Blackout Poetry –


Fading Blue –

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3 Ways to Calm the Anger Beast

When I was growing up, my father was a very angry man, even irate at times. I didn’t think anything of it. It was normal to me, that’s how I grew up. People would always say, “He’s Italian.” Like that somehow made it acceptable.

I remember times when we would be driving, just me and him, and someone would cut him off. My dad would chase that person down, have them pull over, and he would beat them up. Another time, we were having a family picnic, and some neighbors were there. I can’t remember the exact incident that caused this to happen, but my dad got mad and threw the table. One of the neighbors said, “What was that about?” No one else reacted to it, and the whole thing blew over.

One of my cousins has been telling me some interesting stories about my dad that he heard from aunts and uncles. There is this one story in particular that I want to share.

When they were younger, they moved into a new neighborhood. My dad asked the kids on the street who the toughest kid was on the block. They told him. He went right over to that guy and beat the crap out of him. Then, he was the toughest.

When I heard that story, I thought, yep that’s my dad. Growing up with my father, I learned some unattractive traits from him. Of course, I didn’t notice them. It wasn’t until I was engaged and we were arguing about something, and I threw a weight at him. He moved, and it put a hole in the wall. Right then he said he wasn’t going to marry someone with anger issues. We had just started going to church. I did not know how to change, so my first thought was that I better pray really hard about this issue. Here are three things that I learned.

  1. Pray — Pray and ask God to help you. You can’t do it in your own power. I read the Bible every day to find scriptures that talked about anger. I wrote them down and repeated them to really take in what it was trying to say.

James 1:19–20 19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

Proverbs 29:11 Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.

Those are just two examples, there are many other scriptures that talk about anger.

2. It’s not all about you — I’m sure for some people this is hard to hear, but not everything is about you. When someone does something to upset you or make you angry, most of the time they had no idea. They probably didn’t do it on purpose.

I remember this one time; we were looking at plants in the store. I was going to pick up this one plant in particular and look at it. The person next to me in the isle picked it up right when I was thinking about doing the same thing. I was so angry, but I had been asking God to help me recognize when I became angry. I realized the feeling I had at the moment. The belief at I wouldn’t get rid of the anger inside until I let it loose on the outside. I had to make that person understand they did something wrong and I was mad about it. At that point, I understood what God was trying to show me about myself and anger. That person did not know I was thinking about picking up that same plant. They were not purposely trying to upset me. The one with the issue was me. I took a moment to look inside and deal with that, instead of displaying everything on the outside. When I did that, the person had finished looking at the plant and had already set it down and moved on.

3. Take a breath — and look inside. Meditate on some scriptures or calming thoughts and let the moment pass. I am not a person that likes to do the whole “count to ten” thing. I have never been, and I still do not do it. However, taking a moment to be calm and think before you react, it can make all the difference in the world.

I know these things can help. It has been 28 years, and people cannot believe I used to be a person with anger issues. The comments I hear are, “You? You’re so calm and easy going.” Sometimes, I find it hard to believe also.

3 Reasons You Should Do A 100 Day Challenge

Several months ago I was searching the internet for some good ideas on teaching poetry to Jr high and high school students. I came across this great post on Medium by Jon E. H. Burton who was participating in a 100 Day Haiku challenge.

And then I came across another great post on Medium by Courtney Symons.

This was perfect because I was planning on having my students learn haiku because I figured it would be great to start with. The more I read about 100 Day Challenges, the more I realized how essential it is to participate in them. Here are some important things that I concluded.

  1. You will improve: When you complete any task consistently on a daily basis, studies have shown that you will improve in that task. There is a story I heard about a ceramics teacher. You have probably heard this story before, but here it is.

The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pounds of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot — albeit a perfect one — to get an “A”.

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work — and learning from their mistakes — the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

If you take anything away from this story, it should be this:

Quantity always trumps quality.

2. It will become a habit: Studies have shown that it takes about three weeks to form a habit. That is only 21 days. If you attempt a 100 Day Challenge, even if you miss a couple days, you will be way over the mark to form a good habit. No matter what challenge you choose: exercising, writing a blog, drawing art, reading, ect., you will form a new habit.

3. It will help you become disciplined. No matter what you do in life, being disciplined is important. Discipline help people to focus and get things completed.

Here is a great quote I read from

“Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates. There’s plenty of movement, but you never know if it’s going to be forward, backwards, or sideways.”

It is hard to get things finished if you lack discipline and drive in your life. Even in an everyday situation such as chores around the house, school work, or work in general, having the discipline to complete things and move on to the next task makes life a whole lot easier.

3 Reasons You Should Read Every Day

A couple weeks ago, while I was getting my things ready to teach my next class, I heard some students talking about some books they have been reading. They were giving each other some suggestions for the next book that they should try. I was impressed with these students. Thinking about all of the conversations that could be overheard coming from high school students, a conversation about reading and books was refreshing. Then, I heard one of them say, “My doctor told me that reading is bad for you. I can ruin your brain, make you dumb, and ruin your eyes.” Immediately another student said, “ I can’t believe you just said that.” That was my thought exactly. The students continued walking down the hallway and I didn’t hear any more of the conversation.

That conversation stuck in my head for a long time. The more and more I thought about it, the more I hoped that those negative words had no impact on the other kids and their love of books. So, I am going to share with you some good reasons that you should read every day.

1. Reading keeps your brain active. Just like exercise is good for your body and keeps it healthy, reading is good for your brain. Reading keeps your brain fit. There have been many studies that have shown that reading every day can reduce the chances of Dementia and Alzheimer’s. My father developed Dementia and Alzheimer’s later in life. Although he was a very smart man, with different degrees, and a job with a prominent aerospace company, that didn’t help him. He worked hard and didn’t usually take time to read very often. Of course there could have been other factors involved, however, reading could have helped.

2. Reading increases your vocabulary. The more you read, the more words you are exposed to on a regular basis. I can’t tell you how many times I have been reading a book and have come across a word that I wasn’t familiar with. That is such a great opportunity to write the word down and look it up in the dictionary. I good example of this, is when I was reading Anna Kendrick’s book, A Scrappy Little Nobody, she mentioned a word I have never heard before: Kerfuffle. Of course, I had to look it up, it sounds like such a fun word. Kerfuffle means a fuss or commotion. This has now become one of my favorite words. I shared it with my English classes and challenged them to see how many times they could use kerfuffle in a day, in the correct context.

3. Reading improves your memory. When you read, there are many things you will have to remember throughout the book. You have to remember character’s names, certain details, different events which take place, and many other things the writer throws your way. Increasing your memory while you are reading also helps you increase your memory with other everyday things.