Giants will fall, that’s the way of the world

It’s not going to stop.  It’s the order of things, the circle of this hard life, the order of the world.  Somewhere on earth, seems it’s always a time for the giants to keep falling.  Our elders pass away, take leave of earth—sometimes way too soon—and many are left behind to mourn and remember.

Jerry Lewis (1926–2017) was part of my childhood movie reel.

With all the foolishness that’s going on these chaotic days, it’s good to keep humor in the scabbard of sharpened coping mechanisms to help maneuver through the world with sanity intact.

As a child, Jerry Lewis movies gave me plenty of laughs and taught me that the underdog nerd-guy/person really can win.   And that was music to my soul.  Music I still need to hear every now and again.

I got a kick out of the slapstick comedy, but my favorite scene of all his movies is from “The Patsy.

Can’t say why this portion of the movie tickles my funny bone, and has done so since I was 10 years old or so.  Maybe it’s because the trio wasn’t what I expected.  Don’t know what I expected to see as a 10-year-old, but that sure wasn’t it.

Lewis’ annual telethon to benefit muscular dystrophy is another thing I’ll remember.  I hated telethons as a child, and did all I could to avoid them.  But even so, what stuck with me is that this star-figure, who could be doing anything with his time, chose to raise funds for research to benefit others. Because I hardly ever watched, I never picked up on reasons others weren’t fans of the annual event.

But what cemented Lewis as a funny, but curmudgeonly figure in my mind is this Hollywood Reporter interview.  First of all, I don’t know why someone granted this interview.  He wasn’t having it.  And let the whole world know.  And it made me laugh.  But made me feel for the reporter.

The Life-Changing Magic of getting my “-Ish” Together

Por fin! I’m  finally tidying up my life. Getting my “stuff”together.  That’s what I type, but my mind says a sh-ishy expletive instead.  Feel free to  insert your favorite expletive.

When I say “stuff,” I don’t mean daily chores. I’m talkin-bout getting to the nooks and crannies of the stuff I own… and weeding out what I doesn’t make me happy or what I don’t need.

There’s one main question, according to Marie Kondo’s book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”  The process is based on one question:  Do my possessions spark joy within me?

I’ve been sorting through my stuff…from clothes and shoes,  to books and papers, to forks, knives, and even old keychains. That’s what I’ve been asking myself these past few months.  Does this evening outfit, that was a gift but I haven’t worn in 10 years, spark joy in my heart? Nah?  Ohhhhhkay.  It goes.

Of course, some stuff is NECESSARY to keep, like important documents… but everything else? It’s up for grabs… to be tossed out. This book promises to be a life-changer if you stick to the author’s method of tidying up.

it’s not a waste to release something I’m not using… so someone else can, maybe, find what they need. Click To Tweet

I wish I could say Marie Kondo’s book CHANGED my life, but that wouldn’t be accurate, just yet. I’m in the MIDDLE of this process. But it’s STARTED a change, that’s for sure.

I’m about three months in. Feels like I have six YEARS to go. I exaggerate, but I’m so surprised how much stuff I’ve tossed at this point.  But I also feel in my gut that I still need to downsize some more.

A lot of the stuff I ditched I either didn’t like, or hadn’t used in a long time… and didn’t like that much anymore.

Part of me thinks Kondo goes a little overboard when she tells folks to talk to the possessions about to get the shaft. Tell them you’re thankful for their service, she says–or something like that.

Me talking to audiobook: “But… but… They’re not cops, firefighters or teachers. Why thank them for serving us well,” I asked.

That step seems silly on the surface… but I guess it’s more about cultivating a spirit of gratitude more than anything else… gratitude for the usefulness these things have brought to my  life.

So I thanked them. SOME of them.

Like the brown Børn sandals that traipsed around Los Angeles with my feet and got some travel time in Ixtapa, Zihuatanejo, Florida, and miles on the East Coast.

I profusely thanked those sandals for being my footy road dawgs for more than a decade. But lately they were just sitting in a corner. These things were so beat up and crusty, so far gone that I threw them in the trash. But not before thanking them for their service. If I could find another pair just like them, I’d buy them in a snap!

I’ve also had to relax my hold on a lot of books I’ve acquired through the years. I had read some in the trove. Others I’m keeping as references. But the ones I finally ditched included books that that I’ve either read and thought I’d re-read… or THOUGHT interesting enough to bring home… but not interesting enough to actually pick up and read once they arrived. I stopped kidding myself. Not gonna read them. So I gave them away. Kondo says of you haven’t read them. You probably won’t.

I think she’s right. I already knew that. Just didn’t want to feel as if I was being a bad steward of good good information by tossing these works. But heck, I wasn’t reading them. They were just taking up space. So they got the boot. Not a steel-toed boot, though. More like a soft shoe.

After getting rid of bags of clothes and boxes of books, I must say I felt all fluffy and lighter… Click To Tweet

And I finally get, I think, the idea of being grateful for the things that no longer serve me. After all, it’s not a waste to release something I’m not using… so someone else can, maybe, find what they need.

Good, better, best: One of them-there stick-to-your-ribs quotes

Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.

My third grade teacher taught this to her students. I’m not sure if she repetitiously implanted this into the minds of all her students through the years, but I certainly remember her drilling this into our little 7 and 8 year old brains.  She was insistent that we repeat it until we knew it by heart.

Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.

And then she wanted us to act like we knew it.  Sista-girl leaned on us, pressed us to produce our best work.

And if we didn’t, she leaned more.

When running down the roster of beloved teachers during class reunions, she’s up there at the top. She’s also on that list of folks who “don’t play.”  Then and now.  That means you’re not slipping anything past her, getting over on her, getting away with anything.  Her tone was (still is) loving, but firm.  But if you found her wrath via disobedience or laziness, it was as if the world were ending. Five minutes later, you’d vow never to revisit that backside apocalypse again.


“If you miss more than three on any homework assignment or test, you’re going to get it.”


It was our first week of school.  Yes, she said that to us. My almond-shaped eyes went round for 2 seconds after that pronouncement.  If I were outdoors, I probably would have caught a fly in my mouth.  And she let our parents know.

Yes, teachers could still paddle their students back then, and we did our darnedest to make sure that tape-wrapped walloper didn’t find our little asses. So we tried.  Hard. To get it right.  That type of discipline may seem harsh by today’s standards, but it was what it was back then.  Careful, deliberate, meticulous work was the key to a comfy heinie.

Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.

If I was the unlucky recipient of said swats more than one time, I really don’t recall. Maybe that’s one of those painful memories folks exhume with therapy, but I don’t think it was more than a couple of times, if even that many.

However, years  later, this saying is still stashed in my mental mantra chest.


Good..okay… that’s fine, but get better.  Do your best.  Keep pushing until your good becomes better and your better becomes your best.


And I still see things that way.   One thing I appreciate about this instructor: I don’t recall her sparking competition between her students, but she did push us toward excellence.  Even if some of us had to push through learning curves.  The goal was still the same:

Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.

This is my Day 21 post for the 30 Day Writing Challenge in the Speak Write Now Community

Go ’till you get it right

Life lessons can be extracted from the most mundane everyday occurrences.   Even a roller skating rink that smells like a bundle of hot, sweaty, funky feet.

A college friend invited me to a skating fundraiser one Saturday night.  Her text-vite was right on time.

I was quite excited to get back out on the rink, but when I saw people dropping like flies and resurrecting from the floor—coupled with the clack-clack-clack-splat of stumbling stakes and skin meeting the shiny wooden floor, along with the occasional thud of an @$$-crash, I purposed in my heart I would re-learn the way I learned to skate backwards  while in college:  Head first, then heart.  Visualize it, then do it.

In the meantime, while I glided to the middle of the rink, I noticed an older man helping a young girl—likely his daughter—stumble her way toward balance.  Their hands stayed lightly connected throughout the night.  Close enough for comfort, yet light enough for independence to take root.

There was also a little boy with a light-weight grey and white striped long-sleeved hoodie.  That boy clicked-and-splat his way around the rink.

Then there was my friend, and another college acquaintance who had recently moved back to the States.  We all were individually trying to awaken the muscle memory that brought us so much fun and relaxation during our college years.

“Hey, do you remember how to do that move?”

“Which one?”

“You know, that one  like this?” (*Insert noisy, slippery attempt at fancy footwork.*)

“I was trying, but I still don’t have it.”

“I don’t know what I’m even doing.”

“I know, right?  I still am trying to remember how to skate backwards.”

Conversations like that.

At one point a group of about 10 old people (most  in their 30s or older) kept stumbling around, trying to remember their former fancy footwork from more limber years.

But if we don’t get back out there, we will never relearn what brought us so much joy in the first… Click To Tweet

All while the little striped-shirt boy, kept clanking around the rink, but falling less and less.  His brows were stuck on furrowed, and at first,  I thought he was an angry little child.  But after a while, watching him clack-and-fall the entire night—My mind changed.  I was wrong.  That was likely his look of determination.  Determination to stay on his feet.  Determination to improve every clack of the way.

Life is not a practice around, and if we don’t know how to execute life’s moves, we must figure it out along the way, clacking and falling, sometimes rolling and flailing and stomping with furrowed brows as we develop and grow along our chosen paths.

I also learned that the further along we get on a path, a slip and fall might be more risky.  We may have more to lose, especially if we grow less limber and less open to change even along once-familiar paths.   But if we don’t get back out there, we will never relearn what brought us so much joy in the first place.  It’s important to get out on life’s rink, persist, and go ‘till we get it right.

Buttery ways to heal the skin you’re in

Screenshot of  http://biggsandfeather.com homepage

Big-ups to Biggs and Featherbelle!

They saved my skin!  Literally… Okay, their products helped restore a patch of skin to its former glory.  As much glory as palm-of-hand skin can achieve.
Something went awry when I was visiting my folks a few years ago.  I was glancing at my hands one spring afternoon, and noticed my skin birthing a flake inside my left hand between my thumb and index finger.

What the what? I thought, picking at it.  Ehhhh, nothing much there, ’twas only dry skin.  I left it alone.  After I got back to the East Coast, that spot on my hand started flaking more.

Whatever, I thought.  Lotion to the rescue!  I massaged and rubbed that stuff several times a day.

Only it didn’t help.  Not only did it not help, my skin got worse. It started looking slightly inflamed and purple-ish.
What the WHAT?
I told my mom.
I told my sister.
I asked the Internet.
I asked friends.

“Go to a dermatologist,” some recommended.  Sure, that makes since, because… skin.  And something was obviously wrong with my left hand’s epidermis.

So I went, was handed an eczema diagnosis for that patch of skin, was gifted steroid samples which whipped that hand back into shape real quick.  Relief!

However, when I stopped using it, the irritation revved up again, with a vengeance— wheelies and all.

This is a bunch of foolishness, I thought.  Nothing is working.  So I  returned to searching the only bastion of earth’s certainties: The Internet.
“Natural remedies for eczema,” I Googled, Binged, maybe even Netscaped.
Then this brilliant idea popped into my head:  Shea Butter!
But where would I buy it?  Didn’t know, so I asked the Internet for help.

THAT’S how I met Biggs and Featherbelle products.

They’re based in Baltimore, Md., and are sold in a slew of stores locally and elsewhere; according to their website it’s 33 states and the District of Columbia.

I also started using Shea Moisture soaps, and soaps from Trader Joe’s, stopped using my hand soap and traded it for one of these natural bar soaps.  When I showered or washed my hands throughout the day, I massaged a bit of Biggs and Featherbelle’s scented seasonal Shea butters or cocoa/shea butter combos into the irritated patch on my hand.

These products, especially the Shea and cocoa butter products,  were the things that gave my skin much relief.  That patch healed itself when nothing else worked, thanks to nature’s enabling emollients.

This is my Day 10 post for the 30 Day Writing Challenge in the Speak Write Now Community

Discovering the deep, discovering voice

I know why I’m here.  My parents copulated and, well… nature kept on moving.

That doesn’t answer the why… it answers the how.  Let’s get to why.

The answer to these questions evolves with each stage of my life.


I was writing in my journal… but that wasn’t “writing,” writing. Only dawdle-thoughts in pastel-colored books. 


When I was in kindergarten, my biggest goal was to graduate from the 8th grade.  When I became a high school freshman, the top two goals became college acceptance and 12th grade graduation.  As a college freshman, the goals were were jobs and putting out quality work, exploring and applying for internships, studying and passing tests, taking inventories to know which careers better suit my personality, learning to roller skate backwards, keeping up with my studies, all of this with graduation as the end goal for that pathway.

During that time, I had always wanted to be a writer. I mean, I was writing in my journal throughout college, but that wasn’t “writing,” writing. Only dawdle-thoughts in pastel-colored books.

Here’s a confession.  It’s taken me years to accept that my penchant for scrawling notes and story ideas on scraps of paper, keeping small spiral notebooks of ideas, scrawling in journals, and these days, using various apps to store ideas on electronic devices might actually mean something.  It’s a sign there’s no shortage of ideas about what to write.  However, all those scribblings will be a whole heap of nothing if I don’t follow through by cobbling then crafting these ideas into complete works.  It doesn’t matter if they’re blog posts, freelance magazine articles, extra projects for work, or complete books.   I am here to think, write, dream, write, establish goals, and diligently work at them to and through fruition.

At work, I have the privilege of telling other people’s stories, which I deeply enjoy.  It’s a key part of my life.  Sometimes these stories are gleeful, other times, downright sad.  But these experiences are important to share.  In addition to telling other folks’ stories, I’m also meant to write my own story, in my own voice.

Discovering the deep

Speaking of voice, when I was a little girl, I spent lots of time tinkering around with one of my dad’s tape recorders.  The mono, black recorder with the little orange rectangle that users had to depress in order to capture audio. That old school thing.   I remember the first time I experimented with it, and recorded myself talking and singing made-up ditties.   When it was playback time, imagine my horror when I didn’t sound like some of the high-pitched voices that other little girls at school or on television released from their larynxes.

“You sound like a boy,” I thought, extremely disappointed with reality.

Fast forward to seventh or eighth grade, when I got the first random compliment for my speaking voice. Jump ahead to college, and my boy-sounding voice (coupled with that kind lady’s random compliment which buoyed my confidence) helped land me a job at the campus radio station.  Fast forward past more jobs in radio, and I’ve learned to be thankful for both my writing and speaking voices.  Even if some poor souls mistake me for a man over the phone.  It’s alright.  Still thankful.

This is my Day 8 post for the 30 Day Writing Challenge in the Speak Write Now Community.

 

A surprise win and being enough

It was October, nineteen some-ty something.

Calendars marked that day as Halloween, but at my parochial school it was Hat Day.  I was a Kindergarten wreck because I hated my hat.

The night before, my dad brought out supplies to help my sister and I create our contest entries.

With construction and wrapping paper, glue, scissors, fluffy, colorful vintage yarn ribbons (that weren’t yet vintage, to my knowledge) and other crafting supplies gathered on the dining room table, we got to work.

Daddy showed us how to roll our hats to create cone-shaped construction-paper hennin.

My older sister got set making and decorating her own hat, but my little five-year-old hands needed Daddy’s help.

Sissy found a pattern of Christmas wrapping paper she liked, glowing candles, and she started cutting those out and glueing them on her conical hat.  The cutout paper candles seemed so warm, and they were Christmassy, and my sister liked them, so I wanted them, too.

But, Daddy was looking through other crafting items to help me with my hat design.  I wasn’t having it. I wanted to be like my older sister, so I grumbled a bit while my dad kept decorating my hat.  He was having more fun than I was.

We completed our hats (actually, my dad completed mine… my sister completed hers) and left them on the dining table to dry overnight.

The next morning, it was up and at-em to get us to school on time.  Our mom dropped us off, and Sissy and I walked toward our separate classrooms.

I was still distraught over my hat. I still wanted it to be like my sister’s.  Mine was too different.  No one would like it.  People would laugh at it.  It wouldn’t fit in.

It was almost time to enter the classroom, but I didn’t want to go anywhere near the Kindergarten yard.  I was in tears, dragging my hat through the grass and dirt between the first and second grade classrooms.  One of the other teachers or an aide saw me and wondered why I was crying.

“I don’t like my hat,” I wept.

Apparently, she didn’t think was that deep, because she didn’t seem as out of sorts as this poor weepy kid.  She consoled me a bit and got me where I belonged. Inside that-there classroom.

Fast forward to our Hat Day assembly. The entire school gathered in the auditorium and each class, from K-8 paraded their hats before the entire school.  From the dull to the creative, it was always a fun experience.  When It was time for our class to parade our hats on stage, the excitement took over, and I don’t recall being puddle of tears anymore.  Seeing all the enjoyment packed into that one room was a reason to smile.

When the best hat creations were announced for each age group, I was among the winners.  I didn’t go into this to win a thing. I thought what I had to offer, what Daddy crafted for me to present in public, wasn’t up to standard. It was too ugly. It was too different. It didn’t fit in.  This word wasn’t in my vocabulary at that time, but it was way too eclectic.

But I was a winner because I took what my Dad poured his heart and enjoyment into and did what I could do with it.  I wore it.  Can’t say I wore it with pride, but I wore it, I walked the stage and sat down.

That evening, I vaguely remember my sister and I telling Daddy that I was among the winners.  I also recall this distinct thought/feeling. Maybe Daddy or Sissy said it, or maybe it was a divine whisper:  You may secretly think what you have to present to others isn’t up to par, but you might be surprised.  It might be a winner.

This is my Day 7 post for the 30 Day Writing Challenge in the Speak Write Now Community

Free fun, exploration to bookend National Park Week 2017

Prehistoric granaries along the Colorado River above Nankoweap in Marble Canyon, Grand Canyon National Park. NPS photo by Mark Lellouch.

Mark this event on your calendar, because it spans “from sea to shining sea.” National Park Week is your chance to partake in some of the United States’ national treasure sites, from beautiful natural locales, to spaces where a nation grappled over its past and its future, and pathways tread by those who sought liberty.

National Park Week runs April 15-23, 2017.

Visitors can enjoy free entry at every national park during the weekends that bookend National Park Week: April 15-16 and 21-23.

If you live in or are planning to visit Washington D.C., a newly restored National Historic Site will be open to peruse during the final weekend of National Park Week: The home of Carter G. Woodson, the man known as “The Father of Black History.” In 1915, Woodson established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History which is now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

Woodson purchased and lived in his home on 9th Street, Northwest near Q Street from 1922 until his death in 1950. Negro History Week, the precursor of Black History Month, was also established in 1926 while he lived and worked in this home.

The first of a three-phase revitalization project was being completed as Black History Month 2017 drew to a close.

“I know there was a significant amount of work done,” says Carter G. Woodson Home superintendent Tara Morrison.

Morrison says all of the bricks on the home’s facade were taken out, identified by location and catalogued. They were then repaired and placed in their original locations. Historic moldings, frames and decorative pieces were also removed, repaired an replaced. During the first phase of the restoration, fixing structural damage from natural happenings, such as the 2011 earthquake, were a first phase priority. Exhibit development and interpretation will happen during the next two phases.

Not only was the process of structural restoration a painstaking one, but Dr. Woodson painstakingly worked to increase popular consciousness about African American history, work which happened in this home on 9th Street, NW.

Woodson historian and author Pero Dagbovie describes it as a clearing house of historical information about black people.

“He would ship things to people throughout the country who would write him asking for materials on black history. Of course, it wasn’t like things are today where you can just go on the Internet and download anything you want. He singlehandedly launched this movement from this space…”

Dr. Woodson dedicated his life to this mission.

“I mean on average, they say he worked about 18 hour days and didn’t sleep a whole lot, and committed his entire life to popularizing and legitimizing the study of black history at a time when African American history in the broader American society and academy was not seen with great respect, and he used to refer to this movement, this black history movement as a life and death struggle, literally,” Dagbovie says.

Dr. Woodson’s home will be open on April 21-23, the final days of National Park Week. Space is limited. Call (202) 690-5152 to make a reservation, or visit the Carter G. Woodson Home site for more information.

MAP:

Five things you MUST know about Greenleaf 2.3

There’s this scene:

  1. Grace Greenleaf morphs into a vandal.  Has this child lost her ever-loving mind? Or her ever bat swinging mind? Must be the case. Because why is she doing steak-outs at Uncle Mac’s apartment and watching him closer than a hawk in the sky?
  2. Kevin has a mother.  And hallelujah!  His backstory is unfolding! His mom pays a visit and brings her brand of drama to the Greenleaf dining table.  She’s felt out the loop because Kevin kept putting her off when she wanted to know Charity’s due date.  She eventually found out Kev had been living in a hotel. Kevin didn’t spell out why, but his mom seemed to grasp it quickly.  “Oh,” she said.  ”There it is.” There what is?  What is this IT of which she speaks?  Makes me wonder if she had an inkling he’s gay.  If that’s the case, did she try to talk him out of it?  Did she try to do what he’s trying to do to himself right now?  Try to talk him out of being gay?  Who knows. But I want to find out!  Oh, and Ipecac syrup plays a role in this storyline.
  3. Zora has a thing for that Isaiah Hambrick singing dude.  The same dude Sofia told her she’s crushing on.  Apparently Zora’s crushing on him, now.  The child’s phone is even blowing up with texts from this dude. She’s sitting with Sofia for lunch, and of course Sofia wants to know why her cousin is giggling like the schoolgirl she is. Poor Sophie. She isn’t happy her cousin is in good with Isaiah, but still takes one for the team and covers for Zora when the child sneaks away from a youth meeting to hang with Hambrick.
  4. Back to Grace.  She’s still obsessing over Uncle Mac. Who wouldn’t? He raped her sister who committed suicide as a result. The man raped other girls and is STILL not in prison. Shooooot. Someone crazier than Grace might’ve done more than bust the windows out [of] his car.
  5. Kerissa may have met her match at throwing shade.  Her name is Tasha Skanks, first lady of Triumph Church.  To her credit, Tash was trying to be friendly and helpful to Kerissa.  But K is a do-it-yourself kind of woman, and she rebuffed all Tasha’s efforts to help decorate the parsonage, shop for clothes, do girly-girl things. So she broke the news about Zora’s galavanting away from the youth meeting.  She didn’t want to make it sound as if Kerissa can’t control her daughter, she said.  Then she extended another offer (with a light dusting of shade) to help Kerissa keep an eye on her daughter.

Persistence, perseverance, success, motivation.  Ain’t going nowhere without ’em

 

screenshot from brainy quotes.com

Isn’t this a relief?  But what if you’re your own worst critic and don’t have the luxury of thinking your first pieces are “good stuff?”  Whether or not you think your words beat out bread slicers for best innovation, it won’t matter if you don’t persist in getting those words out of your head and into the world for folks to see, visit with and imbibe.

Yes, the words you use are accessible to vast hordes of people.  Yes, lots of folks know what they mean.  Yes, they’re common as joy and pain, and swathe open spaces like sunshine and rain (random song reference… sorry).  Thing is, no on can compile words into story like you can.  Just like no one has your handwriting, the distinct timbre and lilt of your voice, your exact mannerisms, or brow furrows, no one can construct your story like you can. If you gave several different artists the same color palette, all their works would be distinct.


No one can color that verbal canvas like you


So persist, because no one can color that verbal canvas like you. Doesn’t matter if your word-paintings start out like stick figures in primary colors.  Keep writing, reading, and learning for access to greater word palettes and more nuanced gradation.  When it comes to learning, no one ever “arrives,” so keep the heart of a student.

And stay motivated, because change will come if you keep honing your chosen craft.

And persevere, because your words, your writing can help color someone else’s understanding of this journey called life.  It’s possible the timbre of your writing, the lilt of your tone can strike the heart of another for good like no one else’s can.  It’s not your job to figure that out, though.  Just write.  Hone.  Craft. Improve.  Seek feedback, and after you do all that, keep writing.

This is my Day 5 post for the 30 Day Writing Challenge in the Speak Write Now Community.

People, places, things, ideas!