A Year In Review: My Favorite Experiences of 2014

Happy New Year, indeed! It has been a year of learning… I think that would be the positive way to frame it. And despite the challenges, there have been a lot of good that has come out of 2014. I’m going to keep my last post of 2014 light and brief.

Here are a few of my favorite things of 2014.

Favorite Reading Experience….

Reading Vladimir Nabokov’s collection of short stories,”Terra Incognita” on the tube in London.

Favorite Movie Experience…

Too easy of a choice. Watching Selma at The Castro Theater, knowing that the film’s director, Ava Duverney, is in the same theater.

Favorite Album of 2014

A tie between Little Dragon’s Nabuma Rubberband and FKA Twigs, LP1. Both albums were introduced to me by friends and I was surprised by how much I loved each of them.

Favorite Concert Experience…

While last year was the year of reading, this year was the year of concerts. I went to many– including a Little Dragon and FKA Twigs concert– but I have to say that my favorite concert was seeing the New Zealand drum and bass group, Shapeshifter at The Jazz Cafe in London, England (Camden Town to be specific). There was so much positive energy, and everyone was dancing.

Favorite Experience(s)… I have three…

1.Spring Break in Chicago with my BFF. It was my first time there, and I was blown away with the architecture, the vintage shopping, and the people! Everyone I encountered was genuinely friendly. 2. Spending a month in London. It was my fourth trip there, and it confirmed that I’m in love with that city and am determined to make it my home. The art, the old and new history constantly playing with and against each other, the diversity, and, once again, the people. 3. Watching my students shift and develop their inquisitive minds. I’m fortunate to have served as their 4th grade teacher, and while they challenged me in the realest way, I couldn’t resist spending 5th grade with them. They have taught me so much and I’m proud to be working with them.

My Favorite Learning Experience…

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Stay real to yourself. Remember your goals, your purpose, your defined realness, and ignore those who try to distract you. And when you feel down, remember your village; they’re ready to lift you.

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3 Things Making Me Happy (In the Midst of My Anger): December

It’s been a while since I’ve shared what’s making me happy. This is partly due to having little time to write, because I’m responsible for the reading lives of 60 fifth graders. Additionally, each time I’ve tried to write about the things making me happy, I couldn’t help but think about what’s making me pissed off. This series was to distract me from the frustrations of racism, but the current attack on Black lives has brought up my defenses, making me feel like the most authentic emotion I can feel is anger.

But we know it’s not healthy to be angry all of the time. If we don’t release and deal with our anger, it will kill us. It’s important to release our anger… to express it in whatever ways we need to… and, then, we need to look for the happiness somewhere, so that we can move forward. We need to look for happiness in the big things… In the little things… In the simple things that have always been waiting to be appreciated. Here are three things that have been making me happy…

1. Time to Process. It’s Winter Break, and more than sleeping in and eating Bahamian Mac & Cheese, I’m happy for time to process. As a teacher, I get little time to do this. I’m told to implement new curriculum, to assess! assess! assess! students before they’re given time to process their learning, to alter teacher moves, and then, to immediately react to the devastation that is taking place in this country. MARCH! PROTEST! BE ANGRY! DON’T BE ANGRY! BE CAREFUL! (what does that even mean for people of color, anymore?) But, I…we are not given time to think… to plan…to consider objectives for reactions, because we’re just going, going, going…. All that to say, Winter Break, Spring Break, Summer Break, Weekend Break are treasured moments that I hold close to my heart, because they allow me thinking time…reflection time… time to process all that has happened and all that will be, so that I can try to act in meaningful, intentional ways in multiple aspects of my life.

2. Ava Duvernay’s Success. You may not know who she is now, but you’re about to. I posted a short film Duvernay did a few years ago with Miu Miu, and in a few days, many people will know her work, if not her name. Ava Duvernay’s film, Selma, is opening Christmas Day, and she has rightfully so been nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Director, making her the first Black woman to be up for this award. I’ve been following her career for a few years (she also wrote and directed I Will Follow and Middle of Nowhere. Middle of Nowhere won the Directors Award in the 2012 Sundance Film Festival), and am grateful that her vision and talent is going to be noted on a large scale. I had the opportunity to see a private screening of Selma a few months ago, and it’s everything we need right now to remind us where we’ve been and what we need to move forward.

3. The Simple Things. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s been a year of challenges. Those days when the struggle got a little too real, I had to look out for the simple things to bring me joy. Simple things like dedicating the week before Winter break to wearing  festive outfits, and then posting them on Instagram…  Simple things like discovering new music on Spotify and dancing in my bedroom… Simple things like cradling my dog like a baby, because it comforts the both of us… And the most simple, but beautiful thing–laughing. I’m fortunate that between my students, my friends, my own awkwardness, and my husband, I’m promised many opportunities to laugh each day… These are the simple things that keep me going… that keep me happy.