Tag Archives: teamwork

A Letter for Anaya

My review of the book Akata Witch

By Nnedi Okorafor https://nnedi.com/

(includes spoilers!)

I finished listening to the book. I’m sad. I get sad when good books end. (But there are two more in the The Nsibidi Script Series so…YAY.) I was very surprised that none of our four protagonists died, but also I’m super relieved!

If you haven’t read the book, here’s why you should read it: 1) It’s about being in between or both – She is Nigerian and American. She is Black and Albino. 2) I’m 51, and I’ve been reading about male main characters for a long time. This main character is smart, empathetic, curious, mindful, creative, and female. Her female-ness isn’t the most important thing about her, but it IS important for us all to learn from thoughtful, bright young women.

Favorite parts: I love the nicknames. I love that there is a person named “Calculus” and someone named “Sugar Cream!” Also, I used to have a pal named “Sonny,” so I love that name. I always think about whether someone named Sunny is sunny. In this book, I did wonder if the author named her Sunny also because she describes her skin as “yellow-ish.” I do also know a funny toddler named “Sonny” like Sonny Bono!

Silliest part: I thought it was funny that coins fell out of the sky when they learned. I’m glad we are rewarding learning, but also – the way the coins drop reminded me of a video game.

Sometimes I think about how people with “magical” abilities are supposed to – and often can – hide their abilities. In real life, most people’s disabilities are super visible. For example, everyone can see Sonny’s albino skin. She can’t hide it, and people treat her differently – sometimes very badly – because of it. Now, she can use her beautiful magic, but they demand she hides it. (See also: the way superheroes have “normal” identities.) Also, some people treat invisible disabilities like ADHD or Depression with impatience and sometimes disbelief and rudeness!

Also, sorry – this is negative, but it’s hard to tell the difference (maybe just for me) between a special, beautiful, magical town and a ghetto. In 2022, I try to love Jewish places. Aren’t I really lucky to be in a Jewish place where people “get me” and where people “speak my language” and I can live on Jewish time?! Yay. 

You can read more about this historical issues here – https://jwa.org/blog/postcards-from-yiddishland , AND You can see more info about this historical conflict here – https://www.tenement.org/

On the other hand, I used to visit a neighborhood of Ethiopian immigrants to volunteer in Jerusalem, but it also reminded me of when European countries and their original home in Ethiopia would restrict where Jewish people were ALLOWED to live and work. Some people told me – it was just a fast way to make sure all the immigrants had safe homes. Regardless, it’s not like that anymore. Here is some background about that neighborhood – Givat HaMatoshttps://jcpa.org/article/givat-hamatos-strategic-jerusalem-neighborhood-freeze/

Also, it reminds me of the women’s sections in traditional synagogues. So lovely for me to be surrounded by women and girls, but I get MAD when I remember WHY the men created the sections in the first place.

Here are two more motifs I think about a lot:

MOTIF #1a – I don’t like the idea of “Don’t tell your parents.” 

Here is some more info about the difference between a bad secret and a good surprise https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/keeping-youth-safe-surprises-versus-secrets

I get that – in books and movies, sometimes the kids don’t tell the adults about plans because then the adults will stop them from fighting evil. I get that –  in fiction –  that is an exciting way to set up a cool adventure for kids. In real life, it is the job of the adults who have kids’ best interest at heart to figure out the best way to protect you from bad stuff. 

MOTIF #1b – a corollary – instead of not telling their parents – their parents are dead or gone?! Oy vey.

I know that in a lot of kids’ literature the parents die. I get that in kids’ literature this is a theme. Like Bambi. 


Then, the kids are mostly on their own or stuck with bad guardians in bad situations. 

First of all, so sad.

Second, I feel really uncomfortable telling kids not to trust adults! I’m not saying that all adults are great. (They are not.) However, I do not like secrets. I think surprises can be cool, but I think all kids need a few different kind, trustworthy adults to help them get through life. Not just crossing streets when they are little and other stuff like that, but also helping kids see things from different perspectives at different times. And to remind kids that what seems permanent might be temporary. AND ENCOURAGING KIDS! 

I read somewhere but I cannot remember where – probably way back in college – that most kid literature indulges in a fantasy life where the kids are actually part of something bigger and cooler than their regular lives of healthy breakfasts, bedtimes, school rules, etc. That kids imagine they are really princesses or wizards. That kids dream about leaving their parents behind and finding their true, magical, royal, special purpose, but I do also know that Sonny wishes she could know her mother, aunt, and grandmother better. That Sonny wishes that her dad could be kinder and more interested in her life, the way he is interested in her brothers. 

MOTIF #2 – I actually really like the idea that kids have special abilities and can save the universe. AS LONG AS THERE IS REAL TEAMWORK. I love teamwork. 

I love teachers, books, authors who tell kids – You have strength and creativity and ideas that you can use to make the world better – no matter your age!

This motif is part of why I love Stephen King books so much. King loves rescuing kids with special abilities. He loves a group of kids who come together to protect each other (and usually their town and the whole world) from anything bad or evil. 

Stephen King loves kids and magic. He loves bikes and friendships. He loves when kids who are suffering work together to make their world better. He believes that kids can fix bad stuff, and it always makes me feel better.

One of the main things I’ve learned from Stephen King is that some adults can still see “magic.” I used to worry that my ability to connect with kids was weird or bad – as if I am not growing up properly. My dad says that, when I was in 5th grade, I told him I didn’t want to ever have kids. He thought I would change my mind, but I didn’t. 

In the book IT, the adults who didn’t become parents retained the ability to see and conquer evil. I really like this idea. I want to be an adult kids can trust to help them fight their battles against anything evil or scary. https://stephenking.com/works/novel/it.html

Is Stephen King right for everyone? No. Some people cannot stand horror, and kids are too young to read most Stephen King books – even though I really think that some of his messages would be really healthy for kids to read. For adults who want to read Stephen King and other scary stuff, here is my gift to you!

My tips for the scary/gory parts!!

I used to never read/watch horror, but now I only read/watch horror. I have learned over and over that life is not about happy endings, perfect days, or perfect relationships. So much of the “happy” books and shows feel contrived to me now. Most days, only horror makes sense to me. I am not recommending this life/perspective. However, I have learned a lot that I think might help other people when they encounter scary stuff.

  1. Don’t read in the dark. Don’t read scary stuff alone. If you can look up from your book to a sunny spot or to peoplewatch, the fear can’t really take you over.
  2. Don’t close your eyes (especially if you are reading). Your imagination is way scarier and more detailed/real than anything the movie or tv studios can invent/produce. 
  3. Be curious. While whatever is happening in the book or on screen, if it freaks you out, think to yourself: How did they do that?! Because it’s never really the real thing. It’s never real blood. It’s corn syrup with food coloring! They aren’t really injuries. That’s make-up!
  4. Pretend you are in the middle of writing a review. Note down any good or bad lines of dialogue. Note which scenes work and which scenes look silly or fake.
  5. Sometimes, look away at something normal, like your slippers or your snack. Think to yourself: Isn’t it silly that peanut butter and celery can exist in the same world as this book/movie!?


That is the main thing!

November 9, 2022 – the day after Midterm Elections.

I don’t know how I’m the one who woke up with the pep talk energy this morning, but I guess it’s just my turn. Making the world a better place is difficult and slow! WE CAN DO IT TOGETHER. We can take turns.

When you feel sad/sick today, remember: Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert is trailing with more than 85% of votes counted in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District! [Update: she ended up winning in the morning, but I hope she made the most of that long, tough night of not knowing.] This morning at 9:30, Dr. Oz called John Fetterman to concede!

I know a lot of hateful people got elected – again. I know that many of us are feeling hopeless and powerless. Please don’t let hate take you over!!! We have so much more work to do. Hate saps energy! Some days, I have to focus on the successes so I don’t sink into despair!

Did you know that people with disabilities can vote FROM THEIR CARS in North Carolina????

Did you know that the third African American governor was just elected????

Democrats flipped Republican-held House seats in Ohio and Michigan and held on to vulnerable seats in Virginia, New Hampshire and elsewhere.

Marcy Kaptur, a Democrat, won re-election in an Ohio district redrawn to favor Republicans. She is set to become the longest-serving woman in congressional history.

Mary Peltola, a Democrat and the first Alaska Native elected to Congress, was ahead of Republicans Sarah Palin and Nick Begich in Alaska’s sole House election!

Remember this: “Dems have a Florida problem, but Republicans have a Trump problem. That seems harder to solve.” — Jen Psaki, former Biden press secretary

Hear This: “My name is Nabeela Syed. I’m a 23-year old Muslim, Indian-American woman. We just flipped a Republican-held suburban district. And in January, I’ll be the youngest member of the Illinois General Assembly.”

We – all of us –  have to do the work! And, if we have privilege, WE HAVE TO USE IT TO MAKE THE WORLD BETTER!

I heard Eitan Hersh in an NPR interview about his book Politics is for Power a while back, and he has really inspired me. He said that focusing on national and world politics makes people feel helpless. Americans can use our power/agency in local politics. If I hadn’t focused on the mayoral race this time, I can’t imagine how sad and hopeless I would feel today.


I’m here for Celia Israel because Hersh’s words encouraged me to act locally!

Related: I’m going to say something controversial. Maybe – just maybe – it’s time to stop spending so much of our energy on JK Rowling and to start focusing more of our energy on stopping the hateful people who keep getting elected in our home states. Let’s focus on what we CAN DO to protect our most vulnerable humans.

Also, this poem brings me a little hope too: To the Woman Crying Uncontrollably in the Next Stall by KIM ADDONIZIO.


A Dream Team – We will work better together.

I’m grateful to have had some amazing jobs and some amazing colleagues. I’ve learned so much about myself and about teamwork in general. Of course, I recognize that all jobs and all teams come with particular frustrations, but sometimes I let myself dream of a perfect team. My dream job includes a dream team of colleagues.

Progress – This Dream Team consists of individuals who want to improve – ourselves and our work. We are dedicated to reviewing the work we do – talking about and recording what worked, what didn’t work, and what we are missing. We don’t take mistakes personally. We work together to make our work and our organization better and better.

Communication – The Dream Team talks things through. We know each other well because we communicate. We support each other when we are sad and happy, which we are aware of because we communicate often.

Planning Ahead – We sit down together regularly to look backwards and forwards. We dream up zany ideas together. Even though we strive to plan ahead, The Dream Team isn’t afraid to follow through on a last-minute plan if enough of us agree that it’s a fantastic idea.

Conflict – We argue, and it’s okay. Sometimes, we argue opposite sides just to consider an idea or a plan from every angle. We respectfully disagree. We handle conflict with respect and openness. We never pretend to agree or hide our opinions. We work together toward resolutions that everyone can get behind. Individuals are allowed to change their minds without worrying about winning or losing an argument. We try to accept each other’s differences, and, if something gets particularly tough, we try to address it within 24 hours.

The Benefit of the Doubt – The members of the Dream Team give each other the benefit of the doubt. We assume that we each want what’s best for each other and for the team.

Vision – The Dream Team has a big picture mentality. We have a shared vision of our goal and our path. When we get stuck on a problem, our team reviews our next steps in light of our biggest goal and our shared values. When we review our successes and failures, we use our goals as a guide to our next steps. Our shared vision and our shared values help us do our best over and over.

I’m hoping that – if I can imagine it, then I’ll be able to recognize it when I see it. And I really hope they will recognize me as the team member they want and need.