Netflixing and Chilling soltera—when partnerless storybook endings are happiest of all

Violet is bred for perfection from head to toe. Her mom saw to it. Perfect hair, perfect makeup, perfect clothes, perfect stride, impeccable toes to slide into perfect shoes. Everything just perfect to the gaze and the ears. She is bred to only utter words that fall pleasingly on others’ ears. Violet colors with excellent strokes and only within socially acceptable lines. Early on, she learned to maneuver through the world by placing outside perceptions ahead of the person she wanted to be.

However, she didn’t even know who that person was and didn’t realize it until her perfect life plan began to hiccup.

Violet’s metamorphosis starts when her boyfriend of two years didn’t slide an engagement ring on her finger—as she expected. Clint surprised her with a cutie-patooty puppy-dog instead.

Vi is pissed, and her birthday surprise takes her on a roller coaster that led her to a place and idea in which all women—yea, all people—should solidly stand at some point in life: That they are enough.

Nappily Ever After whispered to me, and I felt fragments of my life coursing through the script. I’m certain I’m not the only sista-girl who thinks so. From dodging swimming pools because I didn’t want to reverse my straightened hair to its natural Afro state, to summer camp braid-ups to keep it manageable. Of course there was that ever-present sense of anxiety that my ‘nappy’ hair had to be fixed via the hell-heat torture of a pressing comb.

This film helped resurface memories of wash and press days with my mom and sister at home… the ubiquitous “hold your ear” command in countless black-folks’ kitchens and hair salons across the country, and likely around the world where pressing combs have had their reign.

This movie spoke to me because of the familiar concern I used to have about rain and fog—things that could make freshly pressed and curled tresses scramble back to their roots.

It also spoke to me because in addition to those “hold your ear” commands, countless post-salon care instructions included the words “sleep” and “cute” in tandem. And sleeping cute may have looked cute and kept my hair style as close to salon perfection as possible, but it never resulted in sound sleep and never felt cute for my neck, which usually ached the next morning.

Without giving away the entire storyline, it was gratifying to watch Violet transform from a superficial human who outgrows the hair hatred that was passed down from her mother under the guise of always appearing “acceptable” to the gaze of others—even significant others. It was also heart-warming to see this character start gaining true confidence in herself based on who she is as a person and not how she appears to the world—and definitely not based on whether she has a man. The process is jump-started, but is in no way completed by the end of the film—even after five hairstyles and a liberating pool scene.

I’m also gratified that it didn’t have a storybook “girl gets guy” ending, because we all know those shit-perfect endings ain’t always real. This film is up to the times and realizes that the perfect ending doesn’t always involve a significant other or marriage.

Sometimes the perfect ending means finally being happy with yourself. By yourself. And that’s so okay.

Now I have to get the book to see what actually happens.

There’s another Netflix movie that explores a similar theme–only without  pressing combs, perms and flat irons. It’s a Spanish language film that’s titled Soltera Codiciada. The English title—How to Get Over a Breakup. There are several subtitle and audio options. I enjoy films that can involve part-time reading.

In this Flix, Maria Fe’s boyfriend called to dump her. That’s how she spiraled through the seven stages of grief. And drinking. And drunk calling and What’s Apping him as she meandered through each stage.

So what led to this?

Well, what had happened was…

Her novio left Peru to attend graduate school in Madrid, Spain. Then he dumps her, breaks all contact, but she sees him posted with some other chick on Instagram.

Maria Fe drinks, a friend helps her find a roommate and over the months, her life slides back to normal.

Mari-Fe even completes some home-improvement projects in her inherited home, and starts a blog.

Thing is, she always wanted to be a writer, but was occupied by spending her time pleasing her boyfriend for six years to the point where she wasn’t chasing her own dreams.

Homegirl makes strides at work even though her boss is the most horrible person on earth—racist, sexist, homophobic and oblivious to it all.

Fe finds her blog, Soltera Codiciada, getting good traffic traction. She even finds herself on the cusp of a work promotion.

What happens in the nooks and crannies around these key events—well you’ll have to watch the film to find out. But I will say this: Old boy, ex novio, makes a comeback. Whether he stays or goes you’ll find out when you Netflix and chill. But Soltera Codiciada’s ending is spot on in my opinion—just like Nappily Ever After.

Why? Because it also shows a woman can be a fairy godmother, genie, or her own Prince Charming/Principe Azul who respects and rescues her own damn self.

And I love it.

Both Nappily Ever After and Soltera Codiciada/How to Get Over a Breakup earn…

 

Childhood illness—an idea that pricks emotions, makes eyeballs sweat

Some ideas cause perspiration to spring out of my eyeballs with nowhere to go—but down my cheeks.


(WASHINGTON)—Imagine getting to a scene to report the goings-on at an annual festival dedicated to advancing the cause of pediatric cancer advocacy, and the need for more research funding and updated treatments.

Pretty straightforward, right?

Get sound with folks who say why they’re there, take and Tweet some photos, cut up sound, file audio and web stories, then leave.

You pull out your recording equipment and earbuds while scoping the layout at Freedom Plaza. Who will you talk to? When will you talk to them? You pull up your question list and take note of an announcement that a program is about to start on the main stage.

Cool.

And you position yourself to capture audio. You take a few photos.

Cool.

And someone takes the stage and starts sharing the latest progress from the weekend.  It’s good news.

But your cheeks quiver.

Hummm… That’s odd…

Then your eyes start feeling misty.

Huh? No one’s said anything particularly sad. The lady on the stage just announced more federal funding toward pediatric cancer research.

But the mist  turns to plump tears. But that’s fine. Maybe they’ll evaporate.

Or maybe not.  But  as long as they teeter on the edge of your eyes, you can blink them back.

But nope! They won’t blink back because other drops are waiting to take their place.

Damn.

On scene for five minutes and already crying.

Lordy be, this happened to me last month when covering CureFest 2018.

I usually don’t get in my feelings while covering a story because compartmentalization is my friend.

Didn’t work that afternoon.

Another tear came, and another, and a sister and a brother, but unlike the previous ones, this newer collection didn’t slide down my outer cheek…. they slid right down toward my nose.

I figured no one would want to talk to me if I looked as if I were about to snot.

Where were my tissues?  In the work SUV.  Something told me to bring them, but I left  them behind with the thought “Nah, won’t need those today.”  I was wishing I had listened to my first mind.

At the plaza, there was someone with a camera standing next to me. I assumed she was a fellow reporter. She looked like she was wiping away a tear or two with her hand.  Wasn’t sure if  she saw my disintegrating poker face or not but either way, I needed paper products.

So I went up to a stranger under one of the tents and asked for tissue.

“I’m here for work, and I usually hold it together at work,” I told the kind-faced lady while waving my hands at my cheeks, a failing attempt to fan the tears away. “But for some reason, I can’t hold it together today.”

“It’s okay,” she said, opening her arms over the table and bringing me in for a hug.

I walked in.

She just hugged me while I apologized, closed my eyes and let more tears fall. I apologized again and asked for a tissue. I wanted to cry some more, but I’d soon be facing a deadline.  Pull it together, sis.

The kind-faced lady didn’t have tissue, but she pointed me to the Kid’s Zone. That’s where I met another kind-faced lady named Kat, who didn’t have tissue, but paper towels.

“That’ll work,” I replied, so grateful that I’d have bountiful brawn to sop up my sadness.

“It’s okay,” Kat said. “No one makes it through this weekend without crying at least once.”

So at work we cover lots of stories about grownups behaving badly. Sometimes kids, too. But my hopeful cynicism melts when talking about darling little kids who suffer… kids who should be playing with toys and learning to ride bikes and (if any of them are like I was as a kid) eating dirt clods and pinching butterfly wings and licking their dust to see how it tasted. Don’t judge. I was a semi-curious child.

But it saddens me to my depths that children who are dealing with potentially life-threatening illnesses such as childhood cancers or sickle cell anemia—are learning to pronounce the multisyllabic names of their treatments, going to chemo, getting transfusions… along with learning their favorite hobbies, cartoon and video game characters.

In my deepest heart, I just wish they could be Toys R Us kids, or Game Stop Kids, or skateboard in the park kids, or jungle gym kids, or doll-baby kids or basketball, soccer, football, baseball, hockey kids. Hide-and-go-seek kids, and teens more concerned about passing a driving test than entertaining the idea they could very well pass away.

It took awhile for the emotions I feel when covering stories like this one, and this one to come to a head.

They did that day. And I cried.

According to the song Cry by singer-songwriter Lyfe Jennings, “See, crying is like taking your soul to the laundromat.”

My little soul was twice-washed that day at Cure Fest. But the second time, I was prepared with my stash of paper towel sheets.

And I met my deadlines.


FYI, September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month and Sickle Cell Awareness month, but those children and families who are grappling with these illnesses have to do so year round.

There are many organizations out there that advocate for more funding, research, and awareness. Take a peek at the following websites to learn more and find out what you can do to advocate for kids with cancer and sickle cell anemia. This list is just a start, there are so many more organizations that do great work at raising awareness.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand

St. Jude’s Research Hospital

Sickle Cell Disease Association of America

Cleverly Changing

 

Planet Noun — Podcast Pullquotes Season 1 Roundup

So I totally enjoy producing this podcast. It find it informative and inspiring and downright educational to step into the perspectives and experiences of others.

Season One is in the books! We’re 11 episodes in, and I’m grateful and thankful for every iota of support and encouragement that I’ve received so far.

Season two gets started one month from now, and I invite you along for that journey!

But for now, let’s relive some  favorite snippets from most of the first eleven episodes of Planet Noun Podcast.

There’s another episode, but I didn’t include quote snippets from that one. I’m so looking forward to sharing more from that episode during the holidays!

Take a listen to these, enjoy, and subscribe on Apple Podcasts or SoundCloud!

The Trait and I–filling in the blanks

There’s lots to learn about Sickle Cell Disease and Sickle Cell Trait. Click the image to listen to Planet Noun’s interview on SoundCloud featuring Elle Cole, writer and founder of CleverlyChanging.com

Mom is the one who first told me about sickle cell disease and the sickle cell trait. I can’t tell you what prompted the discussion. Maybe it was hearing about a childhood acquaintance who had the disease, was in crisis and in the hospital. Maybe something else prompted her to open up that discussion.

I have the trait, and so do you, is the essence of what she said.

Continue reading The Trait and I–filling in the blanks

#Saturday Spark 9/8/2018–Gratefulness

Truth: I’m talking to myself half the time I post something inspirational on social media or repost a quote from another profile. There are LOTS of things I want to change about my life, but I see no use in complaining and allowing those things to cloud the beautiful experiences in life.

Stuff I cried and groused about last year now seem like timely and merciful blessings.

There is much value in shifting my perspective into one of gratefulness. That spirit helps me look at the posibilities, whatever they may be, in a positive and affirming way… in a manner that really makes many more things seem possible.

 

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Attitude depicts your altitude….therefore I choose Gratefulness. #Breelism #quotestoliveby #grateful

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Cancer’s wiggety-wackness, gratefulness…and prayer (yes, this post will make sense)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, PGFD firefighter Jesse McCullough, his wife and one of his daughters at a Sunday afternoon fundraiser to help defray costs of McCullough’s cancer treatment. Gov. Hogan heard about the event and stopped by to offer emotional support. Hogan also fought cancer for about a year and a half. His diagnosis came just several months after his inauguration in 2015.

(At the Water’s Edge, Maryland) — Grateful. I’m deeply grateful that folks allow me into their time and spaces to ask questions and be nosey in both good and extremely difficult times.

Some folks I cover for work really resonate my heart strings. From Brandi Garrett at The Maddy Wagon whose daughter, Madison, is a childhood cancer survivor…to Roya Giordano and family who lost their teen son/brother Mathias to bone cancer. 

Earlier today for work, I got to cover a fundraiser for a firefighter who is battling colon cancer. It has spread…He says the chemo seems to be holding it at bay right now, but he told me it isn’t curable so he’s essentially buying more time to be able to spend with his wife and watch his daughters grow some more…He’s looking into clinical trials in the D.C. area and in Boston, but isn’t eligible for any of those until all other treatment options are exhausted.

So….Since my blog is a personal project, and because it’s no secret I want everyone to be happy and healed, I have requests:

  • If you are a praying person, pray.
  • If you only put positive thoughts & speech into the universe, do that.
  • If you do none of the above, just hope for the best so Prince George’s County firefighter Jesse McCullough gets better. 
  • If you know a phalanx of prayer warrior grannies or aunties who always smell of peppermints and/or wear white gloves to their houses of worship even in the summer heat…ask.them.to.pray.  Not just any grannies or aunties. The ones who call everyone either “sweetie,” “dear heart,” or “baby”…(pronounced BEHHH-buh) or some other variation.  That encompasses a wide variety of grannies/aunties of different backgrounds with only the sweetest levels of sweetness.

Big G upstairs be listening to them, for real. 

 #McCulloughStrong

Aretha

Yes, it was imminent.

Yes, it was coming down the pike, as it is for us all.

But there’s still a hefty morsel of numbness that nestles itself in my soul for a little bit once I hear someone’s life exit is final.

Been kind of blah all day.

Been trying to put words to my feelings.  Trying. Still not there yet.

Why will I miss Queen Aretha?

She was the only artist who could make me raise a hand, and say a heartfelt Hallelujah for ALL the life reasons Click To Tweet

Because she was who she was.  She earned first name only status with an exclamation point (ARETHA!) AND ascended to royalty  (Queen of Soul).

Because she played a role in the Civil Rights Movement and helped others. Much-much respect!

Last but not least, I’ll miss her for accompanying us through the human experience.  She was the only artist who could make me raise a hand,  and say a heartfelt “Hallelujah” for ALL the life reasons: From “Precious Lord” and “Mary Don’t You Weep,” to “Bridge over Troubled Water”…

And from “Daydreaming” to “Son of a Preacher Man,” and “Dr. Feelgood,” which could be the reason some of y’all exist today.

There was only one Aretha.

Missed, she will be.

Hair: Puff Cuff and snazzy updos sans headaches

Once upon a time, I used to create hair buns using elastic bands, but I have decided to ditch them for most of my styling needs. They’ll still be used to section my hair or hold the ends of my hair in place for certain styles…but for these updos? Nah, son. I’m done.

Much love for The Puff Cuff! It’s becoming my go-to styling tool for updos!

At first, I was doubtful. But since I learned about this product from someone I deem trustworthy, even though we’re not well acquainted, I was more inclined to take a chance on this styling tool.

So I opted for the family pack. It includes four versions of the Puff Cuff. The four sizes are the Original, Junior, Mini and Micro.

This style was created using one Junior and one Mini. I also use Eco Styler gel with coconut oil and a detangling brush. Once styled, I spritzed a lightweight shea sunflower finishing sheen onto my hair.

Learn how to achieve this updo right here:

This styling tool has won my heart because I can wear a cute updo without using elastic bands, and the Cuff doesn’t generate headaches!

@ThePuffCuff has won my heart because I can wear a cute updo without using elastic bands, and the Cuff doesn’t generate headaches! Click To Tweet

Episode 9a—Bonus!  Perfect pad bags, praying the ‘broids away and finding connection

The best sanitary supply bags are hidden in plain sight…

Cute.  Jazzy.  Snazzy… with a little bit of flair or not—depends on what floats your boat and makes your heart sing.  Because your uterus isn’t singing during your period. It’s weeping blood.  

In this bonus episode of Planet Noun, Liz and her sister, Lea, pick up with their discussion about stuffing the perfect Pad Bag. That’s just another name for a to-go sanitary/feminine supply bag.

In a nutshell, here’s what you need:

  1. A cute bag.  Animal print is recommended, but whatever design or color makes your heart sing.
  2. A pack of pads in a size that suits your needs.  
  3. A pack of tampons that suit your needs.  For example, I’ve been trying organic tampons by L.
  4. A ‘backup to the backup’, is needed.  Back in the day, Le-Le and I used Depends, which are diapers for incontinent adults. There are other brands available as well.  A really good friend of mine recommends Always Discreet.
  5. Wet wipes, towels, soap, and “smell good.”
  6. A portable shower (kidding…but if you can swing this, we ain’t mat atcha!)
  7. Shoot, you might as well pack a doggone overnight bag.

From there, we also talk about praying the ‘Broids away, and whether we think that works…to how social media can be harnessed to find  connection with others grappling with uterine fibroids. 

Friends get friends out of the house: Gallery dash for Obama portrait sightings worth the brief jaunt

SOMEWHERE IN THE DMV—Why in theeee WORLD does it sometimes take friends and family coming to visit before I venture out and about the these D.C., Maryland and Virginia streets?

When friends say they are coming into town and that they’d like to visit some spots around the city, that’s when I usually remember “OMG, I have zero idea what to show them!”

And then the internal questions: Should I show them this place? Should I show them that spot? Should I take them here… Or what about there? Will they think this is fun… Or will they fall asleep standing up?

via GIPHY

That was a recent predicament before a pal of mine came to town for business. Now, lookie here: I have lived in this area for a decade. And when Friend conveyed a desire to see parts of the town, I drew a blank.

It’s that whole idea of living somewhere for so long, you eventually slack off on exploring new local terrain on your own…and when you do, it’s because family member or pal visits the area. Well, maybe this isn’t your issue, so I won’t put my -ish on you, lol.

Weather woes
After wheel-traipsing around the National Mall monuments in pouring nighttime rain, and with more showers in the forecast, looking into an indoor activity option seemed a better bet for our next brief jaunt. Driving around trying to see the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and the MLK Memorial can be pretty awe inspiring past the Golden Time of Day, but isn’t the best during inclement weather. Washington Monument is best for a drive-by view… but one needs to walk up to the Lincoln and MLK memorials to get the full visual and inspirational experience. T’wasn’t happening that weekday night.

Didn’t want to chance that idea again—especially on a Friday with rain forecasted… so the National Portrait Gallery it was.

I’ve seen the Obamas’ portraits reproduced online, so it really didn’t occur to me to visit them in person. But I figured Friend would want to see them—and I was right!

So we had a National touristy mission: to see the images of POTUS 44 and Michelle Obama, get to the MLK memorial if it wasn’t raining too hard, and to the airport. But I’m not here to talk about all of that—just the Gallery.

The Portrait Gallery is located in the Penn Quarter of D.C., which overlaps with the historic Chinatown neighborhood. The Gallery is right across the street from a major Metro stop (Gallery Place/Chinatown) and across from the Capital One Arena and less than a mile from the National Mall. Its really easy to find… and a walk to the Mall might be nice for a spring day, sans rain.

Anyhoo, our mission at the Portrait Gallery was accomplished quick-fast, thanks to the greeters at the Gallery’s door—this older brotha and sista. He reminded me of a loving uncle who crafted creative cussing combinations—the same one who would offer me popsicles at each visit—even when I was thirty-damn years old. Brotha-Unc pointed us upstairs and to the right before we could even form our lips to ask. We all had a good laugh over that. Thanks, Brotha-Unc and Aunty-Ma’am.

Up the stairs and to the right—Brotha Unc’s directions were spot on… To the presidential portraits… and it wasn’t too hard to find a line of folks waiting to see 44’s up close—and to snap photos.

After taking in portraits of Bill Clinton, which is on loan to the museum (I really liked his), JFK, and quick-peeping those of Daddy and Dubya Bush, Jimmy Carter, and quick glances at folks like William Howard Taft and Ronald Reagan, it was on to Ms. Michelle. We left the presidential portraits through a pod of youth wearing MAGA hats, then through a diverse showing of humanity… up the stairs… to the right… and merging with a casually, but thickly scattered group—each person, dyad, triad or more waiting for turns to behold Michelle’s portrait.

The young-us sometimes say representation gives them life. Methinks I know what that means. I felt it when I saw the Obama’s portraits. It’s a buoyancy that allows the spirit to take flight and soar… or just stamps a cheesy grin or hallelujah shout into your soul.

Info:
Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery
Admission: Free-99!
Open 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m. every day…well most days of the year.
If you go on Christmas Day, you’ll be SOL.
(Forgive me for that, Baby and Grownup Jesus…Amen.)

People, Places, Things, Ideas!

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