Two Front Teeth 

Today at work, I passed by a child who was missing both of their front two teeth. They smiled the biggest smile and I’m pretty sure the tooth fairy gave them big bills.

Seeing this child, I was reminded of the time when I lost my front two teeth. It was traumatic, Dramatic, Filled with guilt, and I the tooth fair gave me big bills.

It was bath time. It had to be on a weekend or a day I was out of school because my mom was at work and my dad was playing the role of Mr. Mom. 

My dad, being responsible, felt as if you left  me alone in the bathtub for a second… I would automatically drown. 

Fair enough….. I was around 3 or 4. Being this age, the fact that I had to be taking a bath and in the middle of the day made me livid.

As my dad was trying to get me to be still. I became more unsettled. I didn’t see a point of me being in the bathtub in the first place. 

The bathroom at this house was what I imagine an old asylum to be like. Everything was white. The walls, the tile, the cabinets, everything was as white as snow…it was also frigid. 

Once I decided I was over it. I remember making a beeline to get out. My dad, who had reflexes like a cat, caught me before I managed to hurdle over the tub to break free from the what I thought was a waste of water–I was very environmentally responsible at age 3. However, through blocking me from achieving my Olympic winning bathtub hurdle, my dad blocked me with a towel to dry off. In doing so,my dads cat like reflexes did not focus on what necessarily he was blocking until I let out this scream! 

As stated before, everything in this bathroom was white… Including the bath towels. Then I realized my dads face turned ghost white as well. 

The white towel quick covered my face. 

“Oh my God… What have I done?!”

My dad basically accidentally punched me in the mouth knocking out my front two teeth instantly. 

You know that cry you see babies do where they let out a blood curdling screech… Then they take a silent breath for about 3.5 seconds before letting out the next blood curdling screech?? That was me.

“Daddy! You punched me! You punched me and my teeth came ou!!… Why would you punch me?!!!”

I remember the look on my dads face as he tried to stop the bleeding. The white bathroom had become a crime scene.

My front two teeth weren’t even loose. 

I remember the panic on his face. 

After the commotion settled… I was dressed and toothless. He took me for a walk as he would us usually do. He explained to me that he was sorry for making me “snaggletoothed” but the tooth fairy was going to be extra special this time.

The tooth fairy left me $5. 

#memoriesofmydad

  

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Dear Ahmed Mohamed,

Due to your name,your skin color, and your religion, your hard work, creativity, and passion caused a set back. I don’t know how to sincerely apologize to you for a world that is filled with fear and ignorance. I see the pictures of your face and imagined the excitement as you sat down to build this clock to show your teacher. I imagine how proud you were to bring it to school and show your finished product. Only to have that excitement be trampled on by the ignorance and misguiding of others.

I looked up the meaning of your name-“A person in which praiseworthy traits are abundant, or one who deserves constant praise due to their good character.”

Living in a world that judges you based on skin color a name, or religion is not fair nor is it right. The way you were treated and ridiculed was not right. The lack of support you received in an environment that is supposed to encourage creativity and learning– your school. That was not right.

But I want you to know that: You are not a criminal. You are not a terrorist. You are a person, a person in which praiseworthy traits are abundant and you deserve constant praise, because through all of this, your true character has shown. You are simply a child with wonder and you don’t waste time wondering, you take chances, you make attempts, you take action.

CNN quoted you as saying “that clock was apart of your future.” That response made me think of The Agile Method.  Agile Methodology if you are not aware is usually used in software development.  The Agile Method is used to help teams or in your case.. it would be you, respond to unpredictable situations through small changes which are otherwise known as “sprints.”

Your idea to create a clock and bring it to school was faced by an unpredictable situation. It was ridiculed, and you were put in a situation that no child should ever have to be placed in. However, by making the statement about this clock being apart of your future helped me realize…that even at an early age and through this adversity, you are not going to give up until you have your goals.

We can easily compare life to the Agile Method. As you reflected on those times you were bullied as you were younger, you had to respond to these situations. However, you never let those harsh words stop you from letting your gifts and talents be a viewed as a waste of time.  Life is full of “sprints” basically a time of self-reflection.

Ahmed, you are a remarkable human being. That clock is your future, because… you are not wasted time.

I am glad that you are seeing the good from this situation. “I will fight for you, even if you cannot stand up for yourself.” Such powerful words for such a young man. Know that you are not alone in this fight.

Thank you Ahmed for being an example. Thank you for sharing your creation that was stifled by your school, but has ultimately become appreciated and praised around the world.

Keep thinking, Ahmed. Keep creating, Ahmed. Keep the courage, Ahmed.  Keep fighting, Ahmed.

Ahmed, I also stand with you. I support you. Never stop learning. Keep living up to the standards that you have set for yourself. Never settle for good, for good is the enemy of great. Always strive to be great, and to be honest Ahmed, I’d say you are pretty damn great.

Best Regards,

C. Spann

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Does God Text?

The moment when my mom learned how to text was the moment when I realized that there was no way from me getting from under her thumbs. I remember receiving one of the first texts from her: “Wh$er! R U!?)()!!! Gt Hom@!” 

My mom had just had surgery on her foot and it was summer and she was confined to some sort of contraption and was not able to walk for a few weeks. I had taken her car to go out. It was past curfew, and I was taking advantage of the situation by just ignoring her calls and coming up with some story in my head to tell her once I got home. I hated answering her phone calls because I knew she was going to chew me out and her voice would be heard and embarrass me. When I opened her message, it was like receiving Molly Weasley’s Howler. She had gotten me. 

I came home immediately. She was waiting on me in the den. I thought I could just sneak into my room, but that spitfire was waiting on me in the dark den and turned the lamp on when I “snuck” in. Startled.. I looked at her in the eye about to come up with a sputter of lies and she said “I see you got my text.” 

She then gave this lecture about how she had on her down time she had figured out this whole texting thing and although very shaky.. She was figured it out because she was tired of me ignoring her calls and she wanted to remind me that she still ran the show. 

My mom figured out a way to reach me when she knew I had been ignoring her and she got her message across and I came home. 

Daily I find myself  ignoring God, and each day He figures out a way to deliver the message and remind me of my purpose here on this earth is not about me, but about serving him until it’s time to come home. 

Lately, me and God have been wrestling. I have been battling with  my insecurities and letting them get the best of me and lack motivation. I find myself being selfish and wanting and desiring things that I honestly don’t need. I find myself wishing I were something or someone else and not realizing I need to appreciate my purpose on earth and that it is not about me.

These messages are consistently presented to me by God everyday. I have to continue to not ignore these messages and be receptive and then that’s when everything will fall into place. 

Are you ignoring the messages?

#thoughtsareout

Dear John Travis…

If you have a sibling, get down on your knees and thank God. Yesterday and turned 23 and my birthday of course is my favorite, but one of my favorite things about my birthday is that for two days, my brother and I are the same age. I remember when we were little, when my birthday rolled around, I would stand up next to him to see if I had grown to his same height because I thought that birthdays meant added height.
John Spann is a force to be reckoned with. He can argue with a fish that says water is his best option for survival. Sometimes his arguments make me want to scream to the top of my lungs.. Because he honestly won’t back down. I admire that about him, because he honestly can never be backed into a corner.. He will always find a way out.
Even though sometimes we don’t see eye to eye, John has been one of the strongest support systems in my life. There have been multiple occasions where I have called him and burst into tears and he’s always there to be a voice of reason or just someone who can simply be pissed off with me when I’m mad.
Growing up, I was always taught that since he was the oldest, he is the example. I have now realized that age is simply just a number and we have to be examples for each other and lead each other.
September 17th marks the last day where we are equal in age. I think about what we have been through as children to adulthood. John has always been the encourager. I can remember the very first day of school.. I was FREAKING OUT… But he took my hand and said it was going to be alright. I remember when I was learning how to read, I would read to him and he would just listen. John has always encouraged me to be fearless.
Today we are both 23. 23 years have gone by and we have been through so much from the I hate you fights, to the “will you go beat his ass” for me situations. My brother has always been there. We have always been there for each other.
Soooo John, I know you are probably internet shopping trying to figure out what bow tie, fossil watch, polo outfit, or dress shirt or all the above that mom and I will be getting you for your birthday for tomorrow..
Reflect on all that you have been through, what we have been through, and look at where you are now.
I’m proud of what you have achieved so far, but we must remember never settle and know that I won’t let you settle just like you won’t let me settle. There is a bright future ahead of us and as you turn 24 tomorrow (you’re so old) remember I love you, brudder! And I will always have your back.
Happy Early Birthday, brother.. I wouldn’t be who I am today without you.

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I Love My Hair

If you are a black female, you know the struggle of your life will ultimately be your hair. Lets just face it. Some of us have been blessed with long locks that flow with the wind and that I give side eye to in envy of your ability to get a brush through it. While others, such as myself, have been blessed with the hair that our mothers would just shake their heads at as we were told to sit down between her legs as she attempted to tame our wild tresses. Equipped with a comb, brush, grease (ROYAL CROWN SHOUT OUT), that cup of water, and gel to get those “edges laid” and an array of colorful bows. As we got older, some of our moms gave up taming those tresses and put us in the hands of that beautician with that “creamy crack” or relaxer. If your mom was like my mom.. .you were tricked.. you were told “You won’t have to get that hot comb anymore” and you ran to that beauticians chair like you were running in a triathlon because you thought your ear would never get burned again. You realized quickly that was a lie and for a few minutes of pain, your hair was so straight you could use it as a ruler on your geometry test. Our moms were happy… and we were happy..
Through my hair journey from child to adult, I have tried multiple styles for my hair. Braids, weave,long weave, short weave, long braids, short braids, half sew-ins, full sew ins,a bob, a curl, a bob with a curl.. EVERYTHING. I realized quickly that everybody had an idea of what they wanted my hair to look like, but never asked me how I felt about my hair.
My hair and I have a love hate relationship. It has taken be 23 years, but I can truly say that I am starting to love it and accept it. I have been looking at different stories of girls who are “going natural” and posting these photos of their hair journey from creamy crack has to be ruler straight addiction to crack is whack give me my natural hair back, and it is beautiful! These girls have broken these societal chains and have gone back to their roots (for real).
I’m one year sober from using the creamy crack. This is the first time in my life that I have been truly happy with the way my hair looks and feels. I realize that this is apart of self growth and learning to accept my inner beauty.
I know some of you are reading this and thinking… “its just hair” or “some people don’t have hair at all”, but you have to realize its not just about hair, its about loving you and the skin that you are in. Once we learn to accept ourselves and love ourselves, we can be a better person to other people.

So with that I will leave you with this jam:

#thoughtsareout
#livingforthecity

Worth or Waste

When you love someone, you would do anything in your power to make them happy, right?
Sometimes that can mean exhausting yourself, resources, etc. It’s especially difficult when it seems like nothing is working… What do you do? Do you walk away.. Or do you keep trying?
You wonder if the person sees that you are doing everything in your power to please them, or are they just using you as a puppet on a string.
Think about it. Is it worth it? Or is it a waste?

#thoughtsareout
#livingforthecity

Press On.

It’s amazing how alone one can feel even when surrounded with the ones you love.
At times even all the accolades and praises just won’t fight the void that’s missing to fulfill that dark place.
You can be looking at family and friends but some how feel that there is a glass wall about 10 feet thick that’s separating you from their world and you can’t seem to make them understand what’s going on in yours.

This feeling has increasingly overcome me as I continue with my day to day agenda. I have fallen into a place where I feel like I am speaking a different language and I feel lost.

It’s hard to be there for others, when you can’t be there for yourself. I am the type of person that is constantly being energized by the presence of others. However, people have only to drain me lately.

I am starting to realize as I am trying to climb out of this place I am in, that I am slowly figuring out who I am and who I want to become. I have found myself consistently reflecting on messages from others and experiences around me. I have allowed for people to paint me in what they want their idea of me to be, but I’m slowly stripping their paint and creating my own masterpiece.

Even though right now, it is currently difficult, I know that this too shall pass. Preparation for the continued journey.

Right now I am currently reached a mountain… As I continue to climb it.. In need of a valley, I am thankful for this mountain.

At times like these I am reminded of where I have come from, but that it’s not going to be easy to get where I’m going.

Press on.

#thoughtsareout

Wounded, bruised, battled, scarred, but all that matters is that you continue the race.

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My Greatest Aspiration in Life?

It is so easy to lose yourself and conform to what others want you to be if you aren’t deeply rooted. 

There will always be unhappiness as you pretend that you are happy because you are doing what others want or what is expected of you. However, when you have to be alone with your thoughts, which is usually when you’re awake at night tossing and turning, you struggle with what is truly defining your happiness. 

Everyday I am reading some list telling me what I should do, shouldn’t do, try, experience, etc. now that I am in my 20’s. These lists can be very informative, interesting, or depressing. I realize though, that everyone is struggling to find their happiness. Sometimes I found myself tiptoeing around others and other times I find myself not giving a care, saying whats on my mind and leaving it at that. Both end of the spectrums can be good and bad. 

I want, for myself to be happy. Happy being myself. I find myself feeding off of the energy of others to find that joy, but I am often not looking into myself to find it. This New Year begins a new start for me, or an attempt at a new start. 

Sometimes, its okay to be alone with your thoughts and to reflect. Its actually important to do that often. I am excited to focus on myself and to figure out my inner beauty and find my inner strength that I have somehow seem to lost. 

I have found out about myself that I really do not like to:

1. Say no to others 

2. Be alone

3. Focus on me

This year I hope to learn that:

1. Sometimes saying no is necessary because, its okay to say no. Simple as that. 

2. Self reflection is important and that sometimes it takes being alone with your thoughts to that. 

3. Focusing on me to achieve my ultimate goals and my ultimate dreams to achieve…. you guessed it… my OWN happiness. 

I have found that God has to be the center of my life. I have to love myself. I have to be happy with myself. Then, I can truly be able to

love others.

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Looking out over Jordan

I just finished my first semester of graduate school. Jackson State was a huge change for me. I somehow managed to survive…barely. I have learned a lot about myself since August.

In August, I am going to be honest, I had this attitude that grad school was going to be a pleasant walk in the park. I just knew that I was going to ace all of my tests, make new friends, and that this was going to be a breeze…. All I can say is LO—–L.

This semester not only tested my stamina, but it also tested my will to want and achieve, my confidence, and my security. This semester I also feel that I was taught to humble myself.

I found myself many nights as I was trying to contemplate what assignment to start on, what should I put first–work or school, or when I was up to my eyeballs in stress quoting “All night and all day.. a band of angels are watching over me…” Then those nights where tears filled my face, when obstacles seemed too big to work through.. “Weeping may endure for a night, but JOY comes in the morning.” And you guys, I weeped. There were sometimes my anger and frustration got  the best of me and I would sometimes lose sight of my goals.

This semester, I had some very dark days, some very dark nights. I was constantly battling myself, always hard on myself and putting myself on some of the highest standards that not even Shaq could touch.

I have learned too, that I must watch my tongue. Words hurt, I have been hurt by words, but I have also found that my tongue has spit out the nastiest of venoms that I have watched rip people to pieces. The insecurities of myself I let overpower me.

I am not sitting here and saying that I have solved all of my problems in 3 months, I am not saying that the demons in my head have been laid to rest. I still have a ways to go.

I am thankful for this semester. I was able to identify things that potentially set me back. I am looking forward to next semester. I am trying to stay positive. I count it all on joy and I am thankful for those many angels.

 

#thoughtsareout

Educating the Deep South

As some of you know.. I work for a non-profit called Scientific Research. We are based in Ridgeland, MS but work with students in Jackson Public Schools and are expanding to surrounding counties. The goal for our organization is to work with students until they reach their senior year of High School and we want them to go to college and be successful in college.
If you know anything about Mississippi, you know that education here is a challenge. Research shows that in Mississippi only about 11% of students are prepared for college once they graduate and minority students are at a far greater risk of dropping out of high school and not even considering college as an option.
Who is the blame for this?
Well, there are a lot of factors that play into reasons why this is happening.. One of the larger factors is poverty. The cycle of poverty is so real and so apparent in the Deep South. Students are born into this cycle and the pot continues to thicken. Students are born with a mind ready to learn and take in what the world has to offer and as they grow, they are shown a negative world, and their mind becomes molded to this world and the cycle continues to become much harder to break.
With working for this organization.. I have seen the impacts of a negative environment. How it brainwashes students and the picture of success to them is quick money, fast cars, rapping, being a football player, etc. It has been very hard to change these mindsets of these students.. But let me tell you.. A change is coming!
Some of these same students with mindsets gathered from their negative environment have slowly changed their way of thinking. Thoughts of going to college, being something great, the willingness to work hard.. Have been new thoughts in these students minds.
At times I have been so frustrated with some of them.. I have just wanted to walk away, however it’s that small bright light, that small inkling that they give me of potential.. That shows me that these students are going to be someone.. Someone great.
As I think about the past few years I have worked here, I have realized that as they have grown and changed, so have I. I have gone home at night crying myself to sleep thinking about some of the issues that my students who I consider my own children have had to experience. I think about the things they have taught me and not just what I have taught them. I think about how we work together as a team.. As a family.
So as we embark on a new year.. Today.. When I get to see my “nuggets” and also get to meet some new ones… I pray that not only myself, but also my fellow staff is an impact to these students. I pray that these students realize their true potential and that they can create a new cycle for themselves… A positive one.

I ask that my readers pray as well. #thoughtsareout