Jamie Mayes, AOE

10 Things to Do While You are Quarantining

In Culture, justice, life, media, motherhood, reality, Uncategorized on March 28, 2020 at 4:46 pm

20245669_10159198051960531_3016672742280090737_nThis has been a rough time for people across America. Being forced into our homes for what has seemed like forever is a challenge for people who are always on the go. Socializing is a weekend regular and taking the kids to local events is a way of life. However, amid the outbreak of CoVID-19, life has changed in ways we never imagined. Despite what people may think, even introverts are struggling to manage life from the inside.

Whether you are home with the children, or you live alone, there are only so many movies you can watch on Netflix and so many times you can clean out your closet. For the past few days, I pondered what else I could be doing to add some variety to my day-to-day schedule so that being “home bound” is not so stressful for me or my family. Check out the top ten suggestions below; maybe you will find something that interests you, too.

10. Meditate-Although I try to take time to read and focus each morning, I had found more great opportunities to breathe, stretch and focus. There are some great pages on Instagram that are offering live morning meditation each morning. Moms, don’t fear, you can bring the kiddos in for this, too. One of the Instagram pages offering free meditation is Transcendental Meditation. Follow them and check out their schedule to join in!

9. Free Lance Arts & Crafts-This means you should avoid going to the store if you don’t have to and use anything you can find at home to do arts and crafts projects. Now, I won’t lie, we have an arts and crafts area where I collect as many items as possible from the dollar tree. However, if you have paper, markers, colored pencils, old pieces of materials or blankets, pieces of wood or magazines, let your imagination run free. Figure out what you can create and get to work! This activity can be even more exciting if you have a team of kiddos who want to get in on the excitement, too. You’ll never know what you can create when you simply use your imagination!

8. Learn some new technology tools-Canva, Wix, Google, any fancy-schmancy cell phone apps- which one tickles your fancy? Learning how to use a new online program can be tricky, but it can help you advance your career or create and expand your secondary gig. Mastering new web programs can take time and time is a little bit of what you have! Invest in yourself and use YouTube or Vimeo to help you learn more about these programs. Then, test them out by reaching out to your friends and family.

7. Do your manicure and pedicures at home-That’s right, do it yourself! While it is relaxing to sit back and get your hands and feet done, you don’t have to suffer just because the nail shop is closed. The next time you make your weekly quarantine grocery run, pick up a few $1 nail polishes and topcoat. Get your favorite lotions out, bucket and an emery board and get to work. Self-care will truly be self- care during this time. Honey, I am officially the home manicure queen! When my living situation changed a few months ago, my bi-weekly trips to the nail salon were the first thing to go! I already owned a heat lamp (purchased on Amazon), so I went online and ordered my first 4 soak-off nail polishes and some remover for a total of $16. I went to my local Dollar Tree and bought all my manicure essentials (I mean EVERYTHING) for only $10 and my bi-weekly manicure and pedicure sessions are done at home. That’s right- for the price I pay for one gel manicure, I bought all of my supplies. I have to admit- I’m enjoying my owe peace, solitude and wine way more thank I enjoyed the hustle-bustle of the nail shop.

6. Start a mini-garden-It’s one of the most natural things you can do. It doesn’t have to be any grand like watermelons or pumpkins. You can make it a small herb garden or plant a few beans. Challenge yourself to water them and take your little garden seriously. I started gardening about seven years ago, and my porch plants eventually became a small garden full of fruits and veggies. It was a hobby that became a great passion! Let’s see how green your thumb is; start gardening!

5. Re-collaborate your closet-Downtime is the perfect time to examine what you have in your closet and create new outfits! Add a bit of spice by pairing patterns and colors you hadn’t considered. Dig in the back of the closet and bring out that outfit you forgot about! If you are extra talented turn long sleeves into short sleeves and pants into shorts. Pinterest is the perfect place to find all kinds of ideas, especially ones for re-purposing outfits! Download your app, go to your closet and unleash your inner fashion expert!

4. Do yard work-Do you really want to keep visitors at least six feet from your house? Well, here’s the solution- invite them over to do yard work! Seriously, for many people, lawn service has also temporarily stopped whether it is due to the quarantine or to save more while out of work because of CoVID. For years, I loathed at the thought of mowing my own yards, trimming hedges or raking leaves until I couldn’t do it anymore. Now, I miss putting my earbuds in my ears and getting to work! I loan for the days of raking leaves into a pile and letting my son jump into them. It was a task that I found fun in doing while improving the maintenance of my year and the appearance of my yard. The emotional benefits of fresh air and experience are especially far-reaching right now. You don’t have to be an expert to make your yard look nice. Crank up the lawnmower and allow your mind to be free as you trim the leaves!

3. Have an online happy hour-Okay, so last week my friend girl Kesha, who lives in Baton Rouge invited me to an online happy hour using our cell phone apps. I met new friends; we met each other’s children. We briefly introduced ourselves and then talked like old friends. For a while, I was transported to another location on a mini vacation. As we each sipped drinks of our choice, we laughed and talking like nothing had changed. I had so much fun I told my friend not to ever leave me out again. There are several cell phone apps for meetings, just choose one that you like and end the links to your friends. Mentally transport yourself to your favorite weekend hang out and have the time of your life. Don’t forget to invite me, too!

2. Catch up on reading-Of course, you’ve probably heard this a thousand times, but it is one of the best ways to pass time and empower yourself! Instead of only reading for leisure, read for a purpose. Read a chapter and then challenge yourself to answer these question questions: What did I like about this chapter? What did I dislike about this chapter? How can I related to or apply something from this chapter to my life? If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, read a book about a hobby, improving in your current field or a career you’ve been thinking about doing but haven’t done yet. Use what you learn as a guide toward making that thing happen! After you read, the next goal is to ACT on it. Start that hobby. Begin preparing for that career. Reading is excellent, but reading for a purposely gives you energy, direction, and motivation!

1. Throw a quarantine party with your family-When you can’t party where you want, bring the party where you are. My son and I have re-kindled our relationship with Alexa, and she brings some of our favorite tunes each day. Have a Hispanic celebration with Taco Tuesday, virgin margaritas and the best hits by Selena. Have an Italian night with Spaghetti, your favorite wine and a little Andrea Bocelli playing the background. Boil some crawfish (or any seafood) and potatoes with corn, make a gallon of sweet tea and turn on some Keith Frank to zydeco two-step! If you live alone, this event does not exclude you. Go back to number 3 and crank the party up with all your closest friends from far away. Where we are is beyond our control, but how we experience depends on our state of mind.

Finding the silver lining in this experience can be a little challenging some days but remember how blessed we are to be healthy and alive. Take this experience with grace and find ways to keep your positive outlook and inner glow. Don’t give up “you”; give more into you by doing things you thought you would never have time to do. Soon, things will begin to improve, and you will miss all the wonderful time you got to spend with yourself and your family.

To Teachers who Face Classroom Trauma: It’s Okay to Get a Therapist

In Uncategorized on November 20, 2019 at 8:00 am

DSC_0497It’s an uncomfortable situation to experience and an even more uncomfortable story to tell- the struggles of recovering from trauma experienced as a teacher. Whether the trauma is a result of student infliction or another workplace injury, not being able to perform as the independent, super-teacher you once were can be a challenge for educators. We are trained to cope with any challenge, to put our physical and mental health last and to be the last standing hero when everything else around us and our school is falling. Teachers are supposed to manage the class, grade papers, volunteer after school, give up planning periods, be innovative while strictly following the curriculum, wow administrators during an evaluation, and interrupt summer breaks for schoolwork, training, and summer reading assignments. The stress of such expectations is vastly underestimated and often ignored. Approximately 61% of educators admit that being an educator is a stressful job that often burdens them (Rubin, 2018). When trauma occurs, teachers are expected to recover as quickly as possible in order to tend to the matters of the school with little consideration given to what is in their best interest. As a matter of fact, if one can limp into the classroom, it is expected for teachers to perform with the same energy and enthusiasm as before.

The penalty of less than perfection after trauma can range from overzealous monitoring of teaching practices to a decrease in disciplinary support. In turn, the effects of trauma bear down heavily upon teachers, making it difficult for them to find balance in their classroom, feel a sense of comfort in their work zone, and even make important decisions about the pathway of their career. They either become too afraid to speak up about their struggles or become so rigid that they lose their skill and passion as an educator. For those who choose to remain in the profession, they may begin frequently missing work or being irritable and aggravated by the smallest issues (Rubin, 2018). Their frustrations can funnel into the classroom, making the learning environment tense. Educators are expected to wear a cape that is constantly free of wrinkles, without flaw and that is ready for action anytime. Yet, the truth is that trauma in school is just as damaging to teachers as it can be to students. The loss of a student, the stress to perform at all costs or experiencing a violent attack can affect an educator’s ability to be and feel their best in the classroom.

The stigma that a teacher who needs support is a weak teacher must change if the educational system truly hopes to retain teachers and see students excel. The American Federation of Teachers and the Badass Teachers Association completed a compelling study where educators admit that they frequently feel stressed on the job, they fear retaliation of the school if they speak up (2017). Educators can only help students reach their highest level of success when they are their best. The key to a well-balanced classroom is a well-balanced teacher who can provide proper instruction and give students emotional support. Connecting with a therapist does not make an educator weak; it makes them open to improvement, committed to their best mental health and the best teacher a child could have.

Dear teachers, we are super-beings, but we are not superheroes with supernatural powers. We feel things. We experience things. But we can overcome things. Sometimes overcoming can not be done alone. Just as we need paraprofessionals and co-teachers in the classroom, sometimes we need a partner to work with us through the challenges of school-related trauma and stress. There is a therapist or counselor who is waiting to hear your trauma, stress and worry with no judgment. There’s a future waiting for your greatness. You are not weak for making the call; you are strong for taking charge of your career and life. Teachers, despite the stigma, it’s okay to get a therapist.

The American Federation of Teachers & Badass Teachers Association (2017). Retrieved November 20, 2019, from https://www.aft.org/sites/default/files/2017_eqwl_survey_web.pdf.
Rubin, B. (2018, September 4). The Epidemic of Teacher Stress. Retrieved from https://www.thegraidenetwork.com/blog-all/2018/8/1/crayons-and-cortisol-the-epidemic-of-teacher-stress.

Some People Belong in the “Business Only” Section of Your Life

In Culture, justice, life, media, reality, religion, Uncategorized on December 6, 2018 at 5:55 pm

Introduction

In a couple of weeks, the original FLOTUS’s autobiographical masterpiece will be my strictlybusinessChristmas gift to myself. I have been spending evenings watching discussion clips and listening to her share a level of transparency that has not shaken my soul like this since I last heard Nikki Giovanni in person. A few weeks ago, she made a statement that has forever stained my memory. Upon recalling the vicious rumors Donald Trump spread about her husband’s citizenship, she expressed her anger with how much danger he put her family in. Her final words were “What if that person went looking for our girls? Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family’s safety at risk. And for this I’d never forgive him.” At first, I was bothered by her statement; as graceful and classy as she and President Obama are, I was unnerved to hear she would never let go of that experience. However, I thought of the anxiety she must have felt as she wondered if her daughters would make it to school safely, whether someone would target her mother, or  whether her husband would become a martyr like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. How many nights did she stay awake trying to calculate the best moves to protect her family and herself? Then, I felt her. I connected to her and I understood the worries of a mother, daughter and wife. I would struggle with my anger too if the lies of another put my family’s life at risk.

Though I still feel that learning to forgive is a necessity for any situation, I drew a new conclusion about how I must handle people who have tried to “handle” me. For years, I have struggled to speak up for myself, often being a doormat for people, putting my feelings last and the needs and wants others first. So often, my mother had to urge me to speak up for myself and defend my honor, and I still found myself cowering in the corner. Life and age have changed me, though. After years of disappointment, internalized pain and lashing out on those who only wanted me to do more for myself, I had to change how I dealt with people. I had allowed everyone to be treated as friends or family, even when everyone didn’t treat me the same way. I had even allowed them into the colleague circle, pushing the ministry of teamwork and oneness, when they only sought to do for themselves. I had to move those people who violated my ethics, morals, personal space and life into a new category. There are some people I must be acquainted with by chance or default, but my dealings will be for business only.

What is the “Business Only” Section?

The “business only” section is reserved for people with whom we must engage but share no personal feelings for. In fact, we would rather not know them if it was our choice. However, by fate, they are present and unavoidable. With this person, you may have to conduct a financial transaction, work together for a company, be a part of a community project, attend church and work on a committee, communicate regarding children or occasionally celebrate a common individual.  Our mission, as stable adults, is to take care of what must be taken care of in a way that is polite, but professional. At times, dealing with “business only” people can be challenging. If you have a natural desire to care about others, you may muddle the line between wanting to develop a friendship and wanting to keep them away. However, at some point a “business only” person will remind you of why your paths my have crossed, but they will never interlock.

For years, I felt guilty about assigning people to the “business only” section of my life. I would try to mend broken relationships at the urging of others, carrying weight upon my back when my heart just could not be convinced to see a person for more than what they had been to me. However, the more I grew in self-love, the more I became protective of my space and my peace. When I became comfortable with being true to my emotions and less critical of myself for being real, everything in my life was healthy, including my heart.

Who Belongs in the “Business Only” Section?

We are in an era where living in a “Kumbaya” society is promoted. Be friends with your ex. The pop culture term “co-parenting” is more like “co-familying.” Bullies and victims come together as best friends.   The line of demarcation and separation have become so blurred. I am sorry, I don’t believe any of these things are necessary. I believe that moving on with your life involves finding personal peace with a situation, not with people. People may never do what you want them to or what they should do, so you must find peace in knowing who you are. I don’t believe we have to push people to hang out as family, when a couple has gone their separate ways. As a child, I never wanted my mother and father to dress up and play fake family together; I just wanted a good mother, and a good father, no matter where they were. It’s okay to not attend the party hosted by a friend of a friend or the “crew” who has not be a true friend to you. People claim that constantly blending together people who do not share the shame ideologies, practices or lifestyle is the best for everyone. However, I have discovered nothing can be further from the truth. We encourage people to dismiss toxicity from their lives but expect them to play nicely with everyone around them.  However, the “business only” section can include anyone with whom we must have constant contact but share no personal feelings or relationship with. In being the leader of the “business only” section of your life, you must establish the protocol and practices and consistently follow through; without such, people will always try to violate you. These days we spend so much time trying to create magical pictures, that we neglect the real parts of real life.  Those the lessons that mean the most and the ones that teach people who to cope. Friendships wont always last. Your exes won’t always apologize. Family will disappoint you. By circumstance you may have to still see them, but it’s ok to put some people in the “business only” section of life. Stop doing it for social media, and do it for yourself.

Conclusion

In searching for a more peaceful life, I had to ask myself things and remove some distractions. For a I had to keep everyone as an active part of my life, even if they were agitators, instigators or manipulators. When I couldn’t find a peace middle-of-the road, I was the only unhappy myself. I searched for ways to change what I didn’t break until the answer was so clear- at times, we just give out too much energy. Self-preservation is essential. Self-love is monumental. For so long, I struggled with seeking approval, making decisions on the merit of others. I tried to make everyone a friend, family member or a good colleague, but I cannot decide who people are. They do. I simply decide how they fit into the lifestyle I live. I stopped trying to create a long-term relationship and bond with everyone, and I welcome them to the “business only” section of my life. Have a seat.

 

Resources

Choi, D. (2018, November 09). Michelle Obama says she will ‘never forgive’ Trump for putting her ‘family’s safety at risk’. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/michelle-obama-never-forgive-trump-for-birther-conspiracy-becoming-book-2018-11

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