So This is Fifty

I just want to throw it out there. I MADE IT! On January 9th, 2020 I turned fifty! It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. It only matters what I think. And I think “Thank you, God! I made it!”

One of my sisters and her husband reserved a hotel room on South Beach so I could wake up and see water, write my goals and begin my 50th year in life. I read a text and one of my friends with my disease wrote, “You made it!” and that’s all it took. I cried.

My friend understood. He knew that we had lost so many friends with Osteogenesis Imperfecta that making it to 50 was a big deal.

In case someone is reading this now or in the future, let me make it clear. I am not saying that no one with OI will make it to 50. There are many who have made it to 50 and they have made it to 60, 70 and 80. I don’t know all of them but I know me. I know my life. I know my health. I know what I’ve been through. I know that making it to 50 is a big deal. I know that people who know me know it too.

But it’s not just making it to 50 that makes it a big deal. It’s the other factors that those who know me realize as well. It’s that I am a college educated, Colombian American with a car, a job, and relatively good health. It’s that I can pay my bills and rent. It’s that I live a pretty independent life and I love dealing with challenges head on.

That’s it for now!

Keeping the Spirit of the Season Alive in My Life

Finally, I’m on vacation. Yesterday was exhausting. There are people in the world who think teachers are babysitters. Such false thinking. Too many activities and issues this past week. For the sake of everyone, nothing will be mentioned except to say that it was emotionally and physically taxing for some people more than others.

I didn’t want to give my students a full day off because that’s not my style but I didn’t want to lose the festive spirit of the holiday. I have many students who need to be reminded of the reason for the season. Instead, I offered the students extra credit if they made their own version of the 12 Days of Christmas. This would cover standards in poetry and creative writing. It came out really well.

I also gave them time to work on childhood development books that might be entered into this year’s Youth Fair competition. Even though it is due the Wednesday after we return from winter break, I wanted to give them time to work on it in class. That also came out rather well. Students had an opportunity to work on two activities to boost their academic grade.

The best part was after school. Not because it was the end of the work day, but because I had several surprise visits from former students. I enjoyed briefly catching up with them. It’s a great feeling as an educator to see the students move on in a positive direction.

As for my co workers, this holiday season wasn’t so bad. I think for it was the realization that I had to change my mindset with them. Luckily for me, I have a co worker who helped me see what I couldn’t see because I was trying too hard to be a “team player” when it’s not always in me. I’m glad it’s not always in her either!

I have a huge issue with hypocrisy. I can’t handle it on any level. It’s so irritating that I can get a headache from even seeing it a little bit. But I realized that some people don’t call it hypocrisy. They call it “getting along” or they say it’s because “it’s the right thing to do.” I guess that’s where things go awry with me. I don’t do “the right thing” or do something to “just get along” if it doesn’t agree with my moral compass.

I just don’t like being fake. It doesn’t sit well with me.

So this school year, I participated in what I enjoyed and quietly escaped anything that would seem fake in my life. It’s not easy to keep that balance but it helps keep the spirit of the season.

When I take care of me first, I find I have enough energy to care for others. This holiday season I haven’t finished my gift giving but this year I am placing myself on the list too.

Julie & Julia

I’m reading the book Julie & Julia. I saw the movie a long time ago. I watch it whenever I have the opportunity because there’s something about the movie that motivates me to write on here. Writing here allows me to spill my thoughts because I know that no one is reading it. This blog has been inactive for so long that my usual readers have drifted off to other bloggers. In a way, it’s a blessing. Less pressure to please the reader. More freedom to express my thoughts.

I reached out to a friend, “Mary” to seek her expertise advice that would help another friend, “Jo Ann” and “Mary” said that it’s Sunday so she can’t talk. This is the same person who complains on social media about the way people won’t help her when she asks for help. I didn’t get mad at her because I figured she’s already clueless about her actions. Why should I be the one to pop her bubble? Let someone else hit her with reality. I deal with enough people who live in la la la land.

Then I found myself shaking my head in disbelief when I saw someone who I have supported via their fundraising or their work stay silent knowing fully well that their friend was mischaracterizing me. Did I blow a gasket? Nope! I spoke privately to them and found myself shocked to learn that they didn’t see anything wrong with it. Ok! No problem! Next! That’s one less person whose worthy of my time.

I realize that they enjoy controversy and perhaps I should have known that before chiming into their social media conversation but it irks me to see how people can be so extreme in their ways.

Why does everyone have to be so extreme? I’m passionate about many ideas and beliefs but there’s a line that I don’t cross. Today I saw someone who claims to be about the people and for the people but I guess only when the people is them.

Oh well, until next time!

Tomorrow work. Let there be air condition.

Changed My Mindset, Changed My Day

Without going into personal details for fear it will ruin my future New York Times best selling novel about my life, I can reveal that this past week has been a trying week. But on my way to work, I thought I should take my own advice to change my mindset when things get chaotic.

Work can be the biggest challenge in my life. I don’t mean the students. They are the least of my problems. I love teaching middle school. Interacting with them about novels and poetry is fantastic. I’d love to run my own school one day but I wouldn’t want to give up leaving the classroom.

Lately, I’ve become more of an observer to avoid clashing with others in the school who are considered “adults” but it is quite the challenge. I say this because hypocrisy is the one thing that I seem to not handle well in the work place.

Recently, I didn’t have to chirp up as much as I thought I would because my other coworkers did it. It’s as if there is a handful of educators who truly value instructional time. They want to be at parent conferences, they don’t want a gazillion interruptions while they are teaching, they grade with high expectations and they won’t tolerate disrespect of any kind. I consider myself a part of this group.

There was an incident this past week that really could have set me off and thrown me off the holiday cheer train. But I changed the way I looked at the situation. With the help of someone else who said, “they will never value your thoughts because your standards are too high for them.” There you go! I realized that maybe I was expecting something from people who despite having an educational degree, just couldn’t deliver the same high standards that our kids deserved. Once I realized that it wasn’t personal against me, I felt my anger float away.

I wish I could have applied this a long time ago. It would have saved me so many hours of getting upset. I used to wonder, “why won’t these co workers step it up? Why won’t they raise their standards? Why won’t they give these students quality education?” The answer is clear. They can’t.

The air condition unit wasn’t working at work this past week. Luckily for Miami weather, it was a chilly week. Yet my classroom was musty and warm. With students coughing up a lung, this environment could become a breeding ground for more just a flu epidemic. Once again, I thought let me change my mindset. So I took my students outside to continue doing the work that they would have done in the classroom. I didn’t say free time or play time or do whatever you want time. But once we got outside, my students saw their classmates doing just that with other teachers.

It’s not easy being the “tough teacher” but later on some of the students will realize that my job is to make sure they have the skills to succeed.

Until then, I will be the “tough teacher” and if my coworkers stumble up on this website, don’t take it personal.

December Ramblings

Is blogging dead? I have no idea. I’m starting to realize that I don’t care either. I love writing and I love reading people who write interesting pieces on their blogs. It’s not an old age situation. It’s simply a personal opinion.

I find it fascinating that people are jumping to do podcasts. But aren’t podcasts really the old fashioned form of talk radio? It was interesting back then right? Now we cleaned it up, targeted all types of niches and labeled it podcasting because it’s not on the radio.

I love it!

I love that we recreate something that has already been created but tweak it up for the next generation to feel that it is a new and special item.

In 40 days, I will be 50 years old. Some of my relatives think I’m making too much of a big deal out of it. But reality is that I am not making enough of a big deal. For AudacityMagazine.com, I’ve written about growing up with death and my own personal battles to stay healthy. I think my family doesn’t want me to make a big deal about these things because then it makes them nervous about my mortality. But c’est la vie because I love celebrating my birthday for that exact reason. Because I made it another year!

I wanted to monetize this site but now I want this to be a public space for me to discuss personal thoughts, musings, projects, and anything else.

Photos will happen later on. For now, let me get back into the area that I love and have always loved. Writing and the power it has over our thoughts, actions, and beliefs.

If you are into politics, you will enjoy some of my future posts because just when you think you have me figured out, you find out you really don’t. It’s not even about tricking you. It’s about me always thinking how others see things.

Everything will still be rated PG because I don’t think it’s necessary for me and others to resort to vulgarity unless as a last resort. But that’s usually in real life. I think when we write, we can find other words to express ourselves that don’t rhyme with duck, bit, lap or switch.

Breathe Again

Nathasha Alvarez Breathe Again
Nathasha Alvarez
Breathe Again

Get comfy. This post will be lengthy but it’s going to feel so good to finally breathe again. It’s been almost six months since my last post. I’ve been on a writing hiatus and it has taken a toll on me. But why did I stop? And why did I start up again?

In fifteen days, I will celebrate another birthday. I can’t wait! Every birthday is a victory.  Continue reading “Breathe Again”

Step By Step Isn’t Always Easy

I’m about to share a video that literally took over 60 hours to produce, direct and edit. I would love to take the credit but all I did was supervise, pull my hair out, shed some tears, yell and laugh throughout the entire process. My first year teaching theatre and the first year our k-8 school ever had a theatre class. Producing a play was not going to happen but that’s for another post.  But then an idea hit me.

All of the students were asked to get into groups to lip sync a song. One group of boys chose Step by Step by New Kids on the Block. I love that song! They did such a great job that I offered them extra credit if they redid the video like the one in the original music video by NKOTB. Two boys, Kevin and Elijah took on the challenge. The other boys in the group also pitched in when they were needed. (THANK YOU TO NKOTB for making a fabulous song that my middle school students love as well!)

Miraculously other theatre and non theatre students pitched in to help with the filming, stage setting, and choreography. Even two former students who had come to visit me were giving tips during parts of the filming. We even thought we had our fifth member but he sprained his ankle. Tsk Tsk, Daniel. (Just kidding, feel better!)  However, you might still see him if you closely look at the step scene. (Thank you, Luis Z. and Nathalie D. for helping me there!)

Our vision was bigger than our time, our patience, and our abilities but it came to fruition the night before my last day of work.

Thank you for not giving up! Thank you, Kevin, Elijah, Jorge, Joaquin, Nathalie, Mrs. Breiter, Mr. Mojica, Pepe, Luis Z. Mrs. Gutierrez, Ms. Garcia, Mrs. Hernandez, Mrs. Calis, Mrs. Desimone, period 6, period 2, period 1. A special thanks to our principal, Ms. Arango for letting me teach Theatre in our school.

Here is our reproduction of Step by Step.

All music and singing is from the original group, New Kids on the Block.

If you happen to know the musical group, let them know about this video.

Gifts Every Teacher Wants from Students

Students Gifts
Christmas Gifts From Students

Every year my students inquire about my Christmas list from Santa. Every year I want to tell them what’s really on my list: a date with Shemar Moore, $1,000 gift card to Nordstrom, Barnes and Noble, Ulta or Amazon.com, and the raise that Miami Dade County Continue reading “Gifts Every Teacher Wants from Students”

UTD Bullied Me At My Workplace

Discrimination
See things at my eye level.

Yesterday, my workplace had an “emergency meeting” which prompted me to write yesterday’s post. You can read it here.

Was there a repercussion for speaking my mind?

You tell me.

Every time there is a vote, the UTD steward has the voting take place at the cafeteria at one of the Continue reading “UTD Bullied Me At My Workplace”