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.

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Top 3: My Happy Things

This has been an unusually busy  summer. It began with two weeks of Professional Developments. Then, for the first time since my grandmother died, I went back to Florida, which is now home to my mother. The following weekend, I turned 30 in Gatsby-fashion, and spent my first week of 30, packing up my apartment and placing my belongings into storage. Two days later, I locked in an apartment for the end of August, and hopped on a plane to London, which is where I’ll be until then.

Emotions have been high—from anticipation to excitement to worry to jetlag to gratitude to sheer happiness. In the hustle and bustle of my summer, here are three things that have been brining me happiness.

1. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri. When life is feeling crazy, it’s comforting to escape into a book, and to envelop yourself into someone else’s chaos. The Lowland is much like other post-colonial books I’ve read—two family members, in this case two brothers, separated by different lifestyle choices. One is committed to a life independent of and against Western frivolity, and the other is soaking up Western privileges—in this case, American education. I’m only on page 100, so I know it will become more complicated, but more than the plot itself, I enjoy Lahiri’s ability to create moods, making me feel like I’m inheriting the experience of her characters. When introducing the reader to the third character, Gauri, she describes Gauri’s relationship with her parents by writing: “She had no memory of spending a moment, even in a house in such an isolated place, ever, alone with her mother or father. Always at the end of a queue, in the shadow of others, she believed she was not significant enough to cast a shadow of her own” (72). I know this sentence is prophetic for something, and I’m eager to read on to find out.

2. Travel. A few weeks ago, I was in Florida. I used to go there a couple times a year, but hadn’t been back since my Nana’s funeral, which was three years ago. My mother now lives 30 minutes from where my Nana used to live. Regardless of my complicated relationship with Florida (nothing like seeing a huge confederate flag waving amongst the lush greenery of it’s landscape), there is a piece of home there—especially now that it’s my mother’s home. Going back “home” has its complications, but, nonetheless it grounds you.

Now, I’m in London—another place I call home. This is my fourth trip to London; my first trip being 10 years ago, when I studied here for a semester. Like each trip, when I first arrived, I felt shy, like someone seeing a loved one for the first time in years– not knowing if the intimacy we once shared could last beyond the years of separation. But, as each day passes, I find myself getting back in step with what was once familiar—navigating the tube, staying in step with the bustle of High Streets, being amongst P.O.C’s in every type of neighborhood, and NOT receiving constant stares. There are multiple reasons for this trip, but regardless of what happens, I know I will not return the same.

“ I do not bring back from a journey quite the same self that I took.” – W. Somerset Maugham

3. Friends. It’s cheesy, it’s mushy, but it’s true, that I don’t know what I’d do without my friends. These past few months have been overwhelming,  and I’ve had to rely on the support of friends in a way I’m not used to. Friends have stepped up to listen to my worries, to help me pack, to celebrate my turning 30, to take care of my beloved dog…. I’m in awe with how many times friends have offered help, or replied with a “yes,” when I needed a favor. I understand that’s what friends are for, but I’m still humbled by their love.

What’s making you happy this month?

Top 3: My Happy Things

 

Things can get a little heavy around here. My blog centers race, which isn’t a topic that lends itself to lightness.  In attempts to alleviate some of the heaviness that can come along with the discussion of race/racism in America, I want to bring a little sugar to my blog, with a dose of happiness.

Meet, “My Happy Things.”

This is an ongoing series to appreciate the little things bringing joy into my life. I invite you to think of, and maybe even share, the things that are making you happy.

Let’s begin with…

1. This book.

Image

It’s the first Octavia Butler book, and the first “science fiction book,” I’ve read (though Butler classified this book as “kind of grim fantasy”). The storyline isn’t exactly light, but Kindred is a page-turner. Dana, the main character lives in 1970s Altadena, CA (the neighboring city to my hometown, Pasadena) with her white husband, but is mysteriously transported to the antebellum South. She is continuously transported back and forth between the 1800s and 1970s, and we, as the readers, try to make sense of her experience through her travels.

The experience of reading Kindred is intense, but  makes me happy because it causes me to think of time in a different way. Time travel isn’t a new concept, but for this sci-fi newbie, it’s new for me to actually consider it as an alternative reality. What if time is more than a fleeting moment that is constantly changing? What if time maintains itself, until the future needs to return to past moments for lessons on the future?

Why would anyone need to return to the antebellum South? I would say never. But, I think Butler may be trying to reveal a different perspective to me.

 2. Rereading My Journals.

Journal organizing – some date back to the early 90s…yeash!

A post shared by Billie2Nina (@billie2nina) on

Rereading journals is usually an awkward, but revealing process. Sometimes, I’m reminded of moments I wish I hadn’t accounted for, while other times, important life lessons are revealed.

This time around, reading my journals is making me happy, because I’m able to see and learn from themes in my journey.  Noting these themes allows for me to see where I need to grow, while honoring who I am. And let’s be real– reading journals from middle school or elementary school is extremely entertaining. High School, on the other hand, was mostly awkward for me.

3. Anytime I hear, or see a video/ video still for this song. 

On the last day of school, it’s a personal ritual to post DJ Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith’s eternal classic, “Summertime,” AKA “Summa-time” on my FB page. I’m happy when I hear DJ Jazzy Jeff, say “Drums Please,” followed with the scratching record and “Aaaaaaahhhhh   Yeeeeeaaahhhh….. Summa/Summa/Summatiime,” because it instantly transitions me from strict/tense, Ms. Peters to laid-back/relaxed  Kirsti.

Happy Summatime, Ya’ll!

What’s making you happy right now?