Make your children smarter; I think they would overwhelmingly chose #2!
And now this:

“Teachers union boss going after racial disparity at top high schools”

“Teachers union president Michael Mulgrew has dispatched union members to a joint task force with the city to move away from the use of a single test for admissions. He says the city’s proposed changes won’t do enough to combat lopsided enrollment at elite schools, where very few kids are black or Hispanic.” NY Daily News

We need an hypocrisy warning/disclaimer before one of these press conferences. If they really want to do something about racial disparity; they can (1) start by allowing the dispatching of the “Rubber room” residents to the termination room. (2) Allow for Black and Latino students to have access to the best teachers without any contractual barriers. And then you can hold a press conference…..

I do hope that Shonda Rhimes is really angry…….

I am actually pro-angry (but I will come back to that later) This “Angry Black Women” comment is rich with potential analysis. First and foremost, that this statement was hurled with the consent and assent of several NY Times editors and reviewers, is significant. What does this say about the view of Black America from the eyes of the: “newspaper of record”? And does Black America’s “truth be told”, even stand a chance with “lesser” news media lights? Not a good sign. However, this is one of those unfortunate and uncomfortable (as we say in the education trade) “teachable moments”; when a Black American, no matter how talented, wealthy and accomplished is painfully reminded of the parameters of: “our place”. It is a form of “racial unity” that invites the insulting of the prince, pauper or president of the nation. It reminds me of when my car was pulled over (I was still in the prime of my being “pulled over” stage.) I followed the same rules that I had given thousands of Black and Latino young men. I was a model of cooperation and politeness (people would need me to be alive, and show up for my job as principal the next day). The two police officers immediately saw my NYCBOE principal’s parking permit on the dash-board, my “mini office” (books, books, journals etc.) in the back seat; my shirt and tie, my “good evening officers, how can I help you?” And (according to their body language) realized they had made a bad profile stop. A quick review of my license, insurance and car registration; which all proved that I lived on the Bedford-Stuyvesant block on which they pulled me over, a few houses from my house. They later expressed shock at my official complaint (again as I taught my students, I did not ask for a badge number, I memorized it); in light of my polite and cooperative manner. Their defense (well this is what it was): They pulled me over, not for braking any driving laws, anything broken on the car, or because the car was reported stolen; but because I was driving an expensive car in “that neighborhood” (Bed-Stuy). This entire event could be a great board game titled: “find all the racist assumptions”. Now I would not suggest that being pulled over by the police is a good path to maintaining a sense of who you are, and who you should be fighting for; but it help me to think that college degrees, multiple certifications, a better than decent salary, passing a FBI fingerprint review; and, how could I forget: Being featured in a New York Times Magazine article; all accounted for nothing on the day I was pulled over. In the final analysis, I was guilty of driving an “expensive” car in “that “neighborhood”, my own neighborhood.
I can only hope that if she is not already, that Ms. Rhimes (and other notable celebrities) really get “Angry”. Not in the directionless, destructive and pathological way in which she was described in the NY Times review; but in a healthy and appropriate angry response to the second class citizenship of her fellow Black Americans. The “left-out”, disliked and disrespected have a right to be angry. I think they called it “Righteous Indignation” during the civil rights era. That sense of unhappiness with the status qua; a discomfort with being comfortable with disenfranchisement and denial. Not being angry, for some in this nation may signal a disconnection from, and a disinterest in a painful reality. An easy way to think about this is to assume that the NY Times writer was herself angry. That this was perhaps a way of expressing collective white anger; a way of keeping it real with Black folks who are acting “uppity“. But I don’t think that there was an intended insult; and that is what is most sad and freighting about this entire event. This is about one person writing, and other people reading that article, and seeing absolutely nothing wrong with it (and still not seeing anything wrong, after being told that something is wrong). It is not even the recognition that Ms. Rhimes is a full and complex person. She is in the end reduced to a motorist driving an expensive car, in the wrong neighborhood.
I really don’t trust a Black person in America who is not angry at the triple deadly fate of young Black men; who are constantly being asked to choose one or three “death-styles”; criminal justice system, murder by another (young) Black person, or the slow death of hopeless joblessness. We could use some angry Black folks who are angry because they voted like loyal troopers in two presidential elections; only to see themselves standing on the platform, as the economic recovery train has left the station. I want Black folks to really get angry about the poor, ineffective and inadequate public (mis)education system. Not so much at “White Folks”, the NY Times, etc.; but at our own inaction; our own abdication of our responsibility to the future of our children. Angry at allowing the people who look the most like the children, inflect the most harm on the children. To our misplaced trust, the giving of our permission; to a society that has rigged the game against the success of the children who are the most poor, and most politically disenfranchised……. Yes, I am looking for few good and angry Black men and women.

SMART STUDENTS FROM LOW-INCOME FAMILIES LOCK DOWN 4-YEAR, TUITION-FREE RIDES

An emerging nonprofit organization has gotten some of the nation’s best colleges and universities to dish out four-year, tuition-free scholarships to the country’s brightest and poorest kids.

By: Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele; THEROOT.com
Posted: Sept. 17 2014 8:24 AM

here’s an ascending player in the cluster of nonprofit organizations that help high-achieving students from low-income families get into the best colleges in the nation, and it’s employing a simple strategy to entice qualified students: If you get into the school of your choice, you get to go for free, the New York Times reports.
And for all four years, might I add. When the founders of QuestBridge learned about some of the barriers that smart students from low-income backgrounds face, like the complicated, drawn-out financial-aid process—the idea that students often have to accept or decline a college offer before they find out if they’ve been awarded a scholarship; and even if they get a good financial-aid package the first year, they may be expected to cough up money for their remaining school years—QuestBridge decided to cut that out of the picture and lock down a four-year, tuition-free ride for some of the nation’s brightest students.
The program targets high school juniors and entices them to apply by dishing out immediate prizes, like laptops. “To win the prize, the junior would need to fill out a detailed application, which could become the basis for his or her college application. The idea draws on social science research, which has shown that people often respond better to tangible, short-term incentives (a free laptop) than to complicated, longer-term ones (a college degree, which will improve your life and which you can afford),” the Times reports. Unlike many nonprofit organizations that leave it up to colleges to use financial-aid applications to estimate how much aid they’ll have to offer students from low-income backgrounds, QuestBridge’s 35 participating colleges simply fund the full, four years of tuition. According to the Times, scholarship winners can “attend their first choice among any of the 35 participating colleges that admit them. Hundreds of scholarship finalists who don’t win are admitted separately to the colleges, through a more typical admissions process, often with nearly full scholarships.”
Some of the participating colleges include Brown University, Columbia, Dartmouth, Emory, Princeton, Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale.

Paying The Price For Telling An Educational Truth

“Mute the Messenger: When Dr. Walter Stroup showed that Texas’ standardized testing regime is flawed, the testing company struck back.”…

“The probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.” –Abraham Lincoln

Thanks Latoya Denise . This was a great article. There is a tremendous movement to turn public school students into commodities. $460 million is a lot of money. Another major player (not mentioned) that help to sink the professor is the cooperate collusion between the so-called reform movement and the news media. For example some news media outlets have a heavy financial stake in the testing business; which means they are never going to seriously evaluate the school systems where they have installed superintendents; and there will never be any serious “reporting” on their performance. Much of this unfortunately is going on outside of the understanding and knowledge of parents whose children are the most underserved in the system. They could stop this madness of artificially creating achievement gaps, where none exist; but what do you (the economy) do with all of those high performing poor kids; what will happen to our criminal justice and social service system? The 70% insensitive to instruction number is startling; but many of us have been saying this for years; we asserted that we are for the most part testing test taking skills, reading skills, vocabulary and algorithm recall ability; and less content, and content application then assumed. We (Science Skills Center) proved this years ago when we were able to get elementary students to pass high school Regents exams. (See Journal: “Assessment in the service of Instruction”; AAAS; 1990; “SSC, Brooklyn: Assessing an Accelerated Science Program for African-American and Hispanic Elementary and Junior High School Students Through Advance Science Examinations” ;( Johnson, M.A.; pg. 103) Updated and reprinted in: “Science in the service of reform”; 1991; Johnson, M.A. pg.267……. The gentleman in question, is a brave guy but I could have told that professor, that if you take on the Black and Latino students are “broken” lobby; its war on your head! There is nothing inherently wrong with the children’s brains; only something wrong with the technical methodology, content knowledge and efficacy put forward by educators on behalf of the students; but for now there is just too much money invested in Black and Latino student “invented” failure. I have spent a lifetime (in many parts of the nation) trying to break the “broken” narrative; and I believe that there is no grater act in America that will invite a furious backlash from powerful and influential segments of the Black, White, Liberal and Conservative forces in our nation. If a Black or Latino acts up they have plenty of resources and space in the criminal justice system; an unemployable Black and Latino can be served by a vast social (patching) service system. But a skilled and educated person of color is perhaps the most dangerous person in America; and thus the great energy that is exercised by a collective voice of denunciation and denial. Yes people will say: “Well, it’s just about business”; and yes $460 million is a lot of business (and just combine that with similar numbers in states like N.Y. and Calf.); but this business (and the other big-ticket item of “remediation”) is predicated on a false and invented phenomena; a myth that many White parents and their communities have already figured out is a joke. But a wasted effort and money is one thing, an educationally destructive policy is quite another. And so the biggest victims of any bad educational policy, are the Poor, along with the Black and Brown members of our school systems.

P.S. Answer to: Chryssey Schloss-Allen and Mike Williams
Standardized assessments (assessing the knowledge of standards) in themselves are not bad when they are used properly; for example there should be a “standard” that we want all Nuclear Engineers or Nurses to meet (through assessment), or some very bad things can happen. When used properly as a diagnostic tool to improve student learning, and to inform the direction of instruction, they are essential. The examples you guys gave (entrance exams for specialized high schools), I agree are the bad usages of standardized testing. Here they are being used to sort children unfairly, and give children who have an unfair advantage (an even greater advantage) linked to: “parent push”; access to a strong k-8 educational program, with very effective teachers, teaching in a “time-efficient” learning environment (“efficient” meaning–middle schools can have vastly different “productive” learning time period, that can translate into months, or a year or more of less learning over a 3 year period.) They have special tutorial programs that focus on test taking technology as opposed to greater content knowledge. For poor kids and children of color; the odds of having 3 (6th, 7th and 8th grades) consecutive years of really good certified instruction is extremely rare. Therefore, these standardized assessments are not fair in any sense of the word; because the children being tested have not been exposed (treated in research language) to the same standards. Testing, is like a vehicle; if it’s an ambulance that is a good use; but if it is being used as a “get-away” car in a robbery, then that is not good.

http://www.texasobserver.org/walter-stroup-standardized-testing-pearson/?

Day #7 of Naimah’s request that I: “Share 3 Things that I am grateful for every day, for 7 days.”

“Whoever among you wakes up in the morning and is safe in his home. In good health and has enough provisions for the day, it is as if he has all the good things of this world”

#1 First of all I am grateful to you Naimah for giving me this challenge, it really gave me an opportunity to reflect deeply on the many things that I should be grateful for, every day. In a way I am going to miss this daily obligation/commitment. It has also help me to understand the power of one consistently performing Salat; we need powerfully good habits that repeatedly remind us to glorify God, and show our appreciation for all that He has given to us. And so from now on I am adopting the habit of reflect each morning on the many things for which I should be grateful. And I am grateful that you and other former students have: “flip the script on me”; and now all of you have fulfilled the dream, and primary objective of the teacher; to switch places with the student.

#2 I am grateful for being a lifelong learner and seeker of knowledge. I feel that when you reach the end of learning; then you have in essence come to the end of life. I can divide the world into those who have stopped learning; and those who never stop learning. The latter are the group of people who I most admire and want to be like in this world. A committed life learner requires a type of humility that says: There are (a lot of) ‘‘somethings’’ out there that I don’t know; and there are ‘’somethings’’ about the things that I think I know, that I don’t know. You must also be open to learning from someone who may not have the same or similar examples of a “formal” education or training. In every human interaction there is a lesson to be learned; the true learners fear is that she will miss it; and in fact will agonize over the encounter until the lesson is revealed. The “teacher” may not fill our concept of positive or pleasant; however the lesson is still important. You also learn as much from what people don’t do, or don’t say, as when they do, and what they do say. Finally, I always seek out people who are excellent at whatever job they perform; watching a master of any effort or task is a priceless lesson.

#3 I am grateful each day for hope. Now this is not a fantasy or a rootless wish. This is a hope based on the hope of others in history, and on your own individual story. It causes you to understand that you are not alone, but rather you represent a long line of others who passed on their works and hopes to you. I wake up optimistic, with the idea, that this is the day that evil, oppression and wrongdoing will surrender. It is like every day is the first day of the battle; a battle I am wining, if I just don’t get tired. No matter how disappointing or dismal things may get, I believe that truth, justice and love will outlast all that is inflicting pain and suffering on the world. I understand this is a bold claim because those who suffer the most in this world have the least amount of money, communication capabilities and access to political power. And so this is not a rational hope based on the logic of this world; if I were a betting person (which I am not); I would probably see my not winning as a good bet, if we look at the present conditions and our access to tools, supplies and resources ; this hope would seem impossible. But the impossible will be made possible; and those who have chosen an unprincipled peace and power over justice, will eventually find that they have made a bad deal. And I am grateful to have a daily spirit of resilience and resistance, which is fueled by this great sense of hope.

Day #6 of Naimah’s request that I: “Share 3 Things that I am grateful for every day, for 7 days.”

#1 I am grateful for a pension and health insurance. One of the things that hit me recently about a pension is this: A large number of young post high-school people in America are unemployed; have been unemployed for a long period of time; and some will remain unemployed for many years in the future. And then there are people who are forced to work at a no-benefits part/time job; and/or more than one part-time job; none of which offers benefits. I wonder what will happen to these young citizens when they reach senior status, and have no pension to help them to live comfortably. Having health insurance allows me to not worry that I will be a burden to others if I become seriously ill; but also it gives me a great deal of preventable healthcare options with access to a full spectrum of medical specialist (and the older you get the longer the “specialist” list grows :-) I am always amazed at the difference in the cost of health care service and my co-pay. Of course health care cost are totally out of control; I once ask my pharmacist how much my prescription really cost, since I only paid $10.00. You know you really have a “serious senior” prescription when it does not have an end date! In any event, he told me jokingly “Mr. Johnson, you really don’t want to know”. Me ever inquisitive: “Yes, I really do”. He went to his computer and punched a few keys; and then he turned and gave me the per/pill cost. “What!” I said, “you must be kidding”. I did the calculation for the number he gave me X 30 X 12 in my head; I was stunned; $10.00 would not even buy me ½ of one pill! But we have (we have been given), only so that we may help those who don’t have.

#2 I am daily grateful for my website/blog. I have always enjoyed writing (I think it started with my high school creative writing elective class). But as a professional administrator I spent great deal of my time during the day writing things like memos, reports and letters. These activities draw from another section of the brain (other than the creative writing section). Blogging has become a form of meditation and meaningful work for me. It can be both a therapeutic, and spirit lifting daily exercise. Every day I am able to “speak to the universe” about something I find interesting, it can be a personal encounter, a news story or event; or an educational issue that I find important or interesting. Very often a topic is generated by a question or comment from a friend, a former student, as in the case of this “grateful” writing activity. I often wonder, now that I do it every day, what was I doing (thinking?), before I took this on as regular activity. I believe that every person has some type of creative art form inside of them. The society does its best to distract and cause us to deny that creative expression. And In a commercial driven society, people are told that they can’t act if they are not on Broadway, can’t dance if they are not a member of Alvin Ailey, can’t paint if they are not a Jacob Lawrence; I think this is wrong. Connected to creating meaning in your life is the ability to create art in your life. If you can engage the mysteries of the world; by exploring the mysteries inside of yourself; then you should do it; not for the money or fame, but for the joy of making sense of the world; and at the same time, make sense of the world inside of you.

#3 I am grateful on a daily basis for my sense of humor (and how many times have I heard: “I can’t believe (didn’t know) that you have such a sense of humor.” There are days you may need to tell a joke about yourself; and then follow-up by laughing at yourself. It is a wonderful way of not taking yourself, and this life too serious. I have found that over the years there is no better place to practice your stand up routine then in a high school. You will find no better audience or material for jokes; teenagers are the funniest members of our species; and despite what most people think, if they trust your intentions you can joke with them! Now my humor inclines towards the ironic, subtle and or mildly sarcastic. A minister once remarked after hearing me speak at an event, that my humor often requires that the listener have some “additional information in their mental libraries”. But no matter how well stocked your mental library; you must have a sense of humor, if you want to survive the daily madness of this world (a world ruled by money-changers and Madmen). If you respond to every insult, every attack on your personhood, every dismissal or denial; you will either end up crazy, in prison or dead. And so every day I look for, and I am grateful for the little funny things that can happen (or that I can make happen) in life; so that I can continue to daily do the very serious things in life.

Day #5 of Naimah’s request that I: “Share 3 Things that I am grateful for every day, for 7 days.”

#1 Grateful for each new day; in the morning when I realize I am alive (I know because I can realize that I am alive); and I able to make the “decision” every new day. That decision to do the least amount of harm (today) possible to another human being on the planet. I am also grateful to know that when I fail in this effort by something I have said or done; or something I should have said, but failed to say; or something I should have done but failed to do. Each new day I get a chance to correct a mistake; or to prevent a mistake. I am grateful that life is a multi-act experience; and so I get a 2nd, 3rd, 4th…… chance to get it right. Those repeated “failings” help me to understand the limitations of my own humanity; and to be patient and understanding with other humans; who limited like me, are just waiting for that chance, each day to bring, do, act and speak kindness into the universe.
#2 I am grateful for my daily Yoga teacher, practice and class. When I moved to a new city I was worried that I would not find a Yoga teacher like the one I had in DC. But as I wrote earlier:
“I guess we can often take our daily blessings for granted; and could also fail to tell the blessings how much we appreciate them! It is like we did something to earn or deserve them in our lives. I have come to realized that I have encountered two inspiring, wonderful, spiritual and gifted Yoga teachers Anacostia Yogi and Doella Miller-Thomas back to back. It is like God said, don’t worry I have people in that new town who worship Me in mind, body and spirit; you are not alone….”
These two phenomenal women are so phenomenally alike it is amazing. It is like God performed a “spiritual reproduction” in designing these spiritual twins. They are both kind and gentle; and yet will push you to your personal best. And Like DC I love spending time with the other Yoga practitioners in my class; everyone is so positive, giving, encouraging, supportive, non-competitive and very spiritually inclined. One amazing thing that I have noticed. When I am in Yoga practice I can’t think of anything else in the world; except the practice. This Yoga experience has dramatically changed my daily lifestyle and routines; I now pay attention to health, fitness and diet in a way that I have never done in the past; and for this daily change in my life I am truly grateful.
#3 Grateful for my daily involvement in a “Devine Resources” principle. This is not the “get rich” (at the expense of others) philosophy; and not to be confused with the gospel of prosperity theology. This belief operates on a type of “super logic” that could only be understood if one is willing to accept the “givens” as living truths. (1) God cannot lie (2) It is impossible for God to act against His own will. (3) A promise or covenant made by God can resist any, and every human attempt at interference. (4) God will not give an assignment; and then not provide the tools, pathway, people and resources that would enable the assignee to successfully complete the task. (5) A Blessings may not be in the “currency” of this world. (6) Ultimately, your salvation is found in the same place your faith is found. (7) Poverty is being disconnected from your meaning and calling. Proof: I can start this story as far back as I can remember, but I will start in a place that would make sense to most people; although it is in no way the most powerful example. I was 19, and working full-time at night in the Post office and going to school full-time during the day. One day my next door neighbor called me over; and I would have never guessed at what he was about to say. He said: “You know Michael I have been watching you for years; and I watch how you carry yourself, how you speak and treat other people; and how well-mannered and respectful you are. My wife and I are moving down south; I don’t have any children; and I don’t want to leave this house to any jokers in my family; my wife and I decided to give you our house when we leave NYC.” Needless to say I was in a state of shock; I never imagined those words I heard. I was so young that my mother had to sign the transfer of ownership documents. And so that is how I got my first house! But this story is an example of my entire life; I have never found myself without an abundance of whatever I need in life. I have heard the phrase: “I am not going to charge you” so many times, and I am greatly appreciative, but no longer surprised! And I am sure that I don’t even have a clue of all of the blessings I have received in life; it took me a year to figure out that my Brooklyn doctor wasn’t cashing my checks! And so I am grateful every day; because God is faithful to care for us when we focus our care on others; I understand that it counters the logic of this world; but it works for me.