Ring the Alarm

Dollar stores are underrated. My favorite is Dollar Tree, where everything from a Baby Ruth to a household decoration truly costs no more than $1. There, I feel rich whenever I splurge on stationery, cleaning supplies, and junk food.

As a kid, I loved sitting in my mom’s fragile ’93 Eagle Vision. I rode for 1 1/2 Jill Scott songs to the Dollar Deal at Grandland Shopping Center on Grand River and Fenkell. We shopped there so frequently that on the rare occasions I’ve visited lately, the business owner and cashier always says, “It’s amazing how you’ve grown up. I still remember when you were this little (levels her hand to show my 10 year old height)”.

Snooze (10 More Minutes)

Too many mornings have overwhelmed me, and I have rarely gotten out of bed on time this past year. At the beginning of April, I knew what I had to do.

During my job’s spring break, I drove to the black and yellow themed promise of the nearest Dollar General. Next to the clearance rack of watery nail polish and unpopular toys, I found an accountability partner. Paying homage to life before cell phones, I purchased an old school alarm clock.

God wakes me up.

I am so grateful for every new day I get to live and learn more about the meaning of love and endurance. Daily, though, I struggle to not be consumed by my worries. On my current smartphone, it’s easy to turn off its alarm clock, stay in bed, and anxiously postpone my responsibilities.

The alarming sound of my new “throwback” clock is obnoxious enough to be effective. After walking across the room to turn it off, heart pacing, I push myself to face the rest of the day. I shower, chew my gummy vitamins, and eat breakfast. Most amazingly, I’ve been able to pray, read Scripture, and leave my apartment with the intent to experience more joy.

A Bad Day Doesn’t Mean You’re a Bad You

Yesterday, I had a tough day with my students. I Love the opportunities I have had to work with youth, especially in my hometown Detroit. My current 6th and 7th graders are unique – each carry their own quirks, gifts, and areas for growth. They know all about my love for ice cream and my snorty laughs. I hope they know my admiration of them.

Some days, my middle school students fall short of being their best selves. Whenever they’re unfocused or a lesson doesn’t go as planned, I internalize a bad day with them to mean that I’m an ineffective, bad me. My internal alarm clock goes off and says, “Maybe, you’re not good enough at living out this passion you have for kids.”

After yesterday’s challenges, I had to remind myself that I’m passionate, purposeful, and empowering. As the workday came to a close, I had to re-empower myself with joy: gratitude for my life, my students, my teammates, and the opportunity to push forward in God’s love. I’m awake.

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