Je suis Ms. Nadia Lopez

Mott Hall Bridges Academy; Brownsville; HONY; Humans of New York; Brandon Stanton; education; scholorships; fund raising; inspiration; values

Principal Nadia Lopez, Mott Hall Bridges Academy (Photo Brandon Stanton)

Last week I was inspired by this woman!  Along with thousands of people around the world, I took note of her thanks to Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York blog.  If you have never heard of this blog, check it out now!  Brandon Stanton is living proof that we all have a purpose and he has found his purpose which is to allow people to be seen, heard, listened to and believed in!  It all started with him randomly stopping a young man, Vidal, last week and asking if he could take his picture.  What makes Brandon Stanton special is that he asks some quite meaningful questions to the subjects of his pictures and this day was no exception.  Vidal told the HONY world that his principal, Ms Nadia Lopez valued him, she has told him he matters.  Not only him but all the scholars at Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brownsville New York.

I want to be like Principal Nadia Lopez!  I want to be a woman who influences others, who believes in others, who guides others.  This is where I want my life energy directed, to positively influence those around me.  I believe I am Ms Lopez, we all are, no matter how small our contribution to our world, we all matter!

I know another Ms Lopez, another influential being who believed everyone mattered and he was called Gerry German.  He was an educator too and he was a man who influenced the thousands of children who had the good fortune to cross his path.  He taught in Jamaica, England, North Wales and Nigeria.  He was one of the founder members of STOPP (Society of Teachers Opposed to Physical Punishment) in the late 60s. He was Chief Education Officer at the Commission for Racial Equality back in the 80s.  He was involved with the Working Group Against Racism in Children’s Resources in the 90s after his retirement as an activist.  His proudest moment was founding the Communities Empowerment Network, CEN, in 1999 an advocacy and campaigning service, working for equality and justice in education particularly with African Caribbean parents whose children had been permanently excluded from mainstream education.  He was a daring and innovative man, a concientious objector, he was also my father.

I am blessed to have been his daughter, I had the good fortune to be born to him and my mother Patricia, two hugely influential people, two incredible beings who have loved and guided me at every step of the way.  I attended one of the schools where Gerry was the head, or principal as you say in America.  I saw the love the school kids had for him, never more strongly demonstrated than when he was sacked from the Mold Alun as being too “much” for the establishment!  I was stopped by school bullies and told to pull up my socks and make my dad proud of me because they were proud to consider themselves his children.  I picked up the phone many a time whilst living with mum and dad or visiting them and many an ex student would ring to share their good news – graduating from school or university or just wanting to share what a huge influence Gerry had had on their lives.

Gerry passed away in May 2012 at the ripe old age of 84.  He passed in the night after having spent the day before at the office in Brixton where he met with a young man, recently excluded from school.  That day, my father had brought the first smile to this young man since he had taken on his case.  My father believed in him and that day proved to the young man that he mattered.  He went to bed that night satisfied with another good day, expecting to get up the next day to go back to work.  He left a legacy, he left behind an organisation that is relentless in providing justice and equality for all in education in Britain.  He left a team committed to this ideal, working together and now guided by my brother Deuan and joined by advocates, volunteers, trustees and many, many children needing their services.  He left his mark.

Ms Lopez is the same.  She believes in her kids.  She knows that everyone of them matters and she has high expectations of them.  She leads her team like my father led his team by being the example.  She is a woman with her heart in education, she is the teacher, the real meaning of the teacher.  I salute Ms Lopez and I say “Je suis Principal Nadia Lopez” – je suis in the sense of improving the lives of all, not trashing the lives of any!

Mott Hall Bridges Academy has now had over 700,000 dollars raised in less than a week and these funds will be used to form the Vidal Scholarship Fund, named after this young man who one day was stopped in the streets of his neighbourhood and asked by a stranger if he could have his photograph taken.  Brandon Stanton, Nadia Lopez, Gerry German – these are people who are proof that when we find our purpose in life, we are where we are meant to be.

We all matter, let’s never forget that!

 

 

CEN (Please consider donating)                        http://www.cenlive.org/

Humans of New York                                           http://www.humansofnewyork.com/

Mott Hall Bridges Academy                                http://www.mhbabrooklyn.com/

To donate to Mott Hall Bridges Academy        http://bit.ly/1JmIB8u

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Bigging it up for learning!

adult learning; teaching; education; blogging; writing

When we get home from school!

I have had the most fun weekend in a long time, I did two workshops – one I devised and facilitated and the other I attended.  Both were fun and today I feel fired up and ready to go!  Some of my friends spent the weekend doing some learning too.  At second born’s eco-school Sa Llavor they brought in leading UK Waldorf science educator Graham Kennish for the weekend to host a conference on “Towards a Holistic Science”.  It was well attended and enjoyed by many.  Bumping into one of the parents this morning at school drop off, it was wonderful to see how much she enjoyed it.  “I felt 13 years old again and would readily have gone back to school for more” enthused Petra about the weekend.

So what is it about learning as an adult that is different to learning when we are children?  Firstly, we enjoy learning about something we want to learn, not something that we are being told to learn.  We are independent and self-directing; we are problem solving and therefore discussions make up for a large part of our learning and as importantly, our learning has relevance on our lives and we want to apply it there!

That is what I wanted out of my weekend of further education and so Saturday’s workshop was on “Setting Intentions for a Life Changing 2015 and Beyond”.  Although I was the facilitator, I was also learning and this was enjoyed on many levels.  I managed to set some intentions in different areas of my life – career, health, wealth and creativity and I managed to gain valuable experience leading the workshop.  All in all, it was very enjoyable and I hope the participants thought so too!  Of course the setting where we held the workshop was the tranquil Binissalem Peace Centre and that was a plus.

On Sunday, I enjoyed the day with four other women and our teacher – the blogging and social media queen, Vicki Mcleod of Phoenix Media Mallorca!  It was a recap day to go over any areas we needed help with on blogging and it was the perfect day in so many ways!  Firstly, Vicki wears her crown with confidence and enthusiasm.  She loves what she does and this passion and energy was felt by all.  She is a willing teacher, and by willing I mean that she wants us to learn, she wants us to blog, she wants us to be successful and she will go the extra mile for us.

In just a day, I came out of the class with so much useful knowledge, a wealth of tips as well as enthusiasm that is now being put to good use.  I also met two other women I didn’t know and I caught up with Kay from the Universal Booksh0p who is always so kind and fun to be with.  I met Andreea from Signature Estates and was impressed by her determination to learn.  She is a busy working mother running her own company with her husband and yet she was there on a Sunday looking to brush up her skills and I was impressed that she even had time to bring delicious cup cakes – naughty!  Then there was Julie, the Anglican vicar’s wife and a woman in her own right.  Julie is from an educational background and we enjoyed a long talk on schools and education in general.  It was a pleasure to meet a teacher with such a respect and care for her students, especially knowing that the age she prefers to teach is that of teenagers, not always the easiest group!

All in all, I really enjoyed this past weekend.  I feel I have learned a lot about myself in the process.  I enjoyed being a teacher and being with the teacher.  I appreciated curiosity, enthusiasm, problem solving, sharing, support and above all, I came home happy with my achievements!  The boys came home eventually and second born had been to the cinema with some of his school mates and without the parents – he is learning to be more responsible and grown up!  First born went to bed with the laptop to watch his teacher, youtube, and take in a lesson on jazz, adding to his skills as a musician.

Never stop learning, it keeps us healthy in mind, body and spirit and I for one, want that!

 

Blogging & social media learning with Vicki Mcleod                               http://www.phoenixmediamallorca.com

Sa Llavor – independent, autonomous school integrating sustainable ethical principles in action and experience of sustainability as an integral education.                                                       http://www.sallavor.es

Sisterhood

Girlfriends' get together; sisterhood; best friends; support; fun

Girlfriends’ get together

We somehow manage to be our own worst enemies, women that is.  I see it all the time, that sneaky, down the nose look at another woman, generally a woman who is attractive and most often from another good-looking woman!

Not all women appreciate the health benefits of getting on with each other – some of those benefits are laughter, support, advice, being there when things get tough, the list is a long one.  I see how men compete with one another on many levels but they don’t waste time bitching about the other, it’s not personal for them.  I remember when my friend, before she became my ex-friend along with my ex-partner, proudly boasted how much better she got on with men.  I should have seen the writing on the wall then but blindly I thought she was joking!  Nothing would stop her in her goal to have men all around her, including my ex.  Women like her are the obvious ones at a party and it is guaranteed that nothing will stop them going after the good-looking guys, perhaps moving on if he’s married, perhaps not!  They are the ones who don’t look another woman in the eye if she is introduced to them, especially if the other woman is attractive.

I have always been a bit of an idiot by giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, naively hoping that they will change and see how wonderful women really are.  Then I realise that as long as we women don’t appreciate each other first and foremost, then we shall always be competitive of other women and lose out on the huge and amazing benefits.  The life-long friendships, support, picking up when we haven’t seen each other for years at a time, the beauty of having girlfriends goes on and on.

I actually prefer the company of women, always have and imagine nothing will change that now at my young 53 years. I come from a family of matriarchs – impressive women, intelligent, good-looking, kind, funny, just downright gorgeous women. I went to a girls’ boarding school and had the best time ever.  I look back with very fond memories of my time there and thank facebook for getting us back together again over the past few years.

I am also lucky that my girlfriends are truly amazing women and I am blessed with a fair few of them, from all over the world and scattered all over the world.  They are all good for so many things and all different in their way but the common thread weaving them together is their maturity and ever growing wisdom – I love them!

I was back in England for Christmas and I got together with a few.  On the Sunday between Christmas and New Year I had lunch with Diana, it has been about 10 years since we last saw each other and it felt like yesterday.  Then the next couple of days I spent with Anna, Sabrina and Daniella and what a feast of joy that was (our Mandy unfortunately couldn’t join us).  I was so proud of what my girlfriends have been achieving with their lives since we last saw each other.  Brianne is always there for me but sadly this time, I was full of flu and so just saw her briefly.  I use skype as another way to stay in touch and Lana, BFF is often there for good advice and cheer.  Sylvia is always on the end of the phone and dependable Virtu and Cati around the corner.  Ones I don’t see for years on end – the list is really long, believe me – are caught up with sporadically and we always feel like it is yesterday since we last spoke!  This list includes cousins and I have the best cousins in the world!  Of course top of the list of women in my life who are there for me include my mother and my two sisters!

So sistas, take a look around you and appreciate all the amazing women in your lives including the ones who haven’t realised it yet.  To my ex friend I say thank you for going off with my ex partner.  At the time it wasn’t nice, but it taught me to appreciate the women in my life and they helped me get through that dark chapter.  I don’t know what she’s doing right now as they are no longer together but I hope she has found some girlfriends that she trusts and can rely on – life is too short to do it on our own.

BTW, I really respect my friends’ husbands – they truly are some best friends worth having and I say thank you to them for allowing me time with their wonderful wives and never complaining when Glynny comes to visit!

 

 

 

 

Celebrations

fathers and daughters; family; heros; children;

My dad and me!

My wonderful father Gerry German would have been 87 years young today!  It is going on three years since he left us to go dance with the angels and spread magic on my world.  He and my mother Patricia have been the greatest gifts on my life – I am proud that they allowed me to be their daughter or is it that I am proud that I had the sense to choose them as my parents!

This week has seen my birthday too and of course, like every year the first thing I would remember was how dad used to come into my bedroom first thing on my birthday and tell me “remember, it’s not another year older but another year wiser”.  I would reflect on my acquired wisdom before getting up to enjoy my special day and this year was no exception.

I am wiser than ever before but maybe that’s not saying too much as I still make the same mistakes sometimes!  However, I feel a sense of calm that wasn’t there in the past, a sense of acceptance, that all is well in my world, a serenity if you may.  I am proud of what I have achieved in the past year.  I have a weekly radio show “The Happiness Café” that put out 28 shows last year with inspiring guests and listeners tuning in from all over the world.  The feedback has been positive and people seem to enjoy the show.

I am especially proud that my relationship with my siblings gets better and better.  Last summer took in a trip to my younger sister’s home in Devon and that was a special highlight of my summer holidays.  Christmas and New Year was spent laughing and eating with most of my family except for big sister who was with her own family in Ras al-Khaimah.  It felt really good being with the family and knowing that skype provided a back up for those not physically present.  Second born was a fantastic travel companion every time and we even managed to get first born to come on one of the three trips back last year but always itching to get back to his life here in Mallorca.

My mother continues to be my rock, my source of wisdom and allowing me to make  sense of the world.  Each time spent in her company is gaining more understanding about myself.  I am so grateful for the gift of her in my life – so eternally grateful that she is there for me, with love and understanding.

So what did I do on my birthday this year?  I was 53 years young and I went dancing with my sons in the mountain village of Deìa.  Second-born disappeared as soon as we got there but first-born and I enjoyed some boogie moves in the village hall, surrounded by international, young people who apparently get together every Saturday between 12 and 2pm to dance!  The energy of these people was great and focussed and I really enjoyed my birthday, simple but great are the pleasures!

The challenges now to keep celebrating every day as it comes will keep me busy.  I have plans and big hairy audacious ones at that!  I shall enjoy more radio and look forward to developing more monologues which I hope to put on for you later this year, into a one woman show.  I have voice overs to do so listen out for me if you call the electricity company or if you take the boat over to Cabrera and want to know more of the history!  Perhaps you’re booking a holiday with a certain hotel chain, well you might get me telling you which button to press!

Life is good and I am 53 years young!  Wise, serene, happy and in love with life!

Enjoy your year!

 

The Happiness Café @Monday at 10am – http://www.mallorcasunshineradio.com

DJ Nin Petit organises “Wake up dances” in Deìa on Saturdays at Sa Tanca