Book Review – Ordinary Light by Tracy K. Smith

Book Review Featured Image

Good Morning! Here is the Monday Morning Blog!

How was your week last week? Get a chance to check in with that teen in your life?

March is Women’s History Month

Women's History Month Logo

How was March designated as Women’s History Month? In 1980 President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the week of March 8th as Women’s History Week. Selecting this week corresponds with International Women’s Day which falls on March 8th. It changed from being a week long designation to a month in 1987.  

I’ll be focusing the posts this month towards women who have done inspiring things or have made contributions to our country’s history. To kick off our theme of women this month, the book I am reviewing is a memoir of a woman who shares her coming-of-age story. Not only do we get her story growing up Black in America, but also on a relationship between a mother and a daughter.

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

Ordinary Light

Author

Tracy K. Smith

Type of Book

Memoir

Author Background

Tracy K. Smith is an author and a poet. She was a Poet Laureate, which is an honored achievement one has to be appointed to serve. They seek to raise a greater appreciation for reading and the writing of poetry. Her memoir was a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award for nonfiction.

Summary of the book

Ordinary Light is a coming-of-age story about our author, Tracy K. Smith, and her relationship with her mom. The story starts with her as a young girl, the youngest of five children, and showed us how she lived a pretty good life. When her mom became sick with cancer while she was in high school, she struggles trying to relate to her mom. But through her writing, Smith was able to come to terms what she did in her life and what she missed out on.

Reaction to the book

Her memoir was very relateable for me. We have similar stories as we both grew up as teenagers in the 80s and my mom also passed away from cancer. My mom’s passing happened later in life for me, so I don’t know hard it must have been for Smith to lose her mom in her 20s, when she was just getting her feet under her as a fledgling adult.

I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to a young adult reader. Her story is very relateable and she tells it from the perspective of not only dealing with the challenges of being a teenager, but also being Black in America.

If you want to learn more about Tracy K. Smith follow this link to Wikipedia – Tracy K. Smith

If you want to purchase Ordinary Light, here is a link to do just that – Ordinary Light. Or you can pick it up from your local bookstore or shop Bookshop.org and have the purchase credited to your favorite local independent book seller.

Another coming of age story

Cover design of my first book

Looking for another coming of age teen novel? Why not check out The Hard Way which you can currently purchase through the books tab on my website – The Hard Way

Shawn’s Way, the second book in The Way Series, will be publishing later this year. Be sure to stay tuned to the blog or my website for updates.

Have a great week!

Diversity and My Inclusion Resolution

YMCA Logo

Good Morning!

This week’s Teen Resource, the YMCA, had an action item for us to complete. To write an Inclusion Resolution.

Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity is understanding that there are differences between people. When we talk about diversity and inclusion, we are making strides to include people who may be different from us. By creating our own Inclusion Resolution, we are coming up with a way we are able to include those who are different from us and make the committment to do it.

My Inclusion Resolution

I talked about writing one in my post this week. So, I went to the website, printed off the template and filled it out. See the picture of it below

My resolution includes,

Being open to learning about others and understanding their stories.

Reading more about others who are different from me.

Writing about their story and sharing it on my blog.

That’s the inclusion resolution I made. If you would like to make one of your own, follow this link to the YMCA and download a copy of the Y’s Inclusion Resolution template. Fill it out and share it on your social media profiles.

We can all do a better job of embracing people who are different from ourselves by,

  • Reaching out to others.
  • Starting conversations.
  • Taking the time to listen and learn.

Want to learn more about the YMCA?

If you want to learn more about the YMCA and what they can do for teens and the community, here is a link to my most recent blog post. Teen Resource – YMCA

What will you do to include more diversity in your life? Let me know in the comments below.

Teen Resource – YMCA

Teen Resource - YMCA labeling

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog!

How was your week? Our oldest son left on a trip to Arizona on Saturday, so we are down to one young adult for the next couple of weeks. It will be a fun trip for our oldest while we’ll enjoy some one-on-one time with our youngest.

Black History Month

Black History Month

February is Black History Month. The posts this month are focusing on leaders, issues and pioneers who have had an effect on the history of the different races in our country. The teen resource I am featuring today is no exception. The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) is a worldwide youth organization that helped create Black History Month.

Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA)

According to YMCA.Net, the YMCA (also known as the Y) was founded by George Williams and eleven of his friends in London in 1844. It started as a refuge of Bible study and prayer for young men seeking refuge from the hazards of life on the streets.

The first YMCA in the United States was founded by Thomas Valentine Sullivan. He was a retired Boston sea captain who was working as a marine missionary. He noticed a need to create a safe “home away from home” for sailors and merchants. Now there are more than 2700 locations nationally.

Their Mission

Their committment is to Make a Better Us. How do they do that?

For Youth Development – Empowering young people to reach their full potential

For Healthy Living – Improving individual and community well being

For Social Responsibility – Giving back and inspiring action in our communities

Diversity and Inclusion

In my Teen Challenge – Respecting Diversity and Inclusion post earlier this month, I talked about the Respect Diversity Foundation and their “Different & The Same” program. The YMCA also has a commitment to Inclusion by offering opportunities for people from all walks of life to reach their full potential.

Have you thought about ways to improve Inclusion of diversity in your life? The Y has a way for us to do just that by declaring our Inclusion Resolution for this year. Head over to the YMCA Diversity and Inclusion page and dowload the Y’s Inclusion Resolution Template to declare how you will be more inclusive of others this year. Share your committment on your social media and include the hash tags #BeCauseY and #YForAll. I will share my committment later this week, so be sure to check back.

How Black History Month and the YMCA are connected

Carter G. Woodson

According to an article written by the YMCA of Greater Kansas City, in 1915, Carter G. Woodson arrived in Chicago to attend a celebration of the 50th anniversary of emancipation of Black Americans. The three week celebration included exhibits which highlighted the progress their people had made since the end of slavery. Woodson and a small group of people met at the Wabash Avenue YMCA and formed the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). This group created Negro History and Literature Week which would evolve into Black History Month.

YMCA as a Teen Resource

In their committment to Make a Better Us, the YMCA offers many Youth Development programs. They are set up to nurture the potential of all kids and teens.

  • Camps
  • Child Care
  • Education and Leadership
  • Food Programs
  • STEM
  • Swim, Sports and Play

Do you know about the YMCA? Do you know of one near you? Please let me know in the comments below. If you don’t know for sure, you can check on their website Find Your Y. With COVID guidelines, the Y is offering as many programs as they can with everyones health and safety being the first priority. If you find a program you want to get involved in, be sure to contact your local Y and see how they may be offering it.

Deep Valley Book Festival

Looking for a book festival? It’s hard to find one to attend in person. How about attending one virtually? I have just the one for you. The Deep Valley Book Festival will be taking place online March 6-7, 2021 in their Cabin Fever edition.

I will have an author page and The Hard Way will be available for purchase! Be sure to check it out.

Deep Valley Book Festival

Have a great week!

Inspiring People – Ida B. Wells-Barnett

Ida B. Wells

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog!

Did you have a good week? Did you touch base with that teen or young adult in your life? We had a pretty quiet week of activity at our house with the sub zero temperatures here in Minnesota. But still had family dinners as an opportunity to catch up.

Today is President’s Day

According to officeholidays.com, the first President’s Day was celebrated on February 22, 1796 commemorate our first president, George Washington’s, birthday. In 1971, it was shifted to fall on the third Monday in February to simplify the yearly calendar and to give federal employees some standard three day holidays. What are you doing to celebrate our nation’s presidents today?

Black History Month

Black History Month

February is Black History Month. The posts this month are focusing on leaders, issues and pioneers that have had an effect on the history of the different races in our country. I wanted to feature someone not as well known, but made her mark on civil rights history. This week’s inspirational person is Ida B. Wells-Barnett.

Who was Ida B. Wells?

According to the book, Who was Ida B. Wells? by Sarah Fabiny, Ida B. Wells was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi in 1862.  She was born into slavery, but was freed by the Emancipation Proclimation in 1865.

As a young girl, her father asked her to read the newspaper to him and his friends. Through reading, she became interested in writing. When she lost both of her parents to yellow fever in 1878, she was put in charge of raising her siblings while she became and made a living as a teacher.

After two years of teaching at the rural school, Ida received an opportunity from her Aunt Fannie to move to Memphis and teach in a city school. While teaching school during the week, Ida started editing and writing a newsletter called the Evening Star on the weekends. This opportunity led her to start writing for a weekly newspaper. Through these different opportunities, she was able to start her career as a journalist.

She wrote for and edited many newspapers and published pamphlets about issues that affected blacks during the time after Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery in the 13th Amendment in 1865.

Her Anti-Lynching Pamphlets

Ida B. Wells was a Black American activist at a time when many Black Americans weren’t speaking up for their rights. She wasn’t just speaking up with her voice, but through her writing and publishing pamphlets about how blacks were being treated, The main focus of her pamphlets was about about lynching.

Lynching – when someone is killed without a trial. Many times, black people would be killed because they are black. The punishment does not fit the crime.

This was in response to something that happened to a friend of hers, Thomas Moss, and two others. They were the victims of a lynching while serving time in jail for defending their grocery business, the Peoples Grocery. Here’s what happened…

A competing grocery across the street, owned by white men, were upset about how well the Peoples Grocery was doing. So they sent a mob of people to ruin the store. Ida’s friends had to protect their business because they knew the cops wouldn’t help them. When they shot their guns off, three white men were injured. Moss and his friends were taken to jail, but they never made it to court, they were taken from jail and lynched.

I wrote a book review a couple of weeks ago about Death of Innocence which was about Emmett Till, a teen who was lynched for supposedly whistling at a white woman in Mississippi. This would be a great read to learn more about the human effects of lynching and racism. Here’s the link to that book review. Death of Innocence

The articles that she wrote about the lynching made many people in Memphis mad and Wells received threats. But that didn’t stop her from continuing to write about the injustices being served as is shown in her quote below.

What impact did she make on American History?

  • She was a journalist, activist and researcher in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • She was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
  • She dedicated her life to fighting for equality of blacks, especially women

Inspiring woman in our country’s history

Ida B. Wells-Barnett wasn’t afraid to speak her mind about the social injustices taking place in our country towards Black Americans. Her skills in writing and connections as a journalist helped to voice her opinion in a time when newspapers were the main way that information was transferred to our country. She made her mark and was a key participant in the early part of the civil rights movement.

As a side note, Wells-Barnett was awarded a posthumous Pultizer Prize in 2020 recoginizing her as a journalist and her reports and publications about lynching.

If you would like to learn a little bit more about Ida B. Wells, here’s a link to the book I read to learn more about her. Who was Ida B. Wells? The author, Sarah Fabiny wrote several Who Was books about other interesting people in history. And there are many other books in this series written by other authors. Take a look and find another interesting person to read about.

The Hard Way

Cover design of my first book

Having friends that support us and have our backs is important throughout our lives. It is very important for teens to pick friends who will support and help them through those tough teen years. Looking for a good teen or young adult read about it? Here’s a link to The Hard Way. Be sure to check it out.

Have a great week!

Teen Challenge – Respecting Diversity and Inclusion

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog!

Parents and Teachers: Did you touch base with that teen in your life this week?

Teens: Did you touch base with the adults in your life? Let them know what is happening with you? I bet they would love it if you did.

February is Black History Month

With February being Black History Month, I’ll be focusing this month’s posts towards people and events that have shaped our country’s view of different races.

With our country struggling with racial relations, I will be forcusing on the teen challenge of accepting diversity and inclusion of others who are different from ourselves.

Respecting Diversity and Inclusion

When it comes to diversity and inclusion, here are the definitions,

Diversity

Diversity is understanding that there are differences between people. Not only racial differences, but differences in culture, religion, sexual orientation, where you live and how much monry your may make.

Inclusion

Is accepting and including people who are different from ourselves and including them in what we are doing as equal partners.

This quote from Verna Myers, a Diversity and Inclusion Expert explains the relationship between these two ideas.

While we are able to see and understand that there are differences between us and others, do we make a point to include those who are different from us? Or,

  • Do we shun them?
  • Bully them?
  • Treat them differently because they are different from us?

The fact that we have historically treated people differently from ourselves has gotten us to the place we are now. Unable to get along with people who may be different from us. The Respect Diversity Foundation has programs they offer for kids and teens to teach us about diversity and inclusion.

Respect Diversity Foundation

This foundation is located in Edmond, Oklahoma. Its mission is to promote tolerance and acceptance across differences through communication, education, collaboration and the arts. They offer a program to educate kids and teens called “Different & The Same.”

“Different & The Same”

This is an engaging diversity program the foundation created to meet a need to educate kids and teens about diversity. They take this program to the schools and educate not only the kids and teens, but also the teachers and community.

Through this program, teens became kinder and more compassionate towards people. Some even became activists and advocates for diversity and inclusion with other people. This is the kind of grass root level teaching that needs to be done to help heal our country.

Here is a link to more information about the Respect Diversity Foundation and to the “Different & The Same” program.

There is another program out there to teach us about how to bring the ideas of diversity and inclusion into the workplace and other organizations. This college program is offered at Villanova University and other colleges throughout our nation. It would be something to consider if our teens are looking for a way to learn more about diversity and inclusion and become an advocate in companies and organizations they are involved in as adults.

Diversity and Inclusion – A graduation certificate program

Villanova University, located in Villanova, PA offers a certificate program called the Inclusion and Diversity strategy. It is the study of effectiveness of inclusion and diversity initiatives in organizations and other places in their lives. It is a part of the Human Resources course of study and is becoming a popular course of study to understand diversity and inclusion and actively improving those relationships in workplaces, organizations and other parts of our lives and society.

With our country struggling with racial relations, understanding diversity and activating ways of inclusion are important pieces to healing our country and improving how we are relating to one another. Here is a link to more information about the Inclusion and Diversity Strategy Certificate offered at Villanova University.

The Hard Way incorporates diversity

When my editor Michelle and I worked through revisions of The Hard Way, we have charcaters of different racial backgrounds interacting in the story. Not only to show what racial makup would typically be found in a burough of a city like New York City (which Manor City is loosely based on), but to show that characters of different backgrounds could come together as friends. Learn more about the book on the books tab of my website. Here’s the link

The Hard Way

What can we do?

Find out how the teens in our lifes feel about diversity and inclusion of others. Teach them with the programs that are available at places like Respect Diversity Foundation. This will go far to change the current views and to start adopting the ideas of diversity and inclusion in our society. What experiences have you faced with Diversity and Inclusion of yourself or others? Please let me know in the comments below.

PS – Something to check out!

Boys Town talks about Diversity this week

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about Boys Town as a Teen Resource because of their programs and how they advocate for teens. Here is a link to my blog post.

This week on Wednesday, February 10th at 12:00 PM CST, Boys Town will be hosting a Facebook Live event, The History of DIversity at Boys Town. Diversity is a foundational part of their organization. The founder of the organization, Father Flanagan began providing care for children regardless of race, religion or ethnicity. Be sure to stop by their Facebook Page on Wednesday to check it out. Boys Town – Facebook

Have a great week!

Book Review – Death of Innocence by Mamie Till-Mobley and Christopher Benson

Book Review

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog!

February is Black History Month. I’ll be focusing this month’s posts towards people and events that have shaped our country’s view of different races.

How was your week last week? Did you get a chance to check in with the teen in your life? Hey teens! Did you check in with the adult in your life? I bet they would love it if you did.

This month’s book review is a true story. It is told by the mother of a fourteen-year-old teenager who was a victim of a hate crime while taking a trip with his family and friends to Mississippi. She tell us what happened, her response in the aftermath, and how it was a spark to the civil right movement.

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

Death of Innocence – The Story of the Hate Crime That Changed America

Authors

Mamie Till-Mobley and Christopher Benson

Type of Book

Non-Fiction – Biography and True Crime

Author Background

Mamie Till-Mobley, mother of Emmett Till, tells us about her life as a mother and a civil rights activist. When she said that she wanted to write a book about what happened to Emmett, Christopher Benson, the co-author of this book, was introduced to her and listened to her story. Six months after they started working together, Mamie passed away. Benson wound up writing her story and making the April 1st deadline for the start of the publication process.

Summary of the book

The first part of the book introduces us to Emmett Till and his mother Mamie Till. Emmett was just fourteen years old when his mother said it was ok to go to Mississippi with friends and family in August of 1955. While on this trip, he was killed for supposedly whistling at a white woman. We are taken through the trial in Mississippi where the two white men were acquitted. To story continues after the trial when Mamie becomes a teacher. Through her teaching and speaking about what happened to Emmett, she became a voice for the civil rights movement.

Reaction to the book

I loved the book. The way the book was written, I really got to know Emmett and Mamie in the beginning, and it made me personally vested in their story. It was hard to read about how he was killed, but the fact that she became an advocate for the civil rights out of what happened to her son is very inspiring. With the story centering on a teenager, and it providing some of the history of the civil rights movement, I believe it would be a good read for a young adult reader.

Link to the authors

If you want to learn more about Mamie Till-Mobley, (she remarried in 1957), check out her page on Wikipedia Mamie Till-Mobley.

If you want to learn more about Christopher Benson, here is a link to his website at Northwestern University, Christoper Benson.

Link to the book

If you want to purchase Death of Innocence, here is a link to Amazon – Death of Innocence . Or you can pick it up from your local bookstore or shop online at Bookshop.org and have your purchase credited to them.

The Hard Way

Peer pressure is one of the challenge teens face. If you are looking for a good novel for the teen or young adult audience which fouces on this issue, here’s a link to a book review of The Hard Way.

Have a great week!

Teen Resource – Boys Town

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog!

Hope you had a good week. Check in with the teen in your life? What did they have to share? Hey teens, did you check in with the adult in your life? Share something with them about what you are thinking about? They would love it if you did!

New Subject – Teen Resource

I wanted to add a new subject to my blog to showcase people and organizations that are out there helping teens and families. I plan to showcase a different one each month. So, we’ll start things off in January with a look at Boys Town, an advocate for teens and families located in Boys Town, NE.

How did I learn about Boys Town?

I was in our kitchen looking the calendar hanging on the wall. We received it in the mail and use it to keep track of important family events. This one is from Boys Town and states 100 years of saving children and healing families. So I went online to find out a little bit more about them.

What they do at Boys Town?

The organization was started by Father Edward Joseph Flanagan in 1917. He developed a lifelong interest in young people and the struggles they face growing into responsible adults while he was ministering to the homeless in Omaha, Nebraska.

Accoring to their website, boystown.org, is a beacon of hope for America’s children and families through life-changing youth care and health care programs across the United States.

Along with the youth care and health care services that Boys Town provides, they are also recognized internationally as a research leader in hearing, language and related communication disorders, and childhood neurobehavioral disorders. Their findings are integrated into the treatment of the children and families that they serve.

Anoother thing I noticed is that they are an advocate for teens. One way is through their views on the Juvenile Justice System. Another is through their programs helping teens to make changes to their lives and help them succeed.

Advocate for Juvenile Justice Reform

I read a couple of books lately talking about inequities in the current justice system and treament of juveniles who have been incarcerated. One of them, Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson is a true story about his experiences as a black lawyer and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). EJI is a non-profit law firm who helps people who cannot afford or are unable to fight for their rights. Stevenson tells the story of three different teenagers who committed crimes and were given much stronger sentences that would impact the rest of their lives. EJI looked into the circumstances involved in these cases and through the courts, were able to get the sentences reduced.

Boys Town takes the approach of rehabilatation and redemption rather than punishment and incarceration and advocate for fair treatment and practices of teens if they enter the juvenile justice system. like EJI, they want to give these teens a chance to change the course of their lives despite a bad choice they made to get into trouble.

Advocate for teens to change their lives

Boys Town helping teens and families to get the assistance that they need to reach their full potential. They provide a residental program for teens in need of a second chance.

In the Who we Help section of their website, Boys Town describes the teens that they serve.

“We don’t don’t give up on kids and are committed to helping those who have failed in other systems… We give them the secnd chances they deserve.”

One of the posts on their Facebook Page features a video about a teen named Kahla. She came from an abusive situaton before she came to Boys Town. She is thriving now because of their residental program. In her video testimonial she says,

“Change myself for something better.”

There are many more testimonials of how Boys Town has helped people succeed. You will also find these on the Who we Help Section of their website and on their Facebook and Instragram profiles.

Check out Boys Town

Boys Town is an organization available to help teens and families in need. Not only are they actively participating in their lives, but they are also conducting research into areas to help improve the treatment they provide to their clients.

With their focus on advocating for Juvenile Justce reform and providing teens with opportunities to make a better life for themselves, I believe Boys Town would be a good teen resource for them and their families to look into.

Here is a link to their website: Boys Town

Teen read about Peer Pressure

Another good resource for teens would be my young adult novel which focuses on that very topic. The Hard Way is a story about how fifteen-year-old Paul navigates being put into a position by his friends to make a choice between doing something right or doing something wrong.

Here’s a link to The Hard Way on the books tab of my website.

The Hard Way

Please forward this information to someone who may be looking for a good teen/young adult read. If you subscribe to my email list, you’ll be able to follow my writing journey and receive a free copy of chapter one.

Have a great week!

The Ignauguration and Kamala Harris

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog!

We remember what Martin Luther King, Jr. did for our country today.

How was your week? It was fun for us to work together as a family on Tuesday night as we got our final items out of the condo we are selling. We sat around our dining room table after we finished and enjoyed Mexican takeout. So grateful we get to have those dinners together.

Like I mentioned last week, there has been a lot of emotion and difference of opinion surrounding the 2020 election results. This week we are having the inauguration ceremony for our President elect and our Vice President elect at the United States Capitol.

A few interesting facts about Inaugurations.

  • An inauguration ceremony is where the new president and vice president are sworn into office.
  • There have been fifty-eight oaths of office given and received in the history of our nation.
  • Inauguration ceremonies started in 1789 with our first president George Washington and his Vice President John Adams. Our most recent ceremony was in 2016 without current president Donald Trump and his Vice President Mike Pence.
  • They used to be held on March 4th to allow for officials to gather election returns and for newly elected candidates to travel to the capital. It was changed to January 20th in 1933 as technology and travel got easier, not as much time was needed to get everyone in place. The first inauguration that was held on January 20th was held in 1937.
  • This year it will be held on January 20th in our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. This is when our President-elect Joe Biden and our Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn into their new positions.

We know somethings about our President elect, Joe Biden, he served as Vice President under former President Barack Obama. But who is Kamala Harris?

Kamala Harris

According to the Senate.gov website, Kamala Harris is

Currently,

  • a United States Senator for California
  • second African American woman to serve in that role.
  • first South Asian-American woman to serve in that role.

Soon to be,

  • The first African American, South Asian-American woman to serve as our nation’s Vice President.

Her early background

According to an article in Politico Magazine, 55 Things You Need to Know About Kamala Harris, she was born in Oakland, California, the eldest of two children with a mother who was a cancer researcher and a father who was an economist. Her parents divorced when she was seven and her mother raised her and her sister in a duplex in Berkley. She rode the bus to her school, Thousand Oaks Elementary, in its second year of the integration of black students into their school. After attending middle school and high school in Montreal, she returned to the United States to attend Howard University and obtained her political science degree. After completing her law degree at the University of California, Hastings and passing the bar exam, she became a prosecutor, since she wanted to change the system from the inside.

Determination and passion are traits I admire.

Her determination has helped her to achieve many things during her lifetime. She was the first woman to do quite a few of them. Including being first Black woman to be elected the District Attorney in California. It has also helped her to showcase her passion to fight for others in a national spotlight.

Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, also broke barriers in her field and brought other people with her.  She told Kamala, “you may be the first to do many things, make sure you aren’t the last.”

These are the kind of traits I look for in someone who is going to have a key role in helping to unify our country.

As she enters the White House

With Harris serving as the Vice President of our country, we are celebrating diversity in the executive branch of our government again. It is the second time an African American has served in that office, but it is the first time it will be a woman. Biden and Harris won the election with an unprecedented voter turnout, even during a pandemic.

Part of their platform is fixing what is broken.

  • Investing in American Workforce
  • Involving science in the solution
  • Fight for criminal justice reform – to help curb some of the racial inequality issue.
  • Reform to the public school system to help all school districts.

According to an interview that Harris did with Vogue Magazine, published in January 2021, she talks about how bringing the country together is the biggest challenge facing our country.

“Americans share the same concerns that keep them up at night regardless of where they live, the color of their skin or the God they pray to. We have more in common than what separates us. It isn’t in our best interest to have one group suffer for who they are.”

An asset to help unify our country.

Government officials should be more than just a party affiliation. They are people who should have a passion for the people they serve. Whether you follow the Democrats, Republicans, or a mix, I believe Kamala Harris will be a great person to be involved in unifying our country. Her determination and passion in fighting for what is right are the kind of traits I want for a person to serve in that role.

What traits do you look for in an elected official? Please let me know in the comments below.

Be sure to take a look around my website!

If you have a little time this week, take a look around my website. There is a link to purchase my book, information about me and the upcoming release of my second book, and a way for you to subscribe to my email list and follow my writing journey.

Have a great week!

Teen Challenges – Differing viewpoints – What happened at the US Capitol?

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog!

How was your week last week?

Did you check in with that teen in your life? Jim took our young adults and new ice fishing gear on a father/son fishing day trip. They caught a couple of fish but learned a lot for the next time that they go.

Did you hear about what happened last week?

United States Capitol Building

A group of people got together in Washington D.C. at a rally down the street from the U.S. Capitol Building, where our elected officials were counting votes to certify the 2020 election results for the positions of President and Vice-President of our country. The people attending the rally didn’t agree with the results that were going to come from the certification of the ballot counting. So, instead of remaining in peaceful protest, which is within their rights as citizens of the United States, they decided to rush the capitol, break windows and get in, unlawfully, to make their feelings known to those people doing the counting.

What should have happened?

The offices of President and Vice-President each have a term that one can serve. In the United States, one term is serving four years. Those offices are limited to two terms (if they are re-elected to serve a second term.) When their term is up, they are responsible for a peaceful transition of power from themselves to the next ones elected to hold the position.

What did happen?

Since our current president believes there were issues in the election process, he also believes he should have earned a second term as president. So, he hasn’t been very cooperative about a peaceful transition of power to the people who did win the election based on the results of the counted votes. His supporters who attended the rally believe the same things our current president does about those results. They wanted to let the people counting the votes know how they feel. So, they went to the capitol and things got out of hand.

According to the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) website, the 2020 election took place during a very stressful time in our history. Between the pandemic, economic distress and racial unrest, a lot strong emotional reactions were being put forth which stirred up disagreements between many Americans. Regardless of the outcome of the election, we have a lot of work to do to heal and move forward as a country.

What can we do?

Moving forward from here, there are a few things to keep in mind

Respect the democratic process – there has been a process we have used for hundreds of years to run the elections, get the results, and transition from one president and his team to the next without violence. If the process is not working, we need to talk about it and make appropriate changes. Until then, we need to respect how the process works.

Channel views and feelings in a positive direction – you may be having confusing feelings about what happened. You may agree or disagree with what happened. Either view point is ok. Be sure to keep your reactions positive. Talk to other people about how you feel but don’t become mean to others or distructive to property in showing how you feel.

Accept people and their differences – the United States is made up of many people who are of different races, religions, and hold different beliefs. We don’t have to agree with everyone else, but respect and embrace the differences we have with each other.

Moving forward from here?

Keep the lines of communication open. Be willing to listen to others and talk about what’s on your mind. If we talk about issues with other people, and listen to what they have to say, we may be able able to understand and work with each other to avoid events like what happened at the Capitol last week.  

Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution.

Have a good week!

Book Review – Blended by Sharon M. Draper

Book Review

Good Morning! Here is the Monday Morning Blog!

It has been a while sincemy last post. For the past couple of months, we were getting a property we own ready for sale and that brought us right into the holiday season. No excuses though, I need to make time for the things I want to do. I’m back now and will just keep on posting like I was before.

Hope you had a great holiday season, despite COVID. I’m sitting at our dining room table looking at our Christmas Tree decorated with lights and ornaments. Our family had fun over the holidays even though it felt different without having our normal bigger family celebration together.

Have you checked in with that teen in your life yet? Our young adults are making the best of the situation by getting outside and doing the things that they can. The last couple of nights we have had good talks about snowboarding and today I got to see some GoPro coverage of their day on the slopes. It is fun to share enthusiasm with them about something they love to do. What are some of the things your teens are into?

Along the theme of books with a focus on racial issues, Sharon M. Draper writes her books about the young African American experience. I picked up this book at a local bookstore to support them. The name of the bookstore is Content Bookstore and it is located in Northfield, MN. Here is a link to their website. https://contentbookstore.com/

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

Blended

Author

Sharon M. Draper

Type of Book

Middle Grade Fiction

Background

Sharon M. Draper has written over thirty books for teen readers. She has won many awards for them including Coretta Scott King Author Award for books about the young and adolescent African American experience and the John Steptoe Award for new talent. Draper was also the 1997 Teacher of the Year and was named the Ohio Pioneer in Education by the Ohio State Board of Education.

Summary of the book

This is the story of Isabella Badia Thornton, an eleven-year-old girl whose has one black parent and one white parent. The story is her life told from her perspective. Not only growing up as an eleven-year-old girl, but also having two divorced parents and blending their families when they both wind up getting remarried.

Reaction to the book

I loved the book. I could relate to Isabella and the things she went through as an eleven-year-old girl growing up. Draper did a nice job of bringing in the issues she faced with her race, even at her young age. With the increased awareness of Black Live Matter in our society, I picked up on a few more what would have been nuances to me before but are statements made by the author now. Through this book, we see some of those issues play out through the eyes of Isabella and how she learns that those issues are out there for someone of her mixed race to unfortunately must deal with.

Link to the author

If you want to learn more about Sharon M. Draper, here is a link to her website https://sharondraper.com/

Link to the book

If you want to purchase Blended, it is available through Amazon or the authors website. Or, you can order it online or pick it up from your local book store, like I did from Content Bookstore. If you don’t have a favorite local bookstore, you can shop online at Bookshop.org and have the purchase credited to local bookstores across the country.

My books

Looking for a couple more coming of age teen novels?

The Hard Way

Book #1 of The Way Series

The Hard Way which you can currently purchase through the link on my website. Or, it is free if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited.

Shawn's Way

Book #2 of The Way Series

Shawn’s Way, my second book, took a publishing delay in 2020, but will be published in the next couple of months. Keep an eye on the blog and my website for information about the book launch, pre ordering your own copy and when the official publication date will be.

If you aren’t interested in purchasing a book, you can follow my writing journey by joining my email list. To be added, there is a subscribe tab on my website where you can fill in your name and email address.

Have a great week!