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Are You Underestimating Your Kid’s Talents?

     This past weekend, I was at my daughter’s 6th grade orientation. It was exciting for her because she’s entering a new phase of her life and she’s been on cloud nine about being the bigger kid and moving onto bigger, better things.

The purpose of the event was to get kids and parents excited about networking and getting involved at school during their middle school years. They were drilled with the idea that their end goal was to go to college so that they could get a great job doing what they love.

The Principal urged the kids to aspire to do something meaningful and productive to society instead of becoming a YouTuber! She kind of mocked YouTubers and it annoyed me.

I was annoyed about that statement because it shows how closed minded schools can be about stepping outside the box and doing something different that contributes to the world.

She mocked YouTubers and judged them as if they were just playing a game. She made it seem like it’s a joke of a job that doesn’t use intellect, technical or very intricate skills. Continue reading “Are You Underestimating Your Kid’s Talents?”

How ingrained are your stereotypes?

The recent #DayWithoutAnImmigrant protests have unveiled hidden problems within the education system. Teachers have come out of the closet about their negative stereotypes and biases against their own students. Meanwhile, students fight to be seen as Americans and equals in society despite where they were born. This shows us how much more work we have ahead of us to debunk stereotypes and to create a school system that eliminates bullying by students and teachers.

Over 10% of students who drop out of school do so due to being bullied repeatedly.

Teachers would go to the lunch room and say negative things about other teachers or about their students. So, if we are seeking to teach children to embrace differences, we have to start with our teachers. -Aura, Elementary School Teacher (25 yr veteran)

The above statement couldn’t have been more poignant in the midst of the recent national #DayWithoutImmigrants protests and walk-outs. If you’ve been paying attention, a lot of students who once looked up to their teachers as their allies, now see those very same mentors as hypocrites, back stabbers, and enemies. They’ve been betrayed by the once trusted  people in their lives.

Many Rubidoux High School (in Riverside, CA), students were shocked to learn that their teachers had taken to social media to mock students who participated in the #DayWithoutImmigrants protests by calling them lazy and expressing that the classrooms were better without them. The same thing happened to students from César Chávez Middle School (in Hayward, CA).

Allegations that students received the harsh judgement was said to have been prompted due to riots and improper behavior at the protests. However, regardless of what might have happened, students were outraged and deeply hurt as well as the parents and community members around these two schools.

Students weren’t angry just because their teachers failed to respect their choice of activism, they were furious and devastated to find out that the people they are taught to respect and to trust with their intellectual growth through the worst of them. Continue reading “How ingrained are your stereotypes?”

Bras, Briefs and Your Tax Dollars

While your taxpayer dollars paid for male soldier’s briefs, your taxpayer dollars were considered a misuse of funds if they would have been used to pay for female soldiers’ sports bras and undies.

My first paycheck by the military was only $304.97 every two weeks after taxes. It would have been a little bigger the first month, but because the Army didn’t issue under garments to female soldiers like they did the male soldiers, we had to buy our own sports bras and undies from our own paychecks.

Since we were required to either show proof that we had purchased our own or have them issued to us only if we agreed to have the expenses deducted from our paychecks, we still came out of pocket one way or another. It seemed that protecting men’s jewels took priority over protecting women’s breast from bouncing while running.

The young naive me didn’t really argue with it because the Drill Sergeants’ petrifying demeanor was enough to not give it a thought. Most of the other females and I just went with it. But late at night when all the lights were out and no Drill Sergeants were around, I could hear the loud whispers filled with rage about the inequality of the whole thing.

As I dosed into sleep, I realized that it was unfair, but my body was too tired to allow my thoughts to continue. My deep sleep seemed to last only but a minute because next thing I knew, I was being woken up at 4:30am by a Drill Sergeant banging cymbals in our sleeping quarters. Continue reading “Bras, Briefs and Your Tax Dollars”

Will you join me?

 

Did you know that children as young as the age of FOUR subconsciously learn to stereotype? As they get older, this can turn to bullying. This is why I’m creating a program called EMBRACING DIFFERENCES.

If you read last week’s post, then you’re aware that I have been wanting to create this program for a long time now because it KILLS me when I speak to children who believe bad stereotypes about themselves or about others. So, I WANT TO TEACH THEM TO DEBUNK THOSE STEREOTYPES.

But I can’t do it alone. I’ll have to help some parents and adults to learn how to recognize when subconscious stereotypical words, phrases or actions are being accidently used and how to replace them with positive, accurate and appropriate ones. Continue reading “Will you join me?”

Stereotypes are disrupting our kids’ learning

He kept calling me a dumb Mexican because I have an accent, but so does Jimmy. He’s from France. I just don’t get it. I know English just as much as he does. I’m also not from Mexico.
-8 year old, Ana in Maryland

When adults hear about conflicts among kids such as Ana’s, they’re often dismissed as child bickery, a rough phase of childhood or just part of being a kid. But if this scenario where between two adults, it would be considered harassment or discrimination.

So, why aren’t educators taking the time to teach kids to not use stereotypes in the classrooms? Sadly, schools also don’t strongly consider the effects of stereotyping (such as misogyny or sexual harassment) more seriously-and they should! They know they exist, but they don’t actively focus on this issue.

Subconscious stereotyping is important because Continue reading “Stereotypes are disrupting our kids’ learning”

Consider making this list

As the year comes to a close, a lot of people start creating their list of new year goals (download our free worksheet- Reflecting + Goals 2017). But instead of making ONLY your new year goals, consider making a list of all the things you appreciated this year no matter how many bad things happened to you in 2016.

Focusing on this will help you realize how many blessings you’ve had and that in the midst of not such good times, very good things DO happen. We must start appreciating what we’ve got before we start expecting more blessings.

This year, I got to travel back to Nicaragua, the country I was born in. It was a very expensive trip for my family because it was several of us. However, my husband insisted on going because I’d always say we’d go and the total trip expenses always seemed so high.

I’d always say we’d go next year and I have many excuses. Excuses like….next year because our savings would be larger and I’d feel better knowing we’d have more than enough if something were to happen or because I was actually afraid to go outside of the country when planes are disappearing or crashing for no reason (yup, and I know I’m not alone on this one) or because I thought it would be hard to travel with kids in a third world country. Next year would come and go and years passed. So, off we went. Continue reading “Consider making this list”

How to write to your legislators

Since the election results, we’ve seen many, many posts stating or asking people to contact their legislators and a lot of people don’t seem to think that contacting them will do any good. Most of the time, people want to reach out but have no idea who their representatives are or what to say to them.

Well, I have LOTS of experience writing legislators. I’ve requested their assistance when dealing with certain government agencies and I’ve also called and written in to give suggestions or to complain about certain agencies or procedures that I believe need change.

As a matter of fact, the first time I wrote a legislator was when I was 20 years old. I was in the military and I had just returned from my 1-year tour in South Korea. I’d gotten married to a soldier who was stationed in a different state. As a married soldier, I could not live in the barracks. So, my option was to rent my own place since housing was not available for married soldiers whose spouses were not living with them. Continue reading “How to write to your legislators”

The Power of Persistence

    

In 2007 I was already a mother to a 15 month old baby girl and I gave birth to my second child at the end of that year. I was in the military about to get out after ten years of service and I was excited about becoming a civilian and being able to take care of my family.

The plan was something like this. I was going to take a few months off after giving birth to my second child. I would find a good job in a different state because I didn’t want to stay in Maryland and I would carry on with my life with my little family. Oh, how wrong I was! When life throws a challenge, it really throws it hard!

So, I left the Army one month before I gave birth at the end of 2007. My hubby (Henry) and I had a nice nest egg in case something happened. Henry was doing great in the real estate field despite some health challenges he had incurred after he too served in the military.

But here come those challenges I was talking about. In 2007 the housing market started crashing…along with everything else. It hit some areas of the country really hard and almost instantly. It took a while but it hit Maryland too.

No one expected the market bubble to burst as bad as it did. So, I had no idea that getting out of the military and losing that stable paycheck and full medical benefits was going to be an enormous mistake.

I thought that having been a senior non-commissioned officer, with 10 years of experience, leadership skills and training, I’d be able to find a job within months. I was so WRONG!

Challenge number two, the month after I left the military and gave birth to my second child, my husband’s health declined drastically. We thought it was going to be temporary but sadly he never got better. Today, Henry still struggles with his health and the Veterans Affairs Health Care System (that’s a whole other blog!)

Remember, we thought this would be temporary? So there we were, both of us not working, we were living off our last paychecks thinking he would recover soon and that I would get a well paying job sooner than later. And the months went by. We dipped into our savings. Every day, news networks disclosed the thousands and thousands of people who were going into foreclosure and getting laid off. People were committing suicide due to huge monetary losses

or because they were no longer able to provide for their families. We would just stare at the T.V. in disbelief.

It was a very scary time in our lives. All we could think about was our babies and all the hard work and preparation we’d done before bringing kids into this world. We had done everything right. We got married. We built great careers. We had lots of work experience. We had savings. But none of that spared us from what was to come.

After I spent nine months applying for jobs I found myself in extreme fear of losing the home we had just purchased about a year earlier.

So, the worst happened. We went into foreclosure status and Henry was on bedrest for most of 2008. I couldn’t get a job that would pay enough for infant childcare and a toddler, nevertheless for a caregiver for Henry (not even counting all of our bills).

I was BEYOND petrified and I felt completely alone. We ran through our nice nest egg to get by as long as we could. Before we went into foreclosure I tried avoiding it by requesting payment deferments and I also asked for a home loan modification but my lender always claimed I didn’t qualify because I had not yet missed at least three payments. Stupid right?

So, I did what I could. I took on odd jobs. It was very hard because I was nursing my baby and couldn’t be away from my little family for too long because they depended on me. All of them. Henry sacrificed his health a lot because he had to. He cared for our little girls while I took on jobs.

On very good days, Henry was able to come along and help. We brought our girls along (not like we had a choice). Our oldest, who was finally walking, “helped” us and our little one was in the car seat watching her surroundings or slept as we cleaned foreclosed homes for other realtors or people who were preparing to rent their house to avoid foreclosure. But these odd jobs were not enough. I returned my new SUV to the dealer and we cut off luxuries like cable and memberships to gyms. We had already stopped going out to eat or to the theater. Anything that was not a necessity was cut.

Eventually, we started selling our household items on Craigslist. we sold almost everything except our beds, dishes, clothes and two televisions because no-one would buy them.

We spent two years in foreclosure and asking our mortgage company to modify our loan. During that time, I got my disability rating from the Veterans Affairs Health Administration, so that income was enough to qualify us to enter a modification program. Henry already had his coming in. However, the money we got was not enough to make ends meet.

Luckily for us, since the government had recently made changes to the G.I. Bill by adding a housing allowance as long as a veteran was enrolled in full-time school, I decided to finish college. That was the beginning of my long college journey while I was dealing with Henry’s health challenges, my new role as a mother and a civilian.

Before I applied to a college our mortgage company had notified us that our house was going to be sold at an auction and we had to be out of the house by a certain date. So, because we thought we weren’t going to be able to keep our home, we had decided that when the time came, we would move in with my Mother-in-law (bless her) and I applied to a school near her home.

I had called my Republican and Democratic senators and Congress representatives for help. I didn’t know how they could help, but I figured, why not ask? I also called and wrote to the-then Governor O’Malley’s office, and the Obama administration. I actually sent a letter to President Obama, Mrs. Obama and Jill and Joe Biden requesting for help to pressure the VA to give my husband proper care because they kept refusing to provide him with certain services before and after one of his many surgeries. I also asked for some sort of help that would allow us to keep our home, specifically, to help us get a modification offer from our lender.

Two weeks after I had mailed out all the letters, I received a phone call from a social worker from the VA Medical Center in our area. I’ll never forget his words. After he introduced himself, he said, “I’ve been assigned by President Obama’s office to care for your husband’s needs. How may I help you?” I. Was. Completely. Stunned!!!

Suddenly, his doctor appointments and requests to see certain specialists were no longer ignored. His appointments were no longer cancelled at the last minute. The relief I felt knowing that someone had listened and done something to help us and realizing WHO that person was felt SURREAL. From the hundreds of thousands of daily letters the office of the President of the United States received, my plea letter was NOTICED!!

About a month later, which was almost a week prior to the auction date of the supposed sale of our home, we received a modification offer from our lender. After almost two years! As you can imagine, we were extremely happy, relieved and surprised. Although our problems did not immediately end upon getting that modification offer, we were both able to sleep better after that horrible nightmare.

The main thing I learned during those two years in foreclosure was that I was more resourceful than I imagined. Since we didn’t have money to spend on entertainment, I learned to craft using things around the house and shopped wisely when I could. I learned to ask lots of questions and research programs that could help us. The pressure I felt to be the head of household allowed me to focus in college those two years and graduated with my associate degree with honors. I continued my education and ended up earning my master’s degree.

I also became a very informed advocate for my husband and for myself within the VA. I realized that my passion was to help others because through every journey, there were always a few people willing to share information that got me closer to a solution.

I learned that no matter how much anyone prepares for the unforeseen, things can still go wrong and that very few people will understand what you’re going through including family members. When you’re going through hardship people will judge you for not fitting into a stereotypical expectation of what people in hardship should look like.  For example, you’ll be judged if you seem to be wearing ‘good clothes’ or have a new item assuming you’re not doing so bad because they think you purchased it not realizing that the item was gifted to you. Because if things are so bad, how come you have nice things?

Lastly, I learned that I need to create my fate. I learned I am not meant to work for someone else the rest of my life. I am meant to build my own business. That business will help others, specifically by sharing stories that people can learn from and by helping people become aware of and reject their subconscious biases.

This blog is a step in that direction. I hope to share inspiring stories and help people xxx

I’d also love to hear YOUR stories, so please comment below or send me an email. I’m always looking for stories to share with the world that give valuable lessons to my readers.  

dali