The Cost of Tenacity

I recently had dinner with my aunt, daughter and cousin who unfortunately lost her mother less than a year ago (also my aunt). Having lost my own mother, I empathize with her deeply…realizing that at age 27, her grief resembles what mine must have looked like at 11. Among the many things we discussed in the 2 1/2 hours we sat in the restaurant, we pointed out how patient her mother was. And we noted how patient our surviving aunt is. I asked them both, “Do you think I’m a patient person?”

“Joan you are very TENACIOUS,” my Aunt replied quickly.

My cousin added, “Yeah Joan, you try and try and try and keep going until there’s nothing else to do.”

I haven’t been able to help but think if that was an easy way to say I endure long-suffering, or that I don’t know when to call the animal coroner for a dead horse.

So I looked up the definition of tenacious:



  1. a. Extremely persistent in adhering to or doing something; stubborn or relentless: “tenacious defenders of their harsh and pitiless land”(Dee Brown).
    b. Characterized by extreme persistence; relentless or enduring: tenacious detective work; tenacious superstitions.
  2. Holding together firmly; cohesive: a tenacious material.
  3. Clinging to another object or surface; adhesive: tenacious lint.
  4. Tending to retain; retentive: a tenacious memory.


Well, there’s a cost associated with tenacity. It’s tiresome. It’s unforgiving. In some ways, it’s for naught. So many questions come into play.

What am I adhering to? Why am I enduring this and that? What am I trying to hold together and why? What am I clinging to? Why am I holding on to the past?

In a passing thought, I know the answers to all those questions: Somewhere and somehow, I believe that failure is not an option for me. If I fail, I become the statistic that all little girls without fathers and who’ve lost parents at an early age become. The question is, at what point do I free myself from those constraints? Would my mother really want me to still be trying to beat the odds 30 years after she departed? I think not. However the compulsion to survive is overwhelming.

I don’t want to be tenacious, but nature won’t allow me to be any other way. So until I find another way, I will press on. There is never any rest for the weary.

What Poise Looks Like

I want to be the President of the United States!

Well, not exactly, but I want to be like our current president, Barack Obama: Calm under pressure. Smooth in transition. Poised for whatever comes my way. ocalma

“How is it that you can always stay so calm?”

A colleague asked me this directly after learning that I would be reassigned to another position at work.

I replied, “When you’ve seen and been through as many things as I have, what’s there to get bent outta shape about?”

A person who has experienced all kinds of storms, heartaches, and trials in life, eventually discovers that each disaster makes them become poised for the next. Now, I’m not a sanctified, church-going (every time the doors are open) woman, but I do believe in God and Jesus Christ. Because of my relationship with the Father, I am able to say when things don’t go my way, “I know HE is in control.” That’s poise. For me, poise is knowing that things could always be worse. It’s knowing that no matter what, HE won’t let me go without the necessities. Most importantly, it’s knowing that HE often closes some doors only to open others.

I’ve experienced some recent changes professionally that will likely bring the tech part of my blog to a halt. Admittedly, most of my page views come from the Personal Growth section. Whereas some others who face similar changes may become stressed (and understandably so), I’ve got to keep moving, I’ve got to keep blogging, I’ve got to keep using my God-given talents to glorify HIM. I can never allow social status, my sorority, or profession to define me. I’ll always be Joan…who also happens to be a Delta and a basketball coach….who happens to be tech savvy and a photographer…and who happens to be a teacher. After all, I am a mother and a child of God first.

I have to practice what I preach, maintain a Growth Mindset, and refrain from pondering endlessly on Who Moved My Cheese. Meaning, I ask myself, “Self, how can you take this situation and turn it into a winner?” So often we tend to wallow in defeat, not realizing that it’s only change.

My advice to all, is be YOU, not your title or your affiliations. Dr. Seuss said it best: “No one is better at being you, than you.” So there are likely better coaches, teachers and technologists out there. But I’m absolutely the BEST Joan Sharpe McCullough around. If your cheese has been moved, find some new cheese. The other cheese was probably growing mold anyway.

Keep “O-Calma” and watch “No Drama” Obama below!

Here’s a piece on Barack “O-Calma” from thepeoplestherapist. Good reading. Good therapy.

If you haven’t done so already, subscribe for future posts. Ciao!

Envy: The Emotion Kept Secret | Psychology Today

This was a great piece on Envy! The bottom line is, you cannot disguise it as something else. When you set up roadblocks for others, the truth is highly visible.

Envy has to do with feeling unhappy about the success of someone else, or about what they have and, at the same time, secretly feeling inferior yourself. Instead of finding success for yourself or improving yourself, you may be envious and want what another person has or find yourself wishing that the other person would lose that quality or possession in order to make things seem fair.  If you are envious of someone you may want to put them down, as though this will raise you up or lower everyone else’s opinion of them. But it just doesn’t work! Instead you may want to consider that you are feeling inferior or not good enough yourself. We really can’t know what another person’s life is like, but an envious person just assumes that the other person is happier or better. So in a strange way, when you envy someone else, you are giving them a compliment. But it’s a compliment that can harm you and how you feel about yourself.

Read the entire article hereEnvy: The Emotion Kept Secret | Psychology Today

Fundamentals of Bliss: 5 Amazing Ways to Love Yourself

I was talking with a friend recently who was a bit depressed. The gloom and doom had begun to overtake her and Lord knows, I’ve been there and done that! Oddly, I decided not to give any advice that day: No words of wisdom, no “What momma used to say”-isms, nor any kind of philosophical coping mechanisms gleaned from my illustrious Kindle Library. I simply asked one question.

“Food for thought: If you had to give a split-second answer to this question, what would it be? Do you love yourself?”

“No,” she said flatly. “No, I don’t.”

I still resisted the urge to advise.

I said simply, “That’s where it starts. That’s how you get out of the darkness.”


If you don’t already, loving yourself is the type of thing that has to come about gradually. It is a process. No one else can make you do it. You have to get tired of being tired! As I had hoped, a few moments later, my phone buzzed in my pocket. It was my friend, who didn’t want to talk, but could muster this text:
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You Won’t Believe His Racist Remarks!

Moms Article

Picture it: Murfreesboro (NC) 1982. A black woman and a diverse group of workers who were recently laid off from the Tylon Zipper plant (which had closed it’s doors for good), decided to open their own worker-owned plant. What that would have meant for them, was that employees could invest in their own business and all share in the decision-making processes.

Here’s an excerpt from an article written in The Journal of Southern Changes 1978-2003.

A few miles from the WOSCO plant in Windsor, North Carolina, a Talon zipper factory, located in Woodland, North Carolina, closed in February 1982, throwing over two hundred skilled workers into the depressed job market of Northampton County. Eight of these former employees are now trying to start a worker owned factory called United Zipper Company. At first, they approached Talon to discuss buying the closed plant or its equipment. Talon, fearing further competition, refused to talk. Rather than sell, company agents destroyed the zipper machinery and let it go for scrap.

According to one worker, Beulah Sharpe, the cost of building a plant and purchasing equipment will amount to $700,000. The city of Murfreesboro has applied for $325,000 from the North Carolina Small Cities Community Development Block Grant Program to be used for this purpose. The balance will come from other lending sources (remember this sentence). When the business begins, by late fall of 1982, there will be ten worker owners. Their plans project eventual growth to a workforce of thirty-seven.

“At Talon,” says Ms. Sharp(e), “we were never involved in making decisions. Now we have to learn how to make decisions for ourselves. We’ve made mistakes along the way, but we have learned from them.”

So, a few obstacles stood in their way. As stated above, the decision by the executives at Tylon to refuse to sell the old machines to the workers created a need for additional funding. The second blow was one that I hate to even speak about, and it did not make the article above. Now it is time to tell this part of the story.

One day, after crafting a plan B, the group of hopeful plant owners entered the Tarheel Bank and attempted to apply for a loan to supplement the funds needed to add to the monies acquired by the town of Murfreesboro to buy equipment to open the new plant. Beulah Sharpe handed the application to loan officer while the rest of the team looked on. The caucasian gentleman (We’ll call him Roy) barely touched the paperwork as if to avoid a chemical burn before he tossed it right back to her.

Perplexed, Beulah said, “But, you didn’t even look at…”

Before she could complete her sentence, Roy leaned back in his chair and uttered, “We don’t give loans to women and (n-word)s.”

That was my mother, sitting in that chair, totally chastened by that man’s racist, anti-feminist remarks. I would imagine that for a few sullen moments, she forgot that she was leading the way for others, both black and white,  to overcome economic disaster for their families. She forgot all of the hard work she and the others put into the research and community partnerships to make this thing happen. In that moment, all she was aware of was that aside from all else, she was a negro woman and single parent in the south. Nothing more.

Beulah Sharpe went into the Tarheel Bank that day with three strikes already against her already: She was not white, she was not married, and she was not a man. That was reason enough for the group to be turned away, empty-handed and defeated. I’d imagine she cried two buckets of tears afterwards. Rest assured that my mother didn’t pity herself. I remember this very vividly: they were tears of pain, and anger. She was essentially powerless, and felt very separate and unequal.

A child cannot bear to see his or her mother in pain. If you’ve ever witnessed it, I bet you can say you were hurting too. I was. I am.

Beulah quickly regained her footing and she found another cause to fight for. A close friend and supporter, Frank

Cindy Arnold and Beulah Sharpe, 1984

Cindy Arnold and Beulah Sharpe, 1984

Adams encouraged her to open a non-profit organization. In September of 1984, she and Cindy Arnold launched the Center for Women’s Economic Alternatives to teach financial literacy in the community. The Women’s Center is best known for their fight for justice on behalf of workers at the Perdue Farms Inc. in Lewiston, NC who had developed carpal tunnel syndrome due to poor working conditions.

My mother died less than a year later, and Cindy eventually left the area. Bernice “Liz” Sessoms led a team of hard-working women who essentially carried out Beulah’s dream. Due to a severe shortage in funding, the center shut down in 2002.

I have to give my mother credit. In spite of her experiences then, and years before, she always taught me NOT to see color. I was certainly aware that I had color, but that it should have no bearing on how I treat others as human beings.

Thanks to Cindy Arnold Humiston, Frank Adams, David Cecelski, and Katherine Charron for sharing this compelling story with me as it happened, and thank you more for NOT being color-blind!


Coaching Success Strategies in Education

wpid-2014-09-20-11.30.22.png.pngIn the immortal words of John “Hannibal” Smith, I love it when a plan comes together! This has been a great week of professional development, dialogue, and discovery for the teachers I serve. The Instructional Technology department decided to “flip” our PD sessions this year. So teachers are being exposed to our presentations early in Schoology. Lot’s of them came to the sessions already familiar with the content and were reeling with ideas.

What makes IT coaching even more fulfilling is when teachers implement tools and practices immediately, and reveal that they get immediate results from students. I’ve seen two teachers this week, transform their pedagogical practices from lecture/copy notes to flipped lessons/facilitate creativity. The looks on their faces are like light bulbs shining brightly!

What’s the key element that makes this happen? A two-sided mindset called coachability. Some teachers have already heard this story, however, it’s worth an encore.

I learned the importance of coachability when I was a senior on my high school basketball team. During our prior campaign, I led the team in scoring and rebounds. I was the team MVP, and the team captain. We had a different coach than the year before, and we were rebuilding. The season ended with us near the bottom of the conference with a 6-18 record. Still, I thought very highly of my 18 ppg average, and I went home that summer vowing to work hard on my ball handling to compliment my scoring ability. Continue reading

Digital Storytelling: Meaningful Technology in Third Grade cover image

By: Tyra Moore

  • Click to view my tale.
  • logo
  • Are we sabotaging our children by classifying them as smart or not? Do we empower them to gain meaningful technology experiences? Elementary-aged children are quite different from the nearly adult students I’m used to. I had an opportunity to lead a STEM camp for rising third-graders last week, and I’m forever changed.


When the principal and my boss sat down with the media coordinator and I to talk about the camp, I had no idea how I was going to fair with primary kids. It turned out to be a beautiful adventure!

My first day at the camp began with a field trip to the local zoo. My trusty pal, the elementary instructional coach from my previous post was with me, and again on the following day. Thanks to her I was able to slow my brain down and show them effectively, how to create digital stories. The school media coordinator was there to save the day on the third day.

I was reading Mindset, written by Dr. Carol Dweck at the time. For three days, I was handling these children with care. The book forced me to be cognitively aware of the holistic features in each child.

These were my takeaways:

1. Third-graders like to hug – a lot.

For the first time in a long time, I felt like a rock star! After just a few moments of getting acquainted with my new little buddies, they began to approach me, one by one with open arms, smiles, and half grown-in front teeth. “What is this?” I wondered. Admittedly, I have a twelve-year-old who used to love to hug. Now I have to beg for them, but I do fondly remember that time. This was a bit different, and as the days went on, I began to expect them with glee. I believe hugging is their way of showing appreciation for learning.
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Anger Management for Dummies

Don’t Make Me Angry: You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Angry…

Have you ever seen my Incredible Hulk impression? Some people have and they think it’s a hoot! No, I don’t really turn green, or burst out of my clothes. There’s just this thing I do while adjusting the cervical vertebrae in my neck. I take a deep seething breath as I try to find a way to respond to the stimulus without losing my cool. My jaws flex, and anything I say for the next few moments, exits my mouth through my clenched teeth. At any rate, that’s my way of managing my anger, no irritability when I’m confronted with certain situations.  Continue reading

On Life After Losing Mom: 8 Things I’d Like Her To Know

This is about missing a parent, whose passing has left a huge void in your life. As the years go by, you do not  get over it, rather, you learn to live with it. No matter how young nor old, the hurt runs deep. There is never a way to prepare, albeit chronic illness, or sudden death. You must find ways to keep your mom or dad alive within your heart.

It always helps me to talk to my mother as if she were sitting next to me. I have to believe in my heart that she can see and hear me. Then I meditate over what I’ve said and imagine her response. Whatever you may do, I suggest you find what works best for you. There is no right and wrong way to grieve, and NEVER let anyone else tell you otherwise. Grief is a process, and you should be familiar with it.

This time, I am imagining that she is a techie like me. Therefore, I’m giving her a digital correspondence. Here goes.  Continue reading

We Dropped The Ball In “The ATL,” Now, Someone Just Pick It Up!

Courtesy of

Kasim ReedThe Gist

The mayor of the city of Atlanta was fighting for his life this morning, after the city became paralyzed following the massive snow and ice storm, “Leon.” Hundreds of people spent the night stranded on freeways, at work, and in Home Depots (and who knows where else). A woman reportedly gave birth in a car, and more than two thousand children and  their teachers were stranded at school overnight.

Kasim Reed’s political life, that is, is suddenly in critical condition following an interview with CNN’s Carol Costello. During the segment, the mayor appeared to accept no responsibility for his part in the failure of the city to adequately prepare for the inclement weather.

Costello insisted that, “There are some people who say that those children should not have been placed in that position.” Extremely irritated by the probe from Costello he shot back that the Atlanta City Public Schools is responsible for making the call for all school closings, not him. It seems that all of the officials are throwing one another “under the bus.”

My Take

The media and citizens across the nation are appalled at the city, and state government officials, and their blame-shifting antics following the disaster. The CNN website is flooded with accounts of the misery there. When you clearly drop the ball, the best thing to do is pick it up, and accept responsibility! Then move forward.

At this point, who is to blame is the small issue. The bigger issue can be summed up in one question: “Now What!?” Really, there is no gear that the city can shift into as of noontime Wednesday, to erase the cold, hunger, fear, and danger from the minds of the people of Atlanta.

“Breaking news: Georgia State Gov. CLOSED…STAY HOME TOMORROW,” is currently posted in the blue bar on CNN as I write. I want so desperately to scream, “Ya think!?” I am not a government official. I never will be, but I do believe that if both Mayor Reed and Governor Nathan Deal could turn back the hands of time, this would have gone down differently. However, right now, the people want someone (ANYONE) to simply say, “My bad.”

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