So today I am back (at least at half speed) after burying my grandmother. It was a remarkable experience, a time filled with more smiles than tears, more laughs than anger and more warmth in my family than almost any other time I can recall in the past decade. Nothing like a funeral to remove a few shoulder chips — including my own — huh?
Crazy how a trip to a cemetery can put a few things into perspective.
And then I get a phone call that says this…
The American Library Association has named The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers 2009. (Homeboyz was a top ten ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers for 2008 so I just went back-to-back with my last two books of young adult fiction. Incredible, huh?)
And then they said, please make sure your publisher puts it on the cover. I have a feeling they won’t forget to mention this small little detail. Just a hunch. Too funny and too cool. Librarians are the BEST!!!
And then I get an invitation that says this…
The Convention Director of SPEAQ (SPEAQ is the Society for the Promotion of Teaching of English of a Second Language in Quebec) has formally invited me to be the keynote speaker at their annual conference in Montreal, Canada this November and is really hoping I’ll be able to say yes. (For really good pay, too including all travel meals and lodging.)
Not bad, I think. Not bad at all.
And then I check my email and get this…
I will do my best to keep this email brief. I have seen you speak several times and am always inspired by your passion and your drive. As a very new teacher, I need all of the inspiration to stick with it that I can get. I bought your book “Teaching Teens & Reaping Results” and started reading it tonight. I head back to my Master’s program Wed, and therefore, there goes my own reading time. Anyway, I saw the quote “Fall down seven times, stand up eight”and it really resonated with me.
I was lying in bed and I just kept thinking about that quote and how cool it would be to turn that into a poem – to write about 7 times we have fallen and the 8 times we get up. I am going to copy/paste my poem at the bottom of the email (I’m always wary of attachments from strangers). It was a profound writing experience for me. I wanted to share my idea with you since you inspired it!
Thanks for your wisdom and your genius!
P.S. The numbers were just for me to keep count. It’s too late for editing that before I send it! Cheers!
7 falls – 8 stands
1. I once fell when I stepped on a neighbor’s remote control because I let my anger get the best of me.
I stood up because I still wanted to be friends.
2. I once fell when my father died because I wanted him to help me figure out just who I was supposed to be and how.
I stood up because I know that’s what he wants me to do.
3. I once fell when we moved from Ohio to Wyoming because the boys who had finally reciprocated my crushes were going to be left behind.
I stood up because I figured there would be more romance ahead.
I once fell when Nick died that day in August because he was my best friend, we loved each other, and 18 year old boys are not supposed to have their heads’ crushed in car accidents.
I stood up because if I didn’t, the pain would crush me forever.
I once fell in Texas because I was so painfully lonely; two years and not a single friend to show for it.
I stood up because I knew that that was not how I wanted to live my life, and I knew I had the power to change it.
I once fell when my Mom was a suicidal pain medication addict for years because of the intolerable back pain the surgeries caused; she thought I did not love her because I told her she should not drive under the influence of the drugs.
I stood up because I loved her and wanted my strength to overwhelm her and become her strength.
I once fell when I was terrified of committing myself to my husband for the fear that he would also die, and I would be left with the grief.
I stood up because fear will not rule my life, and I will never stop believing in the powers that be.
The Book Jam ning is jamming, I can’t wait to get back to school and start rockin’ again with my kids and my literary agent just came to terms with Disney on a children’s book I submitted to them — my first children’s picture book (something I have always wanted to do). Plus, my real goal for the next, oh, rest of my years on this planet, is to bring authentic books back into our classrooms, get rid of the ridiculous scripted curriculums and let our kids read some awesome YA literature so that educators can simultaneouesly cover the standards, engage the students and build a bridge to 21rst learning projects so that America doesn’t get left behind much in the way England got smoked by folks like us due to their hubris about 150 years ago.
It’s our time, people. We MUST revolutionize our nation’s schools. And who better than us?
Remember when I said I was back at half speed? Screw it — full steam ahead. After all, one day we’re all gonna be gone anyway. What seems to me the matter the most is the way in which we spend our days while we’re here.
I am back on the roller coaster… and thrilled that you are coming along for the ride.