The Flowering Vine: My Inspiration

MOM
Mom

Even at the ripe old age of 55, I’ve not yet accomplished all that I hope to accomplish in life. I still have obstacles that I wish overcome and goals that I aim to attain; a mountain of education to climb; a valley of physical improvements to traverse; an ocean of spiritual maturity to cross, and although I’ve reached a chronological age somewhere past “middle”, I keep pushing; pressing my way through; forging my way on, because I know for a fact that it is never too late. I know this because I have a role model who has shown me that it is possible; that all things are possible if you just believe; believe in God and believe in yourself.

The following essay is written by “MY INSPIRATION” and Mom.

“It has been said that, ‘Freedom is an attitude of mind and heart that frees the soul to soar.’ A caged bird may be limited in where it can fly and what it can see, but it has the spirit to soar freely as it sings its sweet song. In its spirit, all physical limitations are overcome and its true nature springs forth untethered by constraints.

I graduated from T.V. McCoo High School in Eufaula, Alabama. This school was formerly known as Van Buren High School. The year was 1958; four years after “Brown versus The Board of Education”. The Supreme Court decision was popularly known as “Separate but Equal”. The System’s solution was a new, “Separate but Equal”, black high school. The school was built and completed in the middle of my Senior year. We had been set free! For me, this was a year of great revelation.

My class was the first graduating class from a school named after a black doctor. I was voted Miss Senior and rode in the town’s parade. I also performed an oration, (even though I was frightened to death). In the spring of that year, I graduated from a new high school but not without personal setbacks. My maternal grandmother’s demise was right around that time. In spite of this tragedy, this new God given opportunity had set me free. I truly believed that this new environment was going to set my spirit free to soar beyond boundaries and appearances; to step out on faith and do what God had created me to do.

My vision would one day be realized but not without trials. First, I had to have faith and believe that; “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And all of us….seeing the Glory of The Lord…is being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” -2 Corinthians 3:17-18. Due to financial conditions, I was unable to begin my academic flight immediately; there were detours along the way.

Within the unfolding story of my life, I created a family. So from the first flowering blossom to the last; from one side of the room to the other; from one end of the country to the opposite end, there was always God’s presence, teaching me and guiding me in the care of my family. My children grew up and created families of their own. This created the freedom for me to soar.  “Finally” I thought, “I can sing and soar freely; exploring the limits of the skies of my ambitions.

For a moment, I imagined that I was a time traveler; traveling back through the centuries until I was side-by-side with Michelangelo as he turned a block of stone into something magnificent; chipping away– never giving up until a masterpiece emerged. My aspiration was to get a college education and that’s was what I was going to do, regardless of how long it took.

Upon entering college, I realized how woefully unprepared I was. I was lacking the proper educational tools, and background to compete with the younger generation. I was a generation behind; “Separate but Equal” had failed me. But like Michelangelo, I did not give up. I worked on my own stone. I worked to create something magnificent to me; my masterpiece, for God had given me the ability to create.  It was not a Michelangelo, but something as simple as helping a child to learn his multiplication tables was equally awesome.

So, after many, many years and despite my lack of the proper tools; like knowing how to use a card catalogue, or how to operate a computer;  I received a degree in Professional Studies and a Master’s in Education. I taught school for twenty years and have been retired for ten. I am free! I did as the caged bird had done; I broke free and I soared. I no longer allow doubts and obstructions to keep my blessings from me.

To my children and grandchildren I say, “Soar as high as you can soar. Chip away at your stone, just as Michelangelo chipped away at his; create something magnificent and then sing your sweet song.”  The sky is the limit.

My Very First Post Revisited #MyFirstPostRevisited

 

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Here is a nice little blogging challenge!

Lisa A  from “Life of an El Paso Woman” hit me with this “Very first post revisited” tag!

Okay, you should know that I love Ms. Lisa to pieces!  She’s been a great supporter of my blog for quite some time and I value our blogging sisterhood.

Thanks pretty girl!

If you don’t know Lisa, you SHOULD!  Go check her out!  Tell her Lady G sent you 🙂

Anywhats, this challenge was started by fellow blogger Sarah Brentyn.

Thank you Ms. Sarah!

So…my first blog post was/is entitled “Why I chose Montessori.”

I posted it on January 7, 2016.

Imagine that, these are the very first words that Lady G scribed on the ethers of the interwebs!

WordPress is a serious thing 🙂

YAAASSS!

And now for the rules:

  • No cheating. (It must be your first post. Not your second post, not one you love…first post only.)
  • Link back to the person who tagged you (thank them if you feel like it or, if not, curse them with a plague of ladybugs).

Other rules:

  • Cut and paste your old post into a new post or reblog your own bad self.
    • (Either way is fine but NO editing.)
  • Put the hashtag #MyFirstPostRevisited in your title.
  • Tag…um…tentwotwelve five (5) other bloggers to challenge.
  • Notify your tags in the comment section of their blog (don’t just hope they notice a pingback somewhere in their spam).
  • Feel free to cut and paste the badge to use in your post.
  • Include “the rules” in your post.

 

I nominate ANY of my readers who would like to participate.  Just follow the rules–even though I didn’t.

Drum roll PLEEEEZ!!!!

And now……

My VERY first post–revisited!

Why I chose Montessori

In the late 1990’s, I was a graduate student and single mother of a preschool aged son.  Like most mothers, I promised myself that I would do all that I could to provide my child with a lifestyle where he felt loved, encouraged and equipped to reach his highest potentials. In order to keep this promise, I decided that I had to make his education a top priority.  Don’t get me wrong, I know that most mothers count their children’s education as a major concern.  However, as a black mother, I also knew that the stakes were extremely high for black children; and even more so for black boys.  During my graduate studies, I couldn’t help noticing a couple of research studies that seemed to indicate that young black boys were often inappropriately placed in special education courses or misdiagnosed with any number of behavioral conditions.  In my mind, this did not bode well for my son’s wellbeing; not to mention his educational outlook. Hence, this was an urgent matter.

Nevertheless, with my son’s 4th birthday approaching, I began researching local learning centers in hopes of finding a good preschool program. I spent several weeks observing primary classes at various schools.  Suffice it to say I was not impressed by what I had observed.  In fact, I was completely turned off during one specific school visit when a preschool teacher told me that “kids just wanna learn their numbers, colors and letters.” To make matters worse, she went on to say that most kids are simply not interested in learning much more than the basics.  Needless to say, my eyes completely glossed over and I politely, yet abruptly, ended that conversation.  After taking immediate leave of that insanity and regaining my composure, it occurred to me that most of the schools that I had visited seemed to share the belief that younger children should spend time playing, rather than engaging in robust learning activities. To be honest, at that point, I was beginning to feel a bit dejected.  I worried that I might not find the educational setting that I had hoped for.  I wondered what to do about my son who, at age 3, had already met the “numbers, colors, letters” milestone and was, by this time, reading, adding and creating rather sophisticated Lego superheroes to boot. Was I supposed to allow my child to settle for a subpar early learning experience? Were my expectations too high?

After spending a few weeks feverishly seeking but not finding, I ran into a former co-worker and friend whom I had not seen in quite some time.  Naturally, we began to play “catch up” and I mentioned that my son would soon be starting school.  I also mentioned my dissatisfaction with the schools that I had visited thus far.  After patiently listening to my gripe fest, my friend encouraged me to check into the local Montessori school where her daughter was in attendance.  Montessori? What? Do black people even go to Montessori schools? My curiosity was immediately peaked!  I asked and she answered about a hundred rapid fire questions about the educational philosophy as well as the social and learning environment. At the end of the conversation, she assured me that the school strongly encouraged diversity and that we would feel very welcome.

The next day, I contacted the school and within a few days my son was scheduled to attend a class on a trial basis; I was invited to observe. After the observation, I was brimming with excitement!  I was intrigued by the practical, hands-on learning techniques.  I also loved the fact that the students were encouraged to think independently, work cooperatively, and to respect each other as well as their larger environment.  I also liked the practical nature of the learning activities.  I was thrilled to see 3, 4 and 5 year olds happily and successfully engaging in activities like identifying parts of the human anatomy and locating world continents!  But, above all else, I loved the fact that my son was genuinely happy with the Montessori experience.  After we left the school that day he told me that he couldn’t wait to go back.

This Montessori school seemed to be the answer!  So what about cost?  Naturally, I had to seriously contemplate the price tag.  Granted, this was a private school, but after doing the math, I determined that the tuition was not much more than the cost of a “good” local daycare.  And with that, I began the application process.  Within a month he was enrolled in primary class and ultimately completed each grade level though grade 7.  It is important to note that at that time, our local Montessori schools did not extend beyond grade 8. As a result, my son ended up graduating from a traditional college preparatory high school.

All in all, I cannot stress how happy I am with our Montessori experience! In later years, I enrolled my daughter in the same Montessori school that my son attended.  She is currently a 4th year student in upper elementary. I love to tell people that I am the proud mother of two “Montessorians” and to answer my previous question; yes, black people do go to Montessori schools!

Today, I am proud to report that my son is doing well and is a Biology Major at Emory University.

I would love to hear your thoughts on education in general and Montessori or other alternative education philosophies in specific.

 

The Flowering Vine: Mother Speaks on Botanicals and Books

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In today’s entry of “The Flowering Vine,” “Mother,” who was both my and Ron’s Grandmother talks about natural healing as well as barriers to healthcare and education for ‘Colored’ people in the Jim Crow South.  She also discusses a bit more about her own education.

For those of you who are interested, I included a link in today’s story to a book about Mother’s school, Ballard Normal, in Macon, GA. 

It is important to note that students at ‘Ballard’ were being groomed to pursue careers in education as opposed to more traditional vocations.

It should also be noted that “Mother,” whose name was Annie Maude, lived to be 100 years old.  

She passed away in the Spring of 2012.

By the way, although “Mother” was highly educated and very well read, she typically used an informal conversational style in the vernacular of that timeframe–especially when speaking with close family and friends (which all of you are!)

Much of Mother’s recollections for today’s story are set in Alabama during the early to late 1920’s. 

______________

Annie Maude!

Get out that book and come go with me and Elvy down to the patch!

You hear me?

I ain’t gon’tell you no mo.’

Now listen here, when we get out there, I want you to watch how me and Elvy go through them bushes.
Watch what we pick!
One day you gon’ need them same plants to make your teas and rubs for when you get married and your chillun’ get sick and thang.
We ain’t always gon’ be ‘roun’ to do it for ya.
You gon’ have to learn for ya self now!
__________
Chile, I wasn’t thinkin’ ‘bout goin’ out in no woods lookin’ for nothin’!
HA!
I wasn’t hardly thinkin’ ‘bout that!
But you know that didn’t stop Mama from makin’ me go with her and Aunt Elvy to hunt for herbs.
As I got older,  I wish I hadda paid more attention to what they was doin’ because Mama and Aunt Elvy-nem knew how to find all kind of plants, roots and herbs to make teas, tonics and tinctures.
They could cure just about any sickness under creation!
Lemme tell ya, one time I got so sick from throwin’ up I started havin’ what they call a ‘bilious attack!’
You know that’s when you go to dry-heavin’ ‘cause ain’ nothin’ left on your stomach but yellow bile.
Chile, Aunt Elvy fixed me some tea made out of somethin’ she got out them woods…
Lawd have mercy!
I don’t know what it was but after I drank it I soon got alright.
Folks have said that Mama-nem knew how to do root work too….but I ain’t never seen ’em do it.
All I know about is the cures they had for regular ailments.
I ain’t never seen ‘em do no Hoodoo!
Hmmm….Gwin, I say, I ain’t never seen ‘em do Hoodoo but that don’t mean they ain’t never done it!
I learned long time ago to never say ‘never.’
HA!
I’m tellin’ you chile!
But you know what?  They say Ma Hallie could lay her hands on folks and heal an injury …say she didn’t use nothin’ but her hands!
You reckon folks thought that was Hoodoo?
HA!
Anyway…
Back then, we had to work with what we had ‘cause Colored people couldn’t just run to no medical doctors or psychiatrists or nothin’like that.
You know them White doctor’s wouldn’t take no Colored patients-even if they did have the money to pay ’em.
Ooh!
It was just a shame!

 

I’ve known folks to bleed to death ’cause no White Doctor would help ’em!

Humph!

Jesus!

Anyway, Mama-nem wanted me to learn ‘bout them herbs but nooooo, at that time, I was more interested in gettin’ my lesson.
See, you gotta remember back then a lot of folks didn’t go to school so they couldn’t read too well.
And if they was able to go to school they usually didn’t go no farther than the elementary grades.
I’m talking’ ‘bout white folks too now!
And even then people usually had to quit so they could work and help take care of the family.
Chile, times was hard for everybody!
Children these days ain’t got no idea how hard it used to be to get an education.
Some of ‘em take it for granted.
Honey, in my day, it was near’ bout impossible for folks to go past the 8th grade.
Especially Coloreds.
I just thank the Lord that I had a chance to go a little higher than that.
You see, after I finished 8th grade over here, Mama-nem used what little money they had to send me to school over in Georgia.
While I was there I completed both the 9th and the 10th grade!
I was on a path to become a teacher!
But not too long after I started the 11th grade, Ma Hallie called me back home ‘cause Mama had done got bad off.
Of course I had to help take care of her so I never did get to go back to school.
Hmm hmm hmm!
But you know The Lord knew what he was doin’ ‘cause if I had stayed over in Macon, I might not have ever met and married Leroy and none of y’all woulda been born!
Shole wouldn’t have been!
_________
Anyway…
Gwin, look at me! I been doin’ all the talkin!’
“That’s alright Grandma, I love hearing those old stories!”
Humph, when I was your age I used to like to listen to the ‘old folks’ tell stories too.
Now it looks like I’m the ‘old folks.’
 HA!