...Relax, have a hot cup of herbal tea with us, and share your thoughts, ideas, poems...

Thursday, September 3, 2015

My Evolutionary Journey...

The Journey
By Helen Hampton 

My beloved Bigmomie - my grandmother named "Helen" whose name I proudly carry painted the above & below pictures. She began painting at the age of 65 through arts and crafts classes at a senior citizen center in New Mexico, AFTER she retired from doing a lifetime of domestic work. My grandmother didn't name any of her paintings, but I have named her pieces myself. Her paintings evolved over the next 20+ years and although she primarily painted southwestern landscapes, she also painted several portraits of a few family members, including my daughter, niece and cousins. I often think that if my grandmother had never enrolled in these classes, she may have never tapped into this talent. I also wonder how many of us have gifts we haven't yet discovered.  So, whatever your interests, wonderings, inclinations have been - go for it, explore, stretch out, try something new- because your greatest gift might just be waiting to be uncovered.

by Helen Hampton

These past 3 years have been a journey indeed - a massive juggling act. As a full time educator working in a demanding position, with a lengthy commute - I also managed to complete all the coursework for my doctoral program, and begin the research and writing for my dissertation - which I am steadily working on. That in itself was no easy feat - but I was blessed to achieve a final average of a 3.88 average. My family (both real and virtual) have been very encouraging and supportive and I also know my ancestors have been guiding me along the way.  I am closer to the light at the end of the tunnel - in this particular journey - which is the acquisition of my Doctorate in Educational Leadership. I intend to graduate in 2016.  However, during this process I am still discovering more of who I am and my purpose in this journey called life...

I have devoted my professional life to the field of education - and for many many years I believed that is who I am - "the educator" and that is what I was put on this earth to do. I am eternally grateful for the experiences, the opportunity to serve many children, touch many lives and work with many families - and I truly cherish those memories. I am blessed to have touched countless lives! I have been fortunate enough to reconnect with hundreds of my former students and they tell me the impact I made on their lives - and I am grateful beyond measure. I love every student I have ever taught and retain fond memories of all the experiences, activities and families! I also don't forget my former student's faces (nor names) - no matter how many years go by. 

Yet, a dear friend - a personal "muse" helped me to see deeper into myself, and the full essence of my gifts and existence. Although I work in the field of education, I am a literary and visual ARTIST! I see the world through colorful lenses, express my thoughts through lyrical phrases, and capture the images in my mind through story collages.  My spirit resonates with art and literature! I am in heaven in libraries, museums, art galleries, book stores, stationery stores, and art supply stores. Even as a child I spent hours in libraries reading, and in stationery stores reading every card.   I dream vivid, colorful dreams of unseen places, and engage in wonderful adventures with unknown people - in places I hope to one day go to.

Words flow freely out of me when surrounded by nature and I capture those thoughts, reflections, ideas and wonderings in poetic phrases and short stories. 

I get lost in the zone when finding, sorting and arranging images to paste on a story collage.

Yet, my day to day "grind" is still centered around work, commute and school - and I can truly feel the burden of that on the artist trying to fly freely. I recall many years ago going to a "Discover Your Life Workshop" and receiving confirmation of what I am here to do...(healing work - through multiple modalities). Yet, I still remained tied to a "JOB" but I felt good about it because it is in education, and I feel I have been making a difference. In 2015 - God, spirit and the ancestors are pushing me to fly... to step out on faith and reclaim my creative spirit 100% of the time...It is a process, and I am not one to make a rash decision...but the time for me to embrace all that I am and all the gifts, talents and insights that I have been blessed to have is forthcoming...  My spirit is STILL Rising... 

Taking time to smell the flowers... AND

Embrace life with a positive attitude and a smile...

I am open to divine intervention and letting spirit and the ancestors guide me - with the Creator ordering my steps...  My spirit is energy is flowing and my third eye is open! My journey is unfolding right before my very eyes, and I am excitedly and eagerly embracing this next phase of my life... I have more places to go, people to meet, books to write, art to create and creativity retreats to plan - stay tuned... with the Creator on my side, it's going to be an incredible ride...

As always, your sister in the spirit
I remain...Helen

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Ramblings on a sunny, summer Sunday...

Ramblings on a sunny, summer Sunday...

Hugging an ancient tree in Santa Fe, New Mexico
I am a lover of reading and books, physical books - not a Nook or a Kindle (although I have a kindle on my iPad - and actually have books on it that I have never read)!! I love books, the sight of them, the feel of them, the smell of them - my favorite places other than the ocean (anywhere in the world) - are Libraries and Book Stores!!! I like small, independent and out-of-the-way book stores; but I must admit, I am a frequent Barnes & Noble shopper too. (I gave one of my grands my "Barnes" Teddy Bear- lol). 

I fell in love with books as a little girl. My Mom was an avid reader, and she always had lots of books, and also encouraged us to go to the Library. Well the Children's Room Librarian at the Englewood Public Library certainly knew me. I checked lots of books out, and couldn't wait to get home and read them. I wrote book reports (for extra credit - lol) and even made up book reports for books (that didn't exist, that I imagined in my mind). Little did I know that I was already an author without putting the words in print. I slept with stacks of the little books by Beatrix Potter under my pillow. (I still have the little version of Peter Rabbit and books about his friends on my writing desk to this day - my little childhood inspiration).

I always wanted to be a Librarian, until I was introduced in Junior High School to the Dewey Decimal System - which seemed to me as a young girl the most foolish way to categorize books. I wanted to categorize them by how they looked, by genre (even then as a child), and of course only some by author - such as my favorite childhood authors: Beatrix Potter, Beverly Clearly, Carolyn Keene (author of Nancy Drew mysteries).

There is nothing better to me than to curl up anywhere comfortable with a cool drink and a good book - I get lost in books!!! I can't curl up with my iPad, it doesn't give me that sensory experience. For me, with a really good book, the world opens up to me and transforms and transports me! When my children were little, I read all the Danielle Steel books, and I would be transported to some foreign city and I became the rich heroine, living the glamorous life, with some intercontinental dilemma - until my children would say, "Mommy, I'm hungry" and reality would set in. I don't read those books anymore, but they certainly were a joy to me at that stage in my life.

I love biographies, history, narratives/fiction (literature :-), self-help and once in a while ...light-hearted, (slightly) home-girl type fiction!! I am not into the real urban street type novels - not my thing, but more power to those who chose that type of writing and reading. I don't think I ever saw or read a book by a Black person until high school, when my beloved English teacher, Mr. Dexter Bennett introduced me to Maya Angelou, via "I Know Why the Caged Girl Sings." That was a life-changing moment for me. That was my introduction to the world of Black literature. Thank you Mr. Bennett!!! He also introduced us to Pierri Thomas's memoir: Down These Mean Streets (about a Puerto Rican boy coming of age in NYC). I was hooked, I became a lover of literature, and multi-cultural stories.

Helen Tinsley & her Story Collages Art Exhibit at Englewood Public Library,  February, 2014.

Anyway, for the last two years I have been on the school grind non-stop ...working towards this doctorate, and needless to say - my pleasurable reading has diminished to almost nada/nothing. It is a tremendous sacrifice. As an artist, it is stifling to not have "free-time" to create, but it is a known sacrifice I chose, and I am coming down the home stretch. HoweverI give thanks that I was able to host my first art exhibit showcasing my Story Collages in February, 2014 at the Englewood Public Library. 

But as far as reading goes, I have only been able to squeeze in about 4-5 books each year while in school; and I like to read a book every week or two. So, I continue to buy the books I would normally read, as they come out, or as I learn about them. I have probably acquired 50-60 books or so in the past year - that I can't wait to relaxingly curl up with!!

In-sha-Allah (if it be the will of Allah/God),  I am looking at the next few years - when I finish school and retire from my present JOB. My heart is in education and helping others - so I intend to continue providing training, facilitating professional development sessions and conducting diversity workshops. That is truly my calling and I am thankful to know and embrace God's  purpose for my life!!  I have many other dreams as well...

 With God's grace, I am claiming the move to the next phase of my life...wherever spirit takes me to live - and I am open to living in many different parts of the world (including my beloved Bahamas). But, for a while, I think it will probably be bi-coastal living between Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the Virginia Beach area.

I am claiming the opening of a spiritual space called: The Literary Tea Room! This will be a place where writers' express their thoughts, ideas and tidbits, give inspiration and nurturing to each other; and reader's delight in reading and sharing reflections about books!!! 

There will be author events, open mic night, jazz night, poetry sharings, inspirational talks, arts & craft workshops, and delightful blends of herbal teas, with multicultural pastries. Soon come... 

#eyeontheprize      #yougottahavedreamstofulfillthem

Monday, June 16, 2014

Englewood, NJ - Juneteenth Day, 2014 - Keynote Speaker: Helen Tinsley

Englewood, NJ  - Juneteenth Day, 2014
Keynote Speaker:  Written and Presented by Helen Tinsley

I give thanks and praise to God for this precious gift of life; and I give honor and praise to my parents, Junius and Evelyn Tinsley for instilling in me the love and compassion for self and others; and the thirst for education and knowledge.

I would like to acknowledge the late Senator Byron Baer for enacting the legislation in 2004 that designated the 3rd Saturday of June as the statewide Juneteenth Celebration for New Jersey. I would also like to acknowledge the dedicated efforts of the Jabari Society of Bergen County for their steadfast work in taking the lead and making this the 4th annual Juneteenth celebration in Englewood. Finally, I would like to thank Mayor Frank Huttle and the Englewood City Council for their support and participation in this initiative. 

It is an extreme honor to speak to you today, as a former 3rd generation resident of Englewood and a product of the Englewood Public Schools. My grandparents, Junius and Francis Tinsley came to Englewood in the fall of 1925; and Tinsley’s have lived in Englewood and attended its’ public schools every since. However, my great-great grandparents on my paternal side were born into slavery in this country in 1823 & 1845 in Amelia County, Virginia, and their 5 children including my great grandmother, Maude Swann were the first generation in my family born free. So for me, the great-great granddaughter of former enslaved Blacks in this country to stand before you on this day in which we celebrate our liberation from chattel slavery is a true blessing indeed. It is also a privilege because as a product of the Englewood Public Schools, and a former Englewood Public School teacher and a life-long educator – I am proud to come back and share some brief historical information with you on this day.

In order to truly understand the significance of this day, we must take a look back at history. On New Year’s Eve in 1862, Black folks gathered in churches and private homes all over America awaiting the news that the Emancipation Proclamation had actually became law. This was the first Watch Night Service celebrated in America. Blacks have gathered in churches on New Year’s Eve every since to praise God for bringing us through another year. At the stroke of midnight - on January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation declared all enslaved Blacks in the confederate states were declared legally free. However, contrary to popular opinion, the Emancipation Proclamation did not free all of the enslaved Blacks. It only applied to the Confederate States. Slave holding states within the Union (including: Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri and West Virginia and counties in both Louisiana and Virginia) were NOT included in the Emancipation Proclamation, which left over one million enslaved Blacks in Union territory still in bondage.

In reality, and to give you food for thought: Did the Emancipation Proclamation really free any enslaved Blacks?  The confederate states had seceded from the Union, so the enslaved Blacks in the confederacy were not really under Lincoln’s control or jurisdiction, and the Emancipation Proclamation did not apply to states in the Union. So who did the Emancipation Proclamation really free)? The real freedom was provided to those enslaved Blacks within the confederacy who ESCAPED and made it across Union lines. 

In January 1865, the 13th amendment was passed which abolished slavery in the United States and four million Blacks were freed.  The Civil Rights Act of 1866, which declared all persons born in the US were all citizens, without regard to race, color or previous condition, was passed by Congress over the veto of President Andrew Johnson, (who was adamantly in favor of slavery and a slaveholder). Then the 14th Amendment was passed in 1868 granting citizenship, due process and equal protection under the law.

So in reality, the 13th Amendment is the legislation that granted freedom to ALL enslaved Blacks in the United States. These millions of newly freed Blacks began to roam the antebellum countryside – many searching for family members and loved ones who had been sold off to other plantations. These were people with no money, no food, no shelter, no education (thus illiterate) and no “known” way to survive, who were freed after 246 years of chattel slavery – people who were thrust into a capitalistic society without capital. Slavery has existed throughout the world as we know, but the enslavement of Black people (which we know was extremely cruel, inhumane and barbaric) also had a different aspect to it that separated it from all other known slavery. The identity was stolen from Black folks – our names, language, religion, family, and history were taken from us; and when your identity is taken it has cyclical, negative ramifications on each subsequent generation.

So – as we celebrate this awesome day known as Juneteenth – it is truly bittersweet. Yet history is what it is – the past! We must learn our history, understand it, remember it, teach it and pass the knowledge on to our youth and community. Today we are at a critical point in the history of our county. There is widespread poverty across this nation. There are far too many unemployed people throughout the country, countless homeless people on our nation’s streets, too many people scrounging daily for food; too many elderly people who worked all their lives who can’t afford to maintain a decent living; and there are far too many children hungry or not receiving an appropriate education. We may have come to this country on different ships – but we are all in the same boat now! Our survival depends on one another. The late, great Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so eloquently said, “No one is free until we are all free.” 

We must love one another, unify with one another and work together – or we will perish together! We must protect our children and show love and concern for our elders. We must conduct ourselves with self-respect and treat one another with love and respect.  We have to teach our youth the truth of our history, because there are far too many significant events that occurred in history that are not taught in our public schools throughout the country.

The Black Churches need to let their parishioners know when they fellowship every New Year’s Eve for Watch Night – that in actually it is in commemoration to their enslaved ancestors, who gathered that cold night on December 31, in 1862 to await news of their freedom.

Children need to know about the Children’s March that occurred in Birmingham, Alabama over four days in May of 1963 when 4,000 children (as young as 4 years old) marched to bring an end to segregation in Birmingham, Alabama – which was considered the most segregated city in America. The Police Chief Bull Connor ordered the fire hoses to be turned on the children and for the police dogs to be set loose on the children. Finally, the children - all 4,000 of them were put in the city jails. These were innocent children who only wanted equality and despite the horrendous treatment they received, they still remained non-violent. 

This event was the catalyst that led President John F. Kennedy to publicly support racial equality in America, and to put forth legislation for a civil rights bill. After Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963, the bill was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 2, 1964, known as the Civil Right Act of 1964. This is not Black History – this is American History; yet it is not commonly included in our history books. All children need to know this story, because children regardless of race, language or background need to know that they have power when organized for positive change. They can make a difference. This story is documented in a video entitled: Mighty Times – The Children’s March, along with a companion teacher’s guide.

There are so many other stories that are not taught…such as the origin of many Black colleges and Universities in the country – some which were founded by former slaves, and their descendants; the history of Black Wall Street in Oklahoma, which was one of the wealthiest and most successful Black communities in the United States during the early 20th century until the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. The Tulsa Race Riot was a large-scale, racially motivated conflict in which Whites attacked the Black community of Tulsa, Oklahoma and burned the community – their homes and businesses down.

People need to know about the struggles that occurred in Englewood as well. I can recall numerous incidents of racism and bigotry growing up right here in our beloved Englewood and throughout Bergen County, even to the present day!!! One case in point: My children and I remember in the 90’s during the regionalization law suit, when the state was trying to bring an end to the racial isolation at Dwight Morrow and began having public hearings at the high school in the auditorium (which was historically known as Academic Hall) to discuss regionalization options. In the morning as I would driven my four children to school, we encountered numerous white parents from neighboring towns lining the entryway to Dwight Morrow High School with picket signs saying “We don’t want our kids over here”, “Say no to Englewood kids and down with regionalization,” until a controversial so-called “solution” – the “Academies at Englewood” was established that again perpetuated the doctrine of separate and unequal. This story is told in a documentary I produced, entitled “A Walk in the Valley – A mother’s journey through public education” which is posted on Youtube.

These are just a few of the many untold stories that need to be learned and shared. However, the weight is on us – the adults and the stewards of the youth and the community. I encourage each of us to make a commitment to help someone…work with your child or somebody else’s child…take a stand against inferior education, the school to prison pipeline and mass incarceration. Read, Read and read some more and then share the knowledge. Our beloved late sister, Maya Angelou said, “When you learn, teach, when you get, give.”

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865 – Major General Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, Texas carrying news that the war had ended and that all enslaved Blacks were free. This was a full two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation had become official.  That day, June 19th became known as Juneteenth; and starting in Galveston, Texas it became a day for fellowship, celebrating Blacks survival and for gathering remaining family members. On January 1, 1980, Juneteenth became an official state holiday in Texas spearheaded through the efforts of Al Edwards, a Black state senator. Mr. Edwards has worked long and hard to spread the observance of Juneteenth throughout the country.

Juneteenth is a day to celebrate the abolition of slavery, the freedom of blacks in this country and the achievements that have been made. It is also a reminder to all of America of the significant contributions that Blacks have made to American society. Malcolm X told us: “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” We each have a role and responsibility to our youth and communities – so, let’s step up to the plate and all do our part to make this world a better place.

In closing, turn to your neighbor and give them a big hug and tell them Happy Juneteenth Day! This day is truly the day for celebrating the Independence of Blacks in this country. Let this day light a spark in each of us to do more, and to do better to support our youth and rebuild our communities!  Finally, in the words of Queen Mother Moore – the late great activist, “Each one reach one, each one teach one.”  Thank you, God bless you & Happy Juneteenth Day!!!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Umoja -Unity in 2014

Happy Kwanzaa!! Today is the first day of Kwanzaa 2013. Blessings of Umoja/Unity to my family, friends & fb peeps!! Unity is truly about "unifying" or working together for common goals. As we approach another year 2014 - the Universe is calling on each of us to unify with like-minded people - to help care for one another, protect, teach and prepare our children, treat our elders with honor & respect and SAVE our planet. 

We all have unique gifts and different paths in which to make a difference during our short stay in this physical existence!  Our individualism is the beauty of Creation. Some of us are meant to bring new life into the world - while others prepare the physical "shell" during the transition back to spirit. Some are meant to care for the sick, or teach the children, or build the homes. Some use their hands to create structures, tend to crops, or work with wood, metals and tools. Some create the music and sing the songs that move our soul, or write the words in books that transform us, or lyrics in poetry and spoken word that resonate with us -  while others still use the gift of a brushstroke to produce images that engage and stimulate us!  It all shows the beauty of the Creator to bless us with such incredible variety, creativity and talent.

In 2014, tap into your CREATIVE ENERGY (if you haven't already)! Try doing different things, participate in diverse activities, or creative venues/projects. Do you...Do what moves you positively! Pay attention to what you are drawn to - that's the voice of spirit whispering in your ear - if you just still yourself and listen to that little voice...(some call it "first mind"). To me that whisper is the voice of Spirit and my Ancestors guiding me to my destinies...

In the spirit of Umoja/Unity - know that through art we can can be the catalyst and tool that heals the ugliness between people on this planet based on skin color!  Art is transformative! I recognize the power of art as a tool for discourse, political engagement, education, activism, appreciation and transformation. Art is powerful. When we use & connect our creative and artistic gifts to foster unity, educational enlightenment, artistic appreciation and documentation of our stories - we honor and preserve our history. 

How can/will you explore your creative gifts in 2014?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Honoring the victims of AIDS on World AIDS Day

Today December 1, 2013 marks the 25th Anniversary of World AIDS Day. We have lived with the reality of AIDS for so long, that there are many people who don't even remember a time without the devastation of AIDS. As a child who came of age in the 60's & 70's – this was the era of experimentation and "anything goes." As a result many, many people experimented with some aspect of the "goodies" of the era. This runs the gamut from both legal mind-altering substances like wine and "hard liquor" to illegal drugs, such as: weed, hash, angel dust, psychedelic drugs - (including mescaline, LSD-25 or acid in all its forms {blotter, black acid, orange sunshine, etc.}, THC, cocaine, and the MONSTER of them all King Heroin! 

Growing up in Englewood, NJ, (in Bergen County), 5 minutes from NYC - presented an exciting opportunity as well as a sad negative reality for my generation. At a young age folks started hanging in NYC - often in Harlem. All of the exciting places and happenings of NYC were readily available to us (only a bus away); but on the negative side so were the drugs. Heroin distribution was targeted in the Black community, so Harlem was a heroin dealer’s playpen. You could easily "cop" a bag of "dope"- (heroin) all over the area; and "shooting galleries" - spots where people got high were plentiful. Additionally, Bergen County was an area targeted for heroin distribution, and this was even mentioned in the film- American Gangster.

So many people of my generation started out experimenting for fun and wound up paying the ultimate price.  It hit home for me and my family at an early stage - when I was 15 years old, my beloved brother Billy Tinsley, a nationally recognized, star basketball player, died tragically from a heroin overdose at the tender age of 17 years old. A video remembering and honoring his legacy by a former basketball coach was created by Sam Lee and can be viewed at: 
Although his death deeply shocked and affected our family and community, and may have deterred some people; others were already to deep into the drug addiction path to stop. Some thought it was still was a "party" and unfortunately, they stayed at the party too long. I am so thankful because there but for the grace of God goes I. In high school I remember reciting the poem/rap King Heroin by James Brown from memory. 
(King Heroin for those unfamiliar with it)

Then along comes AIDS. Whew!!! It devastated our little community - and many of our former classmates and peers died from this deadly "man-made disease" - (which in my humble opinion, I believe without a shadow of a doubt, was man-made from the start). We have lost so many people in my community, throughout our country and throughout the world to this disease. Entire major cities and surrounding suburban towns throughout the US, and countries throughout the world have been devastated, and many countries in Africa have been wiped out. We have lost some of the best, brightest, talented, intelligent, insightful, artistic, funny, good people to this disease! On a national and international level, we have also lost some of the most talented, creative, artistic geniuses to this disease. I have attended many funerals over the last 30 years of people who died from this horrible disease.  I even remember attending funerals before the name "AIDS" was even coined - and folks said the person died from a problem with their immune system. (We barely knew what an immune system was at that time). 

Well, here we are 25 years after World AIDS Day was started. I have been deeply touched by the lives of those who perished in this disease.  I first saw the AIDS Memorial Quilt almost 20 years ago and I was moved to tears. For more info on the AIDS Memorial Quilt and the Names Project: 

Fortunately, people are now "living with AIDS" instead of dying with AIDS. I am thankful for the friends I know and people I have met who are living with the disease and are comfortable sharing their story to enlighten others. As an educator, I have worked with many students over the years that have lost their parents, and some even grandparents to this disease. In many communities, both in NJ and throughout the country, it is unfortunately common for young children to no longer have a mother or father alive. As an educator I was fortunate to serve on a panel several years ago on World AIDS Day at Bank Street Graduate School of Education in NYC (my Alma mater) as an educator who has created curricula material to teach about AIDS. As an educator, when I see a need, I feel a personal responsibility to address it. This was the inspiration and motivation that led me to write: Me and My Grandma – A story for children about AIDS. Copies are available at:

I acknowledge those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives to drug and AIDS. I give the highest honor and respect to those who have carried on the job of raising the children who lost their parents. I also honor those who are HIV positive or have AIDS who have suffered the shame, embarrassment, fear and abandonment of your friends and loved ones (especially in the early days of his disease). What affects one of us, affects all of us! 

 Know your status, make wise choices and always protect yourself! 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Thoughts on war...

Today, September 2, 2013 it seems as though America is ready to engage in yet another war - this time against Syria. The media is preparing the America public with rationale for why this should happen. I can objectively look at the media and see exactly how they use the power of persuasion to manipulate people in believing the ""pre-determined America agenda". I sincerely hope and pray that this "war" against Syria does not come to fruition, as war kills thousands and ruins countless lives - while greedy politicians and investors of war products make millions. This poem expresses my personal sentiments against war...

Copyright 2011 by Helen Tinsley

it was quiet
the earth was sleeping
darkness covered her
like a cozy blanket
the night air was cool
& the moon cast a soft glow on the land
the people below...
the villagers
the simple people
the children
 & the elders
drifted in & out of consciousness
when it happened

the sound was jolting
it shook their houses
frightened their animals 
& awakened their babies
the screams pierced the stillness of the night
their eyes told of fear & helplessness
that was the night that bombs rained 
from an afghanistan sky
leaving behind shards of metal marked USA
doused with human blood.

young suicide bombers
raised on the gaza strip
stroll thru public eateries
 government buildings 
& overcrowded city buses
laden with dynamite sticks
neatly hidden behind cotton shirts
or tightly tucked under twisted turbans
willing sacrifices
human missiles detonating
to make a statement
and reclaim the west bank 
as palestinian land
in the name of jihad

orphaned iraqi children
gulf war survivors
sift thru bones & rubble
playing new games 
with spent bullets
& american warheads
that stole their parents lives
and ended the one they knew

young people representing
the red, white & blue
the few & the proud
being all that they can be
are proudly & unknowingly 
manipulated & sacrificed
on foreign shores
over alleged weapons of mass destruction
as corporate predators 
& greedy politicians
play chess with international lives

when will this madness end?
this thing called war
where there is no winner
& the stakes are human lives.
this must end now
do not pass go
do not u-turn
back pedal
or hit reverse

listen up united nations
no more unpeaceful...peace treaties
congressional hearings
or international delegations
change this practice called foreign policy
& stop policing the world

stop conquering other people's land
while ignoring the homeless man on the streets,
the pregnant woman with no medical care
the AIDS patient who can't afford meds
the unjustly convicted in US prisons
& the sick, poor & tired on american streets
homeland security 
should secure a home for all
promote international peace
bring about global unification
& bury this animal called war.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Academia vs. Creativity – Finding Balance

         I am a storyteller and writer by spirit, an artist by passion, an educator by vocation, a life-long learner and a full-time student in a doctoral program. Yes, like many of us I am a multi-dimensional person - I am WOMAN – hear me roar (lol) and I also a mother and grandmother! Needless to say, I like everyone else am busy! I have all the usual routine - daily and weekly tasks that must be done, cleaning, shopping, cooking, laundry, etc. Many of our routines are simply a matter of time and energy – providing we are blessed with the health to accomplish our needed tasks!  Yet, sometimes we fill our lives with so many activities and projects that we soon find ourselves on a whirlwind or a never-ending merry-go-round – I know I have always been there, and I still am on another level.
In this post I hope to explore with you – the readers - the complexity of finding balance in your life while being actively engaged as a full-time student in a demanding doctoral program and still being true to yourself as a creative spirit, while working in a demanding and time-consuming job. To me, it seems the higher one goes up the academia ladder, the less it is about personal engagement and creativity, and more about theoretical and analytical data. I am a pragmatist and I strongly believe in personal connections, meaningful engagement and practical application. Can one find that in schools of education in academia? Is it possible? Where does it exist? Are their online or hybrid doctoral programs in education that provide that?
Far too many times I am working on a paper or assignment for school and spirit begins talking to me, or ancestors and angels start whispering words in my head of stories of long ago, or inspirations and ideas that I NEED to immediately meditate on and write about. But, in the midst of a paper or assignment and a tight deadline – I have to make a practical choice – and in order to actually meet the assignment deadline, I have far too many times made school the first priority. Now, perhaps for the average person, that may be a good thing or no big deal. But, for me as a spiritually led woman and “inspired” writer that is so limiting to my psyche and spirit – because I understand the voice of spirit! I know better - when spirit tells me to jump – I jump!  I have to! My spirit demands it!! So, as a result I have many, many sleepless nights – writing papers and completing assignments for school; and also sitting quietly and letting spirit talk to me and then writing inspirations and poetry, or making collages. It is a major juggling act for me!  Yet, I know I am not the first person to be at this crossroad, and we can all benefit from hearing others stories, strategies and solutions to creating that sense of balance! So, I hope to hear from you because the sharing of diverse stories enriches us all!
In my sphere in life, I am blessed to know many people in different walks of life - Ase’!  I enjoy interacting with many activists, artists, writers, educators, academics, filmmakers, talkers, and good people from all over the United States and around the world in both real time and cyber space. Every artist or creative spirit can probably relate to the juggling act I refer to; and the need for making choices and/or finding that perfect niche’ or balance on a level that works for you between: money or creative arts/ 9-5 job or creative arts/ academics or creative arts/ scheduled life or flexibility.
So, I am reaching out to you – family, friends, conscious folks, and my email and Facebook friends – you my “peeps” who represent the pulse of many communities - to share your thoughts, ideas, and creative suggestions on following your passion and/or finding that “balance” – while working in a full-time profession and pursuing an advanced degree: (such as: a doctorate, medical, law degree, etc) and also letting your creativity flow! What are your thoughts?